Selection of a digital personnel file

Digitization of an HR department: purpose-driven, not software-obsessed.

The medium-sized Rose Druck GmbH decided to digitalize part of its HR department in 2021. The family-run printing company wanted to support recruiting with suitable software. However, in the search for a suitable solution, the idea arose to digitally map other operational HR processes directly. In order to get closer to its own aspirations and the core task of the HR department: being there for current employees, supporting them and finding and hiring new employees. As a partner in the search for a suitable HR solution, the company relied on the comparison portal HRNeeds.

The starting position

Rose Druck is an owner-managed family business in the printing industry based in Landau/Pfalz, which can now look back on a 173-year history. Using gravure printing, the company produces high-circulation advertising inserts, catalog sections and magazines in three-shift operation – with 144 employees. And it is doing so successfully: while the industry is shrinking and capacities are being shut down, Rose Druck is increasing its workforce and expanding its machine capacity. “We don’t just say family business on the packaging, we are one. The Rose family attaches great importance to this,” says HR Manager Timo Krause. This can be seen, among other things, in the fact that Managing Director Bernd Rose always has an open ear for the entire staff, including providing support in employees’ private matters.

Timo Krause generally manages the HR department alone. He is occasionally supported and represented by a colleague from Financial Accounting. “I would give the HR department 1.5 positions,” says Krause. He is also responsible for quality management and the coordination of EHS management. EHS stands for “Environment, Health and Safety”. “I am the link between all the officers who are needed for this. And I regulate communication between the authorities, the employees and the management,” he explains his extended area of responsibility.

Rose Druck uses a professional software solution for time recording, which can also be used to correctly display the surcharges for Sunday, public holiday or night work, the so-called SFN surcharges, and implement them in accordance with tax regulations. Payroll accounting is handled with software from Datev. Evaluations and statistics, personnel lists and recruiting, on the other hand, are still processed using Excel files – purely manually.

The problem: manual processes

This construct results in an enormous amount of work for the HR department. This increased once again in 2021 due to the increase in personnel. The company hired almost 50 new employees. “That was a huge challenge,” says Krause. For example, applications were recorded manually in an Excel spreadsheet. In addition, countless other Excel lists and tables had to be maintained on the topics of wages and salaries, occupational health check-ups and “hardware” issued – such as keys and work clothing. The same applied to personnel statistics, headcount, sickness statistics and the overview of fixed-term contracts and probationary periods. Excel and Lotus Notes were the main tools used here. As the individual files could not be synchronized, updating one file entailed manually correcting other Excel spreadsheets. These update processes were not only time-consuming, but also prone to errors.

Timo Krause says: “All these things were recorded in lists and I set myself reminders in the calendar. At the end of the month, for example, I looked at the list for the upcoming end of probationary periods to make sure I didn’t miss anything and meet deadlines. There were no interlocking systems.”

The situation was no different in the area of applicant management. Applications were recorded manually and the applicant matrix was also maintained manually. The consent of the works council had to be obtained manually for new hires. These processes also required the maintenance of numerous files to ensure that they were up to date. And made keeping an overview complicated. In addition, data protection had to be ensured “manually”. For example, when communicating via Lotus Notes, sensitive applicant data was deleted manually after the application process was completed in accordance with the legal requirements of the GDPR.

Rethinking the situation

The large number of new hires in 2021 led to a further increase in personnel administration costs. Initially, Rose Druck toyed with the idea of using the Microsoft Access tool to create a link between the large number of individual files.
Linn Rose

“I came across an ad for an HR software provider via an ad in a career network. After a demo appointment, I realized that there were far better solutions out there. That’s how the project to look at professional HR software solutions came about,” says Timo Krause, describing the start of the transformation of his own HR department.

The starting point was therefore to take applicant management and the onboarding process to a new level. The processes involved in recruitment and selection as well as communication with applicants were to run via a digital system. Including the associated internal coordination processes with the stakeholders. And, if possible, the subsequent onboarding: creating profiles for time recording and other software systems to be used, setting up workstations, welcome letters, communication with the deployment departments. All of this fueled the HR department’s desire for a digital solution, for HR software.

Discussions with the management gave rise to the idea of purchasing a software solution that goes beyond the “applicant management” module. More was desired and it made sense to map further digital HR processes using a digital solution. This ultimately led to the search for an overall digital solution with the core module “digital personnel file”, in which all personnel documents can be managed, stored and archived securely and in compliance with data protection regulations. Timo Krause agreed with the company’s management to look for a suitable solution.

The main objective can be summarized as follows: First and foremost, to relieve the HR department of the burden of operational personnel administration. This is accompanied by more time for core HR tasks: employee development, easy access and efficient management of personnel files, the development of an onboarding process and employee retention. Recruiting and personnel marketing as well as employer branding measures will also become more central to HR work.

What the software should achieve

In order to achieve these goals, the software solution must be able to do a lot and map a large number of processes. For example, employees should be able to request their absences via an app, which are then automatically transferred to the time recording system. Employee appraisals, self-assessments and evaluations should be able to be planned and implemented via the software. Target agreements should also be recorded in it. There will also be an Employee Self Service, or ESS for short. This will give all employees access to the documents relating to them, their employment contract, files and documents. This will reduce the workload of the HR department, while at the same time eliminating waiting times and avoidable travel for employees. The coordination effort is reduced for everyone. As far as recruiting is concerned, multiposting of job advertisements should be possible: Ads are automatically displayed on various platforms. The same applies to the company’s own career website. This will be set up with a contact form and corresponding interface in order to channel as many ads as possible towards the new HR software. “As a medium-sized company, it is also important to us that we don’t want to exclude any applications. Anyone who sends us applications in the old-fashioned way will of course still be considered and included in the applicant pool. We don’t want to create an exclusion criterion here, all paths to us should be open,” says Head of HR Timo Krause. In general, the administrative workload for the entire application process will be reduced thanks to the digital support, allowing the HR department to focus even more on the essentials, namely the people behind the applications. Rose Druck sees the software as a support tool in the area of organization in order to be able to make fair and good personal individual decisions and take all criteria into account. All parties involved should also be ideally involved and all processes should be GDPR-compliant. The software takes over the operational administrative workload, for example recording the applications received, the application phases can be adjusted at the click of a mouse and all those involved in the process can use the software within the program to provide initial feedback on the applications received. “All processes relating to an applicant are automatically assigned to their profile,” says Krause, explaining the benefits of the HR software. All subsequent steps in the process up to a contract offer or rejection are also organized via the software. If the employee is hired, the master data from the application can be transferred directly to the digital personnel file. This data can also be transferred directly to Payroll via an interface to Datev. This creates a continuous process from the job advertisement to the recruitment of suitable employees and the creation of personnel files. In addition, the software should be able to collect numerous evaluations and display them directly in graphical form. This creates efficient workflows, makes work processes clear, saves time and leads to the desired data security of applicant and employee data. Timo Krause and Linn Rose, daughter of the Managing Director and project manager, emphasize that all of these measures are intended to ensure that digitalization saves more time for employees and applicants and less time for administrative processes. They are not in love with software; it’s about using digital technologies for the right purpose.

The search for the right software solution for the electronic personnel file

Once the introduction of a digital personnel file had been decided, it was time to look for the right software solution. The comparison portal for HR software HRNeeds proved to be a reliable and competent partner. The portal compares the company-specific requirements with the software solutions of the software manufacturers and creates a list of providers.

In order to make targeted progress, HRNeeds has developed its own questionnaire that addresses all key aspects. This identifies tailor-made software solutions based on individual customer requirements and wishes. A brief telephone consultation between the HR experts from HRNeeds and the customer ensures that the customer’s requirements and wishes are discussed and any outstanding issues are clarified.

After this, the customer receives a list of the identified software solutions free of charge and without obligationwith a detailed summary of the recommended software solutions – including all information to help the customer make a decision. HRNeeds compares over 60 HR software solutions for the user and thus provides an overview of the otherwise confusing market of providers. For companies, this means that they can quickly access a list of suitable solutions and thus avoid having to carry out their own time-consuming research.

In the case of Rose Druck, the collaboration went even further. The HR experts from HRNeeds were also involved in the creation of a requirements profile on request. They also helped with the target/actual comparison after receiving the offers. This enabled Rose Druck to make a fact-based decision regarding the HR software, which was also easy to use and met the commercial requirements.

The functions of the selected software solution not only best meet the requirements of the medium-sized company. The digital HR solution also has another advantage: Datev is a cooperation partner of the solution provider, so there is an API interface between the two systems. This makes them highly compatible.

The implementation of HR software

Rose Druck chose the complete package of an HR software developer, but is introducing its software step by step. “We started with the recruiting software, because this is the biggest relief,” says Timo Krause, describing the approach. This allows us to map the entire application process digitally.

This will be followed by the digitalization of HR administration. In this step, access will be created for all employees – with the corresponding access rights and their roles in the company. “This will drive forward the topic of digital personnel files,” says Timo Krause. For example, employment contract and letter templates are integrated into the system. This means that appropriate contracts can be selected depending on their status, which are then automatically supplemented with personal data – including the option of adding an electronic signature to these documents.
However, existing paper files will not be digitized, explains Timo Krause. There will be a cut-off date from which all documents will only be filed digitally. Everything that happened before that will continue to be in paper form.

The implementation of the recruiting tool has already begun. Any minor technical problems that arose were solved by the selected software provider. This has brought Rose Druck a big step closer to its goal: The medium-sized company can organize and manage its corporate growth in the HR area more effectively in order to once again be able to pay more targeted attention to its employees, the people working in the company.

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