BT signs multimillion HR technology contract with Oracle

The project, one of the largest contracts signed so far for Oracle’s Fusion technology, is strategically important both to Oracle and BT

BT has signed a multimillion contract with Oracle to roll out cloud-based human resource (HR) technology to nearly 88,000 employees worldwide.

BT plans to replace its existing, heavily customised Oracle PeopleSoft HR systems with out-of-the-box cloud-based software by the end of 2014.

The project will allow BT to simplify its HR processes, provide it with real-time data on its workforce, and make the company’s HR systems available to employees and managers through smartphones and tablets.

“BT is going through a period of growth, reflected in the results of the last two or three years. We really need to continue to be a strong company and focus on our organisational health. People are one of our strongest assets," said Tom Howie, programme portfolio director at BT.

Largest contract so far

The project, which represents one of the largest contracts signed so far for Oracle’s Fusion human capital management (HCM) technology, is strategically important both to Oracle and BT.

“It will clearly offer BT enhanced global capabilities and efficiencies which were beyond reach with the highly customised systems, centred around PeopleSoft, that it had been using previously,” said HR technology analyst Jon Ingham.

The project will allow BT to simplify its HR processes by stripping out layers of customisation that have built up over the years.

BT’s planned Oracle HR systems

  • Core human capital management system: Oracle Fusion
  • BT’s HR shared services will deploy Oracle HelpDesk
  • BT will use Oracle Taleo to manage recruitment
  • Contract for a learning management system to be awarded within weeks

Real-time HR analytics 

And it will give managers in BT access to real-time analytical data about the workforce, skills and recruitment, allowing them to plan more effectively.

“The real big benefit is that it allows us to reel in our data, so it pushes out insights and analytics, when making decisions about resources and people allocation,” said Howie.

Previously, managers had to spend time collecting data manually, he said. “It will free up our line managers to focus on people management rather than transactional tasks.”

Easy-to-use HR services

Employees will benefit from simpler and clearer HR processes, and the ability to complete tasks such booking holiday at the push of the button or through a single phone call, the company said.

At the same time, BT plans to simplify its recruitment software by replacing different versions of the Oracle Taleo recruitment software used throughout the company with a single upgraded version.

The company plans to roll out Oracle’s HelpDesk software, to help staff in its HR shared services centre to answer queries more consistently.

And it is poised to award a contract for a learning management system, to replace its existing software from SumTotal.

BT has strong relationship with Oracle

BT, which has a strong historic relationship with Oracle, selected the supplier from a shortlist of three after reviewing the market.

Executives at the top of both companies have been working closely on the deal.

More on HR Technology

“There has been a lot of engagement at the top level to get to this point today. BT and Oracle see this as a partnership to get Oracle Fusion up and running,” he said.

The biggest task facing BT will be to roll out Oracle Fusion to tight deadlines across its global operations, Howie revealed. Data migration from the old to the new systems is the biggest technical challenge.

The company plans to set up new polices and processes in place over the coming months, before rolling out the technology in stages during the third and fourth quarters next year.

“We have to fully mobilise the programme in central London, and people globally,” said Howie.

When the roll-out is complete, BT plans to work with Oracle to influence the development of future versions of its Fusion HR software.

Risk of standardising on cloud 

Industry analyst Ingham said that while BT’s move to a standard cloud-based HR system made strategic sense, there was a danger that it could come at the expense of innovation.

“The question has to be how well a standardised cloud solution will support a company which certainly sees itself as more advanced and progressive in the way it manages its people compared to its competitors,” he said.

Oracle is presenting at the HR Tech Europe Conference in Amsterdam on 24 and 25 October 2013.

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