The global roll-out of SAP SuccessFactors at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is a bittersweet story. At last month’s SuccessConnect event in Berlin, the world’s largest generic drugmaker was honored with this year’s Klaus Tschira HR Innovation Award, reserved for SuccessFactors customers that show “a unique and innovative solution in the field of HR.” In bringing global order to a previously fragmented and highly localized HR landscape, the project has certainly proven its worth — but it’s had to do so in the midst of a major acquisition and subsequent restructuring that saw Teva’s global workforce reach 57,000 two years ago before reducing to a little over 45,000 now.
Having a single global instance of the Employee Central HR system already in place — along with performance, rewards, succession and learning — has helped HR support the business through all of this change. Speaking on stage at last month’s event, Anat Markus, Senior Vice President of Global HR Operations and Services at Teva, says her function has been able to play a pivotal role in the restructuring, which began at the end of 2017:
HR had a really big role to play in this restructuring, to support the managers, to support employees. We’re very lucky that we were beyond implementation. We are already using the data.
What happened is that we gave the data and the power to make decisions — we moved it from HR to the business, to the managers. So they can see their workforce. They saw the talent, they saw the performance, they saw the rewards, they saw their history, they saw how long they’ve been with us.
They could make decisions based on everything that we know about our employees to ensure that we are separating in the most honorable way from people who we need to separate from. We also made sure that we keep the best talent that we need for the future, and keep them engaged and happy and successful. And this data, all this information that was available for us from the suite was just amazing.
Employee Central had been equally instrumental two years ago when Teva completed its acquisition of Actavis, which brought 15,000 new employees into the business. Markus spoke to me about the project in an interview at last year’s UNLEASH conference in Amsterdam. She explains:
For day one after the closing, we were able to incorporate all 15,000 records into Employee Central. So every manager who now has employees also from Actavis, has visibility to this workforce from day one after the closing.
That was a big business value, because we were able to really show from day one, all of this workforce right away — who they are, what they do, where they sit.
Enabling HR transformation
None of this was envisaged when Teva first decided to roll out the cloud HCM suite to enable transformation in its HR processes. At the time, the initial goal was to sweep away massive local disparities in how HR operated — “everybody technically and practically speaking different languages” — so that business managers could take a global view. The technology platform became the driver for establishing “one holistic language” for everyone dealing with HR, explains Markus:
The only way you can really change the behaviors of people is through technology. If you implement a technology which would ask for a certain type of behavior, a certain type of approval, certain types of initiators, it drives the change. To go global and to really transform the way we manage our people processes, we needed a language and a platform that will enable us to use that language and run it.
Global managers can now see all the employees’ data regardless of where they sit. It’s in one language, so you as a manager you don’t have to figure out if the hire process in Germany is different than the hire process in Poland is different than the hire process in Israel — and you have to remember which hire process goes where and what is the right one. The system takes care of all that.
We have a taxonomy of how we define an employee. If you want to look at our succession planning, we know that we are doing it in a similar way across all the countries. So we don’t have to hope that we are interpreting the data in the right way, or that a local HR manager is going to say, ‘This is not the data I see.’
For us managers and the HR professionals it’s a way to communicate with each other much more efficiently and effectively.
Adopting a common set of processes also gave the opportunity to make things simpler at the same time, but there’s further scope to continue simplification, says Markus.
There is much more simplification that we want to achieve now that everybody is using the same level of simplicity. For example, we have an HR approval built into every process, whether it’s a promotion, whether it’s a transfer … We are thinking, do we really need an HR approval everywhere? Is the manager and the second-level manager not enough for some of those processes?
Are we now in a better mindset from an organization perspective, from the trust that we have in the community, to even simplify further? So now we are doing a program we’re calling EC optimization to go back and really look at the simplification of the process and the different roles and responsibilities that we defined when we started.
Change on the SuccessFactors roadmap
With new functionality being added to the cloud platform every quarter, Teva has set up internal processes to manage and prioritize any changes to its HCM system. A Change Control Board (CCB) brings together representatives from HR, IT and business managers every quarter to discuss what to adopt next from a product perspective and also to consider requirements brought forward by process owners. The results are then translated into a product roadmap, says Markus.
We have a product roadmap for the next three quarters. [It consists of] what we’re actually going to push into each one of those cycles, based on business needs and also based on the product enhancements that we saw and liked, and thought were critical to us.
Integration to Fieldglass, which Teva uses to manage contingent workers, is also on the roadmap. These more flexible employment models are particularly important for engaging with younger workers, says Markus.
The workforce is going to be much more diverse and there are going to be so many types of employment that we’re going to need to support. With Fieldglass they have all this flexibility around the different types of employment. Together with Employee Central, a manager will see his entire workforce, understand his needs versus what is the workforce available … and what is actually required to move forward with a certain direction.
Other changes in the roadmap include a rollout of mobile access and more use of conversational interfaces such as chatbots. But Markus cautions that making HR more accessible to employees and managers isn’t just a matter of putting SuccessFactors into new technology platforms. When using those platforms, HR must speak in a language that makes sense to managers, she says:
We are now making HR technology for managers and employees. We are no longer making it for HR professionals, like we used to when [software vendors] were selling SAP on-premise for HR professionals, Oracle, PeopleSoft — that was not for managers and employees. So you could create a language and people would have to learn the language and use the system. Today we want to bypass that. We want HR managers to do much more significant things [such as] consult, help the managers transform.
That means we have to change the language. So managers can transact and push things forward in the way they’re thinking about people processes — and not about how HR is thinking about people processes.
I would like to see us move away from terms that we use internally, like a position hierarchy and a cost center and vacancies. Nobody gets it. We only get it. People don’t talk like that …
If we want to really leverage the power of managers we can’t continue to do it in the same old way and say we’re just going to give it to you in mobile, so now you can do it. It’s not enough. There’s something we need to change before we really make it accessible and widely adopted by everybody. That’s still ahead of us.
Image credit - SuccessFactors President Greg Tomb presents Klaus Taschira Award to Teva Pharmaceutical's Anat Markus at SuccessFactors EMEA in Berlin - image via SAP
Disclosure - Oracle and SAP are diginomica premier partners at time of writing and diginomica is a media partner of UNLEASH. SAP funded the author's travel to attend its SuccessConnect EMEA event in Berlin.