An unconventional approach to People Management
Putting people first with Jemini
Anthony Harper is a leading New Zealand commercial law firm with 130 staff, and offices in Auckland and Christchurch. The firm is recognised for its wide-ranging expertise in everything from banking and finance, employment, intellectual property, technology, dispute resolution, through to restructuring and insolvency.
Anthony Harper has a strong, genuine people-first approach, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been awarded Employer of Choice three times: in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
However, Employer of Choice was hard won, as the firm operates without even basic HR software. “Our HR processes are very labour-intensive,” says Fleur Templeton, HR Manager for Anthony Harper. “But as we continue to grow, managing things that way just doesn't work.”
While the firm’s HR processes are manual, they use MYOB for their payroll. That data is manually entered into MYOB, meaning it’s continually being rekeyed and duplicated.
By 2016, the paper trail had become too complex to manage, and Templeton led the charge towards a more efficient solution. With the help of a specialist HR and Payroll Consultant from Fusion5, Anthony Harper developed and sent out an RFP. They reviewed four different HR systems, but all were disappointing.
“They were quite old legacy systems,” says Templeton. “Some had been developed 15 or 20 years ago and all they’d had since then was a facelift. They were built for significantly larger firms than ours: 1,000 to 10,000 employees. To suit us they would have needed modifications at quite a significant cost.”
Anthony Harper is contemporary in its approach to getting things done. They wanted a solution which would allow their people to operate more simply and efficiently. “We were at a crossroads,” says Templeton, and shoehorning their requirements into a badly fitting HR system didn’t appeal in the least.” The firm was also largely unimpressed with the lack of local support and service, and at that stage Templeton’s preference was to continue managing HR manually rather than moving to a solution that didn’t meet their expectations. “We weren’t going to throw money at something that wasn’t perfect for us.”
Timing, as they say, is everything. Fusion5 were themselves in the process of developing their own ground-breaking HR solution, Jemini. They suggested to Anthony Harper that given their passion for innovation, they could become an early adopter. While they’d need to wait a little for the final result, they’d have critical input into the product’s development and end up with an HR (and payroll) solution that ticked all their boxes.
The answer from Anthony Harper was a resounding yes. “The idea of having a system designed around our specific needs was very appealing,” says Templeton.
As Fusion5 and Anthony Harper have worked through the discovery process together, Templeton has appreciated the frank and constructive feedback given by the Jemini team.
"They really got us thinking about the way we do things. First was pulling us up on the amount of paper we use." says Templeton. "Another good example was our performance review system, which was ratings-based and six pages long, with different forms for each of the four user types and involved multiple HR pass-throughs from beginning to end. It was a complete nightmare and very prone to the wheels falling off! We have now moved to a far simpler concept of feedback sessions – simple forms that welcome participation and require low HR intervention. We have also taken a 'pre-Jemini' mindset, using the time while Jemini is under development to start transitioning our processes to something simpler and better."
Templeton was 'blown away' on seeing an early release of the performance function in Jemini, as the Jemini development team have incorporated a number of the design features from the Anthony Harper feedback session concept.
Templeton anticipates a fast, high uptake of Jemini across the firm. “Many of our lawyers are tech savvy. They will love the accessibility and being able to check their payslip on their smartphone, for example, or logging in remotely to complete their portion of a feedback session.” Jemini will also keep them up to date with ready access to the firm’s policies and processes via an inbuilt document library, as well providing as an auditable document trail.
Anthony Harper’s days of paper-heavy processes are numbered, says Templeton.
“Letting go of our reliance on paper records and switching to Jemini will enable us to work remotely and seamlessly across both our offices in Auckland and Christchurch.”
At this stage, it is envisaged that Jemini’s payroll function will be the first module rolled out to the full team at Anthony Harper, going live in first quarter 2019. “The reason we’ve chosen to go with payroll first,” says Templeton, “is that’s where we’ll get the biggest win. It will have the most visibility and generate the greatest sense of engagement.”
“Jemini gives us the tools to work more efficiently and effectively. It allows much more interaction, so it also creates a sense of connection with the product. Everyone on our team will be able to reach into it and simply add or get the information they need.”
Templeton sees Jemini as perfect for firms who are looking to work more flexibly. “You are giving a degree of control back to the team, and that has to be a good thing. It means that rather than having to provide lots of behind the scenes support, the HR team can focus on adding value in more meaningful ways."
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