No one wants to do without EASY HR now. Employees are enthusiastic!
IHK Würzburg-Schweinfurt represents the overall interest of commercial business in Lower Franconia. The Chamber of Commerce district covers the cities of Würzburg and Schweinfurt, as well as the rural districts of Rhön-Grabfeld, Bad Kissingen, Main-Spessart, Schweinfurt, Haßberger, Kitzingen, and Würzburg. Large enterprises such as auto and industry supplier Schaeffler and manufacturer of construction materials Knauf are based in this region.
IHK Würzburg manages employee appraisal using a solution from EASY SOFTWARE
The users were passionate about the self-explanatory interface and ease of use of the application right from the start.“
Christian Maurer, Division Manager, IT Service, IHK Würzburg
The Chamber of Commerce‘s mission statement and strategy are summarized in the strategy paper „Mainfranken 2025“ as visions and targets for a major location. In it, the Chamber of Commerce signs up, among others, for „promoting digitization of business and administration“ under the headword „Digital Lower Franconia“: „We promote the development of digitized processes in business (Industrie 4.0), and demand reducing bureaucracy through information and reporting duties by enterprises to the administration (optimized interfaces).“ The voice of IHK Würzburg-Schweinfurt, that district‘s branch of the Chamber of Commerce, carries weight in Lower Franconia: With its staff of nearly 130, the Economic Chamber represents the interests of its members.
It recognized the importance of digitization as a topic with site relevance very early on, setting a good example: in the HR department, it is using a digital appraisal management system based on EASY HR. Performance dependent remuneration models have long been a commonplace in enterprises, as has consistent employee development. Correct use of these promotes the enterprise‘s efficiency, as well as employee commitment and satisfaction with their employer. It is exactly for this reason that these personnel tools have already been in use with IHK Würzburg-Schweinfurt for many years.
In 2003, the Chamber implemented an employee appraisal system for the first time. The respective executive has been assessing the performance of his or her employees once every year ever since. Two interviews take place for this purpose: an interim interview, more often than not in June, and an interview for final evaluation from December 15 to February 12. Based on that second discussion, the Chamber of Commerce distributes boons and plans HR development.
Signed up for digitization
From the start, there was „digital“ support for executives, remembers Christian Maurer, head of IT: „Initially we represented appraisal management using Microsoft Word, and later using Microsoft Excel. In 2007, we implemented a portal in which employees found salary sheets, service and vacation requests, as well as time collection. Since then we have represented appraisal management within the portal.“
The problem is that while salary sheets, requests and time collection were working to plan, the portal for various reasons turned out to be of little use to appraisal management.
Looking for a feasible solution
A drawback was that the portal released the appraisal sheets only within the appraisal period, i.e. between December 15 and February 12. If an executive wanted to take important notes for appraisal reviews during the remaining nine months of the year, this had to be done outside the portal. So the executives kept Word or Excel lists in auxiliary applications: lists of promotion needs, training concepts, special performance, or individual misbehavior. Prior to this appraisal interview, the information had to be found again for preparations. This was not enough, though: user experience also left a lot to be desired. Says Christian Maurer: „Previously, 25 evaluation points had to be processed for employee appraisal. In the old system this was a never-ending task because you had to scroll all individual entries from top to bottom. And this on a page that was not really that transparent.
That‘s why support requests kept being submitted to us by the executives.“ And finally, there was another important reason for us to look for a new solution: The old system had a security restriction. You were automatically logged out after three minutes without user action. „This is absolutely useful when you are working with time collection or requests. But in an appraisal interview where you go through and discuss the individual evaluation points with the respective employee, three minutes are quickly over. As a consequence, you had to log in to the system multiple times during such an interview,“ comments Mr. Maurer.
EASY: easy-to-use, and can be used without time limits
After a year‘s use of the old system, it was clear that a substitute for the existing portal solution had to be found. On one hand, the fact that EASY was already known to the Chamber of Commerce militated for selecting EASY as the implementation partner. On the other hand, there were no bureaucratic hurdles to be overcome with such collaboration. Because EASY is framework contractual partner of IHK Gesellschaft für Informationsverarbeitung (IHK-GfI), i.e. the internal service provider of all Chambers of Commerce, this eliminated the need for advertising in order to get the project started with EASY. „So we were able to get together immediately and work out the ideal solution,“ says Mr. Maurer.
Thus a new portal solution emerged, based on EASY HR. It had to be self-explanatory and easy-to-use for any executive. „We reduced the evaluation points to twelve, clustering them by topic and separating them through different colorization,“ adds Mr. Maurer. „In addition, we abolished time limits, so executives can now also revise the appraisal sheet throughout the year and are no longer automatically logged out during an interview.“ Unlike the origin of the initial portal, the executives were involved early on while developing the EASY solution. They were able to express special wishes already while creating the To-do list. The first version was then put to the acid test by the IT experts in collaboration with four executives. In June 2015, appraisal management was able to go online as planned – in time for the routine preliminary interviews with the employees. Training courses or special training for the 16 appraising executives were not necessary.
Data security meets sustainability
„Based on a standard EASY solution we succeeded, after a project phase of just four months, in replacing the old system with a bespoke tool. The users were passionate about the self-explanatory interface and the application‘s simplicity right from the start. By the way, the same applies to all those in charge of technical implementation. Introduction was very easy,“ comments Mr. Maurer. „Collaboration with the EASY Consultant and the developers is very good and effective.“
For all its simplicity, the solution does not compromise security at all. Because IHK Würzburg-Schweinfurt had, of course, to consider data protection.
Workflows in the chambers
For appraisal management, the previous system automatically inherited the absence management rules from request management. For example, in theory the delegates of executives had access to the corresponding appraisal sheets during the latter‘s absence, e.g. in case of sickness or vacation. This is different with the new system: In the current appraisal period, only the appraising executive has access; after the appraisal is complete, the employee can also access it.
For all this, the new system is future-proof. After all, the HR department is facing extensive digitization. It will have to become more efficient in the coming years: automated workflows play an increasingly important role in this, not only as far as business is concerned, but also with the chambers.
„That‘s why we will have a complete HR suite,“ explains Mr. Maurer. „In any event, our new EASY solution can be easily upgraded at a later time and be extended with workflows, a digital personnel file, and much more. The people working with the corresponding solutions will benefit from this because the new tools will ease their workload. You can see this with our appraisal management team: no one wants to do without the system now.“