From hire to retire: U of T transforms human resources technology

A close-up of someone's hands typing on a laptop

It’s the final phase of a five-year program set to modernize U of T’s Administrative Management Systems and transform the future for more than 25,000 staff and faculty.

The transformation of U of T’s Human Resources Information System (HRIS) will provide an integrated, flexible and user-friendly human resources technology platform. Once complete, it will streamline workflows between HR teams, divisions and faculties, standardize documentation, provide consolidated data, and improve the user experience in one self-service portal.

In partnership with the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture (PSEC), Enterprise Applications & Solutions Integration (EASI) initiated the first part of this HRIS transformation, a move to the cloud-based SAP SuccessFactor’s Employee Central module, in winter 2022.

“Employee Central provides a tremendous opportunity to revamp U of T’s end-to-end hire to retire process,” says Erin Jackson, assistant vice-president of university human resources with PSEC. “By leveraging the power of technology and streamlining processes, we can reduce manual work for staff and create additional capacity for strategic activities. We can also provide a more consistent experience throughout the employee life cycle.”

HR administrators and U of T staff will benefit from a modern interface, as well as mobile accessibility that will allow both managers and employees to access services online and facilitate seamless data flow between different HR processes. These updates will reduce manual data entry and improve efficiency across HR groups.

“Employee Central will join other HR applications on the SuccessFactors platform, including Recruiting, Performance & Goals, and the Learning Management System,” says Cathy Eberts, director of enterprise applications & deputy CIO with EASI. “The goal is to consolidate previously complex processes and create one easy-to-use platform where users can perform all HR activities.”

What can users expect from this new technology?

“All active U of T employees, including our casual staff, will be able to enjoy self-service functionality like changing their name, address, bank and tax information directly online,” says Cherilyn Nobleza, executive director, HR transformation & analytics. “As part of the Employee Central project strategy, we also want to improve and consolidate reporting for casuals. These changes will reduce back and forth communications on some of these transactional activities and improve the data accuracy of this information for downstream use.”

The first phase of the Employee Central project, recently completed in July 2023, involved mapping out future state processes and refining the vision for U of T’s HR Operating Model delivery.

An additional key component of the HRIS transformation is the replacement of U of T’s current timekeeping system for contract and casual employees. U of T will be upgrading to Ultimate Kronos Group’s Dimensions in advance of Kronos Workforce Central’s end of life in 2025.

“Dimensions is a product leader in the labour management sector, and there are opportunities to expand the use of our timekeeping system across all three campuses,” says Project Manager Farah Ally. “Eliminating the use of paper timesheets, which are then manually approved by supervisors and re-entered into HRIS, will continue to bring cost savings to the University. We want to work closely with the divisions, faculties and departments to see if they can leverage this solution further.”

Following the upgrade to U of T’s timekeeping system, the implementation of Employee Central will begin in late 2024 and is anticipated to span two to three years.

The HRIS transformation and Employee Central represents the final phase of the U of T Enterprise Modernization Program.

“The Enterprise Modernization Program has been a massive undertaking,” says Eberts. “In the past five years, we’ve transformed our Research and Finance systems, and have upgraded to a more robust cloud platform for faster system performance. As the final stage of this program, transforming the core HR systems and entire HR Talent Management Suite will really position U of T for future success.”

Jackson agrees.

“We’re looking forward to implementing this platform and helping U of T staff and faculty to work smarter, faster and more strategically. U of T is one of the top universities in the world and this transformation will bring us to the next level.”