Case study

Nokia Solutions Networks HR rejects best of breed for best of platform

Brian McKenna

Nokia Solutions and Networks has chosen a ‘best of platform’ approach for its global HR programme in the wake of a reduction in staff from around 80,000 to 50,000, after a restructure in 2011.

Lars Kessler, head of HR concepts, at the company, formerly Nokia Siemens Networks, said the mobile broadband equipment supplier decided to move from a “flower” model of core SAP, with surrounding best of breed petals, to a “best of platform approach”, harnessing its substantial historic investments with SAP.

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NSN was a joint venture between Siemens and Nokia, launched in 2007. It had, said Kessler, a “scattered HR policies, processes and systems” landscape, the “heritage of two large organisations operating in more than 100 countries coming together”. Since August of this year it has been wholly owned by Nokia, whose handset business now rests with Microsoft.

“At the beginning of 2012 we had 80,000 people. Unfortunately, we had to shed about 30,000. That was quite a substantial shrinking and rightsizing," said Kessler.

“That is brought us to a project that we call ‘Phoenix’, for next generation HR IS [information systems] at NSN.

“We came to the conclusion that it was best to stick with the two platforms we already had, namely SAP HCM [human capital management] for core HR data, and the other being, fortunately, SuccessFactors for talent management”.

The Phoenix project is trained on the re-implementation and optimisation of the core SAP HR system. Kessler anticipates further work once that foundation is in place. “We will optimise 55 point to point interfaces, bundling them. Also inherited around two dozen time recording systems; we’ll put those on a global platform.

“We’ll be switching off little satellite systems and putting it all on a ‘best of platform’ [environment]. For example we have a software as a service ‘PeopleFluent’ recruiting system, and we are looking at possibly putting that on the SuccessFactors platform.

“Another example is a sales performance management system from Nice. Maintaining an interface between our core HR platform and that is very complicated.

“Essentially we are moving from a 'best of breed' to a 'best of platform' approach”. The goals are to enhance productivity, both of HR and other staff, and to save on maintenance and licensing costs. By the time the programme is completed in January 2015, Kessler anticipates they will have saved €1.6m over three years on maintenance alone.

The company had, two years ago, 50,000 employees, with 550 HR professionals, operating in 109 countries with 900 different HR policies.

“Part of the Phoenix project was to harmonise or at least integrate those policies so that they are transparent to everyone globally, standardising as much as possible”, said Kessler, who spoke at the recent UK and Ireland SAP user group conference.

NSN has been working on the programme with Kivala-HR, a consultancy specialising in SAP HCM and SuccessFactors. Atos is the outsourcing supplier for infrastructure.

Kessler confirms the company also looked at WorkDay, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Fusion and PeopleSoft. “But we did the maths and you cannot take chances with HR data," said Kessler. "Being very special and selecting best of breed does not add more value than it costs. We’d already invested a lot in what we have, so why throw that all away for something that is hyped by research institutes or in the media?

“We also looked at putting it all on SuccessFactors, but the decision was to stick to a hybrid on-premise/cloud approach for the time being.

“We have inherited a lot of diversity and we wanted to reach calmer waters by standardising, making it all easier to manage. Otherwise you need armies of people for all these best of breed products”.


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