Swiss manufacturer Baumann turns the cogs on global, standardized HR

Janine Milne Profile picture for user jmilne September 19, 2016
Bye bye spreadsheets and multiple systems, hello one global HR system for Swiss spring and stampings manufacturer Baumann. 

Vintage Baumann

Globalization and standardization are key pillars of Baumann Group’s vision for where it wants to be by 2020.

But until the Swiss spring and stampings manufacturer deployed Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) at the beginning of this year, HR didn't meet either of those objectives. 

Instead, HR was fragmented across its 11 production locations worldwide. Each country effectively had their own separate HR systems, which made it difficult for HR to have a clear view of its workforce. Peter Rosemann, Baumann’s global head of HR systems and processes, explains:

We knew we had to get rid of all these local HR systems and in reality we had completely local HR systems in every country. This meant we had little oversight of our global workforce – even things like how many employees we have globally.

What we wanted for all our core processes and all those upcoming or already live talent management processes like performance management, was to have one global system.

A cloud solution was the obvious choice to achieve this global view, notes Rosemann, particularly given the level of internal HR and IT resources available:

It was quite clear that a cloud solution was the only option, because we do not have enough internal resources to build up, maintain and operate a global HR solution. If we wanted to go global, we had to go cloud.

Workday emerged as the closet fit to Baumann’s needs and it took just five months to roll out Workday to the company’s two biggest and most important locations, which covered around half its global 1,6000-strong workforce.

It is currently rolling out Workday to four more smaller European centers, with around 100 employees each. The aim is to have the whole workforce, including Asia and the Americas by 2017.

Baumann hired an implementation partner to help with the design, implementation and testing phases of the project.  It was vital to call in outside help, because apart from Rosemann himself, the team did not have much experience of this type of HR cloud implementation.

But now, with the major leg of the implementation under their belt, the internal team is able to take more control of the smaller roll-outs themselves, using an external partner just for some very specific tasks.

Off of spreadsheets

The focus of the project was very much to provide business value rather than save money, although Rosemann says that you could “make a huge story” out of the IT and maintenance costs savings of using cloud. Instead, says Rosemann that the aim was for greater efficiency and for HR to be better informed and able to add greater value to the business.

In many cases, the move to Workday has meant moving from spreadsheets for the first time, which has clearly been a major benefit. As Rosemann explains:

An Excel spreadsheet is something ‘dead’. If you don’t remember to do it or don’t maintain it, then nothing happens, whereas Workday is much more dynamic. It reminds us to take action when a certification or a work permit is expiring, for example, and that’s a big advantage.

A key benefit for HR has been the significant reduction in administrative work required. Just as importantly, with information is held centrally about employees rather than pulled in from multiple spreadsheets and systems, reporting is far easier.

Bypassing the need for paperwork to authorize things like vacations is also easing the admin burden for line managers. Reporting too has also been simplified for this group, as Rosemann points out:

One of their tasks is to strictly control over times and we have different types of overtime with quite difficult and complex legislation. Before they always had to go to HR for help, but now they can go into Workday and see all that information with the click of a button.

Employees benefit from having greater control and transparency over how many hours they work and overtime.

Although there are clear benefits to managers and employees, it was a big change to working practices and Rosemann acknowledges that change management and careful and constant communication with employees was one of the biggest challenges of the project.

In many cases it involved employees swapping from a manual to online process or taking on jobs that had previously been done by HR.  Time tracking, for example, which is quite a complex process, now requires employees to take more responsibility. If something goes wrong, they have to go into Workday and correct it and their supervisor has to approve it.

The timing of the implementation, going live at the beginning of the year, was also a challenge, according to Rosemann:

Shortly afterwards, we went live with performance management within Workday, which was quite a big change, because it was the first time that every single employee had to define his or her yearly goals with a supervisor. We did that throughout the countries already live with Workday – we would never have been able to introduce that if it had been paper based.

Workday is involved in some big projects with multinationals in Switzerland, so it was difficult to find experienced external consultants to help, which meant, says Rosemann:

The challenge was to get people who were not doing their first or nearly first Workday implementation.

But the effort has been worth it, as far as Rosemann is concerned. Better reporting, having one version of HR data across all regions and more opportunities for HR to focus on strategic issues are all huge benefits.  Ease of use is also a greatly improved, particularly because people can use their mobile devices to access Workday, says Rosemann:

We are heavy users of the mobile version. I think that’s an advantage because it makes it more fun to use.  In our private lives we’re constantly online, whether it’s Google or Gmail or whatever, and often in business we use old-fashioned technology.

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