Plan International streamlines global HR processes with SAP

Plan International, a charity that works to protect the rights of underprivileged children around the world, has revealed how it is implementing an SAP system to standardise its HR systems and processes.

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Plan International, a charity that works to protect the rights of underprivileged children around the world, has revealed how it is implementing an SAP system to standardise its HR systems and processes.

The charity has been running SAP for three years. It started rolling out on-premise SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) for core HR functions, hosted in a data centre in London, and SuccessFactors in the cloud, last year, and the software is now live in just over half of the 60 countries Plan operates in.

SAP was chosen when the charity was looking for a new system to replace its legacy HR systems. Some Plan operations were just using Microsoft Excel, for example. Furthermore, Plan wanted to use a standard product where possible.

“We looked at visibility, cost of managing talent globally, the ability of a system to cater for local needs, mobility and efficiency for streamlined processes and transactions,” said Mark Banbury, global CIO of Plan.

“We didn’t customise. We took the SAP out-of-the-box and came up with global templates. It was a great opportunity to align global processes,” he added. 

Atos was the charity’s systems integrator. The core SAP software is hosted by Rackspace, and simulation-based training is provided by Assima.

Plan uses the on-premise SAP software for global data management of employee data, and it has web-based access for real-time reporting.

In the cloud is the talent management suite, which includes performance management and compensation planning.

Agile rollout

After signing the SAP agreement in January 2013, Plan rolled the system out to the first office in May that year. Having reached the half-way point, it plans to complete the rollout to the remaining approximately 30 countries by the end of this year. It is configuring the software for multiple countries at the same time.

Banbury said that Plan has used an agile approach to the rollout, that is “very iterative in its approach”.

“Our implementation involves configuration, not customisation,” Banbury said.

He added: “We run very tight iteration workshops. Running the project in the traditional way [in the waterfall approach with development and testing] would not achieve this goal. [Further], SuccessFactors methodology is based on an agile approach.”

Plan chose not to centralise payroll systems in this project because of the complexity.

“We decided we wouldn’t centralise payroll because everyone has their own payroll systems. That will be phase three, to find a global one,” said Banbury.

Standardising systems has also involved a great deal of change management, said Banbury, with communication and training being key to its success.

Issues

While Plan cannot deny that the new HR system works, with benefits such as making it easier for people to plan personal objectives and achieve compliance with it, the charity acknowledged some issues.

“Security profiles and roles have to be built in both core [SAP] and SuccessFactors. It works for us, but it would be nice if these were integrated for us,” Banbury said.

In addition, the system had no in-built standard single application sign-on, which was a feature that Plan had to develop itself.

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