Locate Where Process Improvement Can Help You Most
I talked to Georg Lange of Syngenta AG how they digitized their HR-function to reduce costs and increase promoter score.
Georg will be presenting ‘The Digitalization of the HR-Function of Sygenta’ at APQC’s Process & Performance Management Conference.
Why did you start your digitization journey in HR?
Five years ago Syngenta started its transformation journey from on-site delivered HR to a mostly outsourced environment. Over the years HR services became precisely defined and optimized with a lot of attention given to the user experience. Shared Services performed better and better despite the fact that they used mostly manually driven processes and procedures with lots of interruptions.
Two years ago the goal to maintain quality by further increasing efficiency and lowering costs at the same time seemed to become impossible by continuing along the traditional path.
Therefore, I calculated the differences between digitally and manually driven service models. The differences in favor of the digitally driven model were huge and created an impressive business case. As a number-driven company the decision to adopt a digitally driven model was easy.
How did you identify the areas where the digitization in HR would produce the most benefits?
When conducting the analysis mentioned above I identified the most promising areas: recruitment, administration, compensation and benefits, performance management, and last but not least personal- and organizational development.
The biggest challenge found in the calculations was that existing benchmarks were not helpful in identifying “digital” costs. However, I found great support by a professor from the Technical University of Berlin, and a scientifically based study is currently in the works addressing this topic.
What I can say so far is that it seems that operational costs of digitalized HR processes are about a tenth of manual driven ones – even if they already use some robots.
At Syngenta you focused on the digitalization of the related workflows, what is the main challenge for this?
I had the great advantage of having well defined processes and procedures before I started to transform them from a manually driven process into digitalized workflows. This advantage helped me a lot and I believe that this is an absolute prerequisite for the successful digitalization of processes into workflows.
The output side (e.g., messages, mails, and documents) on the other hand needed a lot of re-work. A behavioral shift of the organization was required to keep digitalized workflows intact. Specifically that applying manual work to the output had to be avoided to the outputs after they were created by the workflows.
The shift to not manually adjusting the components of the workflow was just as true for the inputs or very beginning of the workflows as well. Most HR workflows start with specific information inputs, which require validation by up to four people. To address this replace these manual steps with a blockchain application, which is capable of validating information without any manual intervention.
Why did you make the decision to leave the HR interfaces (i.e portals) untouched? What are the implications of this decision?
There was no need to redo them. The portals were already well defined and had been improved during the outsourcing journey.
What was the first result you got that indicated the process was working?
Processing times were the first indicator of success. At the beginning I conducted extensive quality testing and used a soft-go-live approach with an intensive hyper-care period. This approach helped solve the initial output related issues. As a result processing times went down immediately, which was impressive to see. In the future I believe cost will come down as well and better than promised.
However it was the eventual acceptance and reactions of the users that showed it was working, which was fantastic.