Grand Traverse Resort's Search For New HCM Efficiency

This is part of a special advertising section on HR technology.

Sunday, November 1, 2009
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Grand Traverse Resort is Michigan's premier resort experience and one of the nation's finest full-service, year-round destination and conference resorts. Since opening in 1980, the resort has earned numerous distinctions, including being named a Top 20 Mainland Resort and Top 50 Worldwide Travel Destination by Conde Nast Traveler. The resort's 600 rooms; suites and condominiums; 85,000 square-feet of versatile, dedicated meeting space; and distinctive dining venues, shopping complex, full-service spa and three championship golf courses attracts individuals and families, as well as corporate groups, associations and others for four seasons of non-stop activity.

The Challenge

With 650 year-round employees and summer employment peaking near 1,000 workers, Grand Traverse Resort needed to improve its outsourced payroll service, which was comprised of separate payroll, HR and reporting applications with inconsistent support. The HR department spent excessive time entering employee data into different systems and manually merging report data. Annual open enrollment was a manual process placing tremendous stress on the benefit department. The resort received thousands of applications annually but had no effective way to systematically track, rank or reply to candidates. The time-and-attendance system was not available to all employees, due to the size and scope of the property.

Patrick Leadens, director of HR, joined the resort in 2007 and immediately recognized the need to find a new HCM platform to manage the property efficiently. The goals for a new system included:

* True integration with a single database solution for all HRIS, outsourced payroll and applicant records;

* Single point of entry for all users, controlled with role-based security;

* Hosted Web-based access to improve accessibility and cut IT hardware/support costs;

* Employee and manager self-service to support online open enrollment and employee requests;

* Web-based input to allow anyone with Internet access to submit their time;

* Online job posting with an automated applicant/recruiting solution; and

* Cost effectiveness to stay within the company's budget constraints.

The HR leadership team began to evaluate various providers with a close eye on flexibility to accommodate the organization's existing HR, payroll, reporting and G/L requirements while achieving their stated goals for a new system. A proven track record of successful implementations was also critical, as the plan was to start the new service in mid-year.

The Solution

Following a careful evaluation that included detailed demonstrations from multiple companies, ECI was selected as the only service provider to meet all of the requirements. ECI provided a project-managed implementation team with a detailed conversion plan that minimized the workload for Grand Traverse Resort. ECI harvested the historical HRIS and payroll data, and configured the resort's new Empower software. Cryptic codes were replaced with intuitive descriptions. Custom reports were prepared in advance by ECI along with an easy-to-use ad-hoc reporting tool. Extensive parallel testing ensured that the first live payroll would run correctly. The IT department was thrilled to no longer support the mission-critical payroll and HR servers as ECI delivered a secure, Web-hosted solution from its redundant-data centers. Prompt support for the entire system was provided with one toll-free number and personalized customer support.

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Grand Traverse Resort has empowered its employee base by implementing the Empower Employee Self Service solution. Resort employees can log into the system to view pay stubs, update personal and contact information, and manage benefits. Self Service uses electronic workflows to reduce costs, eliminate duplicate data entry and improve data accuracy. This has significantly decreased the amount of inquiries to HR staff. "The Empower system provided us with the means to cut administrative costs by automating manual processes, enhance employee satisfaction with ESS and refocus HR staff on strategic initiatives, so all employees can concentrate on taking care of our customers and meeting our business objectives," says Leadens.


Organization: Grand Traverse Resort & Spa 

Headquarters: Acme, Mich. 

Primary Business: The Grand Traverse Resort is Michigan's award-winning premier resort experience and one of the Midwest's finest full-service, year-round destination and conference resorts.

HR Challenge: Grand Traverse Resort needed to improve its outsourced payroll service comprised of separate payroll/HR and reporting applications with inconsistent support.

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