Skip to content
Article Customer reference - ASAHI, Zdeněk Křížek

Customer reference - ASAHI, Zdeněk Křížek

The first episode of the series "What did they say about us?" is here. An interview with Zdeněk Křížek, IS Business Partner Corporate Services at ASAHI Europe & International.

Transitioning to a new internal HR system is never a matter of a few days. Besides implementing data and processes, it's crucial to communicate with the people who will be working in the system. To explain to them the benefits it will bring them. Zdeněk Křížek, Business Partner at ASAHI Europe & International, spoke about the implementation of the SAP SuccessFactors system.

Could you introduce yourself and the SuccessFactors implementation project to our viewers?

The role of an IT Business Partner is interesting, acting as a buffer zone between IT and the business. We solve how to connect these two worlds, ensuring that the business understands what IT does, and vice versa. I bridge these seemingly disparate parts. Regarding our project - we implemented a system for our HR. We wanted to take it to another level. We had a highly heterogeneous setup, locally using various systems or even none at all - classic pen and paper or Excel. We said that this couldn't continue, that we needed a centralized view of what's happening in HR, standardized processes, and benchmarking across countries. About four years ago, the decision was made to have a new system. We had a path and a goal, but primarily we needed to choose a platform and then an implementer. To put the entire project team into some framework, to deliver the project within a certain time, budget, and quality. At the beginning, there was a big decision-making process about which platform to choose. In the end, after weighing all the pros and cons, we chose SAP because it integrates well with our big SAP back office and HR system, which we're also preparing for migration in the future. Since we didn't know anyone with experience with SuccessFactors, we had to go through another selection process, this time for an implementer. Success Solutions emerged as the winner.

Could you explain how the organizational structure of ASAHI works? How did you develop the project from one central location?

I should mention that this isn't an implementation across the entire ASAHI but only part of Europe and International, excluding Japan, which owns us. Although the ASAHI group is in Japan, the main block is based in Prague. Under Prague, there are individual countries, some with their own production and distribution, and others with only a distribution part. Today, we can say that the ASAHI group is on every continent. We started in Europe and gradually expanded to neighboring countries. Essentially, this was also the logic of our project. To implement something centrally managed, reflecting a standardized approach while not forgetting the local specifics that local HR has. Legislation is different in the Czech Republic compared to Asia, America, or Canada. We had to incorporate all of this into the project. We divided the project into four waves. We started with Central Europe (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary), and then added other countries like Italy, the Netherlands, and England. In the next two waves, we plan to focus on America and Asia.

Could you mention the main reasons for choosing the SuccessFactors platform and Success Solutions as the implementer?

The Czech Republic was chosen based on the location of the headquarters, not because of the Czech Republic itself. We chose the implementer based on SAP's recommendation. Besides the recommendation, it was up to their skillfulness and persuasiveness. They were really good because they not only had knowledge of the system, how to implement it, how to integrate everything, how to automate it. But what really helped us from the beginning and what we were afraid of was the consulting part. How to sell the new system to the company, how to make the change, how to convince people who have been using a local system for ten years to forget about it and start working in something completely different. We selected the platform to ensure easy integration and alignment with our strategy.

What were the biggest challenges during the platform implementation? Is it the IT part or the human part?

It wasn't like, "Let's integrate our processes into a platform." On the contrary, it was more like, "Let's see what processes are in the box and implement those." This means implementation based on system-bound processes. Perhaps that was why implementation was relatively easier. The Change Management itself, given that processes work differently in different countries, could have been more complex, so we placed great emphasis on that change aspect, ensuring that the change was well communicated, prepared, and planned so that we could convince people. That's why we needed a strong partner.

What is the most effective tool in Change Management in cooperation between consultants, internal integrators, and internal end clients?

Knowledge is undoubtedly the most effective tool. You can take someone from school who studies a few videos and can do basic configurations, but we need stories. We need to explain to people why, how, and what for. We need to show them experiences and examples that confirm this. It's the experience that we have partially built internally during the project. This experience is also because it's not a standalone system but interconnected. Today we know what to watch out for when rolling it out further, what to do, how to plan it, how to test it, what to be careful about in integrations, how to work with data, how to prepare data to be easily integrable. These were the main challenges we encountered during the implementation. One thing is to convince people that the processes will be simpler and that the goal will eventually be achieved. The other is the actual implementation, that you can't perceive just the box you're working with but you have to consider the broader context.

When talking about the business case of the integration itself... What do you perceive as the biggest advantages and how can the implementation of this system be justified to top management?

It's not purely about economic viability. If we compared how much Excel costs us versus this system, we probably wouldn't succeed. You need to be somewhat visionary, think about the future, have the desire to see what the business wants to achieve, where it's pinched. You need to justify it in the sense that people will work better and easier, and it will be a supportive tool for much faster, simpler, and more precise decision-making about the future of the entire company. That we will have a much more precise overview of the numbers and movements, we will be able to use past logic, we will be able to look into the future, all of which we were somewhat lacking.

Did the implementation free up the hands of both IT and the business?

Absolutely, without a doubt. When you have 60 applications that have nothing in common, various platforms developed by different implementers, developed organically, often with no documentation or outdated documentation, so any movement was impossible. And when you compare it to today's world, where 80-90 percent is a standardized application, which we configure, not customize in terms of changing logic but setting up data, implementing data, using it to the maximum extent. Even the support of that system is standardized, so it should be feasible for another party, which has experience with it. The savings are clear. On the other hand, expecting savings within a year of implementation is quite naive. The case is more long-term. It's about improving people's work on both the business.

Privacy settings and cookies 🍪

The website uses cookies to provide services, personalize ads, and analyze traffic.


By using the following option, you agree to our privacy and cookie policy. You can change your settings at any time.