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Client

Imperial Brands

Industry

Consumer Goods

Solution

Reconciliation

Background

In 2014 Imperial Brands implemented Workday as their Global HRIS solution.

The scope of Workday did not include payroll and in some locations, local payroll is still considered the ‘version of the truth’ for accurate data.  We want Workday to provide data for global analytics and insights to enable pro-active decision making.  There is, therefore, significant residual risk, as Workday is being bypassed by HR going to payroll first for salary changes, new starter and leaver information: Or information is updated in Workday after the event.

In the future, we would like to integrate Workday with local payroll systems, but the use of Workday varies from country to country and payroll systems vary considerably.  To do a wholesale payroll integration project would be huge, but as countries change provider we are asking them to consider integration – by entering details into Workday first which then pass through to payroll.  In addition, we wanted to improve data quality so that moving towards an integrated solution in the future would be simpler, as the processes would be embedded.  To do this we require visibility of data (payroll) accuracy from the centre and would like to measure compliance and report on results through dashboards and KPIs.

Working with Aurum has been one of the best project experiences I have enjoyed in recent years. They integrated into the project team extremely quickly and combined excellent technical expertise together with an exceptional ability to understand Imperials’ processes and ways of working even as they varied from country to country.
Mark Chapman, IT Business Engagement Lead for the Centre of Excellence (Enabling Functions)

Solution

We quickly realised that we needed governance to ensure Workday is always kept up to date.  We developed global processes (where Workday payment adjustments are entered first) and policies stipulating that payroll and Workday needed to be reconciled each month.  Monthly reconciliations were proving to be arduous and very much depended on the Excel skills of the HR and payroll teams in the country and were predominately based on V-Look ups.  We decided we needed a tool to reconcile what is in Workday with the local payroll systems to make the reconciliation process easier.  The tool needed to be flexible enough to accommodate all the different payrolls, but also with simple processes to add and take away payment types as terms and conditions change.

Initially, we decided to develop an in-house VBA tool.  It took a full-time resource approximately 6 months to build a reconciliation for 15 payrolls.  The tool was working adequately in the beginning, but once the dedicated resource had left, we found the scripts very difficult for anyone else to decipher.  The tool very quickly became unsupported by the IT department and out of date when we introduced new pay types.  As a result, the countries were taking longer and longer to do their reconciliations, there were more and more payroll discrepancies and in some countries, the tool stopped working.  Some other locations stopped using the tool as it became too arduous and defeated the objective of making reconciliations easier and quicker.

Another concern from the countries was that known variances (such as Internationally Mobile Employee payments) kept coming up month after month and would never balance; so there was no way of flagging them once and the system remembering them next time.

When we did a review of our HR risks and controls, we didn’t feel that we could honestly say that the existing payroll reconciliation tool was a suitable ‘control’ to keep Workday and local payrolls aligned.  We started looking for a new solution.

Aurum’s toolkit is a very versatile and flexible data handling solution, which allowed us to fully achieve payroll reconciliation objectives but could also be used much wider, most notably in Finance. It was quickly adopted by locations, which proves the user-friendliness of such technical software. The implementation support from Aurum’s team was great, they have a very positive approach, listening and responding to consumer needs with a “can do” attitude.
Alexander Cheremukhin, HR Programme and Governance Lead

Introducing Aurum Reconciliations

We brought in our colleagues from IT to help find us a solution and we identified several options, and by applying IT’s ‘application principles’ against these options:

  • Fix the existing tool and provide the skills and resources to support it
  • Stick to manual reconciliations or
  • Look for an alternative off-the-shelf package.

We determined to look for an off the shelf type solution.

This is when we found Aurum Solutions. Tiago, Denis, Tim and B from Aurum presented their software to us and it appeared to be a solution to a lot of our problems.   The key benefits that helped us decide that Aurum’s tool was right for us were:

Aurum is an off the shelf solution

We have no building costs.  The standard tool is flexible and can be tailored to each location, but the way it worked is universal.

Aurum implement the solution themselves

Aurum learnt about our procedures during set-up and keep that knowledge in-house so that they can support us comprehensively in the future.

The solution is fully supported by Aurum and their help desk

The Aurum SLAs have quick turnaround times.  There are less ‘unknown’ maintenance costs as the service fees are fixed.

The Tool supported our rigorous GDPR requirements

As the data we are reconciling is sensitive personal information we need the highest degree of security around where our files were kept, specific security access to the tool and purging rules.  The solution had to be designed with data security at the forefront.  Aurum could meet all these requirements.

The Aurum team are a really great group of people!

Aurum Solutions are a professional organisation who provide a personal service.  They are all extremely knowledgeable and proud of their solution.  It is a pleasure working with them.

Implementation

We decided to take a proof of concept approach to check that everything worked and test that it was fit for purpose before rolling out to the wider population.  We did our pilot in Poland and the team there liked it and found it easy to use.  We, therefore, moved forward with the roll-out to Australia, New Zealand, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium and the UK.

The rollout was implemented quickly; with 3-4 remote calls, lasting approximately 2 hours over a 6-month period.  Tim came on site so that we worked collaboratively to assign the rules and mappings for each location.  Sometimes we even worked late in the evening to accommodate the time differences when we implemented Australia and New Zealand!

Tim also trained our HR Technology team as first responders in the first instance, as some of the queries could be about access rather than Aurum’s toolkit.  This also ensured that we logged all calls to Aurum and kept track of any problems encountered and any requests for minor enhancements.

The initial project was implemented within budget and feedback from the countries has been good.

It’s much better than the last one. It really works.
Adele Coombs - UK payroll team.

Results

Aurum has enabled us to have visibility of discrepancies between Workday and payrolls around the world on a monthly basis.  We have been able to:

  • Save time by automating the reconciliation of Workday with local payroll systems.
  • Identify time lags between mass uploads of salary data being entered into payroll but not into Workday.
  • Understand where processes need improving regarding the timeliness of starter and leaver information.
  • Rectify rounding issues.

We are now able to run reports from Aurum to feed into KPI reports pertaining to Workday data accuracy to measure local HR performance.

It has been a pleasure working with Aurum. Tim and I worked together to establish local rules to accommodate the mapping of pay types from numerous payroll systems and local jurisdictions. Tim was able to program Aurum’s toolkit essentially immediately! We were often able to map, program, test and then train employees in the tool, within hours. Most importantly we have been able to provide visibility of discrepancies and therefore improve the data accuracy within our HR Management Information System. This means that we will be able to automate more processes and provide further operational efficiencies in the future. We are so pleased with the value Aurum has provided that we are now planning to roll it out to a further 5 countries.
Clare Lakey, Global HR Policy, Process and Services Manager

About Imperial Brands

Imperial Brands, a FTSE 100 company headquartered in Bristol in the UK with over 30,000 employees, is the parent company of a dynamic international business specialising in tobacco and non-tobacco brands.

Our PLC name reflects the breadth of our brands focus across five distinct entities: Imperial Tobacco, Tabacalera, ITG Brands, Fontem Ventures and Logista.

Our purpose is to create something better for the world’s smokers with a portfolio of high-quality next-generation and tobacco products.  We focus on maximising opportunities for our brands and generating sustainable returns for our shareholders.

Our strategy is aligned to our purpose of creating something better for the world’s smokers and focuses on driving results in three key areas:

  • In Tobacco, we are maximising opportunities for our Growth Brands in priority markets.
  • Through our growing portfolio of Next Generation Products, we are providing adult smokers with a range of less harmful alternatives to cigarettes, with a particular focus on the vapour category.
  • The disciplined approach we take to managing cost and cash provides the funds to invest in growth.

Our updated sustainability strategy supports our commercial and public health ambitions, and everything we do is underpinned by high standards of governance.