NUHS team

National University Health System (NUHS) took home the silver award for 'Excellence in Digital Transformation' at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Singapore.

In this interview, Priscilla Teo, Group Chief Human Resource Officer, NUHS, shares on the series of structured change management activities to engage and ensure a seamless transition for the company’s 15,000-strong workforce.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

NUHS HR’s winning strategy to digital transformation is to achieve a system go-live with the most viable product and minimum customisation. This entails:

  • Shifting of team’s mindset, from being used to conventional and highly customisable HR systems to embracing a pure software-as-a-service solution. NUHS HR took various approaches to streamline our existing policies and/or processes via a series of open consultations with institutional leaders and staff.
  • Conducting a series of structured change management activities to engage and ensure a seamless transition for our 15,000-strong workforce to the new system, including the use of mobile application within the first four weeks after the system went live in January 2021.
  • Complying with all key software-as-a-service (SaaS) IT security requirements mandated in the HealthTech Instruction Manual (HIM) applicable for Singapore’s public healthcare sector.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

This strategy has helped to harmonise and simplify HR policies and process across all NUHS institutions.

The initiative has also served to further empower staff and supervisors with more service-on-the-go and convenience. Our leaders played an important role in helping to resolve challenges and their support was crucial in enabling teams to carry out required changes.  

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

Due to COVID-19 related safe distancing measures and work from home arrangement, we had to explore new ways to engage staff and communicate the changes. All roadshow sessions were done virtually, and a series of instructional videos were developed to support the change effort. A new intranet communication portal was also introduced to support the communication for this roll out, which served as a staff self-service portal.

Due to the complexity of our operating environment, which entails internet separated with stringent cybersecurity requirements, the proposal for a cloud-based solution was reviewed and discussed extensively in multiple forums before it was eventually approved.

Our IT counterpart (iHIS) worked closely with the product vendor (SAP) and the system integrator (IBM) to fulfil all security requirements and ensure requisite cybersecurity measures are in place.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

The ROI for this transformation effort is measured through a combination of measures including the digital adoption rate, user satisfaction, and a more streamlined process which resulted in a faster turnaround time and reduced time and effort needed on processes.

We are proud to be the first public healthcare cluster to pilot and move into a cloud-based HR platform with all modules, through a 10-month implementation period, and having achieved multiple desired business outcomes, such as:

  • Improved employee experience and engagement through a mobile-enabled HR system with more employee and manager self-service functionalities,
  • Single HR database to support HR analytics and decision making,
  • Harmonised HR policies and processes across all NUHS institutions,
  • Streamlined HR business processes and workflows through automation,
  • Support for employee value proposition and talent attraction with the introduction of a digital candidate experience during the hiring process,
  • Enabling access to the latest technology via cloud updates.

Q We’re now seeing HR manage portfolios that were previously considered far from their job description. In your view, what are the top three skills and attributes of today’s successful CHRO?

  • Strategic thinking – Understanding business drivers and supporting business performance by leveraging workforce capacity.
  • Agility – The ability to learn and adapt swiftly to the ever changing external and operative environment.
  • Change management – The ability to lead large scale transformation effectively.

Photo / NUHS

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