The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of 39 U.S. institutions and six international affiliates that operate world-class astronomical observatories. AURA's role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. In addition, AURA is deeply committed to public and educational outreach, and to diversity throughout the astronomical and scientific workforce.
Previously, AURA had been using multiple systems, including an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, to handle its HR and payroll processes. HR teams spent significant resources on duplicate data entry, manual reconciliation, and administration, and company leaders found challenges with upgrades, flexibility, and integration.
AURA made the switch to the cloud-based UKG Pro® solution because it's a flexible, single-source solution that provides the organization's 1,100 employees with instant, 24/7 access across the U.S.
"Having Pro and cloud-based technology has made a huge difference in enhancing our processes for HR, payroll, and talent management," said Lee Peters, HRIS Administrator at the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. "Plus, as a nonprofit government contractor, we have to dedicate our full focus on our missions and keep administrative costs in control. With Pro, our internal IT resources are free from having to manage or maintain multiple systems, and these resources are now being applied to supporting the defining aspects of our organization."
Pro is providing AURA with a comprehensive suite of human capital management (HCM) solutions, including HR, payroll, benefits enrollment, recruitment, performance management, and more. Employees in any location have immediate access to individual information and strategic tools to perform business activities. Pro delivers one system of record for workforce information, and data is available for instant reporting across people management processes.
With quick access to in-depth business intelligence, executives and managers can make informed day-to-day and long-term strategic decisions about their employees and related business issues.
"Since we switched to Pro, the ability to have on-demand reports has been a huge advantage," said Peters. "With our previous systems, writing a report was a very complex process. Now we can get information in seconds. A big win for us is that we can automate reports that are delivered to individuals or teams on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
"For example, we have automated reports that go to division management to closely monitor staff overtime," added Peters. "We also have reports that are sent to multiple teams so they can evaluate open staffing requisitions, when these were initiated, the time to fill a job, as well other valuable analytics."
Even though AURA has multiple locations across the U.S., it operates under one FEIN and has to aggregate multiple U.S. Department of Labor EEO-1 and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports. "Previously, each of the centers had to independently run these numbers, and then our teams had to manually add the numbers up to complete the filings," Peters explained. "With Pro, we can pull specific data for each of our locations and have it automatically aggregated for the consolidated filing of the EEO-1. When any of our executives, managers, or employees asks for information, I'll say that if it's in the solution, we can deliver what you want, however you want to see it. What we really like with Pro is that pretty much every single field that you can see is reportable."
"The overall result is tremendous time savings. By eliminating multiple systems, we now have the freedom and resources to support additional initiatives."
For example, UKG Pro Open Enrollment significantly reduces the time and expense associated with administering employee benefits. By providing employees with an easy-to-use web experience, Pro minimizes paperwork for HR and benefits professionals, eliminates the need to print and distribute forms, and enables employees to review benefits options and make elections from anywhere via the Pro portal. Plus, employee benefits elections and ensuing deductions are processed in one system, so no reconciliations are necessary.
"I can't even begin to say how much time Pro has saved us with benefits enrollment," said Peters. "Previously, we had a payroll system, HR system, and benefits system, and we had to cross-check all three to make sure data was correct. With Pro, information is transmitted in seconds. We have eliminated two weeks of manual entry for open enrollment because it is now completely integrated with payroll.
"The overall result is tremendous time savings," Peters added. "By eliminating multiple systems, we now have the freedom and resources to support additional initiatives — projects that we just would not have had time for if we were still entrenched in the day-to-day, manual labor of maintaining multiple systems."