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Farmers Reaps Digital Transformation with M-Files

"Working with hard-copy documents and manual processes before M-Files, I can describe in two words: difficult and time-consuming." - Lisa Black, Payroll Manager 

For 113 years, Farmers Trading Company has provided New Zealanders with a wide range of quality merchandise as one of New Zealand's top retailers. With 4,000 employees across 59 retail outlets, as well as in support and national distribution centres, Farmers generated tons of paper documents for employee onboarding and overall human-resource processes. 

The Challenge

Farmers lacked a cohesive digitalisation process for HR documentation. The company used cumbersome internal mailing systems to process payroll from its many stores. Payroll advisors had to date-stamp documents and shunt them into a physical tray system representing four store regions. As the paper load grew, the HR team "upgraded" from a tray to a box system to institute a three-step auditing process requiring three advisors to physically verify each document.

"Working with hard-copy documents and manual processes before M-Files, I can describe in two words: difficult and time-consuming," Lisa Black, Payroll Manager, said.

Over time, the glut of paper started to create inefficiencies and manual-process drudgery for Farmers' HR team. A paper-based system created the risk of lost information from confidential or sensitive documents, not to mention potential regulatory compliance threats. Manual paper processes were slow and cumbersome, hampering onboardings and slowing down payroll.

"It was very clear that we needed to find a solution that would dramatically improve the way we managed onboarding and payroll information," Lisa said. "Not only for payroll to process starters, leavers, and to change documents faster, but to also give instant access to view documents for our recruitment and human-resource teams."

The bottom line: Farmers' HR team wanted to drive digital transformation for the team to remove duplications and hard-copy documents, streamline workflows, and ensure compliance. 

Farmers Trading Company Payroll Team

The Solution

Working with M-Files partner Sharp New Zealand, Farmers implemented the M-Files Cloud Vault as its paperless document management platform, as well as electronic signature features allowing HR advisors to easily sign-off on document verifications.

By deploying M-Files during COVID-19 lockdowns, Farmers' HR advisors could easily process payroll from their respective homes, and even use the M-Files mobile app to review documents anywhere, any time.

"We didn’t need one of the team to go into the office to clear mail bags or scan documents to us. We were paperless and self-sufficient," said Lisa.

The Results

Today, HR onboarding and payroll documents are saved directly to the M-Files vault. Leveraging the platform's metadata-driven document management capabilities, Farmers HR advisors can easily and quickly find the right information from any device, no matter where it's stored. By using iron-clad permission controls, only the right people are given access to sensitive information. Automated workflows have drastically reduced time spent on manual tasks, freeing up staff for more fulfilling, valuable work. In addition, M-Files provides simple and intuitive audit-trail reporting for compliance.

"We've found that it's easy to add or change processes and workflows in M-Files to meet any changing business requirements or compliance," Lisa said.

The Bottom Line

By integrating M-Files into its payroll system, Farmers has digitally transformed the way HR advisors perform daily work: employee-onboarding documents are automatically saved in a way that makes retrieval simple; updating employee information is effortless; and digital "filing cabinets" ensure everyone is viewing and working with the most up-to-date versions of any document.

Today, Farmers has experienced transformative productivity gains by using M-Files, eliminating huge quantities of paper documents and physical filing cabinets. As for the future, Farmers plans to expand version-history capabilities for all its data and align even more recruitment and other human-resource functions with M-Files.

"We are encouraging other departments in our Support Centre to review the benefits and evaluate what it could mean for their teams," Lisa added.

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