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CIO50 2020 #26-50 Kerrie Campbell, Flinders University

  • Name Kerrie Campbell
  • Title Chief information officer
  • Company Flinders University
  • Commenced role September 2017
  • Reporting Line VP, corporate services and chief operating officer
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Technology Function 206 staff, 10 direct reports
  • Kerrie Campbell joined Flinders University in 2017 when it was going through what she describes as a "traumatic" restructure, driven in part by the inability of the vice chancellor to access reliable data about people from existing HR systems.

    A payroll system implemented in 1991 - based on a loose collection of disparate system and manual processes -was never designed to support people throughout their work life, she tells CIO Australia.

    Getting an accurate picture of the university's most valued asset, its people, proved unreasonably difficult in 2017 when the university could not adjust rapidly enough to move to a flatter 'matrix' management structure.

    Campbell pursued a new ERP-HCM system that would help the university overcome poor data quality, lack of support for structural change, poor employee experience, and lack of visibility in tracking the employee base.

    She put the business case for new software to the university's council - the first time this group had ever seen an IT request - and was able to convince senior leaders that the investment was worthwhile. 

    The university was expected to reap savings of $17.4 million, although Campbell says this is probably a conservative estimate as the university was not replacing like-for-like services.

    In October 2019, when she and the team starting rolling out Workday HCM, they encountered early issues with the integration of its existing Ascender on-premise payroll system.

    "We worked diligently with both organisations to create a generic integration service that has been certified by Workday and Ascender so it can be used across the higher education sector," Campbell explains.

    The team was in full-scale implementation when COVID-19 hit. This meant that training material for the entire organisation had to be redone at the last minute and moved online to deal with work from home scenarios.

    The job was done in three weeks. 

    "We also had to implement new work codes that did not previously exist in the software to cater for potential COVID-19 leave codes," Campbell notes, adding that Flinders ended up being the first university in Australia to implement Workday with 94 business processes with full online end-to-end processing, while removing 30 manual forms.

    "In the first two weeks of release, 2,431 staff and affiliates logged into Workday since go live, and nearly 4,000 business processes have been completed in two weeks," she adds.

    State of transition

    Flinders had huge obstacles to overcome during the transition to a new HR system. Not least of these were entrenched cultural issues in the HR business team where staff had been working a certain way for nearly 30 years, resulting in pushback from the business team due to fear and insecurity.

    "The system implementation as with other major transformational processes has been the easier part. The hardest part is still materialising, and that's the cultural change," Campbell explains.

    Campbell describes the HR business team as still being stuck in a "valley of despair" - grieving for the loss of their old roles. Some staff are transitioning easily, some or not, and some may never make the journey and end up leaving the organisation, she admits.

    Flinders went live on June 9, 2020. The team had implemented 93 new business processes with 90 of these revised with two or less steps, while 10 HR forms were decommissioned and 15 made fully digital.

    "We migrated 6,596 works details, created 779 job profiles, migrated 1,750 affiliate status holder details, migrated and mapped 6,967 cost centre details, 211 academic units, 82 worker locations, and completed 1,064 test cases," she says.

    Campbell says that CIO roles across the globe are in a state of transition, moving from 'old infrastructure' leaders to more rounded business leaders able to talk to business leaders and executive teams in language they can understand.

    "I feel that right at this point in time in my career, I am in the middle of these two states. I am challenging the status quo in the IT and higher education sector to ensure my university and the sector are ready for the future. I do this by challenging the way the university views IT and the CIO role, implementing new and valued services and changing the current staid and stale business models to drive innovation."

    Byron Connolly


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