HUD tells its HR success story

Agency adopts a new systems strategy based on ‘buy it’ rather than ‘build it’

HR Connect’s homepage

Related Links

Officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development took a close look at their human resources business processes and supporting technology about three years ago. They didn’t like what they saw, which was a costly mishmash of HR systems.

They decided to invest in the development of a commercial HR system from PeopleSoft to replace those systems. Early in the systems development phase, they thought it made sense to assess other agencies’ experiences with PeopleSoft.

“Our intent was to benchmark their experiences, lessons learned and best practices,” said Charles Butler, director of HUD’s office of field coordination and technical support.

One of those agencies was the Treasury Department. At the time, Treasury was preparing to install HR Connect, a shared-services solution based on PeopleSoft’s  HR application. When HUD officials met with Treasury HR managers to get their perspective, it was a revelation.

“It was at that meeting that we became aware that Treasury could offer services as an HR provider with an already established, proven and tested system,” Butler said.

HUD officials began to build a business case for using HR Connect instead of a HUD-unique system, and they outlined their objectives.

The agency wanted to replace 17 HR systems with modern HR management software, Butler said. Officials wanted to ensure it was aligned with federal e-government initiatives. They required a two-way interface with the National Finance Center, the agency’s payroll provider. Officials wanted to use PeopleSoft licenses that HUD already owned.

Treasury’s HR Connect met all of those requirements. “HR Connect had many factors in its favor, such as [being] an already federalized software product, which would let HUD benefit from Treasury’s systems investment, and it was an established system that supported more than 100,000 employees,” Butler said.

In addition, HUD officials estimated that the agency would save $10 million by using HR Connect instead of building their own HR enterprise system.

That’s a big plus for any agency. By outsourcing HR functions to a shared-service center, agencies can move to consolidated, standardized processes and reduce expenditures by eliminating redundant systems, said Lynn Eddy, associate chief information officer of the HR Connect program office, which the Office of Management and Budget established through its Human Resources Line of Business initiative.

OMB agreed to let HUD proceed with HR Connect in late 2004. HUD implemented it in six months and within 10 percent of the projected cost.
HR Connect is slowly changing the perception of HR administration at HUD, Butler said. 

“We’re moving [HR] from a technical role to a strategic one,” he said. “The strategic value aspects of the HR Connect investment forces us to focus on managing human capital by supporting functions such as recruitment, competency management, employee development and employee customer service. HR Connect provides our HR professionals with the time and opportunity to be a strategic partner with their customers.”

For its part, Treasury is able to provide HR services with significant economies of scale. “In Treasury’s case, when we brought on HUD, we were able to service their roughly 10,000 employees with only two additional staff” members, Eddy said.

An independent study showed that HR Connect can scale to 400,000 employees with no additional hardware or adverse effect on performance. HR Connect currently provides services to 14 agencies and 150,000 employees.

Economies of skill are another benefit, Eddy said. “When you have a provider whose business is to deliver HR services, you get people who are experts in the field. This is their business.”
6 Tips for choosing a shared-services providerSome experts advise agencies seeking a shared-services center to do their homework before selecting a provider. Lynn Eddy, associate chief information officer for HR Connect, the Treasury Department’s Human Resources Line of Business application, recommends that agency officials:
  • Determine whether a service center will meet their future needs.
  • Understand which services they are buying.
  • Examine the provider's track record and plan to measure performance.
  • Ask if full project management services are included.
  • Find out how much training is available.
  • Investigate the center’s strategy for technology upgrades.
— Richard W. Walker

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above