Shell Canada Limited was an early adopter of LANSA for the Web. In 1997, the company brought the yet-unnamed product into its systems to provide its 3500+ cross-country employees with bilingual web access to its HR and payroll information – a function typically handled by HR but now offered on a self-service basis to employees and their managers. Today, in 2007, Shell Canada has not only maintained LANSA but also upgraded its use of the technology to incorporate the new Visual LANSA IDE and LANSA WAM functions.
"Our Web-based systems now include ESS (Employee Services System), MAS (Management Access System), Job Posting, Expense and Competency systems," said Shell Canada's human resources HRIT supervisor, Debbie Hutchings.
"We launched our ESS/MAS modernization project last year to bring our screens up to date with LANSA’s new technology and to provide a cleaner, more professional look and feel to these Web-based applications. At the same time, the upgrade gives us standardization with our new HR library and better supports our Employee Value Proposition."
Debbie noted that LANSA’s software and partnership has allowed the company to take information from its AS/400-based JD Edwards systems and present it to employees in a user-friendly way. "It’s been a real advantage to provide Shell Canada people with simple and intuitive self-service systems this past 10 years."
Shell Canada empowers its employees with LANSA for the Web
This case study originally published in 1997.
Shell Canada, one of the largest AS/400 installations in Canada, has used LANSA to develop an Intranet extension for its HR/Payroll system.
In 1995 Shell Canada implemented the JD Edwards (JDE) HR/Payroll module on its AS/400. At the same time Shell Canada began designing a new employment relationship with its employees. As part of this new relationship, Shell wanted to empower its employees and managers with online access and control of information traditionally managed for them by Human Resources.
Using an Intranet solution Shell Canada has empowered its employees and reduced administration costs at the same time
Shell Canada needed a new "front-end" to provide users with an easy-to-use online access and update capability to the AS/400 data. The emerging popularity of Web browsers, led to a serious consideration of an Intranet solution, since Web browsing would be familiar to most employees.
Shell's Information and Computing department faced a number of challenges:
- providing access to employees geographically dispersed across Canada
- harvesting the benefits of its existing IT and network infrastructure
- providing reasonable access and response times
- minimizing IT administration and support - especially for remote sites
- ensuring strict security for sensitive information
- designing a multi-lingual French and English language system
- providing an easy-to-use system which would require minimal training for employees with a diverse range of computer knowledge
An AS/400 based Web solution that integrated with the JDE AS/400 environment made sense, as nearly all of the data required already existed in the JDE system and the AS/400s supported the Shell TCP/IP networking standard.
Capacity was available on one of Shell's four RISC-based AS/400's which was used primarily for night time batch processing. By using this AS/400 to provide the Web serving mainly during the day, Shell could better utilize the machine 24 hours a day without hindering either type of work.
Web server software from I/NET using the robust AS/400 architecture meant that a centralized based Intranet application could service the many transactions expected every day.
Ed Teron, Shell's IT Project Manager, says "With the ‘back-end' infrastructure (server and network) chosen we then focused on selecting tools to develop the programs (CGI-scripts) that would interpret and present the data to the users via an Intranet solution. We wanted an option that we could put in place quickly, but that was not just a special solution only useful for this project."
"LANSA offered a secure and flexible method for linking the JD Edwards data to an Intranet solution. Using LANSA, LANSA Canada worked with the Shell I&C and HR teams to design and build a system that worked almost entirely within its existing environment."
LANSA offers a secure and flexible method of making existing AS/400 data available to an Intranet solution
The employees and management have found the system extremely informative and easy to use. Debbie Hutchings, Shell's HR Systems Coordinator says, "Using an Intranet solution Shell has empowered its employees across Canada with an intuitive, bi-lingual application. They are better informed and this improves decision making. At the same time the reduced reliance of employees on HR staff for general inquiries has reduced HR administration costs while increasing the opportunity for more value-added work by HR staff."
The system is also easy to maintain and the JDE-based HR/Payroll module required absolutely no modification for this project. As Ed Teron says, "The ‘brains' behind this design is the LANSA based data transformation function which enables ESS/MAS to be completely buffered from the JDE system. If JDE functions and data change, then most of our changes (if any are required at all) are done in the transformation portion of the system."
Company and System Information
- Shell Canada is a Canadian corporation that employs just over 3,700 employees at its head office in Calgary, Alberta and operating locations across Canada. Its upstream operations involve the exploration for, and production of crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, sulfur and bitumen. Shell's downstream operations refine and market petroleum products through a network of bulk facilities and 2,100 retail service stations.
- Shell Canada is a Canadian corporation whose ownership is divided between public shareholders (22%) and Shell Investments Limited (78%). Shell Investments Limited is in turn owned jointly by Shell Transport and Trading Company (an English Company) and the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company of the Netherlands.
- The ESS (Employee Services System) portion of the system offers employees access to view personal data, job history records, benefits information, pension information, and their own payroll details. Staff can update data, for example, their own home address, phone number, marital status, and emergency contacts. They can also request updates to their benefits plans and pension plans via electronic forms and e-mail via a link to Shell's HP OpenMail environment.
- Using the MAS (Management Access System) portion, line managers can access basic employee information such as name, address, job history, training history, and emergency contacts. They can search and match employee skills and jobs in the organization. An electronic personnel update function lets managers submit via email changes to employee information and add or remove employees from their part of the organization. Managers also use the system to enter and approve "mission critical" input to the annual corporate salary administration program.
- LANSA's tight integration with I/NET software means individuals can update information which is stored on the AS/400. The update facility is managed through the LANSA business validation and security techniques ensuring data integrity. A batch update routine to JDE is currently used, but a real-time update facility is being considered. LANSA multi-lingual capabilities software made making the system available in French and English easier.