Bureau Veritas is one of the world's leading providers of compliance assessments and certifications in 15 key sectors (including agriculture and food, shipping, construction, transport, government, etc.). Founded in 1828, the company has seen a massive increase in employees in recent years, from 5,000 in 1992 to 76,000 in 2019, due to several acquisitions. The company has more than 1,500 offices and research centres in 140 countries. This growth has made Human Resources one of the company's most important departments.
We asked Fernanda Ribeiro, VP of HR, Pauline Seibel, Group HRIS Project Manager and Nicolas Vandeven, Group HR Digital Transformation Manager, about Bureau Veritas' digital HR transformation, which has resulted in higher productivity, optimised data management, process automation, a better employee experience and greater awareness of new HR competencies.
What led to the digital HR transformation project at Bureau Veritas?
Bureau Veritas saw its number of employees skyrocket, increasing from 5,000 employees in 1992 to 76,000 in 2019, which was due to both organic growth and several acquisitions. This increase has made the digitalisation of the HR department a core objective of the company. In 2013, the company decided that "it was time for a group of this size to implement a global HR information system," says Fernanda Ribeiro.
For Bureau Veritas' HR teams, the transformation and optimisation of their organisation was inevitable. Until then, the different regional entities had been working independently, each with their own tools and processes.
This posed a problem for the group in terms of consolidating, managing and recovering its data.
The company needed a lot of time, energy and resources to meet basic requirements and comply with legal obligations.
How management was convinced
Once it was clear that there were solutions that could help improve the situation, the board had to be convinced to invest in a global HRIS for the 140 countries. The following questions had to be answered:
How can a unified solution replace the existing different HR systems?
- How can a unified solution replace the existing different HR systems?
- How can processes be simplified?
- How to create synergies and get teams to work together?
To convince management, the HR teams showed how the role of HR has changed. HR departments today need to focus primarily on employee development, building their knowledge of the workforce, taking a business-oriented approach and thus becoming an independent business unit within the company.
Another important role of HR departments is to drive change, identify new ways of working and learning, and ultimately support managers and employees in the global digital transformation. At Bureau Veritas, the development of the employer brand was also an issue.
With the digitalisation process, there was a real opportunity for HR to drive the growth and development of the company.
What were the biggest challenges of the project?
The first challenge for Bureau Veritas in the HR transformation was to merge and standardise all the systems and processes used by the subsidiaries. One of the main problems for the group was retrieving and managing data from all countries. Up to this point, the SSP [Shared Services Centre] had great difficulty in ensuring compliance in this area.
Another challenge was recruitment: about 15,000 new employees are hired every year and recruitment has to happen faster and faster. The recruitment process was therefore a huge workload for the teams.
Bureau Veritas wanted to address these changes without increasing the size of the HR department or the workload of the staff. The goal was therefore to find a solution that would enable the company to work more efficiently, quickly and productively.
Against the backdrop of changing requirements and a changing HR function, Bureau Veritas also sought to rethink the strategic role of the HR department within the company.
How did the digital transformation of the HR function go?
The digital transformation project was implemented in three phases:
- From 2013: Investigation into how digitisation of the HR department could best be implemented and which of the associated processes would have to be changed
- From 2014 to 2017: Implementation of SAP SuccessFactors
- From 2017: Integration of UKG solutions and co-development of UKG for SAP SuccessFactors
Bureau Veritas' various regional locations were involved in the project from the beginning. The aim was to show them the added value they could get from using the solution. Six pilot countries were identified for the implementation of SAP SuccessFactors, and by the end of 2017, the platform had been implemented in all 130 countries and translated into more than 30 languages.
How did the integration of UKG HR Service Delivery go?
After implementing SAP SuccessFactors, Bureau Veritas were convinced that it was time to take the next step. Fernanda Ribeiro, VP of Human Resources, and her team therefore turned to UKG.
The first step in implementing the new UKG solution took place in 2017, starting with restaurant vouchers, electronic pay slips and digital safes. In 2018, two new UKG solutions were integrated: electronic signature and People Assist, UKG's case management solution.
These solutions enable the HR department to digitise all employee files and documents and reduce so-called "non-value-added" tasks, but it also enabled employees to search for answers to their questions more autonomously.
The biggest challenge was the interface between the two solutions. The first workshops with UKG were mainly about the presentation of the platform. This is also where the metadata and data that the company wanted to use as a basis for configuring all the solutions was identified.
Once this data was successfully identified, the company was able to adopt the platform and test the configuration. By using the UKG HR Service Delivery for SuccessFactors integration, data quality and availability improved tremendously.
How has the HR transformation project refocused the function on employee experience?
"From the beginning, we focused especially on the needs of our internal customers. The goal was to provide them with a state-of-the-art service and a user-friendly solution," explains Nicolas Vandeven.
The process started in France, the first "pilot client", with 7,000 employees. "We worked closely with our local HR department to eventually redesign the processes globally. It was mainly looking into current processes and figuring out how we can improve them and make them more efficient in the future."
Based on this assessment, the new framework was created, supported by the implementation of UKG HRSD and SAP SuccessFactors. "We wanted to provide a fully integrated solution where SAP SuccessFactors is really the portal through which HR has access to all their tools, and that's exactly what we did."
To improve the employee experience, the main goal was to strengthen the relationship between employees and HR.
"What we particularly liked is the dynamic interface. For example, if I am a manager, I see People Assist for Managers. The content is also dynamic, I can see different types of content depending on the entity or other criteria. For example, I can see the exact number of leave days I am entitled to, but not those of other positions."
The HR teams also worked on the HR document base and created ready-to-fill forms for managers and employees.
In addition, the user experience offered is at web standard level. "We are working on the experience both at platform and content level by enhancing what is offered to employees. The main thing for us is to make it as easy as possible for everyone to work," says Nicolas Vandeven.
“By integrating SuccessFactors with the UKG HRSD platform, we can streamline all processes and get all relevant information immediately.”
HRIS Project Manager
What are the results provided by the UKG solutions?
Simplification of processes
"We are not interested in simply integrating an existing solution into the business without asking ourselves how it can actually be used to simplify operations," says Fernanda Ribeiro, Vice President Human Resources at Bureau Veritas. The HR teams therefore took action to look more closely at UKG's functionalities and see what de facto benefits the solution could offer. They questioned all existing processes, thought about possible changes and learned how to use the platform to simplify all their processes.
Improved HR productivity
Through UKG and SuccessFactors, the company's processes have been simplified and harmonised. Information is available more quickly. This has created a completely new, more productive HR organisational structure, which has made it possible to get rid of "non-value-added" tasks. The HR teams, thanks to digitalisation, have seen significant savings not only in time but also in space. All the classification and storage of files has disappeared, as have the filing cabinets. Access to all employee documents is now very fast and secure and the management of employee requests is simplified.
A better Employee Experience
Employees are much more independent when it comes to researching information, taking decisions and making enquiries. This gives them more time for their actual tasks and makes them more productive. They can focus more on the company's external customers.
Also, the employees now see the HR department in a different light, more modern and innovative!
Immediate information and better knowledge of employees
"By integrating SuccessFactors with UKG, we have been able to streamline our processes and have immediate access to relevant information," says Pauline Seibel, HRIS Project Manager, Bureau Veritas.
Data quality has improved significantly, allowing optimal use of all functionalities of the UKG solutions. In addition, this data provides the company with the opportunity to get to know its employees better.
A new team spirit for a redefined HR function
The relationship between the different teams — the local teams, the payroll teams and the central HR department — has become closer. The departments now work together to develop new processes. HR staff understand their role in a completely new way: they accompany employees in taking responsibility for the digitalisation process and enable them to have an optimised employee experience.
How do employees think that the HR function has changed?
Looking back, Bureau Veritas employees re-evaluated the role of the HR department. As with any introduction of innovative projects, the role of HR was primarily to motivate the teams and convince them of the necessity and benefits of the digitalisation project. The day-to-day tasks of the Bureau Veritas HR department have changed as a result of the developments:
- They support employees in taking responsibility in the company's digitalisation process and in acquiring new digital skills
- They play a fundamental role in the digital transformation of their own work, providing the best possible work experience for employees
- They will be responsible for monitoring and simplifying processes and the associated compliance requirements and legal regulations
- They are responsible for the renewal of traditional working methods and are key to the modernisation of the company
The Bureau Veritas teams were surprised not only by the simplicity of the platform, but also by the flexibility with which it can be customised locally. The project managers were particularly impressed by how quickly their HR assistants and managers adopted the platform and started working with it.
While France was chosen as the pilot country for UKG HR Service Delivery for SuccessFactors, the goal is to implement the application in all markets where the company operates.
"The example of France is very convincing — much better than pure talk or theoretical explanations," says Fernanda Ribeiro, VP Human Resources, Bureau Veritas.
Takeaways and Results
- 90% activation of employee vaults
- 328,632 employee documents are currently stored on the UKG server
- 213 articles have already been published
- 21,450 views of these articles
- 8,912 requests received since September 2018
- Deployment of core module in 100% of the 470 Business Units
- 0 filing cabinets/0 hard copy files
- Improved data quality
For HR users and employees, the integration of SuccessFactors and UKG means:
- High user-friendliness: Simplified access to employee files and documents for HR employees and managers — without having to leave the SAP SuccessFactors portal.
- Real-time data management: The generation of employee files and the creation of automated processes are triggered by "events" in SAP SuccessFactors (registration of a new employee, new status, etc.). UKG then receives and uses the stored data to personalise the company's HR service offering in real time.
- Secure integration: the solution includes a certified SAP App Center connector hosted and secured on SAP's cloud platform.
- Fast implementation: With this solution, SAP SuccessFactors customers benefit from the fastest implementation available among HR service delivery integrations.