Oracle OpenWorld 2014: Xerox aligns business and IT in streamlining applications

Xerox's IT division has been working with the business to standardise its HR management on a global basis

Xerox's IT division has been working with the business to standardise its human resources (HR) management on a global basis.

The document management and outsourcing company does not currently have a global view of its 145,000 employees, which sit on 140 different HR and payroll systems. 

However, CIO Steve Little said consolidating HR applications will allow the company to understand the reasons behind its high turnover of staff. 

He said Xerox has 5,000 people working in Jamaican call centres alone and while the nature of that work has a high turnover, if Xerox can understand the reasons behind it and put preventative programmes in place, it could save money and effort in training new staff. 

The company spends $7bn in employee pay, compensation and benefits yearly. If a consistent HR compensation system is put in place which saves a mere 1% or 10% on this amount, that would still add up to a lot of money, said Little.

“It could be a big opportunity for us,” he said. “And I have a high level of confidence we could get value out of this, I just wish we could do it faster.”

Xerox is in the early stages of rolling out Oracle’s cloud-based Fusion Human Capital Management Cloud (HCM) system to gain visibility and centralise its understanding of HR. However, Little explained the challenge lies in integrating it with 100 payroll systems worldwide.

IT and business collaboration

Speaking at a roundtable session at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, Little explained he was the one who told the business the importance of standardising processes to prevent wasting money.

He said over his 40-year career he has learnt a lot about what does and doesn’t work, and with any big IT project, IT must be partnered with the business. 

He also warned senior management needs to be committed to making business process changes, and working with IT is the only way to be successful in large complex IT projects.

“It’s beyond being aligned with the business,” he said. “You have to be integrated with the business and drive business opportunity where the business might not really understand.”

A tornado of IT choice

Little, who has been working for Xerox for two-and-a-half years, said his job is to convince people to do something that's good for them, but that they really don’t understand. And it is the proliferation of IT choice which remains to be a challenge for him.

“I feel like in my career I’m Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, with me spinning around and all of these new technologies are spinning around, and you have to reach out and grab one,” he said. 

Managing projects is hard, and people with no experience to do it are almost bound to fail

Steve Little, Xerox

“PCs are still a choice, they’re still around, we have a 140,000 of them – the challenge is what do you pick?”

Even with the large number of devices today, choice is not a new challenge for Little. He said in the early 1990s he was writing an application for Microsoft Windows 3.2, and there were three different types of laptops, so he brought in three sales people to evaluate which one should be chosen.

“They each picked a different one,” he said. “So I picked and figured out which was the one to keep.

“A lot of times with these technology decisions the business wants to participate, and that’s fine, they can participate, but I’ll end up deciding,” he added.

Little also said managing IT projects is hard and people elsewhere in the business have a tendency to believe they can do his job better than he can, which leads to more shadow IT projects.

“I can’t tell you the number I’ve had to go in and fix,” he said. “Managing projects is hard, and people with no experience to do it are almost bound to fail.”

Choosing between cloud suppliers

While hardware presents a multitude of choices to Little, the wide array of cloud suppliers is also something Xerox has to choose from.

Little said although he understands the value of the cloud, all the conversations around it give him a bit of a headache. “People say are we going to the cloud and my eyes glaze over,” he said. “We see it as more of a deployment option.”

Xerox are currently using Taleo’s cloud platform – which was acquired by Oracle in 2012 – and the company is about to start implementing Oracle Fusion HCM.

He called Oracle’s HCM system a “no-brainer” and said the supplier is making great waves with cloud. But Xerox’s challenge is the architectural issue of integrating the technology with its multitude of legacy systems.

Xerox isn’t in a place where it can start from scratch, as it has some legacy systems which are between 25 and 35 years old which still need to drive efficiencies.

At the Oracle OpenWorld conference, the supplier announced an update to its HCM Cloud platform. Its Release 9 claims to deliver a single and simplified HCM cloud experience for all employees and managers. Oracle has also introduced a mobile system to the product.

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