Review, Recommend, Resign…

Hughes Software Systems was started in 1992 as a software development center
for Hughes Network Systems. At this time, the parent company was the sole
customer of HSS, with a total staff of 50 at the end of the first year. Today,
HSS is one of the top communication software companies in India with about 1,700
employees and more than 120 customers worldwide.

In the last nine years, HSS has seen explosive growth and a lot of change.
The revenues have grown at an average rate of 60% annually. We have moved from
providing software services to developing hi-tech and hi-end products and
solutions in the competitive global communications market. The high growth rate
combined with the typical high employee turnover has meant that we have been a
perpetually new company, with 60% or more new employees at point of time. Close
to 75% of the employees are in the 21-26 years group forming a highly mobile,
intelligent and ambitious workforce. As the company has grown, there has been a
constant need to develop, reinforce and retain the right culture.

At Hughes Software Systems, the human resources strategy and processes have
leveraged information technology to build strong applications that help in
spreading, building and enhancing culture, recognizing and reward excellence,
building bonds and relationships, and providing ease and efficiency to employees
and managers from their desktops for a variety of their needs. This has been
done through the development of a comprehensive network of applications and
interfaces that are accessible to employees at all locations from the Intranet.
We believe that having human resources, information technology and corporate
communication under one leader has gone a long way in leveraging the combined

System description
In the early 1990s, Web-based applications were not well known and
information exchange used to happen through innovative use of email as well as
the LAN. Around 1995-96, an Intranet called ‘Anthra’ was set up. Another key
step was taken around 1997 when ‘EDB’ or the ‘Employee Database’ was set
up as an oracle based application for HR. Basically three types of technologies
have been used in developing these applications – Oracle with a Web front-end,
Lotus Notes and Oracle ERP. The system comprises the following key elements:

  • ‘EDB’ or the ‘Employee Database’: This Oracle-based database
    is the core data repository of employee information (personal, educational,
    official or professional) right from the time the employee first came into
    contact with HSS. This is updated on the day of joining and all other
    applications draw the basic data from this.
  • ‘Anthra’: The HSS intranet site ‘Anthra’ is every employee’s
    prime interface with the organization. This is the center-point of communication
    and information and is accessible by all HSS employees at Gurgaon (5 locations),
    Bangalore (2 locations) and the USA.
  • A well thought-out structure of innovative applications and modules:
    that uses the core-information and interface provided by these two elements (EDB
    and Anthra) to dictate the organization’s working, interaction, learning and
    even culture! These applications and modules play a key role in shaping the
    entire work-experience of the employee while at Hughes Software Systems. Among
    them are:

Recruitment Management System: This is available in the manager’s work area
of Anthra and requests for new hires are raised, approved and tracked through
this by managers as well as HR.

‘Newbies’: On the day of joining, every employee learns
what the HSS is about, where everything is, who everyone is, and in fact, all
that a newcomer would like to know about. For most, this is the very first
contact with the elaborate IT system of applications and interfaces.

Time-sheet and leave management system: work-flow for
recording and tracking all employees’ working hour information.

This is also
accessible through an extranet. It is also used for generating invoicing/billing
information for customers.

Performance management through ‘E-PerMaSys’: a lotus
notes based work-flow application that allows each employee and the manager to
set objectives on-line, review progress, make adjustments and do an annual
review along task, role and behavior, the HSS way.

Compensation Management: The employee can log on to the ‘CTC
calculator’ on Anthra to see the details of his/her individual compensation.
The monthly ‘Pay-slip’ is also available on-line through Anthra. Employees
can also conduct their income tax calculations on-line.

‘IJPP’: Through the Internal Job Postings Program or IJPP,
all job openings are posted first on Anthra and any employee can apply on-line
even without permission from anyone else.

Culture Building: happens through Ethics and Integrity
sections on Anthra. The HSS Way explains escalation mechanisms through ‘directline’
and in addition, building role-models and a culture of appreciation is built
through ‘Popular Awards’. Through this application, employees can vote for
any other employee for the three award categories for that quarter (such as ‘I
would like to be like you’, ‘Best Mentor’ etc.). The winners are employees
with the most number of votes and automatic feedback goes back to everyone who
gets a vote.

Recognition: In addition to Popular Awards, ‘Applause’ is
an on-line recognition system. The work-flow application not only allows
managers to nominate employees for awards and the respective group-heads to
approve them, but to also independently publish them on Anthra with just a
mouse-click. There is also an ‘Awards Homepage’ that showcases award winners
in the past. HSS-specific greetings are available at ‘e-Greetings’ on Anthra.

Communication and relationship building: across groups,
locations and levels happens through various ‘discussion groups’ hosted on
Anthra as well as the virtual space called ‘Club Zone’, which includes a
music group, dramatics group, literary group etc. Each group had its Group
home-page on Anthra and employees can set up individual home-pages too. ‘In-house’
is the on-line directory that lists all employees.

Heads U Win: An on-line application that allows employees to
send in referrals to HR for suitable candidates.

Learning is managed through an online monthly training
calendar, an ALC or automated learning center.

The skills inventory system: tracks the skills and knowledge
base of all employees and lets the function-heads or managers use it.

Pointers: This section is the first step towards building a
knowledge management system and a place for approaching the ‘tech gurus’ of
HSS and learning from them.

Help-desks: For all internal support functions such as IT,
HR, purchase, corporate communications and quality exist. These log as well as
track closure of issues.

Resignation management system: Even the resignations, their
review/approval and ‘no dues’ clearance happens through a work-flow system
available on Anthra.

Personnel profiler: Is a step towards having access to all
employee related records on line. Managers have access to key employee
information (e.g. related to compensation, appraisal, training, education etc)
available at their desk top through the Profiler.

Apart from these, the HR and IT departments are currently
developing new applications related to making the Compensation management system
available on line; having an automated joining process for new joinees; a 360
degree feedback system called Leadership development onventory; and a reporting
application called Metrices that provides a dynamic data on aspects of HR like
staffing, attrition, recruitment etc.

Industry standing
At HSS, IT has played a truly strategic and unusual role of
the creator of a vibrant organization. It has not only provided ease and
efficiency to employees and managers but has also been the key in spreading,
building and enhancing culture, recognizing excellence, building bonds and
relationships. This has been accomplished by leveraging the synergy of
Information Technology with Human Resources and Corporate Communications. For
the organization, this has resulted in tremendous value by overcoming some of
the challenges related to growth and change. This has helped HSS make strides
towards achieving its vision: "To be the most admired Indian software
company through innovation and excellence."

The author is V-P and head of
human resourcess, information technology
and corporate communication at
Hughes Software Systems He can be reached at

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