The James Irvine Foundation is committed to expanding economic and political opportunity for working families and young adults in California that struggle with poverty.
Renee brings more than 25 years of experience in technology to The James Irvine Foundation. She began her career as a developer for General Electric and moved up through the ranks during a 10-year tenure. Among many other responsibilities, she handled production support for all systems across the organization, including HR.
She later moved on to Charles Schwab, where she was involved with the systems across all business operations, again including HR. In this role, Renee was able to focus on each system’s user experience, which she credits as a pivotal point in her career.
After working in the education sector in Chicago, she made her way to the team at The James Irvine Foundation in the fall of 2016. She currently serves as the Director of Technology and immediately was immersed in HR operations, as the team was right in the midst of evaluating a replacement for their HRIS and payroll systems.
When Renee first joined The James Irvine Foundation, the Accounting and HR teams had already been evaluating solutions. But they were at at a crossroads on selecting which one would replace their existing HRIS and payroll systems.
There were several factors contributing to The James Irvine Foundation’s readiness to replace their solutions. The existing payroll platform required a lot of manual processing and duplicate data entry. Plus, The James Irvine Foundation team was frustrated with the minimal support they received for the lofty price tag. They also felt that the current HR solution was missing some critical HR functionality. The timesheet feature wasn’t equipped to meet the needs of their hourly workforce, employee self-service options were limited, and the system completely lacked talent management or feedback capabilities.
The team knew both systems were in need of replacing, to improve both the administrative experience for the Accounting and HR teams, as well as the employee experience. They would consider it an added bonus if they could find a single solution that combined all the features they were after.
With two-thirds of their workforce out in the field, it was key for employees to be able to manage their information remotely.
Riddled with manual processes—inherently susceptible to error—the Accounting team at The James Irvine Foundation was frequently forced to work overtime just to accomplish the fundamentals, like managing timesheets and benefits deductions.
A major piece of functionality missing from the current HR solution was talent management and 360 feedback. The James Irvine Foundation needed those capabilities, but didn’t want to have to use a separate system on top of their HRIS.
When it came to evaluating solutions, Renee and the team at The James Irvine Foundation took a very analytical approach. They started by creating a requirements matrix, containing about 60 total requirements categorized by payroll, talent management, time and attendance, and IT. They then scored each system on these requirements as they researched and explored. “Clear blank spots became apparent for certain systems, such as those without a payroll offering. Namely was the only HR system that offered all the pieces that we needed, so it emerged as our top candidate.
From there, they started exploring Namely through a trial account and began working with sales—and they did the same with three other providers to compare. “The Sales Team at Namely was very patient with us in going through a lot of meetings to understand our needs.” After an 8-12 week evaluation cycle, they felt confident that Namely was the right choice, and decided to sign on.
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The biggest time-tracking challenge The James Irvine Foundation faced was their unique 7-hour workday. Because of their 35-hour week schedule, hourly employees that work between 35 and 40 hours get additional pay for those hours at their regular rate, but for any hours worked over 40, employees are paid at an overtime rate. “Using Namely Time, we’re able to capture that data and have the system calculate it for us. Plus, because we pay current, we were having to project out a certain number of days, and often times those hourly folks would have overtime within those days, so they’d have to go back and update their current time with retro. It became really difficult to manage. By moving to Namely Time, we were able to eliminate a lot of those manual pieces. Our Accounting team is ecstatic!”
“We just went through open enrollment, our first since implementing Namely. It was very clear for employees to make their selections, input beneficiaries, identify dependents, and so on. We hadn’t had any of that data before. Namely facilitated the capture of that information really easily for us. This was an amazing value-add for our HR department—they’re over the moon.”
Now that they had a system for performance management, the team at The James Irvine Foundation was excited to use Namely to kick off 360 reviews. They relied on Namely for every point in the review process, from capturing the feedback, to responding to the feedback after employees had reviewed it. “Having a system to manage that process made it a very intentional way of capturing feedback, which our employees really appreciated.”
Since Renee rolled out Namely to employees, their reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. From viewing their pay stubs on-demand (rather than scrambling to find their paper check), to requesting time-off on the go using Namely’s Mobile App, they find Namely easy to use—and easy to love.
Like many other clients, the team at The James Irvine Foundation is able to save large amounts of time by using Namely. True to their analytical form, they performed a calculation of the time saved: Renee estimates that using Namely eliminates 21 hours of manual processing per month, so about 1.5 days per payroll period. “That’s huge, especially since that doesn’t even account for the fact that using Namely significantly reduces the chances of error as well.”
“Without Namely, the Accounting team would frequently end up working overtime in order to get everything processed accurately and on time. Now they don’t. The opportunity-cost there is significant. And the fact that HR no longer has to juggle multiple systems to do their jobs anymore streamlines their work and saves a ton of time.”
Renee has implemented a few HRIS solutions throughout her career, the first of which was during her time at Meritas. “It was a horrible experience. Their implementation team was very scattered, and there were a lot of commitments that were missed. Plus, even when we were live, features that were promised during the sales process didn’t actually materialize and a lot of the features that were there were quite buggy.” Additionally, during her time at Dyson, she was tasked with implementing the HR portion of an existing larger provider, after the company had already been using them for payroll. “That was very problematic as well. We were a small fish in a big pond. I don’t think we had the right support.”
After those less-than-stellar experiences, Renee went in to Namely’s implementation process knowing exactly what to ask for upfront. “For one, we asked for weekly meetings with our Implementation Consultant to ensure we were getting regular support. Turns out, that was the norm for Namely’s process anyway. In our initial kickoff meeting, as well as each of those weekly meetings, deadlines and expectations for both parties were laid out really clearly, which made a huge difference.”
Even beyond the implementation process, Renee and The James Irvine Foundation team have continued to be impressed with Namely’s support. “Our Support Consultant, Jesse Rabbits, has truly been outstanding, from the pace at which he responds, to his care and demeanor in getting any of our issues resolved. I haven’t had that experience with previous providers.”
As a professional who has spent 25 years supporting, optimizing, and implementing technologies, Renee knows a good system when she sees one. “Namely is one of the few software solutions I’ve implemented that has been this responsive and thoughtful with feature functionality. For an all-encompassing solution for HR, you really can’t go wrong.”
Renee thinks that The James Irvine Foundation’s thorough and analytical evaluation truly did lead them to the best solution. Additionally, it helped tremendously with diffusing the tension between the Accounting and HR teams—the former of which had been eyeing the existing ERP (enterprise resource planning tool) whereas the latter had been gunning for Namely. “I was coming in brand new while these two teams were already pretty far along the path of evaluations and had their minds set on what they thought was the better system. Using this kind of approach, I had logic behind my recommendations, so it made it easier to unite everyone behind a single solution.”
The James Irvine Foundation is one of more than 1,400 companies that use Namely to streamline people operations, payroll, benefits, and time & attendance needs.
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