“Our SQL Anywhere-based system is incredibly reliable – it never shuts down. It provides great performance, flexibility and availability. I don’t have to worry about it, which frees me to focus on new development and new ideas.”
Jean-Marc T. Rouyre
HR Information Systems Manager
Chemical Lime is the leading producer of calcium-based products in North America. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, the company has 17 production facilities and 40 distribution terminals. Located across North America, the company’s quarries contain some of the highest quality limestone reserves in the world. This wholly owned subsidiary of the Belgium-based Lhoist Group — the largest calcium products company in the world — employs a team of engineers, geologists, scientists, and business leaders to constantly develop new applications for calcium-based projects and to perfect the tried and true uses. The company’s products are used in a variety of industries including construction, steel production, pollution abatement, and agriculture.
- With its Sybase solution, Chemical Lime enjoys a reliable and accurate singularly-integrated repository for all HR information.
- Improves HR productivity and information accuracy
- Slashes processing time for new hires by nearly 10 percent
- Reduces salary review time by nearly 70 percent
- Virtually eliminateds paper processes, reducing costs
- Reduces HR staffing requirements by almost 15 percent
- Eliminates need for costly hardware
- Improves information security
When Jean-Marc T. Rouyre arrived in Fort Worth from Brussels to
become Chemical Lime?s Human Resources Information Systems Manager, he
found a department that had no IT system for human resources (HR).
Immediate Challenge: Create an HR System
“When I got here,” he recalls, “there was absolutely no system whatsoever. Every human resource process was paper-based — hiring, firing and transferring people, benefits enrollment, performance management, salary reviews…everything. It was very clear that my primary business challenge was to create an HR system to improve productivity, the accuracy of personnel information and to reduce costs.”
Rouyre had developed an HR system when he was working for Lhoist in Brussels. By adapting that system for Chemical Lime, he would not have to start from scratch to build a new HR system. However, he wanted to improve performance, ease-of-use and maintenance, and reduce the total cost of ownership, and knew he could achieve these objectives by replacing the Oracle database with SQL Anywhere from Sybase iAnywhere.
Replacing Oracle with SQL Anywhere
“Oracle required expensive hardware and a DBA,” Rouyre recalls. “I was familiar with SQL Anywhere and knew it required little, if any, maintenance and no DBA. I conducted performance benchmarking comparing query performance of Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server and SQL Anywhere. That testing confirmed that SQL Anywhere’s performance was much better than the other two. In fact, in terms of every critical requirement — high performance, ease-of-use, security and very low maintenance — SQL Anywhere proved to be the best choice for us.
“In addition to outperforming Oracle and SQL Server, it provided an unmatched ease of use, had built in encryption, and required virtually zero maintenance. It also eliminated the need for expensive hardware, as it provided all of these qualities while running on a Windows-based server. So, it was an easy decision to choose SQL Anywhere to power the HR system for Chemical Lime. Migrating from Oracle to SQL Anywhere only took about a month.”
Supporting 500 Remote Users
Rouyre also needed to provide Chemical Lime’s remote locations access to the system to provide them with the manager- and employee-self service functionality they required. “The most important processes for managers,” says Rouyre, “were managing performance, setting bonus objectives and conducting management resources assessments. They also required the ability to view local personnel records, process new hires terminations and job changes, and to run routine and ad hoc reports.” Employees needed to be able to update their personal information and modify their benefits profiles.
Rather than install a local database in every Chemical Lime facility, Rouyre created a thin client using Sybase PowerBuilder. This client was installed on Windows PCs at each Chemical Lime location. Remote users – some 500 of them – could connect directly to the centralized SQL Anywhere database through Sybase EAServer and Web Services.
“The benefit of this configuration,” says Rouyre, “is that we don’t have to deploy dozens of local databases. There is one repository for all HR information and we know we can rely on that information to be accurate.”
Significant Business Benefits
Since implementing this SQL Anywhere-powered HR system, Chemical Lime has realized numerous, significant business benefits:
- Paper processes have virtually been eliminated, saving time and reducing cost.
- Hiring process administration time has been cut from four hours to 20 minutes.
- Reports that previously took hours to assemble can now be generated in a matter of seconds.
- Salary reviews that previously took a month and a half to complete now take about two weeks.
- SQL Anywhere’s built-in encryption has strengthened information security.
- Increased productivity enabled a nearly 15 percent reduction in headquarters HR administrative staff.
Perhaps most important, adds Rouyre, "Our SQL Anywhere-based system is incredibly reliable – it never shuts down. It provides great performance, flexibility and availability. I don’t have to worry about it, which frees me to focus on new development and new ideas."
Rouyre has now also migrated the system he created in Belgium from
Microsoft SQL Server to SQL Anywhere 10. He plans to upgrade the North
American system to SQL Anywhere 10 in the near future and to begin
using MobiLink, SQL Anywhere’s highly scalable, session-based
synchronization technology to synchronize data between Fort Worth and
Brussels. He also envisions deploying handheld devices in the future
that would employ UltraLite, SQL Anywhere’s database-management system
designed for small-footprint mobile devices such as PDAs and