Head of Digital Transformation & Change, Magnox Ltd
Magnox is responsible for the management and operations 12 nuclear sites and one hydroelectric plant in the UK. The company, a subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, is responsible for electricity generation at Maentwrog and the decommissioning of sites including Dungeness A, Hinkley Point A, Wylfa, and Sizewell A.
The UK government had recently announced an agreement with EDF Energy to transfer advanced gas-cooled reactor sites to Magnox for future decommissioning. The skills needed to deliver nuclear-related programs are in competitive demand, and Magnox needed sophisticated tools right away to attract and retain the talent who possess the critical legacy knowledge related to these plants. These are people approaching retirement age. Their rationales for continuing to work differ from that of the general population and call for subtler, more progressive approaches that only modern software helps to facilitate. Magnox was relying on manual, paper-based processes to support performance
management among its 2,500 people. Aside from the obvious challenges associated with a manual, noncentralized procedure, introducing company objectives into the review process also presented difficulty: employees wouldn’t necessarily know how their work connected to the mission and to the company objectives.
In addition, Magnox had been using a legacy system for FP&A. It was built by a third party and, though the system worked well for projects, it lacked the capability to support the initiative of re-framing business segments as cost centers. Plus, the team wanted to get away from spreadsheets for budgets and forecasts. Financial budgeting and planning were reliant on fragmented data, delaying decision-making and taxing resources for processing transactions.
Leadership at Magnox understood that the organization needed viable means to pursue greater organizational agility and predict people costs and their impact on cash flow.
Magnox have had Unit4 ERP in place since 2012 and its cloud solution represented an opportunity to consolidate efforts. Even so, the team felt the responsibility to do the due diligence.
From a talent management standpoint, the goal was to move toward a more modern and bi-directional model of continuous performance management.
Regarding the FP&A solution, other options were considered, but Unit4’s capability was a better fit for Magnox’s needs. Plus, Unit4 FP&A would integrate with any application in Magnox’s ecosystem.
Other options researched but none of the other solutions made it past the demo stage. Ultimately, the benefits of working within the Unit4 ecosystem won out.
Unit4’s performance management has achieved the goal of making company objectives visible and encouraging employees to connect their individual objectives to the company’s ones. The new system makes it possible to cascade goals, both those established internally and those set by stakeholder groups, across the organization.
The new system is much easier to use. Employees now spend approximately 50 percent less time doing performance management. Beyond this, sentiment around the process for it has vastly improved.
The deployment of Unit4’s talent management solution, namely the performance management module, presented HR with the opportunity and ability to obtain baseline metrics on Magnox’s employee engagement. Encouragingly, 75 percent of staff responded to this employee engagement survey — a Magnox high, historically.
Magnox has processed the configuration changes within Unit4 ERP. And now they are looking to be able to actually report on that in an easier way, and also getting away from spreadsheets for budgets and forecasts and putting it directly into a tool like FP&A. Magnox is projected to save 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) hours per month with Unit4’s cloud-based FP&A solution.
The solution deployed has so far saved 30 minutes per person across 2,500 staff — equivalent to 2,500 hours annually.
Notably, shortly after the deployment went live, Magnox was able to advertise 250 live job vacancies. Specifically, advertising was reduced from two weeks to two days through newfound efficiencies reducing manual work, including administration related to GDPR, and enabling the team to deal with a much larger volume of applicants.
The new system has enabled career pathing that was not previously possible at Magnox, supports employee-manager conversations, and gives managers ownership.
Overall, the result has been to prompt consideration of the business needs, the employee’s performance, and the manager’s satisfaction with that performance. Unit4’s performance management system provides the ability to track participation, and with this new information comes new insight. Centralizing this information and making it more visible to the employee, the system brings benefits to compliance, as well. Additional time savings from these updates should become apparent a year following their rollout.
In addition, Magnox is projecting savings of 50 FTE hours/month with Unit4 FP&A.
Unit4 ERP helps mid-sized companies respond to opportunities and plan and adapt to market disruption while providing a standardized, stable platform that aligns and automates processes for greater efficiency. Unit4 FP&A gives finance teams the capacity to unify data, reduce risk, and simplify the processes of budgeting, forecasting, analysis and reporting. The Unit4 HCM suite helps optimize people processes, payroll, and boost the productivity, engagement and growth of talent.
The Magnox team worked hard to keep their new solutions as “off-the-shelf” as possible. A necessary culture change. The challenge was in adapting the company’s own processes rather than defaulting to the seemingly easier alternative of tailoring the solution to match. Post- implementation, the feedback from the organization was very positive – quite a change as normally the team was not used receive any feedback at all. People felt that the product was intuitive. Beta testing was key to the successful implementation of the performance management system. It ironed out a lot of the queries the team would have received when going live. Communication was a key component of the implementation, and Magnox had the support from Unit4’s partner Embridge for the change management. Embridge’s involvement helped with both training on the new system and the transition to the continuous performance management model. At the project close meeting, Magnox shared that bringing in external partners such as Embridge “was hugely beneficial.” Embridge’s representative also stated that learnings associated with handling the technology “basically put Magnox in a good place for any future projects and developments,” as the institutional knowledge now gained has prepared the organization to complete similar future work faster. The work completed with integrations became the first steps in a major Magnox business transformation.
The four tenets of this plan were simplification, skills and leadership training, infrastructure for growth, and workforce planning, all underpinned by behavior that reflects the company’s values. Paula Evans, Head of employee shared services states: “It’s refreshing how our employees are thinking that these things are what they want to see from us as well. It shows how tech is really helping us take things forward in a positive way from an employee perspective.”
About Magnox Ltd
Magnox Ltd is a nuclear decommissioning Site Licence Company (SLC) under the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), a government body set up specifically to deal with the nuclear legacy under the Energy Act 2004. In September 2019, it became a direct subsidiary of the NDA.