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The E.W. Scripps Company’s HR Transformation Journey



For many organizations today, technology, and more specifically the internet, has changed the way business is conducted, and having the agility to pivot with the change is critical to remaining competitive and surviving.

While the introduction of next generation technology has created a critical inflection point for many businesses, it is also providing HR leaders with new challenges. HR now has technology at its disposal to truly transform the HR operating model, which is being driven by cloud-based HR technology and cloud-based HR services. The need for a move to a more ‘future proof’, SaaS-based HR platform is pressing, and for many, it’s the key to achieving the transformation desired.  

NelsonHall’s 2017 cloud-based HR services market analysis estimates that the global cloud-based HR services market is set to reach $20.6bn by 2021, growing at a rate of ~6.3% CAAGR (with cloud HCM implementation accounting for the largest portion of the market, at ~44%).

The report reveals that the top reasons why clients are continuing to seek out cloud-based HR systems and services are:

  1. To streamline and standardize existing HR processes to a more manageable model, and allowing HR to focus on strategic business initiatives
  2. To improve the user experience throughout the HR delivery model – including mobile capability to support the global, mobile workforce
  3. To improve compliance and risk management
  4. To gain access to analytics and robust reporting capability for real-time data-driven decision-making
  5. To shift to a SaaS-based subscription cost model for predictable HR operating costs.

The E.W. Scripps Company (Scripps) is a good example of how technology created an inflection point that was critical to its survival. As a 139-year-old media organization, for many years, its primary business centered on print media (newspapers), an industry heavily impacted by the internet. Recognizing a need to transform its business, Scripps went through multiple shifts over the past 10 years.  Starting in 2008, when it spun off its cable networks business, to 2011 and 2012 when it expanded its broadcast and footprint. In 2015, Scripps fully exited the newspaper business altogether and picked up additional broadcast properties and continued its expansion into the digital space while streamlining its business to a lean ~4k employees.

In 2007, while still in the process of transforming its business, Scripps was also at an inflection point from an HR perspective. Recognizing a need to improve a highly manual HR and payroll delivery model, a lack of standardization across its business units (e.g. 27 different payroll cycles with ~5k job codes for less than 10k employees), a highly inefficient payroll process which required >40 FTEs to process payroll for less than 10k employees, and an outdated HCM that lacked the key features to acquire and manage top talent and drive efficiencies through technology, Scripps turned to ADP to transform its HR technology and delivery model to one that would support standards to help enable growth and scale as their business transformed.

As a result, Scripps was able to move its HR and payroll processes to a cloud-based outsourcing solution which delivered consolidation, standardization, and access to the rich data needed for HR to become a more strategic business partner. Subsequently, in 2013, Scripps renewed its contract with ADP as a result of its success.

Key to the success of Scripps initial transformation initiative was the ability to recognize and proactively manage the change impact to operations (a leading inhibitor to both cloud-based HR and payroll outsourcing services, per NelsonHall research). Hence, it engaged outside guidance for managing that change. Scripps brought in consulting for guidance on sourcing advisory, organization design (including determining the skill sets required to manage an outsourced model), retained team scoping, and governance design – all of which, Scripps considers pivotal to the success of the project and long-term success of their partnership with ADP.

Recognizing the need to continue its transformation and establish a more future proof solution, Scripps sought a fully-integrated ERP solution that could provide best in class cloud technology with integration across HR, payroll, and finance. Scripps recently selected Workday as its ERP platform, and as a result made the decision to continue with an outsourced model, looking for an outsourcing partner with proven Workday experience. Their search ended with OneSource Virtual (OSV) as the incumbent provider, as a result of their extensive Workday experience and innovation, and its ‘consult to operate’ model exclusively for Workday.

Over the next year, OSV will implement Workday for Scripps (to be live January 2019), including core HR, benefits, payroll, recruiting, compensation, talent acquisition and management, as well as finance (later in 2019). Once implemented, OSV will provide comprehensive managed payroll services, and provide ongoing AMS services in concert with Scripps’ technology team.

For more on the Scripps HR and payroll transformation journey, NelsonHall’s Buyer Intelligence Group members can view a recording of the webinar featuring myself and Kevin McDonald, VP of BPO and HR Operations for Scripps at the BIG website – or contact Vicki Jenkins for details.

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