Supporting ‘One Penn’ at the University of Pennsylvania with Workday HCM

When the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) decided to embark on a campus-wide HR transformation, leadership knew involving the wider university community was critical because participation and collaboration are core values. Using this values-based approach, the university has outlined a thorough plan for what it hopes to accomplish with the help of Workday Human Capital Management (HCM).

Jack Heuer, vice president of human resources at Penn, spoke with us about the progress they’ve made toward becoming an even more connected campus.

Can you tell us a bit about Penn’s HR transformation initiative?

Jack Heuer - University of Pennsylvania
Jack Heuer

We embarked on this effort in order to provide the highest quality services we can to our community. Through an earlier engagement survey, we discovered that our multigenerational staff love their jobs and the people they work with, but they don’t always like the systems or processes they use on a day-to-day basis.

To address these concerns, we’ve begun a multi-year project with the goal of improving our systems and processes to help us deliver a better employee experience. Currently, our HCM processes are managed at the central and school or center level, which does not provide the consistent service university-wide that a robust system will provide. Penn’s HCM initiative will help us achieve greater operational efficiency, better address important compliance requirements, and allow people to focus on their academic research and service missions.

While the business needs of schools and centers can vary, we are united by a commitment to excellence, inclusion, and service. These shared values have helped define our “One Penn” approach to HCM, which allows us to honor different needs while offering a high-quality, seamless experience for each person. We are committed to being transparent and collaborative, so we have involved stakeholders at every step, and we will continue to do so as we move forward.

“Our effort at engagement and transparency ahead of the Workday deployment has enhanced interaction between schools and central administration.”
—Jack Heuer, vice president of human resources at University of Pennsylvania

What do you hope to accomplish with Workday HCM?

Right now, we don’t have a seamless unified system, which results in varying experiences for faculty and staff. There also can be confusion around where and how to access information. By providing a centralized point of contact through an HCM service center, we hope to create a seamless feel and provide consistent, timely responses to questions. We also hope the data collected from these interactions will help us anticipate common questions so that we can provide better, faster responses.

We always thought we needed a system that allowed for the differing needs of schools, centers, departments, and individuals. Yet, during the discovery process, our research showed that the distinct organizations were not as varied as we thought. This information helped reinforce our decision to focus on creating an HCM framework that was consistent across the board while still meeting the needs of each constituency.

What are some strategies you’re taking to manage this transition?

Under the leadership of our initiative sponsors and our advisory group, Penn has not taken a technology focus but rather a process-improvement approach. This required 18 months of study, analysis, and consultation with every school and center at the university. It’s been a very lateral process involving many stakeholders, which has resulted in better interactions across all of our schools and centers.

“Management usually comes from hierarchy, but in this case, leadership came from everywhere.”
—Jack Heuer, vice president of human resources at University of Pennsylvania

Our effort at engagement and transparency ahead of the Workday deployment has enhanced interaction between schools and central administration. This has helped us all get on the same page so we can ensure we are using best practices to develop our HCM plan.

How do you see Workday supporting you in your long-term HR needs?

By joining the Workday community, we benefit from the experience and input of other customers, including other universities, who contribute to the continual evolution of the Workday platform. A collaborative environment allows us to talk about similar problems we all face and discover the solutions together. Most importantly, however, this approach gives us a real partner in Workday and ultimately a better product because everyone is given a seat at the table.

By the time we are up and running on Workday HCM, we hope to have created a greater sense of unity and of “One Penn.” We took the time to listen to what our community requested and our internal stakeholders did their best to bring that to life in the framework that we built. Management usually comes from hierarchy, but in this case, leadership came from everywhere and we’re excited about what we’ve accomplished.