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Author's profile photo Carolyn Horiel

Success in the Cloud: Building a HR Home for Sun Communities Employees

/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/logo_sun_communities_672811.jpgOver the past few years, Sun Communities has seen tremendous growth driven by both acquisition and expansion. The pace of their success had actually become one of their biggest challenges.  Manual human resources processes and the necessity of retraining employees coming from diverse companies had brought their traditional on-boarding processes down to a crawl, even as growth continued.

Real Estate Boom

Since 1993, Sun Communities, a national owner and operator of RV resorts and manufactured home communities, invested more than $1 billion in housing developments.  At their IPO, they managed just 31 of these communities, but now they take care of over 240 communities representing over 89,000 developed sites.

The End of Paper

To responsibly manage investments on that scale, Sun Communities operates 243 communities in 29 states with more than 2,000 employees.  Vice President of Human Resources, Marc Farrugia, was tasked with improving the efficiency of Sun’s HR department. He needed to update their manual HR processes and help transform the organization into something far more productive and cutting-edge.

Up to that point, all of their new hire onboarding was handled with paper forms. Information had to be entered manually into five or six conflicting systems. The administrative duties prevented employees from fully serving as HR professionals. As the company continued to grow, it acquired a diverse range of smaller companies with their own software and processes. This overburdened the Sun Communities HR department, even as they added employees to help with the increased workload.

The Sun and the Cloud

Farrugia needed a way to streamline the workflow, integrate HR operations across the country, and free up time for his staff. He looked at cloud-based solutions due to the geographic distribution of their offices. Farrugia said that he was impressed by the amount of backing that SAP and SuccessFactors were able to put behind their software, assuring them of new technological advances and rolling improvements with every release.   Farrugia adds “Partnering with Aasonn was beneficial in that we were not only able to meet our timelines and our commitments to the business, but as we become more strategic as an organization, Aasonn is able to help us push our processes and the SuccessFactors system to their  maximum potential”

Employee Central Station

In the end, he and his team chose Employee Central from SuccessFactors, with a centralized suite of cloud-based software that employees could access from anywhere across the country. The suite included tools to handle recruiting, compensation, training, performance management, and succession planning.

Farrugia summed up how his team felt about their new streamlined processes using Employee Central:

“A team member, on their first day, can access the learning management system and can take training they need to perform their job as soon as they start. And, it’s awesome!”

Mobile Collaboration and Video

Employees were then also able to solve problems more efficiently by working together, using SAP Jam, a cloud social collaboration tool on mobile devices. One of the most useful popular and useful strategies involved real-world videos of staff members performing essential tasks.

On-the-job training video became a solution when employees responded to service requests.  When visiting a resident’s home, employees used their mobile device to bring up a video that helped them solve problems, like figuring out how to fix an air conditioner or troubleshooting plumbing issues. This saved an enormous amount of administrative work on the back end and made their customers much happier.

Success by the Numbers

Beyond faster solutions and happier customers, the hard numbers speak for themselves. Sun Communities netted $60,000 in savings the first year after implementation simply due to automation, as 240 hours of data-entry time simply went away.  Greater accuracy eliminated 40 hours of troubleshooting payroll problems every month.

Rising Sun

Sun Communities was able to count on advanced HCM solutions from SuccessFactors to simplify employee onboarding and job development. Cloud-based centralized software and training eliminated manual processes, improved accuracy and reduced operating costs. Sun has emerged as a stronger company, ready to grow again and handle whatever the real estate market brings next.

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