It helps to get personal

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The Independent Online
With 21,000 employees spread over 26 countries, the US electronics company National Semiconductor faces a tremendous challenge in keeping track of its workforce, let alone managing it effectively, writes Roger Trapp.

That is why it has signed up for a human resources software system developed by the German company SAP. National Semiconductor, which has total revenues of about $2.5bn (pounds 1.6bn), is being helped in the implementation of what will be one of the largest systems of its kind by British IT services company CMG.

The project, which began about two years ago and will take another three to complete, aims to provide a common view of the worldwide workforce. It also aims to create the infrastructure for programmes which can attract, develop, manage and retain employees and provide the best personnel practices at the company's locations around the world.

National Semiconductor, which has already introduced the system at its Greenock site in Scotland, says the development will enable it to identify individuals with the best skills for new business opportunities.

Charlie Riley, the company's director of human resource information systems, said the scheme could also "put on every manager's desktop information about his or her employees", so reducing the need to contact the human resources department about minor queries. Moreover, it fits in with other initiatives under way at the company that enable staff to change personal details in their records by using interactive equipment in specially designed kiosks.

An added advantage is the information SAP provides at the flick of a switch about the different benefits arrangements across the world. Because there are distinct differences in benefits between US states, the company is helping SAP to develop its system for the country through a pilot programme that begins in September.

The idea, said Mr Riley, was to combine a global spread with the ability to look at the specifics in each country.