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Using ServiceNow to make employee on-boarding an ‘experience project’ at Bristol Myers Squibb

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez May 20, 2021
Pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb is using ServiceNow Lifecycle Events to support digital employee onboarding.

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(Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay )

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, headquartered out of New York City. It has found success in manufacturing prescription drugs and biologics in a number of therapeutic fields including cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes and psychiatric care. 

Of course, none of this would be possible without its 30,000 global employees. BMS has recently undergone what it is calling an ‘experience project' to create a digital platform for onboarding new employees to the company - with the aim of making it as seamless and intuitive as possible. It is using the ServiceNow platform, specifically Lifecycle Events, to build the new cross-functional tool. 

BMS was speaking at ServiceNow's annual user conference, Knowledge 2021, which can be accessed here. For all of diginomica's coverage from the event, check out our dedicated hub here

Lori Moser, Sr. Director People Experience and Engagement at BMS, explained that in late 2017 she took on her role at the company to think about workforce experience and engagement - and decided that onboarding was a good place to start. She explained: 

Onboarding is the first impression an employee has of the company. When we looked at onboarding, I realized that onboarding is not just about HR - it's also IT, it's facilities, it's finance. So I knew that it was really important that this be a cross-functional partnership and we really needed a strong partner in IT. 

Understanding this, a cross-functional operation at BMS started building out business cases for the new platform. Moser said that the aim was to streamline the processes for managers and new hires, accelerating the integration of new employees into the organization. Moser added: 

We looked at the marketplace to find something that could balance the tactical aspects of onboarding, as well as really create a welcoming, engaging experience. 

And we identified ServiceNow as the front runner. What was really interesting was that we already had a ServiceNow foundation at BMS. We used the different aspects of the ServiceNow technology for a variety of requirements within BMS. 

The building blocks

Joining Moser for the discussion was Allen Hughes, Global Planning Manager at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Hughes said that whilst BMS already had a ServiceNow foundation, for the onboarding experience it essentially had to combine the HR and IT portal on the Employee Service Center. He explained: 

To do that we migrated IT from our existing ServiceNow portal instance. And we had our HR team on a custom 2013 SharePoint solution. We then migrated the IT knowledge base and our HR SharePoint program content into newly organized ServiceNow knowledge bases. And we heavily leveraged templates and the relationship features that come with that to organize the content and deliver a persona-based portal experience in eight languages. 

For onboarding, we added on the transitions module and our newly developed portal experience in combination with content delivery module capabilities that leverage campaigns to deliver our content, notifications and announcements as part of the experience for the onboarding itself. 

Hughes added that this required engaging with operational teams to implement the changes that orchestrated the common HR and IT onboarding processes and that this helped to "bridge the grey areas" between the two. Commenting on ensuring user uptake, Hughes said: 

As with most projects, we had a robust change plan, where we ensured our stakeholder responsiveness. We had executive sponsorship with our CIO and CHRO. That adoption journey for our workforce was not as long from a change perspective. From an end-user perspective, the preparation and the focus and the user experience, really helped the adoption piece. 

Design thinking

Moser said that separate from the technology itself, it was important for BMS that this project embraced the concepts of design thinking and co-creation. This meant not just talking to HR or IT, but also interviewing 250 new hires globally, as well as BMS managers. Moser herself went through the onboarding process four times in four different locations in order to test it. 

And this approach uncovered a number of things that were helpful to the creation of the new system. First, she said: 

One thing our new hires were telling us is that pre-boarding is a huge opportunity to take advantage of. They felt the recruiter was consistently in contact with them when they were a candidate. Then they signed off on the offer and they didn't hear anything until they actually started. And when they started, they were overwhelmed with the amount of things that they needed to do, to understand. 

They would have loved to have something during that pre-boarding period to learn more about the company, get a better understanding of the organization, but also fill out some of that tactical paperwork. That was a big a-ha for us. 

The second big ‘ah-ha' for BMS was about the role of the manager. During Moser's research, she found that new hires may have been frustrated with a particular process - such as getting a new laptop on time, or filling out a form - but that this was always negated if the manager involved played an active role. She explained: 

When [a new hire] really rated their experience as poor, it had to do with the manager. The new hires that might have been frustrated with some of those process things, if they had a manager that was really interested in onboarding them and taking care of them, they were still ranking their onboarding experience as extremely high. 

And so what we realized is we really needed not only to create a new hire experience, but also create something for our managers to help guide them through onboarding, to make sure that they understood that they were accountable for onboarding their new hires. It starts at offer acceptance and continues. 

The final ‘ah-ha' was that BMS needed to think about global standardization alongside local requirements. Moser said: 

We needed to kind of personalize that experience so that you were getting things that you could standardize across the company, like managers sending a welcome email. But then also providing some tasks or information about things that were highly local to where you are starting. Whether it's safety training at a site, or your benefits for a specific market. Those were the things we needed to design for. 

Moser said that this process was aided by an excellent internal IT UX team, which took all these requirements and implemented them into the functionality and design of the new ServiceNow system. 


Finally, Moser said that the biggest learning from the project, which other companies should consider when embarking upon similar development work, is to recognize the importance of being experience led. BMS made this a central requirement from the start and Moser said that it has benefited employees and managers over the longer-term. She's explained: 

When you're planning for the project, you want to put time in your project plan around experience. Typically when you're testing you're looking at functionality, you're writing requirements. But when you're doing an experience project you really want to take it to the next level and you want to make sure you put time in your plan for that. 

You want to make sure that when it comes together and you've got that end-to-end experience that it makes sense; that all the content makes sense, that a new hire or manager can easily understand it, that you're pulling through your company values and mission statements. You want to make sure that it flows logically, that the pictures are right. It's really important to put experience into your plan. 

For more diginomica stories from Knowledge 2021 visit our Knowledge 2021 event hub. Knowledge 2021 opened on May 11th and sessions are available to view on-demand until October 2021. This is the event registration link.

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