For more than 75 years, Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation has powered farms and communities across a 10-county area around its headquarters in Gilmer, Texas. The organization has spent several years updating its technology to be forward-thinking and future-ready.
For more than 75 years, Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (URECC) has powered farms and communities across a 10-county area around its headquarters in Gilmer, Texas. As an autonomous, member-controlled, electric cooperative, the organization is built on principles like caring, honest customer service, and concern for the community at large. While Upshur’s values may sound refreshingly traditional, the organization has spent several years updating its technology to be forward-thinking and future-ready.
“A lot of what we had done in the past was very old school,” recalled Upshur’s Administrative Services Manager, Doug Murphy, who leads the HR department. “Everything in HR was paper driven, from time off requests to performance evaluations, recruiting and benefits administration. Even maintaining basic employee information was manual and paper intensive. Four years ago, a new General Manager joined us who wanted to utilize technology to bring us into the 21st century by eliminating paper and allowing technology to make us more efficient and enhance the service we provide to our employees.”
Prior to Murphy joining the company in 2009, there hadn’t been a formalized HR department or HR processes. At that time, an executive assistant oversaw employee benefits and administered basic HR functions. When Murphy began building more standardized HR programs, he was eager to find a software solution that could automate key HR processes.
About three years ago, the cooperative implemented National Information Solutions Cooperative’s (NISC) enterprise software which is designed specifically for utilities and telecommunications companies. One of Murphy’s requirements for new HR software was that it would be able to integrate with NISC iVUE®.
Partnering with HRMS Solutions to Select and Implement Upshur’s First HR System
The direction for Upshur’s enterprise applications, including the NISC solution, was that it needed to be cloud-ready. “Web-based or cloud-ready software was a primary driver for us in the software selection process. Knowing that Epicor HCM had flexible deployment options, including a cloud subscription model, was critical to our decision,” said Murphy. Equally important in selecting Epicor HCM was finding the right partner to implement the solution. Murphy was impressed by HRMS Solutions’ service-oriented approach, their technical proficiency and their deep practical knowledge of HR best practices.
“Our assigned project manager was not only extremely experienced working with Epicor HCM but has also been a HR practitioner. This combination of product expertise and HR acumen was key to selecting HRMS and to the success of our implementation,” stated Murphy. “As I mentioned before, a lot of our processes were old school and needed to be updated. It definitely helped to be able to bounce ideas off our HRMS resource knowing she was competent in the field of HR and could offer us best practices and process recommendations. It was very, very important and helpful for us to have that resource.”
Project Team Relationship Is Key to Implementation Success
“HRMS Solutions laid out an organized project plan, step by step as to what the expectations were on our end, as well as the expectations for them. We were pretty successful at hitting target dates and getting tasks completed on time, but the real success came from being able to develop a great relationship with our project manager—she’s been key to making it all happen,” said Murphy.
Building Best Practice HR Processes with Epicor HCM
Working with HRMS, Murphy has been able to adopt HR best practices and build them into Upshur’s business processes using Epicor HCM. “Because our previous HR procedures were non-existent or paper-driven, we’ve been able to set up our new procedures and policies to match the software’s comprehensive capabilities,” he said.
When asked about the immediate benefits he’s observed in the implementation of Epicor HCM, Murphy said, “I believe the biggest benefit going forward will be the technological advantages in efficiencies over our old manual processes. Epicor HCM is going to help us in our engagement and communications with employees. With self service, our employees will now have company policies and personal employment information at their fingertips. This easy access to information is something we never had before, and it’s going to be a huge benefit to our employees.”
Improving Performance Management and the Appraisal Process
Getting a consistent, objective performance appraisal process in place for both supervisor and employee evaluations at Upshur was one of Murphy’s top priorities. He felt strongly that their old performance management processes needed an update and improvement. The roll out of performance management tremendously improved Upshur’s evaluation process, and Murphy believes it will do a lot to solidify the cooperative’s employee counseling and disciplinary procedures as well.
“The performance evaluation that we had before was very outdated and subjective. Epicor HCM has allowed us to create a more objective assessment that is fair for everybody. It gives us options and capabilities that we didn’t have before, and it will be a significant time saver for us. The implementation of automated performance management has opened up a lot more opportunity for us to be more consistent in our evaluations, enhance ongoing communication and dramatically reduce paperwork.”
Single Source of Workforce Truth
Murphy and the team at Upshur Rural Electric are looking forward to going live with additional Epicor HCM functionality and reaping the benefits of streamlined employee information, increased productivity, and having one version of the truth. Murphy concluded, “Epicor HCM is top of the line in human resource software and HRMS is a superior implementation firm with extraordinary service. We look forward to continuing our relationship with HRMS,” said Murphy. “They’ve been a pleasant company to work with, and their employees are great. I couldn’t be more pleased.”