On the road to revolutionizing U of T’s human resources

Road with arrow as centre line

It’s a technology plan that’s expected to save U of T $1.5 million annually and create a cohesive, efficient digital workplace.

Over the next five years, the new Human Resources Technology Roadmap, launched in September 2017, will modernize U of T’s HR systems – creating seamless team collaboration and efficiencies across the University.

“Our plan is to meet our employees’ and administrators’ needs by using technology to transform HR at U of T across the technology landscape,” says Cathy Eberts, director of Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration (EASI) and HR Technology. “The benefits of this program are far reaching – including shared service delivery models, lower administrative costs and improved evidence-based decision making.”

The program’s projects include service desk software, a new document management hub for HR, improvements to ESS and MSS, a new staff learning module, incident management and workplace safety software, and more.

This project plays a key part in achieving Vision: HR 2020, an initiative that will help U of T keep pace with local and global changes, while at the same time accommodating legislative reform, technological advances, demographic changes in the workforce, and shifting ideas about work itself.

“These technology investments will advance our broader goal of ensuring best-in-class HR service delivery,” says Kelly Hannah-Moffat, vice president of Human Resources and Equity. “We want to create a modern client experience and move from basic administrative operations to a strategic vision, providing the most flexible service model to employees.”

In addition to creating a more modern client experience, implementing advanced technological tools will help HR increasingly focus on strategy-based services for employees.

“Traditionally, HR has been a very reactive service provided to employees and managers once something has already happened,” says Sean Suleman, executive director of CAHRS & Workplace Investigations. “When tools and technology can start to alleviate some of our time spent on administrative tasks, we can turn our minds to building strategic HR business partnerships, and move from reactive to proactive.”

The service desk software is a key component in implementing this consistent and strategic experience. It will help to streamline over 40,000 HR service requests annually.

“If you have a simple question, like a request for an employment letter, your phone or your computer can act as your HR practitioner,” says Suleman. “This will free up the HR practitioner to do the more strategic work.”

Many of the applications also offer self-serve options, so clients are independently empowered to complete basic HR functions, thus furthering the streamlining process.

“We’re making major changes to ESS and MSS to streamline the vacation process – from requesting and approving to tracking,” says Erin Jackson, chief human resources officer with Human Resources and Equity. “We also have another application that will allow managers to quickly build consistent USW job descriptions from a catalogue of pre-written, pre-evaluated descriptions.”

How will the team measure the plan’s success? The HR Reporting and Analytics Centre of Excellence will make costing and trend analysis easy and help the University understand the changing business and operational needs of all staff.

“It’s an ambitious project, and we’re trying to do a full sweep by 2020,” says Moffat. “This program will not only modernize our systems and create a more integrated user experience, but it will also help U of T excel as a leading employer.”