IT-Online’s Kathy Gibson was at Saphila 2017 in Sun City – When Goldfields realised it needed to standardise human resource (HR) systems across the group, it looked to SAP’s SuccessFactors.Angela Nell, vice-president: performance and learning and development at Goldfields, explains that the group started off with talent and performance management, but soon realised there was potential to do much more with SuccessFactors.
The group used to run various different payroll, HR and talent management systems in its local and international operations.
“We also did a lot of things in Excel,” Nell admits. “This all become costly to maintain and to find the right skills and resources. We needed to find a system that would do all of the functions.”
Having made the decision to use SuccessFactors, it quickly became critical for the group’s HR function, she adds.
The first step in the journey was to standardise all key processes in the HR function – a task that sounds simple, but proved to be quite complex.
Since the solution is being deployed across all of Goldfields’ operations, it had to be implemented in both English and Spanish, adding to the complexity.
In addition, different time zones had to be considered, which narrowed the time available to consult with other group companies.
The company decided to start off with the full Talent suite within SuccessFactors, except for Workforce Planning and Analytics which are in the pipeline to be deployed later.
The first modules off the blocks were Goals, Performance Management and Jam (Social collaboration), followed by Recruiting and Learning. Compensation has been implemented as well as Succession and Development.
The design work on Employee Central is complete and implementation is underway now.
“We started with the Talent modules because we could address the business need, which was talent and performance management. We got credibility in the business by starting with these models.”
Because there are a number of what Nell describes as “fun” elements in the Talent suite, Goldfields was able to build its HR capability and learn the SuccessFactors jargon relatively easily.
Once Employee Central is operational, the group will move on to its long-term goals of implementing Onboarding, Workforce Analytics and Strategic Workforce Planning.
“This is the long-term view,” Nell says. “There is still a long journey ahead – probably another year and a bit with implementation.”
So far, the system is doing well at Goldfields, and has received good buy-in at executive level.
“One of the things we did well was change management,” Nell says. “We determined upfront that it was going to be a transformational change; that we had to change the way we structured what we did, and changed the processes.
“So we spent a lot of time on change management. We had an awareness campaign, roadshow, videos, a how-to guide, and are working on toolkits now.”
Nell admits that there have been problems with the implementation, not least of all the need for change management.
Some of these were caused by the fact that some regions were already quite slick with their HR systems while others were still heavily paper-based.
In terms of change management, some modules are more complex than others and took longer to deploy.
Nell’s team quickly learnt that if SuccessFactors isn’t entrenched in all induction and policy documentation, it might not be used effectively.
It also had to be relaunched in some regions to increase buy in.
To ensure continuity, as many super-users as possible have had to be trained up so training doesn’t have to start again each time someone leaves.
It was also necessary to educate executives around the possible challenges that come with a cloud-based solution in terms of support calls, upgrades, downtime and more.
On the upside, the implementation gave Goldfields the opportunity to develop new HR competencies in datafication, virtualisation, globalisation and virtual tools.
Staff have taken to the social media, particularly stories about employees, and love the gamification with badges and other prizes up for grabs.
The mobile tools are also valuable. One of the reasons that SuccessFactors was selected was its mobile capabilities, which Goldfields felt was valuable for a workforce that is often on the move or underground.
The implementation has been a steep learning curve, says Nell. Data mapping took longer than expected, while both the HR and IT teams had to learn a new terminology.
Among the lessons Goldfields learned from its SuccessFactors implementation is that integration between modules requires business thinking, with a role-based permissions framework as well as business process mapping and standardisation and data mapping.
Implementation partners need to offer technical leadership and the business team has to acquire the right skills too. The team should know enough of the details to make good decisions during the roll-out.
Before going live, all the parties should agree on a support model to avoid surprises later on. And upgrades during go-live were found to be a bad idea not a good idea.
Most importantly, the change management needs to be ongoing.
“Overall it has been great journey,” Nell says. “We’ve still got a way to go, but we have had really good support from the business. The executives love it – only one executive who needed convincing – and the CEO now only does performance reviews in SuccessFactors.”