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Alcatel-Lucent transformation cuts HR costs by 30% with cloud platform

Alcatel-Lucent expects to have its cloud human resources (HR) platform used in 62 countries by the end of the year, replacing aging on-premise HR IT systems

Networks company, Alcatel-Lucent, has cut its human resources (HR) administration costs by 30%, replacing multiple HR systems with a company-wide HR system in the cloud.

The €13.2bn turnover multinational is replacing 60 different SAP-based HR systems, used around the world, with SAP’s SuccessFactor’s Employee Central technology.

The programme will provide Alcatel-Lucent with accurate, up-to-date information on its workforce, while allowing it to make savings by streamlining its HR operations.

The project has its origins in 2013 when the company set a target of making €1bn savings by 2015.

The HR department began a major transformation programme, which included reviewing all HR processes, outsourcing some HR operations and replacing outdated technology.

“We needed to harmonise the way we were working so that any manager in the world or any employee could manage his personal data,” said Laurent Geoffroy, head of the HR transformation programme.

Alactel’s HR platforms are central to everything that happens in the company. Employees cannot enter a building, visit the canteen, receive their salary or access a PC if they are not correctly registered.

But Alcatel-Lucent had relied on incompatible SAP HR systems that were heavily customised for each country and could not easily provide an overall picture of the workforce.

The company needed a modern HR IT system, that allowed managers and employees to update their own data and was intuitive to use, said Geoffroy.

“If you ask a manager who is used to working on the internet at home, to use very complex pages on an HR system, or to click 20 times before making an action, it is not going to work,” he said.

The company evaluated a wide range of technologies before choosing SAP’s SuccessFactors core HR system.

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Alcatel-Lucent was already a big user of SAP, with a SAP finance system, payroll and HR systems, so it made sense to adopt SAP’s SuccessFactors as the core HR system, said Geoffroy. It chose ADP to run payroll services.

The company also upgraded its Oracle talent management system, Taleo, which it had been using for three years, adding performance management, competency management and succession planning capabilities.

The company hired Accenture as a system integrator to roll out the project and went live with SuccessFactors in the first tranche of countries in January 2015. 

Alcatel-Lucent expects to have 62 countries deployed on the cloud HR platform by the end of 2015, representing 75% of the company’s workforce.

IT systems free up managers

The project has allowed Alcatel-Lucent’s managers to manage their own teams, by conducting appraisals, arranging training and approving holidays and other tasks without involving the HR department.

“The manager in the field is the person who knows his or her team ten times better than anyone in HR, so let’s give then the capability, with the tools, instructions and guidelines to exercise that capability,” said Geoffroy.

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And because employees can now keep their own HR data up to date, without having to ask the HR department to do it, the company’s workforce records are more accurate.

Plans for mobile and analytics

Alcatel plans to roll out more mobile devices to managers to make HR decisions, such as approving holidays, when they are working at client sites, or outside the office without access to a desktop computer.

Geoffroy plans to use data analytics to identify employment trends, by looking at workforce data according to country, the type of business or the job role.

“If someone who has been recruited recently leaves the company after six months, I have to analyse why. Maybe we made a mistake, or maybe we did not bring the person on-board in the right way,” he said.

Project challenges

The biggest challenges were not technical, but comprised changing the way the company works and persuading people to buy into it, said Geoffroy.

“You cannot convince everyone on day one. You always have sceptical people who might like to manage in a certain way, and other people who are very enthusiastic,” he said.

The key to the project succeeding was having a strong vision and strong governance, he told Computer Weekly.

Alcatel-Lucent’s CEO and Chief Human Resources Offers were deeply involved in the project, and helped to open doors to let the work happen.

“The second point is you have to go quickly because people are sometimes frustrated by information systems projects running continuously,” he said.

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