Banyan Tree invests $1M in talent management

Singapore hotels and resorts operator employs SAP in bid to better nurture and manage talent pool of over 10,000 staff, according to company executives.

SINGAPORE--Local resorts, spas and hotels operator Banyan Tree Holdings, today unveiled plans to implement SAP's ERP Human Capital Management tool in a bid to improve its human resource (HR) processes and talent development.

Executives from Banyan Tree, which is listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, said it will invest nearly US$1 million in the new deployment to support the company's expansion plans across that will stretch over four years. It currently operates over 20 resorts and hotels and over 60 spas, with a pool of some 10,000 employees.

Its expansion plans include targets to increase its chain by another 40 hotels and double its headcount to 20,000, according to Ariel Vera, Banyan Tree's group managing director. Vera was speaking with reporters during a signing ceremony here Thursday, to ink the agreement with SAP and ObTech, a wholly-own subsidiary of Japan's NEC, engaged as the project's systems integrator.

Deployment work began in September, with the first phase ready for rollout in six months' time across Banyan Tree's headquarters in Singapore, and the two Thai cities of Bangkok and Phuket, said Michael Lee, CIO for Banyan Tree. These three "test sites" will involve 500 to 600 users and allow the company to establish a baseline for human capital management processes and resolve any teething system issues, before the deployment is extended to other Banyan Tree offices, Lee explained.

The first phase of deployment will also allow the company to establish a high degree of standardization, and identify areas that need to be tweaked in order to address local requirements such as HR-related regulation, of offices in the various countries. This initial phase is expected to last two to three months.

One-stop HR shop
The deployment will centralize all Banyan Tree's HR-related information such as employee profiles, employment lifecycle and training history, into a common database that can be readily accessible by its management team. Vera said the company currently has to request HR information from its various global offices, where each outfit maintains its own personnel database. This process of retrieving data is both time-consuming and inconvenient, he said.

The SAP implementation, he added, will provide Banyan Tree with the tools to identify and chart the progress of every talent within the company. With all the information of employees readily available, managers will be able to craft training programs, nurture the employee's growth and appraise performances more efficiently, he said.

The SAP deployment will also allow the company to easily identify capable employees and better develop their career with the company, Vera added. Most importantly, the new system could help the company retain its corporate brand and culture worldwide.

"As a fast-expanding company, our worry is that we might slowly lose our identity," he said. "To build up a Banyan Tree culture in new operations, we can use the system to find suitable middle-management employees and assign them there to be our brand ambassadors and foster a strong identity."

According to Vera, the company's current attrition rate ranges between 15 and 20 percent, which he said was already below the hospitality's industry average rate of about 30 percent. With the expected improvements in HR processes and staff retention, he added that the new HR management system could potentially help lower the company's staff turnover figures.

Asked if the company is targeting to achieve cost savings from the implementation, Vera said Banyan Tree is not expecting to see significant savings. However, he noted, there are other non-monetary benefits such as higher employee satisfaction and productivity gains from streamlining internal HR processes.

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