Sysper2 - the European Commission's Human Resource Management System (Sysper2)

Published on: 20/11/2007
Document
Sysper2 is the Human Resource Management information system of the European Commission. It not only supports traditional personnel administration (recruitment, career management, organisation chart, time management). Also job descriptions, performance assessments and promotions are managed. Even the matching process between staff and job vacancies is facilitated thanks to a competency management module. All 30,000+ Commission staff members are users and stakeholders as Sysper2 is one of the cornerstones for staff empowerment and administrative simplification in the European Commission.

Policy Context

The origin of Sysper2 dates back to the 2001 White Paper on Administrative Reform, in which the European Commission has set out to reform rather fundamentally its HR policy. These aspects not only relate to job descriptions, skills and profiles for career guidance and mobility, which were explicitly mentioned in the white paper, but also to training, equal opportunities and transparancy. These requirements and those generated by the integrated resource allocation process of the Strategic Planning and Programming cycle, could no longer be easily and flexibly taken into account by the previous generation of systems. Sysper2 is also one of the key systems in the context of the "e-Commission", the Commission’s 2005 e-administration initiative, an ambitious objective to put the Commission at the forefront in its application of information and communications technologies to contribute to the modernisation of the Institution and ensure efficiency, transparency and effectiveness. In this context, the Commission's Vice President for Administration, Siim Kallas, announced his priorities for 2005 – 2009 with a view to make the Commission a best-practice, knowledge-based organisation. Simplification and clarification of internal administrative rules and procedures, their clear and effective communication and the optimal use of IT tools are a prerequisite for achieving this goal. These need to be integrated into the broader agenda of the present Commission, which aims at enhancing the service orientation of the administration, professionalisation of the management of human resources and its strategic alignment with the needs of the Institution.

Description of target users and groups

All staff members of the European Commission

Description of the way to implement the initiative

We opted from the start from a phased approach. The HR domain was decomposed in a dozen subdomains. These subdomains gave rise to software modules that were put in production at a rhythm of about two per year. As all modules are based on a common "core" HR business model, integration is assured. A federation database or data hub was a key element in assuring the continity of service during the gradual transition process from old to new system. The top-level authority over the project lies with a steering committee presided by the system owner, i.e. the Director-General for Personnel and Administration. The mandate of the committee is to decide priorities, review and adapt the project's planning; review risks and issues and validate the functional scope. The Informatics department of the European Commission is the system supplier. The project team consists of about 20 persons, managed by an IT project manager. RUP (Rational Unified Process) is applied as project methodology. On the terrain the collaboration between IT and business is assured via small stakeholder groups where business specialists per subdomain and IT people can work in close cooperation.

Technology solution

Sysper2 has a multi-tier, service-oriented architecture. It is developed in J2EE (Java2 Enterprise Edition). It is comprised of a presentation layer based on the open source frameworks Struts and Tiles; a business layer containing the Human Resource Management business rules and offering services to the presentation layer and other client applications; and a database layer storing the information in an Oracle database. Communication between the different layers (except the database) is done using XML. Technology choice: Standards-based technology, Mainly (or only) open standards, Open source software

Main results, benefits and impacts

Sysper2 is not just another Human Resource Management system for an HR department. All 30000+ Commission staff members are users and stakeholders as this system is one of the cornerstones for staff empowerment and administrative simplification. - Front-office integration: With the introduction of Sysper2, the various actors in Human Resource Management, especially individual staff members and middle management, now have access in a uniform manner to all information regarding the HR procedures in which they participate: job descriptions, performance reviews, mobility, etc... Sysper2 has become the unique portal for all HR topics, providing a consistent and comfortable work environment. - Back-office integration: Coming from a historic situation in which multiple HR databases gave only a fragmented image of the human resources in the Commission, and the same information had to be re-encoded several times in different systems, Sysper2 has introduced the principle of "uniqueness of information". If the information already exists somewhere, re-encoding must be avoided through proper integration of the back-office systems and by sharing common data via a central repository. This also increases the efficiency of the HR procedures as double work is eliminated. - Information managed at the adequate level Integration does not mean centralisation. On the contrary, the introduction of an integrated HR Management system such as Sysper2, has allowed for more efficient but decentralised HR processes. Information is entered only once, at the source (e.g. by individual staff members, middle management,...), which reduces the need to re-encode information in the HR department. - Accessibility of the information: Not only does every staff member has full electronic access to his complete digital personnel file (electronic documents and structured data), but Sysper2 also provides management with decision support tools ("Business Intelligence") to further streamline HR policy - Paperless administration: With Sysper2, the Commission has made a significant effort in eliminating paper-based procedures. Even in sensitive domains such as performance assessment and promotion, all procedures have become 100% electronic. - Rationalisation of the IT portfolio: Last but not least, the Commission has been able to rationalise its portfolio of HR-related IT systems. This has reduced maintenance costs, as both the number of systems has decreased and the variety of technologies used.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

The European Court of Auditors is in the process of adopting Sysper2 for its Human Resource Management.

Lessons learnt

Lesson 1 - The key success factor for building a new, ambitous administrative information system is an intense collaboration and dialogue between business stakeholders and IT system supplier. Lesson 2 - As Sysper2 is the enabler for transforming the Commission's classical "personnel administration" into a modern "human resource management", the construction of the system went hand in hand with a reengineering of the HR policy. That was only possible as business and IT were equal partners working towards a common goal. Scope: International