RSS icon

Top Stories

Morinda Juices Up with Software Solutions

September 1, 2000
Related Topics: Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS/HRIS), Featured Article
KerryAsay isn’t nuts. He’s just crazy about fruits. Several years ago, two scientistsintroduced the president of Morinda Inc. to a simple plant from French Polynesia: M. citrifolia. The fruit, he learned, yields astrong-tasting juice that Polynesians have used for more than 2,000 years for its healthbenefits. It was an “aha” moment, the kind that led to the creation of MorindaInc., a multi-level marketing firm based in Provo, Utah.

Today,Morinda harvests, processes, and flavors Tahitian Noni Juice and distributes it to theUnited States and 19 other countries worldwide. Not counting its independent distributors,the four-year-old company has more than 1,050 salaried employees, about half of themoutside the United States.  Morinda reportedannual revenues of $289 million in the 1999 fiscal year, said Russ Wood, senior manager ofcorporate information systems.

Afterthe initial glow of success, however, Asay faced another “aha” moment. As aglobal competitor in the multi-level marketing industry, he couldn’t afford to buryhis four-person HR team in unnecessary paperwork. Until October 1999, human resourcesstill managed personnel records, payroll, benefits, and purchasing records on simpleMicrosoft Excel spreadsheets and three separate manual systems. Employee information oftenwas entered several times -- once for payroll, again for benefits, and a third time forperformance reviews.

Fast-growthcompanies, large or small, require flexible software to integrate their HR functions, andMorinda turned to Oracle Corporation’s human resource management system (HRMS)software to address its needs. Morinda now is able to seamlessly automate many of its HRfunctions, allowing it to save time and money. “We had to have something thatsupports our growth and keeps us integrated around the world,” says Wood.

Match your needs with product features and reputations

WhenWood arrived at Morinda, he immediately assessed the new employer’s needs. Thesoftware system would have to be flexible, easy to maintain, and easy to use. “Wewere a high-growth company with multinational requirements,” says Wood.

Oracle’ssoftware was Morinda’s best solution. The components would provide the followingfeatures:

Human resources: It would allow HR to adoptstructured approaches to attracting, retaining, and developing good employees and usingtheir critical skills and knowledge.

Payroll: The global payroll management systemwould enable HR to quickly and easily process many payrolls in a single day. The payrollengine allows rapid response to changes in pay and benefits policies. In addition, itprovides for the management of all aspects of in-house payroll: year-end reporting,adjustments, and legislative reporting.

Training administration: This component wouldsupport the full range of business activities associated with training and development.Its purpose is to ensure that HR improves the ability of its employees to meet current andfuture objectives in a cost-effective and targeted way. It would also provide a trainingorganization or business with the capability to define training activities, scheduleevents, and manage and schedule resources required to deliver the training.

Self-service HR: The final component would helpMorinda make the best use of its human assets. Ease of use, combined with relevant andaccurate content, is critical. Line managers and employees would be able to update and usepeople information through interfaces personalized to their roles, on-line experience,work content, language, and information needs.

Woodwas impressed by more than the system’s features on paper. Oracle Corporation, helearned, had practiced on itself. Its HR organization also manages programs for employeesin more than 50 countries overseas. The employees speak dozens of different languages, arecompensated in many different currencies, and have cultural and local differences toovaried to count. In close partnership with its own software-development organization,Oracle’s HR thus embarked on its own transformation.

AlthoughOracle’s employee population is expected to increase by more than 10 percent thisyear, HR is running a zero-growth budget, says Joyce Westerdahl, senior vice president ofhuman resources. “In past years, our budget would have called for a growth rate in HRstaff of half of the growth rate of the employee population.” But with its newself-service functions, Oracle has been able to maintain a zero or negative growth rate insome areas.

Whatmost impressed Morinda’s Russ Wood, however, were the dollars saved. Westerdahlestimates the savings associated with HR’s increased manager and administrativeratios to be approximately $1.6 million per 10,000 employees per year. “All in all,we’re seeing a ratio of HR staff to employees of  1:247 -- nearly double what it was just two to three years, ago,” shesays.

Suchresults would impress any HR manager. By investigating a vendor’s application of itsown system, Wood was able to measure actual results before committing his own company’sdollars.

Startout simple

AfterMorinda invested in Oracle’s HRMS system, it could have gone hog-wild.  But the company took a more conservative, basicroad, according to Gary Williams, HR manager at Morinda. Since last October, humanresources has implemented mainly the personal records, payroll, and benefits options.

Thebiggest hurdle in implementing the new system has been inputting all the hard data. Eventhough Morinda had used Excel spreadsheets, the other information required for Oracle’sHRMS system had been stored in paper files. “We spent hours gathering the material,”Williams says. But once the information had been entered, they were on their way.

Williamssays the new system has helped automate procedures so that HR no longer has to worry aboutthem. An alert tells human resources when an employee’s status changes so all thebenefit changes can be made quickly. Before, a data-entry person had to note the changesand then determine who should be informed.

“Thenew system allows for fewer mistakes in entering benefit payroll deductions. We had tomake calculations ourselves on our previous system,” he says.

Encouragedby its current success, Morinda’s HR department plans to further implement the systemin Canada and Thailand within the next few months. Down the road, Morinda also will expandits use of Oracle’s other features, such as the self-service and Web functionalities.As overseas operations continue to grow, employees won’t need to spend time managingdata by hand. They can pamper the M. citrifoliaplants instead.

Workforce,August 2000, Vol. 79, No. 8, pp. 82-84 -- Subscribe now!

Recent Articles by Brenda Paik Sunoo

Comments powered by Disqus

Hr Jobs

View All Job Listings