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Article Customer reference - ŠKODA AUTO, Jan Frydrych

Customer reference - ŠKODA AUTO, Jan Frydrych

The second episode of the series "What did they say about us?" this time from the automotive environment. What did Jan Frydrych, Head of HR Operations & Digitalizations at Škoda Auto, say in the interview?

A large company like Škoda Auto couldn't function without a robust HR solution and efficient processes. For this reason, the company transitioned to SAP SuccessFactors, which aims to streamline work not only for HR professionals but also for regular employees and top management. We asked Jan Frydrych, Head of HR Operations & Digitalizations at Škoda Auto, about what it's important to consider when implementing this platform and why a mindset change is crucial.

What is your role within the SAP SuccessFactors implementation project?

We have had SuccessFactors implemented at Škoda Auto for two years, preceded by at least a two-year phase of implementation itself, guided by Success Solutions. The journey has been challenging and full of obstacles, perhaps more than we initially imagined. However, today we are at a stage where we have implemented three main modules - Employee Central, Recruitment, and Onboarding. Škoda Auto is part of the Volkswagen Group, and the decision to go the global template route was made within the entire VW Group. This is the milestone that lies ahead of us today and poses no less of a challenge. We are entering it with a certain level of knowledge gained from local experience and with some concerns about what lies ahead. Because the global template will inevitably bring certain limitations. On the other hand, we believe that the positive factors, even within the context of implementing all modules, outweigh the limitations in our individual processes and applications at Škoda Auto.

What were the expectations from the implementation of SuccessFactors, and what did the implementation bring?

On one hand, the expectations were exaggerated in the sense that the new system, based on the cloud and best practices, would solve all our problems. Reality certainly did not meet our expectations in that regard. On the other hand, where the expectations were met, it was the opportunity for self-service that the system brings. This means automation in terms of addressing employees' or direct supervisors' requests independently. In this aspect, we have certainly made significant progress compared to the original SAP on-premise version.

What do you consider the most important factor for a successful implementation?

We are primarily a manufacturing company, but not only that. Today, we may be the largest IT employer. We have colleagues also in development. Needs are diverse, and the complexity is immense. This places even greater demands on us and the system to be robust, intuitive, to help process administration and personnel operations in a timely manner, intuitively to the satisfaction of all our internal customers. These were our key qualitative requirements for our team responsible for the implementation.

Is there anything you would do differently in the implementation today? What advice would you give to companies that are yet to undergo a similar system implementation? 

For me, it wouldn't be just one factor. Companies should have sufficient capacities allocated, not only on the HR side but also on the IT and business sides. The second thing is openness and flexibility to change processes because that is a key factor in successful implementation. The third thing is managed expectations and change management. Perhaps our expectations were overestimated, and it is necessary to manage and communicate them transparently from the beginning - what SuccessFactors brings, what the positives are, along with the responsibilities of all the entities involved in the real environment, which are not just HR professionals but also employees and managers.

You had already been using HR SAP at Škoda Auto; what was the biggest change brought about by the implementation of SuccessFactors?

The change is the integration of various systems that have often been developed independently for various needs in Škoda's history, whether it be payroll requirements, Performance Management, or Learning. SuccessFactors brings one solution, one cockpit, capable of managing information, requests, and data in one environment, multiplying positive effects.

You were among the first to introduce this system within the group. Did any change in mindset occur after implementing such a system?

Such a change is necessary and certainly greater than the company initially imagines. Involving managers and employees in self-service and various workflows also brings and transfers responsibility to those managers. The associated responsibility is significant. It is necessary to constantly work on understanding, explaining, and supporting so that the company adopts the solution, accepts it as its own. Without this, the solution will not be functional. It's not just an HR solution but a solution for the entire company.

Where do you see strengths and, conversely, areas for improvement in working with the implementer? What would you do differently?

Our experience with our implementer, Success Solutions, is positive. Senior consultants and experts from this company have the necessary know-how, technical knowledge to customize and customize the SuccessFactors platform for the needs of our company. These processes have their limits, which are often greater than the customer initially imagines. But in those key questions and topics, we managed to find the desired solution thanks to the experts from Success Solutions. For me, the collaboration was of high quality, based on mutual communication, understanding of the goal. I would recommend other companies to really dedicate enough time, capacity, and resources to some initiation phase. To the decision of whether to go to SuccessFactors, to what extent, and at the same time, to build a Business Case. In recent years, we have been experiencing another technological revolution.

What should HR do to ensure that these technological changes go hand in hand with a change in mindset? 

SuccessFactors can significantly help with that entire change of mindset, the whole transformation. From the employer's perspective, SuccessFactors allows for a more comprehensive understanding of its employees, what they can do, what they could do, where they could find employment because the synonym for these things is change, which is coming more and more frequently. Solutions like SuccessFactors can significantly help with adaptability to change

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