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Newly independent from its former owner, Royal Bank of Scotland, Citizens Financial Group decided to move its HR operations into the cloud. Citizens, the 20th largest bank in the U.S., designed a phased migration to Oracle's cloud-based HCM, including integrating it with Oracle's Taleo talent management platform.
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The move toward a cloud-based HCM started in 2014, just after the Rhode Island-based bank embarked on its own, with a request for proposal (RFP) that produced proposals from SAP and Workday, as well as Oracle, Citizens' longtime human capital management provider.
The win for Oracle -- which, along with its rivals, has been aggressively trying to convert longtime customers to its HCM Cloud software -- represented a major success in landing a respected financial institution.
Moving from on premises to cloud
"When RBS announced that it was going to spin off Citizens, we had to look at what our needs were as an independent public organization, and from that, we went through an assessment looking at upgrading all of our HR technology," said Joe Collette, application suite manager at Citizens.
Up until then, Citizens' HR functions were centralized on an on-premises system, Oracle's PeopleSoft platform.
"One of the things that was a big driver for us is we wanted to be more agile and more nimble in being able to adopt newer advances in technology, so that led us to look at the new HR platforms," Collette said.
Staying with Oracle offered benefits
Collette said the bank opted to stay with Oracle not only because it had a long history with the vendor, but also because "we felt the product set really lent itself to what we were trying to provide for our user community internally."
"Because we were an existing Oracle customer, it allowed us to partner with Oracle to migrate from PeopleSoft module by module," he said. "Instead of us having to go out and implement a whole new HR platform all at once, we were able to keep PeopleSoft running and then ask what were our priorities and most important functionalities and start to implement those."
The cloud-based HCM transition started two years ago with HCM Cloud's compensation module.
Citizens then wove the Taleo recruiting module -- a separate program not part of the HCM Cloud platform -- into its core HR system. The bank is wrapping up with the core HCM platform and expects to finish during summer 2017.
Addressing challenges of integration
Integrating disparate software-as-a-service systems was challenging, Collette said, but considerably easier because they all came from Oracle. "We're just integrating data stacks between them," he said.
"It's helped us to really evolve to a cloud model," he said. "Going to a full cloud model from a PeopleSoft platform, we've been able to learn from implementing each module what changes we need to make, particularly on the technology support side, to provide support for a cloud model."
Citizens found that the amount of work and effort to support the cloud technology is considerably less than that required for managing the back-end infrastructure for an on-premises system.
Joe ColletteCitizens Bank
Perhaps the most apparent immediate advantage of the cloud-based HCM is ease of updates, a relatively cumbersome process with PeopleSoft. Previously, upgrading to a new PeopleSoft release was a six- to eight-month project costing $1 million to $2 million.
By comparison, Citizens is now upgrading from HCM Cloud Release 11 to Release 12, a six- to eight-week undertaking, "and there's really no cost," Collette said.
Cloud helps bank stay technologically current
"The technology in the cloud space is evolving so quickly that we're able to stay current without having to undertake these big projects to stay current," he said.
One particularly sensitive issue for the bank in the changeover to a cloud-based HCM was cybersecurity.
"Financial institutions are heavily regulated, so there's a heightened sense of security around data and applications, and the reality is most companies are concerned about that," Collette said. "A lot of it comes down to being comfortable with the model from a security perspective."
To that end, Citizens hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to do a wide-ranging independent security review of the HCM Cloud implementation.
Ultimately, Citizens plans to extend all of its HR functions to the cloud.
"In the HR space, we will be a fully cloud-based platform," Collette said.
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