When the lockdown was announced in March 2020, Tata Play Fiber (TPF) was one of the few companies that smoothly transitioned to a work-from-home set-up without breaking its stride. The HR department, in fact, was able to handle a precipitous 400% jump in the overall headcount while working remotely, without making additions to itself.
How was this made possible?
"This was because the 'change management' had already taken place in the organization. By then, we had moved to digital-first, paperless and app-based transactions for HR tasks as well as employee collaboration," Amit Rai, Chief Human Resources Officer at Tata Play Fiber, said.
TPF, a high-speed internet service provider, had presciently embarked on a digital transformation project in 2019 to modernize its business systems. In place of archaic, legacy processes, the company envisioned a centralised digital platform that could eradicate departmental data silos, support unified operations, and proffer cross-functional insights. TPF's HR unit was chosen to spearhead the transformation.
After evaluating several vendors, Amit Rai and team zeroed in on Zoho People Plus, a cloud-based HRMS solution offered by global technology company Zoho. The solution catered to all HR functions, including talent acquisition, talent management, core HR, communication, and employee engagement.
Changeover benefits – from going paperless to automating HR functions
With the implementation of Zoho People Plus, the team re-engineered their processes for 21 HR services, including hiring, onboarding, time and attendance, performance management, expense tracking, vendor service integrations, collaboration, and HR analytics.
Around 100 tasks—which had earlier depended on manual work, spreadsheets or constant back-and-forth communication—were automated and turned into app-based transactions. As a result, the HR team went 100% paperless with the exception of statutory forms. They transitioned from complicated spreadsheets to posting job openings, sourcing candidates, and conducting interviews via Zoho People Plus' recruitment portal. The software helped the company dramatically cut the employee onboarding time to just 90 minutes, from half-a-day earlier. Evidently, tasks such as data entry, signing of documents and providing the new joiners access to the system became less cumbersome, and time-consuming.
A notable benefit was the ability to effortlessly integrate third-party vendor systems. TPF uses the services of several vendors for its operations. These include Ola/Uber for cabs, ITILITE for travel booking, Medi Assist and UIB for Medical insurance, and IDfy for background checks.
"The biggest challenge for us was to add, edit or delete employee details in these systems during employee joining, promotion or exit. The details had to be manually sent to the vendors in different formats. Moreover, for any analytics, we had to spend hours creating dashboards from data dumps shared by each vendor," Rai added.
Zoho People Plus allowed TPF to tackle both these issues with APIs to integrate different vendor systems. Overall, the integrations and other process automations helped the HR team save nearly 32 hours of manoeuvring through spreadsheets and creating dashboards every month, time that is now more productively spent on strategic planning and improving employee experience.
TPF also chose to integrate their People Plus implementation with Zoho Analytics - a self-service BI and data analytics software, to generate HR intelligence. This enabled them to combine and analyse data from all their HR services. Whether it's about their hiring trends, employee performance, or expenses, they now have access to reports that can guide their business decisions. Additionally, the team set up custom automated dashboards for headcount, attrition, COVID-19 cases, and vaccination statistics.
Appraisal process gets a smooth makeover
Performance management is one of the most complex processes that companies struggle with, and TPF was not an exception. Before switching to Zoho, appraisals and goal-setting processes were done in the legacy system. Once the appraisal process was completed, compensation data had to be manually updated in an offline Excel sheet and appraisal letters shared with employees through courier dispatch of printed letters. The entire flow was a disjointed process.
Zoho People Plus allowed TPF to standardise the KRA and goals of employees, enabling them to complete their goal-setting process in less than seven minutes. Goal-setting is also linked directly to the appraisal process now, facilitating efficient tracking of employee performance along with in-built custom functions and templates for continuous feedback/self-appraisals. The drawn-out manual appraisal undertaking has been supplanted by a neatly structured digital-only, inter-connected smooth affair.
Zoho and TPF’s quest for organisation-wide digital agility
While TPF is reaping the HR benefits from its timely step towards digital transformation, they had started out by looking to digitalise and build agility for not just one team, but the whole organisation.
"In fact, every team had begun identifying their own problems and sharing that with IT, which was deciding on a solution. However, we were aware that cross-functional solutions are the ones that are effective. We created an internal team with business representatives from various departments to ensure we can come up with holistic technology solutions instead of siloed ones," Rai emphasised.
With the HRMS project implementation turning out to be a great success, TPF decided to deepen its engagement with Zoho. Currently, the broadband firm is implementing similar digital-transformation initiatives in other departments with the help of Zoho One—a unified software suite of more than 45 applications that work collectively to function as a single operating system and helps run an entire business on the cloud. "The project is named 'Auto-pilot'. We have subscribed to Zoho One to enable this transformation. Here, we aim to digitise the ecosystem of processes in our organisation with standard solutions offered by Zoho. We are sure that this can be done in a cost-effective manner, which can result in a world-class customer experience," Rai said.