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Trajectory “New personnel system NWO-I” in full swing

Project leader Henk Tamsma (DIFFER) tells us more
Since the NWO transition in 2017, the NWO-I office and the nine NWO Institutes have already harmonised various work processes to optimise the collaboration within NWO-I and facilitate working in a more efficient way. For example, there is already a single financial system for NWO-I, and everybody works with the same salary administration. Now it is the turn of the NWO-I personnel system. Henk Tamsma is head of P&O at DIFFER and leads the NWO-I-wide project “Harmonisation personnel processes and design Youforce”. He tells Inside NWO-I about all of the changes that will take place in the area of P&O within NWO-I: examples are the central registration of personnel changes, the digitisation of personnel files and employees being able to consult their own files via the new portal Youforce. User-friendliness will take centre stage.

The necessity of a new system

‘Immediately after the NWO transition, all of the P&O heads came together. The goal was instantly clear: replacing the current outdated personnel system with a single new uniform system for NWO-I in its entirety. This system has to become less vulnerable, more user-friendly and should be able to run in the cloud’, says Henk. He explains that the project has three separate phases: (1) transferring the current salary and administration system Beaufort safely to the cloud, (2) harmonising all administrative P&O processes within NWO-I and (3) replacing the current portal NWO-I People with a new portal from Youforce. ‘This project could not be started until the project New Financial System (NFS) had been completed. Changing two vital systems at the same time would have made our organisation too vulnerable. Fortunately, we could set to work in 2021: a project group and steering group have been formed, and much work has been done in the past 18 months.’

Step 1. Beaufort in the cloud

NWO-I has worked with the salary and P&O administration system Beaufort for many years. We had already started with the project New Personnel System NWO-I (NPS) when NWO-D was hacked at the start of 2021. That made the urgency and importance of this project even clearer still. The wish arose to host the data in a safer manner in the cloud: then, the data will no longer be located at NWO-I itself, but on a safe, external online server. Thanks to the efforts of Hans Morsman (NWO-I application manager Youforce) and Ria Wemelsfelder (salary administration, NWO-I office) this step has now been successfully completed. The supplier has performed the so-called PEN test to obtain certainty about the security of the system. Our NWO-I Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Stijn Hoogervorst is testing whether this has been done thoroughly. Furthermore, the finishing touches are now being made to the Data Protection Impact Assessment, a test of the quality of our GDPR management approach. This assessment describes which personal details are processed by the system, which privacy risks exist and which measures have been taken to manage those risks. ‘My apologies for all the technical terms and acronyms’, sighs Henk.

Step 2. Harmonising work processes

In the trajectory “New Personnel System NWO-I” we have to deal with ten different parties: the nine institutes and the NWO-I office. And each of those parties has different P&O processes and systems. These therefore need to be itemised and described before we can harmonise them. Henk: ‘That is anything but easy, however, because each party considers its processes and systems to be unique. So, under the guidance of an external party VASCO, we started with visits to all of the institutes followed by interactive workshops to discuss and describe the processes. For this, we made grateful use of the experiences from the NFS project. Thanks to the constructive consultation in the functional P&O meeting, we eventually managed to jointly record the processes in a relatively simple manner and the steering group and institute managers subsequently approved these. We have worked very efficiently during this trajectory, and in the end, we discovered that we had a lot in common.’

Step 3. Youforce portal replaces NWO-I People

The next step is to discontinue the portal NWO-I People that is currently used a lot within NWO-I and to replace this with the new Youforce portal. Youforce is a portal in which employees (and also managers and P&O professionals) can quickly and simply deal with their P&O matters. Youforce is already used by the NWO-I office and several NWO Institutes, and soon all of NWO-I will switch to the system. ‘Our aim is to go live with the new Youforce system on 1 July this year. But, that doesn’t mean all the work will be behind us’, says Henk cautiously. ‘On 1 July, not everyone will be able to work in the portal yet; there will be a transition phase. We will be busy implementing the new system until at least the end of 2022, as we are still working on several issues. One such example is the registration of leave and time reporting; these are each registered once in a separate system and those systems need to be linked to each other. Building that link costs time. So yes, we will go live in July with several elements but some parts will be done later. That’s because we want to do things carefully. You can see it this way: we get the keys to our new house on 1 July and then we need to decorate and furnish it further.’

What will NWO-I employees notice?

‘NWO-I People will gradually be replaced by the new Youforce portal. Youforce provides self-service processes for employees. If you now enter a change of address in NWO-I People, then this arrives in a mailbox and P&O types this into Beaufort. Soon such a change - including a check by P&O, of course - will be immediately processed in the system. And employees will also be able to follow their own changes, such as a holiday or AVOM (Tailor-made Terms of Employment) request. All correspondence about changes will be registered in the Youforce portal. Furthermore, all personnel files will be digitised and you will soon be able to consult your own file via the portal. The system will also be far more user-friendly.’

Tendering procedure salary and P&O administration system in 2024

Youforce will be fully implemented during the course of 2023. However, this does not mean that NWO-I will be there yet, according to Henk. ‘Youforce is from the same supplier (Raet) as our old system Beaufort, which still continues to run “under the bonnet” for the salary administration. Legislation prescribes that if you work with the same supplier for a long time, a tendering procedure must be started at a given moment. You cannot put out a tender if you are working with ten different processes. In 2024, we will search for the most favourable system for our NWO-I employees against the lowest rate. Fortunately, by that time, we will have gained experience with the harmonised work processes and that will enable us to approach various suppliers in a targeted way. As there is a real chance that we will change our supplier and system, the works council will be closely involved in this process.’

Double role

Henk is both the P&O manager at an institute and project leader. That is a difficult role to combine, but it also yields opportunities. And he is aware of that. ‘It is very useful that I know everybody well, immediately recognise which factors play a role at the institutes and where the interests lie. But at times, it can be unhelpful that I have to balance interests and must make certain choices. In such cases, it is far better if somebody from outside the organisation takes the decision. That is why so much consultation and harmonisation is needed in the preparatory phase. And in the realisation phase, you need to act as a sort of “dictator” and say ‘this is how we’re going to do things’. Thankfully, the steering group assesses everything we do and takes the final decisions.’

Willingness to change

Will working with the new system constitute a huge change for the institutes that do not yet work with Youforce? ‘I notice a lot of willingness to change in the organisation and there is a lot of support from among P&O employees. They are now busy testing the new system. ‘But the fact that the institutes have different backgrounds and currently work with different systems does not make things easy. For example, NIOZ uses the personnel module from UNit4, and CWI and ASTRON also register leave in a different system. And, each institute has its own wish list of course. The one wants Luxaflex, whereas the other is perfectly happy with curtains. We are doing our best to make as much use as possible of all best practices from the institutes, and we will jointly develop these further.’


More information about the portal will follow shortly

NWO-I employees will soon receive more information about the new portal “Youforce”, how they can gain access to this portal and when that will be the case.

Text: Melissa Vianen
Newsletter Inside NWO-I, June 2022
You can find the archive of the newsletter Inside NWO-I on the NWO-I website.

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