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Článek Customer reference - Atlas Copco, Ondřej Kaushik

Customer reference - Atlas Copco, Ondřej Kaushik

Atlas Copco is a manufacturer of compressors, vacuum technology, and other industrial machinery. The company operates in 80 countries and delivers its products to 170 countries. It employs approximately 55,000 people. In an interview with Ondřej Kaushik, Global HR Process Lead, we discussed the implementation process of the SAP SuccessFactors system in such a large company and the further necessary digitalization of not only HR processes.

How large is the company in the Czech Republic?

In the Czech Republic, we have a total of 2,500 employees who are divided into various sectors. We have both service and customer centers, as well as manufacturing and a financial shared services center.

What is your role within the company structure? What are you responsible for?

I work in the Global HR department, specifically in the Process Innovation division, where we focus on developing our HR solution, which is SuccessFactors.

How significant is the topic of digitalizing HR processes for Atlas Copco?

It is a major topic for us. Given the number of countries we operate in, having digital processes is essential. Since our company spans multiple countries, it's impractical to exchange papers and send Excel sheets. We need a unified solution that works online and in real time.

How supportive is the top management of these decisions, and what motivates them?

For them, it's a significant opportunity they must support, whether they want to or not. Looking back at history, Atlas Copco has been operating for about 150 years and has a very decentralized structure in its DNA. Ten years ago, if the company head wanted to know how many employees were in a particular country, he would make a phone call, causing everyone to panic and start compiling various Excel sheets and databases. After a month, they would come up with a number that might or might not be accurate. No one knew for sure, and no one could verify it. After digitalization, top management can now monitor in real time how many employees they have, where they are located, and what positions they hold. This shift was crucial for management to make data-driven decisions.

What solution did you choose for digitalization?

We chose SuccessFactors because we were looking for a solution from a major company that offered comprehensive service, eliminating the need for additional development. We also wanted a solution with robust support, as we were not selecting a system for just a year but for the long term. We needed a partner capable of providing continuous development and support for years to come.

In this field, it's one thing to choose a solution and another to choose an implementer. What were your requirements for the implementer?

The requirements were both simple and extremely complex. We needed an implementer with global experience who could support a company like Atlas Copco. The implementer needed to provide not only technical knowledge but also process knowledge—experience from the real world on how processes should work to achieve successful HR solutions.

Do you have an idea of how large the HR department or the team dedicated to implementation is in your company?

In the Process Innovation team, which focuses on implementing new modules, we have four full-time employees dedicated to this area. Additionally, we have 16 people providing day-to-day support, with much of their work involving training local HR personnel to work independently in the system and handle issues. They also prepare documentation, such as Quick Reference Guides and short instructional videos, to help train others within the company.

Which process areas were critical during the implementation and remain critical now? Which ones are used the most?

The absolutely critical area was Employee Master Data. We needed to know where our employees were and where they worked. Another priority was Recruitment, as Atlas Copco hires extensively worldwide and requires an efficient process. We couldn't afford for the recruitment department to take three months to hire a candidate. These were the main priorities during implementation. Subsequently, priorities expanded to include employee evaluations, goal setting, and compensation. In parallel, we use a different system for employee learning and development. Recently, we implemented Succession and Development because it is more effective and easier for the company to develop talent for key positions internally rather than hiring from the external market.

You mentioned the Learning module. How do you use it specifically?

We use the Learning solution on the Cornerstone OnDemand platform across the entire company. It includes both managerial training and standard safety training for employees in manufacturing.

Can you say which phase of the implementation was the most challenging?

As always, the most challenging part of implementing a new system is Change Management. This is an area where we have to invest a lot of energy continuously because developing or implementing something is just the tip of the iceberg. The much more important aspect is getting HR to adopt and use it, realizing the benefits it offers. Change Management is a significant part of our work.

Can you describe these steps in more detail?

In every country, during any implementation, we have something called Business Key Users, who act as ambassadors and spread knowledge and value throughout the organization. Given the size of our team, it's impossible for us to train every single employee. In any Change Management process within a large organization, having ambassadors to relay this knowledge is crucial. However, we from the central team must provide them with sufficient quality materials to pass on information within the company.

Were there any key lessons learned during the implementation? Would you do anything differently?

We certainly learned that it is not enough to train a person or a team once. There has to be ongoing effort, even if a specific area does not change much and the process remains the same. It's necessary to continually demonstrate the process's importance and benefits. Organizations naturally change, with people coming and going, so Change Management is not a one-time effort.

What advice would you give to companies preparing to implement a similar solution? What should they consider and prepare for?

The key is to have implementation resources. Without the right people for implementation, it will never work. Our Process Innovation team, dedicated full-time to implementation, has proven invaluable in advancing the system. I've seen many companies where people tried to manage implementation alongside their regular work, creating constant pressure and making it difficult to work in such a system long-term. When implementing a large solution, having dedicated full-time staff is crucial. A good implementation partner is essential. We also need to know from the beginning what we aim to achieve, ensure top management support, and have a clear strategy for Change Management.

Are you planning to use any additional modules within SuccessFactors for other areas?

Yes, we plan to. For us, SuccessFactors is a comprehensive solution that we are gradually expanding. We are looking at further implementing the Compensation module, currently covering 40% of the company, and extending it further. We are also interested in the Variable Pay module for employee variable compensation. We aim to continuously expand the system and adopt new modules offered by SAP.

Do you have any additional plans for the digitalization of the entire company?

Digitalization is a major topic for us, not just in HR but also in finance, sales, and manufacturing. A central data repository is currently a significant focus. In HR, we have SuccessFactors and know precisely where our employees are, their performance, and their plans. However, we struggle to integrate this with financial and sales data. No HR department functions as an isolated unit; it is always part of a larger system. A central repository cannot just be a data dump; it needs a structure and must comply with Data Privacy Regulations in the countries where we operate. This includes GDPR and many other local regulations. We must comply with these to continue advancing and providing people with the correct data when needed.

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