UK bus and rail giant FirstGroup looks to replace decade-old Cyborg system in £8m HR and payroll contract

Plus a mangle of other applications on track to be switched for cloud platform

Brit transport giant FirstGroup, which runs rail and bus companies in the UK and US - including North America's Greyhounds - is looking to replace decade-old HR and payroll systems with a single cloud solution in a five-year contract.

With the deal expected to be worth £7.6m, the company has decided to replace a multitude of legacy applications with a single, group-wide, HR, payroll, and learning cloud application.

A public contract notice said FirstGroup, which carries 340 million passengers each year on the UK rail network, operates multiple HR and Payroll solutions across the whole organisation. The most predominant is Cyborg Payroll and Talent Development for HR, learning management, performance, compensation, and succession.

Cyborg is no longer well known in application HR circles because it was rebranded in 2010 when it became part of construction and industrial specialist software firm Accero.

Whatever solution the transport company opts for, it will need to integrate with some intransigent operational systems, including Crew Plan, a rail-specific solution, the duty allocation system for bus drivers, and an engineer workforce management solution.

The tender also emphasises the stress the business is under due to the ongoing pandemic, which is creating "greater uncertainty on passenger levels”. It also underscores a desire to be greener, more digital, and more agile.

A couple of mega-vendors already have their teeth in FirstGroup, and might expect a bite of the HR and payroll deal.

The group runs its ERP system on SAP's S/4HANA, hosted in the cloud on AWS, including a 4TB analytics workload. SAP is of course home to the HR system SuccessFactors, which the vendor encourages users to integrate with ERP.

But FirstGroup has a track record of selecting suppliers outside its core German application provider. In 2019, FirstBus, part of FirstGroup in the UK, selected Infor for asset management, fully hosted by Sapphire Systems. Its legacy maintenance systems included an application from Atos, SAP R/3, and others. The thinking at the time was that it would be easier to integrate Infor with S/4HANA than put a front end on the SAP software that could be easily used by managers and engineers in bus depots and workshops.

FirstGroup plans to complete its migration to a single HR and payroll system in the cloud by February 2023. ®

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