Fletcher Building looks to Workday for cloud HR

Software as a service will help integrate Fletcher Building in a quest for up to NZ$100 million a year in savings.

Australasian building products and services giant Fletcher Building is implementing cloud-based human resources information management (HRIS) from US provider Workday as part of its effort to unite and transform the "fragmented" conglomerate.

The project is a foundation element of a broader program dubbed FBUnite, which aims over five years to deliver shared services, procurement, and other savings of up to NZ$100 million a year.

However, due to investment required in the program this year, those savings would mostly become evident in the 2015 financial year, the company told investors at its annual results announcement last week.

Fletcher Building, which has grown through acquisition, has at least 40 business units. As well as trading in New Zealand and Australia, it operates in the US and across Europe, in part as a result of buying Formica in 2007.

Former Formica executive Mark Adamson is now Fletcher's CEO after being credited with turning around the under-performing US business. In April, he questioned why Fletcher Building should continue running 53 separate Enterprise Resource Planning systems.

Workday, which offers software as a service (SaaS) HR and financial systems, was launched in 2006 by Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri, both driving forces behind PeopleSoft, which was bought by Oracle in a hostile takeover in 2005. The company listed on the New York Stock Exchange last October, and boasts customers such as Chiquita Brands, Ancestry.com, and Yahoo.

In an internal presentation on the Fletcher Building HRIS project last month, general manager of human resources systems and procurement Sharon Spence said the project would deliver cash to the business and benefit to shareholders.

"We will be held to account to deliver the value we say we are going to deliver," she said.

She described Workday as "state of the art", adding that it would be available on mobiles and tablets as well as desktops.

Spence described the current state of Fletcher Building's HR environment as "fragmented". The company knows little about the people who work in the business, she said.

The aim of the Workday project was to unite and simplify that complexity, track and develop talent, and make the company more productive, Spence said.

FBUnite as a whole aims to deliver four pillars, she said: A winning culture; responsiveness to the market; optimised operational performance; and the lowest possible cost structures. The new HRIS is a foundation of that.

"We need great leaders and we need to know what performance is, and measure against that," she said.

Outlining the project structure, she said in addition to a project leader and a project coordinator, four other leadership roles had to be filled, probably internally. They were a change and communications leader, process and design leader, a data and reporting leader, and a technology leader to, among other priorities, ensure Workday's integration with other internal and external systems.

Fletcher Building last week reported sales of NZ$8.5 billion, down 4 percent on 2012, but net earnings of NZ$326 million, up 3 percent before significant items.

According to the annual CIO 100 report, Fletcher Building has 250 IT staff members servicing over 21,000 screens.