In the fast-paced world of modern work, chance encounters can sometimes lead to significant partnerships. Reece Mitchell, Inde's Integration and Automation Director, and Adrian Dawson, Landpower's Group IT Director, embody this idea. Bonded by their shared professional background, they regularly met over coffee to exchange knowledge and work insights. During one of these meetings, while enjoying a flat white and a muffin, Reece discussed some of the personalised automated solutions Inde had built for other clients, unknowingly sparking a transformative path for Landpower.
One of the keys to integrating any new employee into your business efficiently is to ensure you get the onboarding process right. If the employee is onboarded quickly and in the right way, they can be productive faster, delivering back to the businesses’ bottom line. But, if you get the process wrong, it creates delays and unnecessary headaches that can stretch out for months and even years. On the other side of the equation is the time I.T has to spend onboarding the new joiner as well. Their time is just as valuable, and if the process drags out, that’s less time they could be spending on other parts of the business.
For Landpower, a prominent distributor of agricultural machinery across Australia and New Zealand, having IT spend hours on onboarding, was all too familiar. The whole process was done manually for each new starter, and then, even once IT had built out all the different programmes and permissions, there was lots of chasing of the approvers across the business [who were equally busy], to finalise the process.
For Adrian Dawson’s team, it would generally involve:
- Configuring new accounts
- Managing the active directory
- Creating personalised work email addresses
- Setting up security devices (including two-factor authentication)
- Allocating or withdrawing groups and licenses for products
- Assigning or unassigning work phone numbers
- Establishing Teams and M365 groups
- Obtaining approvals from any number of 23 different managers throughout the organisation
"It would take a member of my team anywhere up to 2 hours to build out the relevant profiles. That's a heap of time on top of our usual everyday tasks, and there were so many steps in the process where the wrong data could be entered, or the wrong permissions could be given. With our retail business, we employ a lot of people and do hundreds of onboarding and offboarding procedures in any given year, so, you can start to imagine the time suck it was on the organisation,” Adrian said.
To exacerbate things, Landpower was poised to acquire five Canterbury based harvest centres from the Carrfields Group that would see an additional 60 employees needing onboarding in a short time frame. Adrian had been thinking about an automation solution, but wasn’t sure where to start, which is why his meeting with Reece was so fortuitous.
"Having that discussion with Reece really sold the benefit of automation to us, but what we soon realised was that automating wouldn’t just save us time, it would set our HR process off in a whole new direction.”
~ Adrian Dawson, Landpower Group IT Manager
From two hours, to just ten minutes
Inde set to work, hosting a workshop with Landpower to ask questions about what could be optimised and what barriers were standing in the way of onboarding new starters quickly. Off the back of that, it was able to pull together a proposed design for the new automation tool that it then worked on iteratively alongside Adrian and his team to refine and really ensure it was providing the right solution back to the business. Over the following three months, the automation app took shape, leaving ample time for the impending Carrfields acquisition.
The solution is accessed via a web portal and has dual objectives: reducing time and effort for the IT team, as well as improving data accuracy for the organisation.
Now, when someone needs to be onboarded, HR gets a link to a web form to fill out which takes them less than 5 minutes - it was important that the HR team and not IT were inputting the data to ensure better data accuracy. With the click of a button the hiring manager receives an email asking if they approve the new hire, they tick the boxes to add the hardware and software requirements and send it back to IT.
IT then uses pre-built templates, based off different roles and levels of seniority, to load up the profiles and add in all the licensing and permissions. The solution also nudges anyone that hasn’t actioned their parts to ensure the process runs smoothly and there aren’t any hold ups. In total a new joiner can be onboarded in around ten minutes.
“It’s really revolutionised the way we do things and created so many great efficiencies for the business. Now all the people data sits with HR and is stored in the cloud. And, its freed up more of my team’s time to roll out other digital transformation projects.”
~ Adrian Dawson, Landpower Group IT Manager
When it comes to offboarding it’s even simpler. Because all of the data is neatly stored in one place, searching out the leavers’ email address and clicking a button removes the profile and deletes all the licences.
A better way of doing HR
Now that all of Landpower’s HR data is in the cloud, it’s looking at expanding the tools’ functionality, so it’s not just used for onboarding and offboarding, but so it tracks an employees’ entire tenure at the organisation, from day zero, to the day they leave.
“The solution was straight forward to build. In fact, we haven’t had to create a lot of bespoke coding to get it off the ground, most of it is no-code, or low-code sitting in Microsoft’s Azure stack. That means it’s really simple to add on new features and programmes,” said Reece.
“In the future, we’re looking forward to exploring and evaluating how this can assist us with employee data beyond on and off-boarding,” said Adrian.
But for now, Landpower is happy with the newly improved service, with Adrian adding that, “we now know all of our stuff will happen within minutes of pushing a button, and that’s a real game changer.”