Feb 15, 2011
If you want a strong building, you start with a solid foundation. The same holds true for human resource processes. Managers at Parman Energy Corporation recognize the value in taking time to establish proper operational methods. Established in the 1930s, the company has served business owners in the Eastern United States for several generations. When it was time to replace Parman’s outdated performance appraisal software with something better, Human Resource Manager Julie Pomeroy, PHR, sought a customizable system that would meet the company’s need for efficiency and ease of use.
Rising Above the Competition
When Julie received the go-ahead to purchase new performance appraisal software, her choice was simple. “We never considered any product other than LightWork because the software needed to tie in with our existing Sage Abra HRMS system. We wanted the whole package. Also, LightWork’s customizable nature was extremely important. We needed that flexibility to achieve a perfect fit.”
A Walk Through Parman’s Performance Appraisal Process
When a person is hired to work for Parman Energy Corporation, he or she receives an introductory review within 90 days. The employee’s supervisor uses a LightWork template created specifically for this purpose. After the supervisor completes the review, the LightWork system automatically notifies either the secondary supervisor (or HR if a secondary supervisor isn’t applicable) via e-mail that the review is ready for approval.Once approved, the supervisors sit down with the employee, make recommendations, and address concerns or deliver praise, as needed.
In August of each year, every Parman employee undergoes an annual review. Depending on the department, one or more managers may enter comments into a LightWork template. Once again, the LightWork system will notify HR when the review is complete. Reviewing appraisals on 90 employees within 30 days could be daunting, but LightWork simplifies the process. Parman launched LightWork in the summer of 2010, and the debut went quite well. “Everyone met their deadlines. There were no issues throughout the process,” Julie recalls. In fact, the entire launch progressed smoothly. “In July of 2010, I conducted six LightWork training sessions with our managers and gave them a ‘cheat sheet’ that outlined the simple steps of processing the performance appraisal which they could take with them as a reference. All of the appraisals were in by the end of August. In September, we reviewed the appraisals with employees, and we were done for the year. It’s not a difficult system. The information managers need is right at their fingertips,” Julie says.
While LightWork’s user-friendly design is partially responsible for Parman’s successful launch, preparation was key. “It’s a great product and our experience with LightWork has been successful. Initially, it took time on the HR user end to set up the templates—we have approximately 10-15 templates based on employee positions. To create them, the departmental managers and I selected headings and bullet points appropriate for each employee position template. It required work on our part, but now we’re there. When the annual reviews came around, the templates were in place. Every employee was assigned and our managers could just log in and complete the forms,” Julie explains.
Throughout the customization process, the LightWork support team kept in close touch with Julie. “LightWork’s customer service team was very helpful and supported me through the template development process. I could always reach someone and that’s a good thing.”
Features and Feedback
If LightWork customizable templates were “extremely important” to Julie and other Parman managers, additional features also became strong selling points. “The EmployeeJournals capability allows managers to keep ongoing summaries on employees. They can refer to these during annual reviews. I also like LightWork’s ability attach a scanned document to an employee review, instead of having scraps of paper laying around,” Julie says.
But flexible features and efficient tools mean little without employee buy-in. Introducing a new software system can bring growing pains, but feedback from Parman managers has been favorable. According to Julie, the consensus among managers was that using LightWork made the employee review process quick and simple.
Reflecting on Progress
By investing the time to adapt LightWork to their needs, Parman’s HR team reaped benefits. “What you put into LightWork is what you get out of it,” Julie notes, adding,“We now have the efficient, streamlined system we wanted to achieve.”