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Silicon Image's custom Oracle HCM Cloud a tricky feat

Oracle SaaS talent management was more of a challenge to implement than expected.

Earlier this year, Silicon Image, a provider of multimedia connectivity software and services, transformed its process for traditional performance evaluations to one that combines goals achievement with employee growth and potential.

To do this, the company implemented Oracle HCM Cloud software for talent management -- but only after completing an unusual engineering feat to customize the Oracle system to perform three main functions: goals setting, talent assessment and compensation planning.

Sara Iversen, compensation manager at Silicon Image, said she is pleased with the Oracle product, is receiving positive responses from managers and would recommend it to other companies. She also cautioned that the Oracle HCM Cloud software was more of a challenge to implement than expected. "I would say that Oracle sells it as an out-of-the-box solution, a SaaS [software as a service] solution that HR can go and implement on their own," she said in a conference call with Thao Dinh, the company's director of global compensation, and Sherrie Gutierrez, director of corporate marketing. "I would say you need to be able to rely on your IT department. HR and IT worked very closely in order to implement."

Silicon Image purchased the Oracle HCM Cloud product, which is built on Oracle's Fusion platform, to shift away from traditional written performance reviews by managers and employees. The company has more than 650 global employees.

Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., the company began implementing the Oracle applications in early March. Project leaders said they soon found that two out of the three Oracle modules -- talent assessment and compensation -- didn't communicate, Iversen said.

The company pushed for a product update from Oracle, which promotes a rolling program of updates. Oracle provided an early release of a new Fusion version that allowed communication between goals and talent assessment, but there remained no way to transfer data between modules for talent review and compensation, she said.

To allow for exchanging data between the two modules, Silicon Image reconfigured the Oracle SaaS product, something that is generally believed to be nearly impossible with software as a service.

"Generally, a SaaS-based product is so out of the box you can't really configure it too much," said Iversen, who was among two Silicon Image leaders who spoke about the effort at Oracle CloudWorld in Boston on Dec. 9. "And we did."

The Oracle software replaced a system from SuccessFactors, a San Francisco-based company purchased by SAP in late 2011. Silicon Image had used SuccessFactors for talent review, performance management and compensation.

Before the March start, the company asked an implementation partner to activate the Oracle suite by May 15. The company went live with goals management at the beginning of June and talent review by mid-July. Because talent review is needed for compensation and the two modules couldn't communicate without first being reconfigured, compensation went live around the beginning of August.

The company's Oracle expert engineered a way to get around the issue, but the company did not want to provide details of the workaround.

More integration needed

Iversen said it would be a substantial improvement if Oracle offered a way for the talent review and compensation modules to communicate. Currently, it takes managers about 10 days to complete a talent review, she said.

"We've got a workaround but it is not the same. If the two modules communicated, a manager could sit down and do his talent review, submit it and then transmit the data directly to the compensation workbench module and complete the whole process in one hour."

"We have to shut down the system. We have to download everything and then we have to upload it back into the new module. I think it would be much easier if the two communicated." Oracle has not given Silicon Image a timeline for providing a fix.

Iversen emphasized that Silicon Image is pleased with the Fusion human capital management cloud system. "We're happy with it. There are some challenges. There always are, but we are very happy with our decision."

Managers say the talent review and compensation software is very easy to use, she said. They use a nine-box grid for ranking employees based on their performance and potential, and can drag and drop each employee's information on the grid, think about the ranking and change it later if they want.

Managers are also comfortable with the compensation software because it is similar to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Now, more employees are involved in managing their own goals, which are set and tracked each quarter. Employees last year began setting goals every quarter, as part of an effort to calculate bonuses.

"It is a new tool and people are learning it," Iversen said.

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