Kemira is a global chemicals company, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, employing 5,000 people across 37 countries. Its mission is to use its chemistry to improve everyday lives. The company focuses on water-intensive industries: pulp and paper; municipal and industrial water treatment; and oil and gas. Its products are used to bring optimal quality, functionality and strength to paper and board products, ensure safety and hygiene of water and maximise yield from energy resources. Kemira has a dedicated network of experts, production facilities and R&D centres around the world. Kemira has a long heritage and global reputation built up over 100 years (celebrating its centenary in 2020). The company changed its name to Kemira in 1972, following an employee naming competition. Kemira derives from the Finnish words for chemistry, minerals and nutrients: kemiaa, mineraaleja and ravinteita.
Kemira's journey with SAP SuccessFactors started more than 10 years ago, with the first module implemented for performance and development, and in the intervening years other modules including Employee Central for master data in 2016. It contains all of the organisation's employee master data and the global HR processes. The company's decentralised HR model means that a high level of HR activities take place on a local level across the company. This in turn meant that HR teams were reliant on using or printing out Word or Excel documents and other manual processes.
"Also, because we are scattered across 37 countries, we have a number of language challenges that a single global platform and a decentralised HR model couldn't tackle effectively," explains Janhonen.
It identified a need for a system that could integrate with the HRM platform and provide far more effective document management to enable HR managers around the world to more easily upload, manage and access employee documentation, templates and other information. Kemira also wanted a system that would enable its HR teams to digitise its local HR processes and practices.
Alongside increasing efficiency and effectiveness, one of the overarching drivers was to facilitate more robust and transparent practices in areas like compliance. Janhonen points out that data compliance was a key element of the business case when selling the idea to senior management. "We wanted a better understanding of what documents are held by managers and for employees to have better visibility of what data is held on them," she says.
"From a global manager's point of view, you need to contact the HR person in each country where you have a team member. So, if you have 10 team managers and they are in 10 different countries, you have to check in with all of them."
After exploring several systems, Kemira opted for UKG HR Service Delivery platform that comprise Document Manager (UKG's employee file management solution) and People Assist (UKG's case management application). One of the reasons for choosing a UKG solution was its ability to be integrated with the SAP SuccessFactors core system. UKG is able to embed an additional layer of integration which means, for example, HR professionals can access Document Manager from within the SuccessFactors Employee Central portal.
According to Kristiina Airola, former Manager, HR IT Applications and Workplace Development and who worked in Janhonen's team, in addition to integration,the ability to localise and customise processes was also a key part of their purchase decision. "Being able to set the workflows as we liked was an important element," she says.
Implementation took place in what has been an extremely busy year for HR teams around the globe as they had to continually respond to the impact of Covid-19. Indeed, one of Janhonen's team's major focuses for 2020 was development of remote working models and hybrid workforces to ensure Kemira could continue to serve its base of global customers uninterrupted. The company continued to be fully functional throughout the pandemic and suffered no loss in headcount.
UKG was also able to react to global restrictions brought about by the coronavirus by undertaking most of the implementation remotely. To help navigate around any potential roadblocks, UKG carries out co-construction workshops when setting up People Assist where a client explains what processes/requests they want and they then start to create these in the workshop together (obviously this was also done remotely on this occasion). Customers then progress to build them themselves, eventually becoming selfsufficient. UKG then conducts weekly follow-up calls to deal with any issues that have been raised as well as monthly check-ins. Over time those meetings gradually dropped off as the Kemira team became more proficient.
The system was rolled out in 37 countries across a one-year period in two waves. The first wave focused on countries which had more than 100 employees (which account for 85 per cent of the total workforce) and the second wave covered the rest of the countries. Kemira also decided to split the functionality into two phases with Document Manager rolled out first in the first wave and, when that was up and running, People Assist was implemented.
Integration began at the end of October 2019 with 16 December scheduled as the first go live date which was Document Manager in wave one countries for HR organisation (not employees or people managers) and the fourth and final date in August 2020, which was People Assist for wave two countries. Every one of the go live dates were successfully met. Implementation also benefited from the team's enthusiasm and receptiveness to work with the new system, which isn't always the case given that some HR departments can be resistant to change. As well as a high level of collaboration across the HR function, the implementation team also included Anna Syrjänen, Concept Owner, HR, whose roles was to ensure from a technical and Kemira IT architecture perspective that the implementation was successful, and a dedicated IT specialist. "They were basically 'ours'," says Janhonen, adding: "Close collaboration was part of the project throughout. It's how we always work and do things."
UKG notes that Kemira raised almost zero support tickets which is unusual for a customer with a third-party integration and this was testimony to how well it communicated with each country and shared knowledge on the solution before it was rolled out.
"One thing that attracted us was the file management features, especially the configurability to adapt easily to local processes. We were able to set the workflows at a local level, as each HR team wanted."
Director, Digital HR and Workplace Development
The business case was built around data compliance and building in greater transparency for managers. The team stresses it has had qualitative stakeholder feedback to confirm that these are among the outcomes that have been achieved.
They also report that employees have been pleased with how processes such as leave approvals have been speeded up and that they can now see what information is held on them by accessing the system themselves.
Another positive outcome is the ability to report on local HR processes and operations which wasn't possible before. "It is making the HR work more visible," says Airola. "HR does a lot of invisible work, taking care of day-to-day tasks and handling requests, and some HR managers in smaller countries are doing it all by themselves."