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Swedish health company Elekta recoups costs of HR project in a year

Medical company Elekta transforms its human resources (HR) processes by replacing legacy technology with cloud systems serving 3,800 staff in 24 countries

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: CWEurope: CW Nordics: February 2016:

A Stockholm-based healthcare company recouped its costs on a project to move its HR systems into the cloud in 12 months.

Elekta, which specialises in developing treatment for cancer and brain disorders, embarked on a programme to move its HR systems in 24 countries to a single, cloud-based alternative.

The company replaced spreadsheets and standalone systems in offices worldwide with technology from Workday, capable of managing and analysing the data of 3,800 employees worldwide.

The project will provide Elekta’s board with customised dashboards which they can access from tablets and mobile phones, to view key data about the workforce, salaries, staff retention and other HR metrics.

“It will give managers more insight in their teams, to make better decisions, to plan ahead. It will give them the insight to know certain trends are happening. Do we see it globally? Do we need to do anything about it?” said Raymond L’homme, global HR business application manager.

The project has its origins in 2009, when Elekta in North America chose Workday’s service to help it manage the HR – and particularly the benefits packages – of its 1,500 employees.

Other offices around the world continued to use a mixture of spreadsheets and small-scale HR packages to manage their staff. But by 2012 the company realised it needed a single HR system.

“At that time, our solutions were all local. There was no automated processs. It was files and spread sheets,” said L’homme.

The drawbacks became clear when the company carried out its annual audit of number of employees on its books worldwide. It took almost a week to work out the headcount – and, even then, the results were inaccurate, said L’homme.

“You had counts that excluded contingent workers, people who were part-time and sick. There were no consistent rules.”

Selection process

Elekta began evaluating HR technology from Oracle, Workday and SAP’s SuccessFactors.

It also considered an HR service based on Microsoft’s Dynamics AX technology, used by a company Elekta had bought, but ultimately chose Workday.

Workday made it possible to create and customise HR processes for different countries, and to add or remove processes to suit local conditions. That was a big factor in choosing the technology, said L’homme.

Elekta rolled out the technology last year across the entire company, with the exception of Germany, which is due to go live in 2016. It estimates the total investment at $500,000.

“The investment is paying for itself already – both the upfront investment and the licence fee

Raymond L’homme, Elekta

The company decided to carry out the work internally, rather than follow the example of its North America division of hiring consultants, to keep costs down. L’homme and his opposite number in IT took charge of the roll-out.

“Because we did a very lean implementation,” he said, “the investment is paying for itself already – both the upfront investment and the licence fee.”

The project has freed-up Elekta’s 40 strong HR team for more strategic work, allowing them to conduct annual appraisals and merit rises much more quickly.

Read more about HR technology

Employees can see and manage all of their own personal data, and see any comments from managers. “There are no secrets,” said L’homme.

“It has not directly saved HR costs, but it has kept our HR. people at the number of people we are now. Otherwise we will need to increase numbers.” 

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges for the HR. and IT teams, was that that during the roll-out they did not have time to meet demands from North America, to implement additional functions in Workday.

“North America were live, and needing new functionality, they saw these cool new features, and we were busy deploying in India,” he said.

If he did a similar project again, L’homme said he would make sure there were two separate teams for development and project roll-out.

Ensuring that the HR data was accurate was another challenge – particularly in China, where the team had to rely on local HR staff to double-check it.

“You have to really explain to them how the systems works, so they understand what they need,” he said.

Future plans

The company has rolled out Workday’s absence-management technology in six countries, to allow employees request book holidays, and managers to record sickness days using a standard company-wide approval process.

The system has given employees a reason to use Workday and become familiar with it, said L’homme. The other 18 countries will follow.

“For the business we will have full insight in how much time is taken off in the company, and what that is worth compared to salaries. For the business itself, it's easy to request time off,” he said.

L’homme has plans to implement Workday’s full range of analytics capabilities, to generate "score cards" so managers will be able to view business trends on their mobile devices, or computer screen.

He also plans to integrate Workday with payroll systems in more countries, which will ensure they receive real-time data, rather than historic data, and will eliminate the need to retype data.

Lessons learned

One of the most important lessons from the project is the need to have good communications before rolling out the technology.

“It is important to explain why are we going to do this for company, and the benefits for local companies.”

In some cases, for smaller offices that rarely use HR sytems, it’s a matter of persuading them of the wider benefits to the company, he said.

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