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Homework answers / question archive / Case Study 2: ConAgra’s Recipe for a Better Human Resources System Do you have Chef Boyardee Ravioli or Orville Redenbacher popcorn in your pantry or Healthy Choice or Banquet chicken nuggets in your freezer? If so, you’re one of the 99 percent of U

Case Study 2: ConAgra’s Recipe for a Better Human Resources System Do you have Chef Boyardee Ravioli or Orville Redenbacher popcorn in your pantry or Healthy Choice or Banquet chicken nuggets in your freezer? If so, you’re one of the 99 percent of U

Management

Case Study 2: ConAgra’s Recipe for a Better Human Resources System

Do you have Chef Boyardee Ravioli or Orville Redenbacher popcorn in your pantry or Healthy Choice or Banquet chicken nuggets in your freezer? If so, you’re one of the 99 percent of U.S. households that use ConAgra food products. ConAgra Foods Inc., headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is one of North America’s largest food companies, providing quick, convenient meals, tasty treats, and snacks with brands such as Libbys, Banquet, LaChoy, Hunts, Healthy Choice, and Blue Bonnet. Thirty-two of ConAgra’s brands account for more than $100 million in annual retail sales.


ConAgra relies on 33,000 employees to ensure that supermarket and grocery shelves are stocked with its products, and management considers its human resources to be an essential ingredient for its success. Like many forward-looking companies, ConAgra recognizes the importance of human resources to overall corporate success and the ability of the firm to have the right people in place as it pursues its business strategy. Technology is expected to play an even larger role going forward in helping the company recruit, retain, develop, and manage the workers it needs.


Until recently, ConAgra did not have the right technology in place to obtain maximum value from the talents and expertise of its salaried and hourly employees. It had a core system for basic human resources (HR) functions, but it also had disparate siloed systems for HR functions such as employee compensation, development, recruiting, succession planning, and talent review. These systems produced fragmented information and could not support companywide views of the employee or human resources processes. Some of these systems were based on commercial business software products, and others were homegrown. These systems worked well but only up to a point because they were not integrated. That meant that data from one system could not be combined easily with data from another for more insightful reporting and talent analysis or for obtaining a complete picture of employees. There was no central system to house and manage the data so HR staff often had to extract information from multiple systems and piece reports together manually. The company also had to pay for multiple information systems teams to support these systems.


That all changed in 2013 when the company decided to retire most of its existing HR systems and implement a comprehensive talent management system that was integrated with its on-premises core HR system. The talent management system consisted of integrated modules that ran on a cloud-based platform. ConAgra called the project to build the new talent management system “My Recipe.”


A major objective of My Recipe was to store and share all workforce data in a single central, integrated cloud-based system. Another was to reduce data redundancies, complexity, and operational efficiencies by centralizing the data so they appeared to be coming from one source. Another was to provide user-friendly tools and processes that made it easier for managers and employees to have meaningful conversations about performance and career growth. Another requirement was the ability to provide a snapshot of ConAgra’s current talent pool and show how it was developing to meet future business needs. Such a system was expected to better engage employees and managers, provide more useful data to HR staff, improve talent management, and increase productivity.

After a thorough vendor evaluation process, ConAgra narrowed the search to three vendors and then selected SuccessFactors. SuccessFactors is an SAP-owned global provider of cloud-based software for human capital management. Its human capital management application suite features a learning management system (LMS), performance management, recruiting software, applicant tracking software, succession planning, talent management, and HR analytics along with social business and collaboration tools to help organizations maximize employee growth and performance. Management believed SuccessFactors was superior because it provided an easy-to-use and customizable user interface that would support employee and management self-service using the system. SuccessFactors also integrated with other SAP products and third-party products.

ConAgra implemented My Recipe in three phases over a 15-month period. During the first phase, completed in mid-2013, ConAgra upgraded the overall user interface and implemented the Success Factors Learning and Succession & Development modules. In phase two, completed in late 2013, the firm implemented SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics, Workforce Planning, Recruiting Marketing, and Recruiting Management modules. In the final phase, completed in mid-2014, ConAgra implemented a Success Factors Compensation module and an update to SuccessFactors Performance & Goals, including the functionality for performance rating calibration. (Calibration is a process for gaining greater consistency in how performance evaluation ratings are delivered.) The new SuccessFactors system replaced eight legacy human resource systems, substantially reduced the amount of HR data stored in manual files and provided new tools for managers and employees to obtain information and reports directly from the system on their own.

The My Recipe team selected implementation target dates that coincide with the time of year the specified processes were typically performed. For example, the rollout of the SuccessFactors Succession & Development software was timed for when the company conducted its annual talent review. Rolling out the system in stages kept the project alive and relevant, and staff were able to easily understand how one module built upon the next. The project time-lines also facilitated adoption of the system because users were exposed from early on to a one-stop shop for human resources and became increasingly interested in seeing the system completed. System log records show that the average HR user accesses some aspect of the SuccessFactors solution about 100 times per year. When ConAgra had fragmented HR systems, there was never that amount of manager and employee interactions with those systems.


Once fully implemented, My Recipe made it possible for ConAgra to capture, store and share succession planning, talent review, and other data that were previously inaccessible and impossible to share. It empowered employees to proactively track tasks, performance, career growth, and opportunities on their own, and it standardized HR business processes throughout the employee life cycle. The new system makes it possible for HR staff to focus on workforce planning issues instead of on tactical day-to-day employee management and recordkeeping. My Recipe also eliminated eight legacy HR systems and their associated administrative burdens and inefficiencies.

One of the new system improvements is the ability to link an employee’s payroll records (which are processed in ConAgra’s core HR system) to a tile on the SuccessFactors home screen, allowing employees to view their payroll records directly from My Recipe. Other home screen tiles, which can be easily customized, provide access to employee performance and career data in a way that is easy to understand. Ease of use is further promoted by built-in reminders. For instance, a manager viewing an employee’s objectives might be alerted that the employee has an upcoming talent review. By centralizing employee data and making the data more easily available, the
company is able to see how each employee fits into to individual, team, and companywide plans involving performance, succession, and development. In other words, the system makes it possible for human resources to operate more strategically and align ConAgra’s workforce more precisely with the overall goals of the firm.

It was not easy to develop a fully integrated system with common companywide processes. ConAgra had to spend considerable time identifying and evaluating its existing processes and deciding which should be kept and which would need to be changed. The processes had to be mapped against the business processes supported by the SuccessFactors software. It was important to know what each of ConAgra’s processes would look like when the SuccessFactors system was implemented and the new system ran in the cloud.


Another challenge was dealing with analytics and reporting. Reporting was difficult when ConAgra’s systems were fragmented because it was so difficult to assemble the required data from so many different sources. When the company realized how much more useful and retrievable human resources data the new system would produce, the project was redirected to pay more attention to reporting and analytics and to make sure the system was designed to deliver the data required for this purpose. ConAgra harnessed the expertise of Price water house Coopers (PwC) consultants for the implementation. They were able to quickly learn about ConAgra’s needs and apply that knowledge along with their expertise to the project. For example, PwC made themselves experts in ConAgra’s compensation structure and used that knowledge to configure the system accordingly. They also brought to bear their expertise in cloud systems projects.


How much has the new SuccessFactors system helped ConAgra? According to KC Bradley, ConAgra’s Director of Talent Management, SuccessFactors has helped take HR to the next level at her firm. The system has helped facilitate conversations between managers and employees and has armed managers with information they can articulate to higher management about how each employee contributes to the organization’s business goals and affects the bottom line. Everyone is now able to see if the right people are in place throughout the organization.

Sources: Ken Murphy, “ConAgra Foods Fine-Tunes Recipe for Enhanced HR,” SAP Insider Profiles, October 1, 2015; www.conagra.com, accessed February 21, 2016; www.successfactors.com , accessed February 21,2016; and “ConAgra Foods: Food Leader Finds Right Recipe to Drive Change Management with SuccessFactors Solutions,” SAP, 2015.


CASE STUDY QUESTIONS
1. Analyze ConAgra’s problems with its old systems. What management, organization, and technology factors were responsible for these problems? What was the business impact of these problems?
2. List and describe the information requirements of My Recipe.
3. What types of systems-building methods and tools did ConAgra use for building its system?
4. What steps did ConAgra take to make sure the My Recipe was successful?
5. What were the benefits of the new system? How did it change operational activities and decision making at ConAgra? How successful was this system solution?

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