PRA Health Sciences’ HR system upgrade—by any measure—a whopping success

2019 customer excellence awards 

January 22, 2020

This is the third in our blog series spotlighting the winners of our Infor Customer Excellence Awards and sharing their success stories.

Marna Carlson, PRA Health Sciences director of HR systems, accepts a 2019 Infor Customer Excellence Award from Infor GMs Rod Johnson and Cormac Watters at Inforum
Marna Carlson, PRA Health Sciences director of HR systems, accepts a 2019 Infor Customer Excellence Award from Infor GMs Rod Johnson and Cormac Watters at Inforum.

PRA Health Sciences is one of the world’s largest clinical research organizations (CROs). Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, the company helps develop life-saving and life-improving drugs with comprehensive clinical development services, including data management, statistical analysis, clinical trial management, medical writing, and regulatory and drug development consulting.

“We are a global healthcare intelligence partner, consistently ranked among the top CROs and best employers worldwide,” says Marna Carlson, PRA’s director of HR systems. “More than anything else, our story is about people: the clients we serve, the people whose lives we help improve, and our own 17,000 + employees in more than 80 countries.

“Because we are service company, employees are our product,” Carlson said. “We needed an HR system as impressive as our clinical research systems.”

The pain points

PRA Health Sciences’ previous HR processes were antiquated and manual, and didn't align with the rest of the business. Managers used email or a home-grown application to communicate employee data changes for executive approval and routing to HR. HR then rekeyed the changes into their system, and forwarded the documents on to local payroll, recruiting, and other functions for those teams to rekey the information again into other systems.

“Our IT infrastructure was also in need of redesign, to ensure accurate data flow, controls, and security,” Carlson explained.

The solution

PRA decided to move its entire organization — 7 divisions with 52 business units in 80 countries, including 17,500 employees — to Infor Global Human Resources (GHR) in the cloud, and fully unify all data and processes. All manager and employee data processes would be redesigned from local to common global processes supported by GHR action requests. Implementation took 18 months, with go-live on Nov 1, 2018. This year, PRA also implemented the Infor Compensation Planning module, going live in 3 months in May.

5 major goals / multiple ROIs

1. Improve efficiency in global HR administration, and accuracy in HR records management

“We moved from a decentralized regional HR organization to a centralized global HR function, and aligned common global processes around the global Action Request processes defined for GHR. We now have common global data standards with better financial reporting and planning, and better resource management, delivering a trusted source of data to our employees for pay, benefits, and associated HR programs.”

2. Automate key processes through Action Requests, automated workflows, and notifications

“We estimate a 70% productive improvement per transaction because each transaction doesn’t need to be rekeyed into 3 or 4 systems. This also improves data accuracy and lessens the chance of errors.”

3. Improve quality and control of HR data

“We established robust data privacy and access controls in accordance with global privacy. While this is not a quantifiable savings, it’s of tremendous importance to us as we comply with increasing data privacy regulations globally.”

4. Retain complete HR records in GHR

“Previously, all HR program ‘paperwork’ was retained in disparate systems. Now, all employee records are combined into GHR, resulting in faster and more accurate access to necessary data.”

5. Provide scalability for future growth

“The biggest advantage to us is in creating a foundation for future growth. Our company has been doubling in size every 3 years for the past 9 years, and we expect to continue. To compete, we now have in GHR a foundational, global, scalable, easy-to-use system for all our HR functions in future.”

More business benefits

Carlson says in addition to achieving all of the strategic goals outlined above, PRA also:

1. Aligned organizational structure between HR and Finance

2. Improved data flow from GHR to the data warehouse: consolidated 3 historic data warehouses into 1, and redesigned 38 integrations to downstream systems via hub-and-spoke model

3. Retired several systems, resulting in licensing, support and maintenance savings estimated at $600,000 per year:

  • Performance Management System: $500,000 / year
  • Org structure management: $50,000 / year
  • 3 Salesforce HR apps: $50,000 / year

Bottom line, Carlson says, “We’ve made tremendous progress with GHR. We’re ready for the future.”

These impressive results recently earned the company an Infor Customer Excellence Award in the Human Resources category. The awards are given each year to customers that drive innovation and exceptional results with Infor solutions. Eight winners were announced at Inforum 2019, Infor’s annual customer conference held in New Orleans, Sept 23-26.

Read success stories of the other winners, too.

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