by Craig Powers, Senior Research Editor, SAPinsider
Knowing who works for you, what exactly each employee does, what goals are tied to each individual, and how each employee fits into organizational goals can be achieved simply enough on a departmental level. Attaining such granular employee details across an entire company, however, can be a challenge. Access to a total view of its workforce can enable a business to build employee lifecycle experiences that enrich its workers through consistent recruiting, onboarding, career development, and succession strategies. That keeps top talent around longer.
Achieving a holistic view of the workforce can be a massive challenge under normal circumstances for a global organization like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), which is made up of 90,000+ employees across more than 170 companies in 34 different countries. Achieving visibility into its global and diverse workforce beyond just headcount — a mandate from company headquarters — became even more difficult with the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote work.
In order to learn more about its employees on a global scale and enable a proper mechanism for growing talent internally, MHI sought to standardize as much as it could. This included implementing a single human capital management (HCM) system—SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central — for all companies under its umbrella.
“You have to think about what metrics you want and what data feeds those metrics, and is that data being used efficiently and consistently across the globe or not?” Beccy Casasent, Senior Director of HR Operations at MHI Shared Services America, says.
With the goal of achieving a global workforce view, MHI set out to standardize and centralize its systems primarily led by its own internal staff.
Establishing a Standardized HR Model and Implementing SAP SuccessFactors
Prior to implementing a single HCM system, MHI’s companies ran many disparate HR applications. It was typical for each company to send in spreadsheets with employee data either monthly or quarterly. This led to inconsistent HR data and limited HR reporting on a global level.
To accomplish its mandate of global employee visibility, MHI needed to align its reporting and KPI requirements across all its business units, as well as create global standardized and shareable HR and talent management processes. This would allow one company that achieved positive recruiting results to share that capability with other companies. The company also created a centralized shared HR support structure to accommodate everyone around the globe that would help accomplish its goal.
MHI implemented a single instance of SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central globally as the HR system of record. Employee Central had already been used by companies located in the United States, along with SAP SuccessFactors talent management modules to encourage unified talent processes. Employee Central and the talent management modules were rolled out across 134 companies over the course of two years, on time and on budget.
The SAP SuccessFactors project has largely been driven internally at MHI, with the company’s own staff doing much of the implementation work. Casasent estimates that this approach has saved “millions of dollars” over sourcing the primary work from a system integrator. However, MHI wasn’t totally on its own. IBM worked as a key support partner to provide strategic guidance on the global project and helped with language barriers in non-English speaking countries. For example, IBM China had its own project team in China that worked closely with MHI. A local consulting firm in Houston, one with which MHI already had an established relationship, provided staffing assistance. “It was lucky for me that they were available, because I could not have done this project without them,” Casasent says of the local firm.
The Challenges and Lessons Learned
Rolling a system out to 134 companies in 25 countries is a challenge itself, but there were other roadblocks along the way that MHI needed to navigate. Standardization was the goal, but also created a “big shock” for some companies that had unique HR requirements. Meeting those requirements without changing the system and jeopardizing the whole driving force behind the project was something to overcome.
Some companies, particularly in Japan, don’t enter new hires into SAP SuccessFactors. Instead, they must use their current payroll system. To meet this requirement, MHI’s project team built an interface that transitions new hire data into the global standard format and integrates into SAP SuccessFactors, allowing those companies to use talent modules.
It would have been a major logistical feat likely never seen before for all 134 companies to go live on SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central at once so MHI broke down the project into four waves. Naturally, every company wanted to be in the last wave. To combat that, MHI established a global engagement team separate from the implementation team. Global engagement’s task was to sell the early wavers on Employee Central and get them involved in the process.
Finally, MHI learned that building acceptance of the SAP SuccessFactors system was critical to getting the project off the ground. MHI’s implementation team did a tour to meet people on-site and establish relationships, physically traveling from region to region and spending time in each location. According to Casasent, having a project driven by an internal team with support from partners provided benefits as well, including maintaining unique business and process knowledge.
“You’ve got to understand the business to implement SAP SuccessFactors the best and most effective way,” Casasent says.
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?
- Think big — global, standardized SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central implementations are possible, even at companies with many different organizations spread across dozens of countries.
- Create specific teams to engage and sell the benefits of an implementation project early to convince early adopters. It’s common for various groups and subsidiaries to want to be the last wave of an implementation, but someone must go first. Having a dedicated group to help with change management can help streamline the project down the line.
- Don’t compromise on process standardization at the expense of actionable data. This will enable your company to realize the benefits of talent management modules, no matter the location or division.
- Establish relationships with key players around the globe to help circumvent eventual challenges, including language barriers and adoption roadblocks.
For Premium Members —
>> Watch the full on-demand session, “Accelerating the Journey to HR 3.0” to hear an interactive session between Casasent and IBM’s Lawrence Ferguson about the evolution of the HR experience.
SAPinsider is the largest, most influential and fastest growing global membership group of SAP professionals.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Craig is an HCM and GRC analyst for SAPinsider. He has covered the SAP technology ecosystem, including an emphasis in SAP SuccessFactors, for more than eight years. In that time he has forged important relationships throughout the industry, worked with customers and vendors to optimize investments in enterprise technology, and helped to tell the important stories along the way. Follow Craig on LinkedIn and Twitter for more HCM and GRC insights.
Beccy Casasent is a human Resource and Finance Professional with over 35 years' experience in HR and Finance, including Project Management, Global ERP Implementations in SAP and Success Factors and initiatives focused on implementing HR and Finance best practices. Currently, she is managing a global SuccessFactors implementation for MHI that encompasses over 38 countries, 190 companies and 80,000 employees.