A deeper look at Al Foah's recent Oracle HCM implementation

H.E. Mohammad Ghanem Al Mansoori takes ACN into the world of dates and breakdown Al Foah Company’s implementation of Oracle HCM

Tags: Al Foah Company (www.alfoah.ae/)Cloud computingUnited Arab Emirates
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A deeper look at Al Foah's recent Oracle HCM implementation H.E. Mohammad Ghanem Al Mansoori, deputy CEO, Al Foah Company.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  August 19, 2017

With one of the largest date production and distribution operations in the world, the Al Foah Company is a long standing and reputed name within the world of date palm.

A subsidiary of SENAAT, which is owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi, the company produces over 113,000 metric tons of dates annually, 90% of which is exported to 48 countries from across the globe.

Headquartered in Al Ain, Al Foah’s operation comprises of eight receiving centres across the UAE, as well as 85 docking stations that manage 60,000 truckloads of deliveries per week. Also under its umbrella are the Emirates Dates Factory in Al Saad, the Al Marfa Dates Factory, and the Al Foah Organic Dates Farm in Al Ain City.

As the company’s success story continues on, its operation expanding in both scope and size, it came to light that certain elements of Al Foah’s back-end infrastructure was struggling to cope with the growth.

In particular, Al Foah’s human resources (HR) department was challenged by the increase in paper-based HR transactions, along with the growing demand for auditability and accurate payroll processing, as expected from a government-owned entity.

To that effect, it quickly became apparent that what Al Foah required was a fully automated HR and payroll system that would help the company realise a faster and more efficient service delivery. Thus the decision was taken to implement Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud.

“We have the complete full-fledged Oracle HCM Cloud. To go through the modules implemented, we have the Core HCM, absent management, goal management, time and labour, performance management and succession planning. We also have Taleo Recruitment, and Taleo Learn,” comments H.E. Mohammad Ghanem Al Mansoori, deputy chief executive officer, Al Foah Company.

Elaborating further on the recent implementation, which began in earnest in February 2016 and concluded in December that year, H.E. Al Mansoori went on to discuss the motivation behind the implementation and the type of improvements sought out by the company’s HR department.

At the crux of the project was a need to improve the overall quality of the HR function by enhancing specific areas, such as talent development, recruitment, and performance management.

Expanding visibility of HR processes, which include the monitoring of leave management and performance review cycles, as well as a global view of employees across the various business functions, was also a top priority.

Another key requirement was a need to enhance HR efficiency, cutting down on the time needed to manage various HR-related tasks and payroll processes, all the while reducing instances of human error. The last key component centred on expanding employee access to personal data, which includes career goals, pay slips and vacation entitlement.

“A lot of factors were taken into consideration for the ROI and the project’s success, such as the time it takes to complete the HR processes. On the other hand, the availability of data and the accessibility of specific information, such as the employee’s goals, helps the organisation in achieving better results,” comments H.E. Al Mansoori.

When considering Oracle HCM Cloud to become the foundation of Al Foah’s human resources department, which also marks the first time that company considered an Oracle offering, the deputy CEO highlights four key areas that really stood out from the solution.

The first was the platform’s flexibility in terms of mobility and being accessible via mobile device. Equally as valued was the platform’s capability of automating workflows, which would aid in cutting down on the amount of paperwork needed across the various processes, as well as boasting a user friendly interface.

Finally, the integration of the entire suite of modules under one umbrella ensures that HR data is readily accessible across all functions.

Following the deployment of Oracle HCM Cloud, Al Foah’s HR department has begun to capitalise on the various tools and refinements introduced by the platform.

For example, the company’s payroll processes have been streamlined thanks to Oracle Global Payroll Cloud Service, which has dramatically cut down the entire procedure from two weeks to a mere three days.

Similarly, the introduction of Oracle Performance Management Cloud Service and its automated workflows has helped HR teams to monitor and reduce the time of an appraisal cycle down from three months to two weeks.

Other improvements include improve HR data availability with the integration of all HR functions on Oracle HCM Cloud, enhanced strategic and workforce planning, optimised performance management, and the realisation of a greener work environment by going paperless.

The recent implementation has also had a positive impact on Al Foah’s recruitment capabilities. For starters, all associated documentation, emails and procedures are all stored and accessible from a central hub. As a result both HR officers and department heads will be able to set benchmarks and KPIs, as well as monitor the progress of a potential candidate.

“For certain junior positions, we target for 60 days to get the recruitment cycle completed. When done manually, sometimes you don’t know what happens to the offer. It can be misplaced or even lost,” explains H.E. Al Mansoori.

“Now when I ask for a critical position to be filled in IT, for example, I can monitor how long it takes to fill and what is the current status. I may not want to see the details, or approvals, or even the offer itself, but I can see if it has been sent or revised.”

Al Foah’s existing employees also benefit greatly from the Oracle implementation with small additions that include personal goal trackers aligned with corporate goals, as well as individual access to their personnel file via mobile device. The latter includes personal data, such as performance history, pay slips, and vacation entitlement.

“Efficiency has increased when it comes to all HR-related processes. Controls are there which also prevent any leakage that could happen of not recording a leave or improperly paying staff,” explains H.E. Al Mansoori.

When pressed on the type of challenges faced during the implementation process, the deputy CEO shared that the project was likely one of the first instances where a full-fledged Oracle HCM deployment had been done within region.

As such, the lack of references proved to be a temporary obstacle, one that Al Foah collaborated closely with Oracle to overcome.

“Since we implemented Oracle HCM, we have grown closer to Oracle, especially since the company had become more focused on customers by creating the Customer Success team, who work closely to ensure successful implementation. This continues even after going live, ensuring that the organisation is achieving its goals through the implemented solutions,” explains H.E. AL Mansoori.

A smaller obstacle that Al Foah had to contend with lay with some of Oracle HCM Cloud’s features that came of the box, which were not applicable to the Middle East region. Such was the case with the payroll module, which was designed to meet the requirements of business within the European market.

“Payroll for example, if you implement what is part of the box, there is taxation … this does not cover what we have here as far as payroll models. Advanced payment is another example that is not fully straightforward. We rectified these issues with the new releases,” comments H.E. AL Mansoori.

“In any implementation there are challenges. One of the most challenges we faced in the implementation was implementing our policies and procedures without losing the benefits of the best practices used in the system,” he adds.

“We overcame this challenge by working alongside Oracle and being open to suggestions from them to get the best results.”

With the success of the Oracle HCM implementation, the team at Al Foah continues to work closely with Oracle to identify other aspects of their organisation that would benefit from digitalisation, one example being electronic procurement.

“We are open to any technology. From the top management and all the way down. Whoever will have something that will add value to Al Foah, in order for us to achieve our goals and objectives that is aligned with our strategy, we will consider it,” explains H.E. Al Mansoori.

Al Foah is currently implementing Oracle Time & Labour with an Integration with on-premises Bio-metric Machines. This implementation will Automate Employee Attendance with the Payroll and Leave Management. This Automation between all those components is the first in the region.

“Al Foah always aimed to become a well-known name in FMCG and F&B industries, therefore we are focusing in building a solid automated information system using the latest technology available to help us growing further and achieving our targets,” concludes H.E. Al Mansoori.

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