New Systems Help Plan International Manage Its Human Resources
Founded in 1937, Plan International is one of the
oldest and largest children's development organizations in the world, promoting rights and opportunities for children in need. With global headquarters in
Surrey, UK, the organization has operations in more
than 70 countries (including 51 developing nations
in Africa, Asia, and the Americas), and worked with
81.5 million children in more than 86,676 communities in 2014. Plan International has grown steadily
over the years and has more than 1,200 paid staff
members and more than 9,000 volunteers.
Plan International is not affiliated with any religious or political group or government. It obtains
about half of its funding from donations from corporations, governments, and trusts and the rest from
individuals willing to sponsor a child.
Plan International works with children, families,
communities, and local governments to bring about
positive change for children in health, education,
water and sanitation, protection, economic security,
and coping with catastrophes such as wars, floods,
earthquakes, and other natural disasters. For example, Plan has sent workers to help children affected
by the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and
the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. In addition
to coordinating emergency response efforts, Plan
runs public health information campaigns and trains
health and aid workers.
Plan's objective is to reach as many disadvantaged children as possible, and this requires a highly
coordinated approach. When an emergency strikes,
Plan must locate and deploy the most appropriate
resources wherever they are required. To accomplish
this a disaster relief team at Plan's head office must
sift through data on all of its 10,000 aid workers in
70 countries to see which people have the appropriate skills and experience in medical aid, child protection, education, and shelter management to provide
the necessary services. Typically the people chosen
to respond to a specific emergency will have a variety of skills, including frontline workers with knowledge of the language and the local area. Plan now
has the ability see data about all of its workers' skills
the moment an emergency occurs, so it can respond
immediately with the right team of people.
Plan is now able to instantly assemble pertinent information about its workers because of its
new human resources (HR) systems. The human
resources systems allow Plan to track not only the
skills people bring when they are hired but also any
additional training or experience they have acquired
for disaster response emergencies while working for
The human resources systems also help Plan
manage the grants and donations it receives. When
a donation first comes in, it is sent to Plan's London
headquarters and allocated from there. If, for example, Plan receives a $40 million grant to use in Sierra
Leone, Plan will need different people to manage
that grant for Plan. Plan needs to be able to scan the
organization globally to find the right people.
Before the new human resources systems were
implemented, Plan was working with very outdated
decentralized systems that were partially manual.
The organization had to keep track of employees
using a patchwork of 30 different human resources
systems, spreadsheets, and documents.
It could take weeks to locate people with the right
language skills, disaster experience, and medical
training. When a massive earthquake struck Haiti in
2010, Plan had to email everyone asking if staff knew
any people who could speak French, had the appropriate disaster management skills, and were available to help.
In 2012 Plan began looking for a human resources
system that could handle its growing global workforce, support common processes across all regions,
and deliver information on a secure mobile platform
in regions where technology infrastructure was not
well developed. The organization selected a cloudbased HR system from SAP's SuccessFactors as well
as on-premises software from SAP, which satisfied
these requirements and are integrated with one
another. Implementation of the new system began in
May 2013. It took only 16 weeks to implement a fully
working system at Plan's international headquarters,
and all of Plan's international regions were brought
onto the system by 2014.
The cloud-based SuccessFactors system runs in
remote computer centers managed by SuccessFactors and is accessible to users via the Internet. The
system provides a centralized employee profile
with a comprehensive view of employee skill sets,
expertise, experience, and career interests. Through
an intuitive interface, employees can update their
own information, creating an easily searchable directory that every employee can access. Plan uses
SuccessFactors software modules for recruiting, performance and goals, succession and development,
compensation, and learning. Plan also implemented
SuccessFactors Workforce Planning and on-premises
SAP Personnel Administration and Organization
Management software. Workforce planning entails
systematic identification and analysis of what an
organization is going to need in terms of the size,
type, experience, knowledge, skills, and quality
of its workforce to achieve its business objectives.
SAP's Personnel Administration software manages
employee recordkeeping and organizational data
concerning the recruitment, selection, retention,
development, and assessment of personnel. SAP's
Organization Management software enables organizations to depict and analyze their organizational and
The new human resources systems provide a
bird's-eye view of the entire Plan workforce, showing
immediately how many people work for Plan, where
they are located, what skills they possess, their job
responsibilities, and their career paths. Plan's central
human resources staff spend much less time chasing
information. For example, assembling and analyzing
data from employee performance reviews, including performance-based salary calculations, used to take
up to six months. Now all it takes is the push of a
button. Employees are able to access their human
resources records online and update information such
as address, family details, and emergency contacts.
By enabling employees to perform these tasks themselves, Plan saves valuable human resources staff
time, which can be directed toward more value-adding
work. Plan is also able to show its donors exactly how
their contributions were spent and the results.
Using SuccessFactors and SAP human resources
software, Plan staff are able to identify and dispatch
relief workers to disaster areas within hours. When
Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013, Plan specialists were on the scene within
72 hours. Being able to deploy staff to emergencies
so rapidly has saved more lives. What's more, Plan's
improved response time has helped it secure new
sources of funding by giving it more credibility with
governments, corporations, and other sources of
grants and donations.
CASE STUDY QUESTIONS
1. Describe the problem faced by Plan International.
What management, organization, and technology
factors contributed to this problem?
2. Describe the system solution to this problem.
Describe the types of systems used for the solution.
3. Why is human resources so important at Plan international 4. How did these systems improve operational
5. How did these systems improve decision making?
Give examples of two decisions improved by
Plan's new systems
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