Nationwide transforms to hybrid HR

Nationwide combines cloud and on-premise HR technology in three-year transformation programme.

Nationwide Building Society is to combine cloud-based HR services with traditional on-premises software, as part of a three-year programme to re-engineer its HR technology.

The mutual, which has 17,000 employees, plans to expand the capabilities of its on-premise Oracle PeopleSoft HCM software by adding Oracle Fusion HR services  in the cloud.

The project will allow Nationwide to reduce costs by simplifying its IT infrastructure and, at the same time, give the building society a better picture of the skills and talent of its workforce. “This will allow us to gain a strategic advantage by enabling us to lower costs, while increasing engagement [of employees] across the organisation,” said Neil Lewis, head of HR operations.

The combination of cloud and on-premise HR systems enables the organisation to gain maximum value from its existing technology investment, and paves the way for a full move to the cloud in the future, said Lewis.

The mutual has been using Oracle PeopleSoft HCM software since 2002 and has heavily customised it over the years, making it more difficult to move directly to a cloud solution.

“To go from a heavily customised on-premise solution to the cloud was just a step too far,” said Lewis, speaking at an industry conference. “A halfway solution allows us to get to the cloud, but lets us capitalise on the benefits of PeopleSoft.”

The building society has begun a programme to simplify PeopleSoft by removing as much customisation as possible, with a view to moving to the cloud completely from 2020.

It  began work last August, and has stripped out 51% of the modifications so far. However, some customisation will need to be kept, for example where there are compliance and legal requirements, said Lewis.

Nationwide’s Oracle HR systems

  • PeopleSoft HR with helpdesk
  • Human capital management
  • Oracle cloud for talent and performance management
  • Compensation
  • Business intelligence

Nationwide, which is 12 months into a three-year HR transformation project, plans to supplement PeopleSoft by introducing cloud technology for performance management, talent management and compensation.

At the same time, it aims to upgrade to the latest version of PeopleSoft  and introduce an updated case management system to manage HR queries more effectively.

The move will enable employees to ask the HR department questions through web chat, and to view video clips offering interactive help and advice.

The tools will free up staff from administrative tasks, allowing them to spend more time with customers, said Lewis.

“It will also give us a better view of our data and our people, and gives us the same level of real-time technology we use every day outside of work.”

The project

Nationwide decided to rethink its approach to HR technology when it became clear that some of its HR systems were reaching the end of their lives.

“That allowed us to take stock," said Lewis. "What do we really want from IT, for tomorrow and for the day after tomorrow?”

Five key principles

  • IT needs to help the building society remain compliant.
  • Reduce the number of HR systems used, with the aim of getting to “one version of the truth”.
  • Introduce more streamlined and quicker HR processes.
  • Provide a platform for the future.
  • Reduce risk and manual processes.

The building society developed five key principles for a replacement HR system over a period of 18 months, before tendering for replacement technology.

“We looked at a whole host of suppliers and systems, ranging from Workday to SAP,” said Lewis. “We actually decided to stay with Oracle, but to buy in more capacity.”


Finding an implementation partner proved more challenging than expected, said Lewis, and it was five months before Nationwide appointed Accenture.

But the delays were for all the right reasons, said Lewis. It was important to find a partner that had experience in implementing the Oracle software and understood Nationwide’s hybrid approach.

With the project only one-third of the way through, the society has not yet finalised how to deploy Oracle Fusion, said Lewis.

“Do we do it in one big bang and use the excitement to drive it, or do we iterate it, business area by business areas? I don’t have the answer to that yet.”

Neil Lewis was speaking at the HR Tech Europe Spring Warm-Up in London.

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