A day of OOW

01 April 2020

Samantha Mann MCIPPdip MAAT, CIPP senior policy and research officer, provides a report of particular sessions in an interesting day.

When asked if I would like to spend the day at Oracle Open World (OOW) in order to provide a report for Professional magazine, there was really only one answer: yes please.

Best in-house payroll team
I have attended many CIPP Awards events and have always wondered what was the full story and why did a particular entry – and not any of the other fine nominations – win? So, this was my opportunity to find out from the winners of the CIPP Best In-house Payroll Team Award 2019.
The story of how Sainsbury’s, in partnership with Oracle HCM Cloud, successfully delivered a migration of over 168,000 employees in a single year was narrated by: Stuart Hall CIPP director; Paul Floyd, head of payroll, and Nick Hawkes, head of HR solutions, Data & Workforce Analytics of Sainsbury’s.

Stuart provided a brief background about the Chartered Institute and the Excellence Awards process, ending in an explanation of how impressed the judging panel had been by the scale of the project and the ‘awe inspiring journey’ travelled by the winners.

Paul explained that this was the first time that they had submitted a nomination to the Excellence Awards, but after a year of solid hard work which culminated in the successful migration the team believed that they had a story to tell about their journey.

Nick went on to explain that the original payroll and human resources (HR) systems were extremely old, fragmented with no single data source. The  very limited self-serve functionality provided an increasing challenge due to a large number of younger colleagues who had high expectations for IT capabilities. Sainsbury’s also wanted to move away from the traditional look of capital projects being resource intensive.
When asked if they had any advice for others about to embark on similar journeys, Paul and Nick summed up that big challenges were overcome by building great partnerships between payroll, HR and technology as well as having strong support at board level.

As a final note to the panel session, it was revealed that on the day of the 2019 Excellence Awards, the team also successfully migrated a further 20,000 employees from Argos, demonstrating that they were indeed worthy winners.

The future of payroll
In the afternoon, Stuart considered the future of payroll.

It has been predicted that over the next five years many payroll professionals will broaden their roles significantly and move beyond the classic remit of payroll. It is further predicted that this will be most likely to occur in three keys areas:

  • Reporting and the use of analytics to drive decisions and business growth – This will see payroll reporting evolve to include predictive analytics and modelling, enabling the provision of forward looking business support, in addition to the traditional reporting information that so typifies payroll output.

  • Streamlining benefits management and assess likely cost – Many organisations are taking a new and transformative approach to pay and rewards, where employees are put in a position of being able to determine their own salary and benefits levels, with a focus on fairness and matching performance and contribution.

  • Delivering intuitive and engaging payroll experience – Although payroll has traditionally turned to IT to support system upgrades, increasingly payroll together with HR are taking greater responsibility to manage system design and configuration.

In his summary, Stuart acknowledged that such technological transformation may not be available to all payroll teams today, but as technological advancements continue such achievement is limited only by our imagination and willingness to embrace technological change in the same way as we do legislative change.

Stuart concluded the session by using a familial analogy and a topical subject to demonstrate how swift the development and our adaption of technology has been over recent years. Asked what the weather forecast predicts:

  • Stuart’s grandfather would look out of the window
  • Stuart’s father would look in the newspaper
  • Stuart would look on a weather app, and
  • Stuart’s son would ask Siri or Alexa.

How will Stuart’s grandson respond in the future? Thought-provoking indeed.