[Interview] Neil Pickering, Industry and Content Marketing Manager at UKG
Neil is an IT veteran and evangelist for the performance transformation benefits delivered by workforce management and human capital management solutions. Working closely with customers across the supply chain he witnesses first-hand the employee engagement, cost, productivity and compliance benefits achieved through the effective alignment of people and workforce technology. Neil is one of the speakers at this years RETAIL HR SUMMIT on the 21 September in London.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I am Industry and Content Marketing Manager at UKG, specialising in Retail. I’ve worked in the software technology sector for over 25 years, and UKG (the merger of Kronos and Ultimate Software) for over 17 years.
My experiences cover multiple roles, marketing, sales, pre-sales and alliance management, and every one is focused on understanding and meeting the needs of our customers. I take great pleasure in partnering with our impressive list of retail customers, which include: The Co-operative Group, Sainsbury’s, Midcounties and Central England Co-op, TJX, adidas and Home Bargain…..to name just a few. Hearing how these organisations are using technology to improve the employee experience and business performance is rewarding.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
On April 1, 2020, Ultimate Software and Kronos merged to create one of the larger global players in the HCM market. With over 70 years of combined experience of developing and delivering marketing leading workforce management, HR service delivery (HRSD) and HR solutions, UKG is able to deliver even greater benefits to our customers.
Our cloud-based and mobile first solutions help retailers optimise the performance of their most valuable asset – their people. We enable HR and operations teams to meet their goals and objectives more easily by essential people processes, thereby improving cost control, productivity, compliance and employee engagement.
On average, our customers save between 3% – 5% of their annual wage bill using UKG technology.
How we deliver benefits:
- Accurate demand forecasting
- Optimise labour scheduling – automatically aligning the right resources to customer demand
- Automated absence management – including the capture and compliant storage of documents
- Payroll automation, though accurate time and attendance capture using fixed and mobile devices
- Mobile employee self-service – enabling employees to book holidays, swap and bid for shifts, access pay slips, etc.
- Real-time analytics and reporting – giving managers and executives accurate and timely information to make the right business decisions.
What makes UKG different:
Our people – this is what makes UKG different. The UKG tagline of ‘Our Purpose is People’ is lived by every U Krewer in the business, every day. When Ultimate and Kronos merged, they held No. 1 and No. 2 positions respectively in ‘The Best Place to Work in IT’ awards. The year after the merger the combined UKG organisation ranked No. 6 – something no other merged business had every achieved. This strong culture and positivity by UKG employees are reflected in the solutions we develop and the services we deliver to our customers – over 70,000 of them globally.
We invest more each year in research and development than our top 10 competitors combined. This has totalled over $900M over the past five years, making our innovative solutions unrivalled in the market.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
UKG solutions are designed from the ground up to be cloud-based and mobile first. These features are particularly important in today’s hybrid workplaces, enabling colleagues to provide and access information anywhere, anytime.
Real-time analytics and embedded AI and ML deliver unparalleled levels of automation and insight, giving managers context applicable data and advice to avoid performance and compliance issues.
Our combined experience of more than 70 years, delivering industry specific solutions across multiple regions, means the depth of solution and service capability is second-to-none. We have a ‘Partners for Life’ philosophy, meaning our customers have unlimited the training and support they need to be successful.
What advantage does it add?
Our solution and consulting expertise in retail and other industry sectors mean we offer low risk and rapid return-on-investment for our customers.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
The steps we will follow for solution assessment and deployment are:
- Value Assessment Workshop – UKG retail experts work with the prospective customer to assess their current processes, demonstrate future simplified and streamlined processes and quantify benefits that the UKG solution would deliver
- Scope of work definition – working with the customers to agree exactly the solution to be delivered, the project teams and define the success criteria
- Project kick-of – where both teams meet finalise the project plan
- Deployment and milestone measure – consisting of both on-site and remote working as required
- User Training – happens during various stages of the project to ensure familiarity of UKG technology, aiding project design, delivery and of course go-live
- User Acceptance Testing – proving the solution meets scope and requirements
- Go live – with handholding and close support to ensure a smooth go-live
- Transition to UKG support team – who will always be available online and on the phone to provide user and technical advice and assistance
How long a deployment takes depends on many factors, including: size and scope of project, number of regions, modules being deployed, availability of client resources, etc. Projects deployments can range from a few months to several years depending on scale.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
To retailers, people represent the costliest, but most vital resources. Everyone person at every level has a critical role to play in deliver the products and services that delight customers and upset competitors. From central operations to the shop floor retailers must focus on recruiting and retaining the talent needed to stay competitive, while controlling costs, and improving productivity and compliance.
Therefore, solutions that can simplify and automate people related processes have an important role to play in driving retail success. By reducing or removing unnecessary manual administrative people processes it gives staff time to focus on value added activity, i.e., serving customer needs.
Are there other companies you partner with?
UKG partners with many service and technology organisations to extend the reach and value our solutions can deliver to clients. These include product reseller partners, technology partners, and service/consulting partners. We have over 90 technology partners on the UKG Dimensions Marketplace.
Partnership examples include:
- Google – which currently provides the global hosting of our UKG Dimensions solution
- Accenture – who deliver global consulting and deployment capabilities
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2022 and beyond?
Being successful in retail today requires flexibility, adaptability and resilience – people are at the centre. During the pandemic, retailers needed to adapt quickly to constantly changing health, supply chain and consumer buying behaviours. And, this need for constant adaptation will continues as global supply chain issues, talent shortages, consumer spending power, and shopping habits shift.
Technology will play a vital role in giving retailers and their people the tools and data they need to drive efficiency, flexibility and adaptability. Having a team of people willing to go above and beyond in delivering the solutions and services your business needs to be success will require your organisation to build a culture that puts the experience of you people front and centre. This is the only way to attract and retain the talent you need – at a cost you can afford.
This is where people technology can drive benefit through helping retail colleagues feel a valued and important member of the organisations.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
UKG will continue to innovate, developing and delivering solutions that meet the needs of our retail customers today and into the future. Our new ‘People Operations’ solution suite and UKG Talk module, both launched in October 2022, will further enhance the value we can deliver to customers through greater processes automation and improved colleague / company communication.
Our purpose will continue to be focus on people – making everyone in our organisation and our customers organisations able to play their part in building a better future their themselves and their organisations.
Any final thoughts?
I can’t wait to meet HR leaders at THE RETAIL HR SUMMIT and hear their stories of challenge and success. I look forward to meeting everyone in September.
To find out how UKG can help your retail operation, follow the links below.
Connect with Neil Pickering
You can also see Neil on the 21 September in London at THE RETAIL HR SUMMIT: Book HERE
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