SAP HCM to Workday Migration podcast

SAP HCM to Workday Migration podcast between Luc Bossaert and Annie Laukkanen of Metsä Group about the challenges, lessons learned and focus points.

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Hi there, I’m Luc Bossaert, Chief Strategy Officer with Adessa Group, a SAP HCM and SuccessFactors partner supporting SAP customers in their migration to a new cloud based HR and Talent Management System.  That could be SuccessFactors or Workday or any other World Class HRIS.  Such a move always has quite a lot of challenges and it’s good to hear first-hand experience.

And for this, I’m joined by Annie Laukkanen from Metsä Group, a global company who recently went live with their Workday HR system. Let’s hear from Annie about the company, the project as well as lessons learned and key take aways.

Hi Annie, and welcome to this Adessa podcast.

Annie – Hi Luc, nice to talk with you today.

Who is Metsä Group and what is your role in the company?

Annie – Metsä Group is a Finnish based Forest industry company. We’re working with bioproducts and we are a globally operating company with operations in Europe, Asia and the States. It was about 9,500 people at the time we were doing the project and some 30 countries in the scope. I’ve been working for the company now for 15 years in different HR positions, currently as a project manager for the Change Management and implementation of Workday here at Metsä.

Luc – You just mentioned you had a global HR transformation project, where the whole company migrated from SAP to Workday.

Could you tell us about the size and scope of the global HR transformation project and what the desired outcome was? 

Annie – We have had SAP HR since 2008, so we had ten years of history using an on-premise system. Our initiative at Metsä was to strengthen the process management within the whole company and HR is part of that. We wanted to renew the ways of working and support our manager’s even better to lead the people and also to engage employees. We had SAP with the manager self-services and also we had SuccessFactors, supporting the talent process. So, we had different systems, supporting different HR processes, but still over 10 years of data in those different systems and we targeted to have as much possible on one platform, which we chose to be Workday and the project was really to make that happen. So, moving from the different systems into one system, without jeopardising any of the ongoing business processes, but still renewing the ways of working to a more modern way.

Luc – and the scope of the project included 30 countries?

Annie – Exactly, almost 30 countries and more than 9,000 employees working in those countries. So, internal employees were in the scope and we did this in seven languages, so we implemented different language translations. So, quite a lot of terminology and data throughout the project and also the goal was planned to be big bang. So, all the countries went live at the same time. We phased the project, so that in March, when we went live it was for white collar employees, upper white collar and managers and we are at the moment rolling it out to the blue collar, so at our mill sites.

What were the challenges in the SAP HCM to Workday migration that Metsä Group was facing?

Annie – We were really lucky in that sense, that we had been doing some homework before the project and we had networks with some earlier customers and we had learned about Adessa. We had learned about how massive the data, handling of data will be during the project and since we have had the system in use for several years, we knew that the data in our current systems isn’t harmonised. So, the process ownership that was our challenge internally, that we hadn’t had strong process ownership with regards the quality of the data.  We have done of course audits every now and then, but we knew that it wasn’t consistent between the different countries and now we were targeting for one process Global harmonised process, so we knew we had to get some help in auditing the current situation in SAP. That’s one of the challenges. The other was that Workday has a different data model entirely then SAP HR. SAP is familiar to us, but Workday wasn’t. So, we were really looking for a support in that area, that somebody could help us with both SAP and also know the Workday life or the Workday environment and then thirdly our strategy at Metsä has been that, the support for SAP HR has been outsourced. Development knowledge and support in SAP HR, we don’t have an internal team here.  So, we knew that we would need help and that’s when we really decided to contact Adessa, before we started the project.

What role did Adessa play in your Data Migration Project?

Annie – Initially it was really to consult us, in how we should even run or organise the whole data migration. From Adessa we got really good templates and ways of working, how they have done this in earlier projects and we could then organise internally to make that happen.  When the actual plan was done with Adessa, they were responsible for the whole data migration from SAP HR and SuccessFactors to Workday. There are several phases in the project timeline in the methodology that you have to actually export and import data, they were managing that whole process during the one-year project.

Luc – How was working with Adessa, how did that go, how would you define the collaboration?

Annie – It went extremely well from day one. Having done this before, they knew what were the challenges and they knew what we were facing. Of course customers are always different, but they could ask the right questions and also pinpoint areas that we should focus on and it was proactive. It really helped me as a project manager, to see foresee what is going to happen and align then our resources internally. Also, this was a multi-vendor project, so we had also different consultant companies working, to support and it was always very professional. Adessa took into consideration, always all the parties in the meetings or in the plan, so they could align their work with the others. That was really helpful from a project manager point of view and to be honest since we didn’t have a Data Team, we learned a lot from Adessa on how to do the Data Quality Auditing and also in the future, because when you work with Workday, you need to know about data extraction and data importing, it was really valuable. Also, I think they are very responsible, we could trust that they are delivering what they promise and also in this kind of a hectic project you need to be available and flexible. There was never any doubt that Adessa wouldn’t be there if we needed help.  So, in that sense I can really recommend them as a collaborative partner and it was also fun. Their sense of humour worked at least in our project.

Luc – So, work hard and play hard.

Annie – Exactly, and not be afraid of challenges, because you need some humour when there are a lot of challenges sometimes in this kind of project.

Luc – Did you go did you go live with your project on the intended go live date?

Annie – Yes, with the data migration and with the entire project scope it was possible to go live exactly on time, on schedule and on budget. So, in that sense as well, everything worked according to the plan.

What advice would you give your colleagues before migrating from SAP HCM to Workday?

Annie – Definitely I would consider the different elements of the project. There are the data, there are the integrations, there is a change management within HR. So the whole transformation, they are different elements and for us, for example, this data was something that we were lucky enough to get a heads-up from other peers. So, I would say to consider whether you have an existing Legacy system where you have data or if you are in the point that you are first time collecting the master data, that definitely this area is something to look into and what we are now thinking after the project, is still the monitoring of the quality of the data. How do you ensure that the data stays in the good quality after 9,300 people are updating it.

Recommendations from Metsä Group?  

Annie – Thinking back, I think I would have resourced the project even more in a way where the data lead is looking over the HCM and the integrations as well. So as a recommendation from the project management point of view, I would say that look into having the communication and the dialogue flowing as good as possible between the HCM (Core Master Data), owner and the process owner and the integration lead, because that’s where the data that is going in the processes and in the integration and the project goes so fast, so that was maybe a bit challenging at the time. So, look into the project organistation and how the communication could be managed in that sense.

Luc – Would you recommend anybody working with Adessa for this type of migration integration project?

Annie – Yes, definitely and I have said it to the executive sponsor here at Metsä that I don’t think that we could have managed the project with this timeline and this scope without Adessa, it wouldn’t have been possible. So, definitely the background that we had, it was definitely needed, so I recommend it highly.

Luc – Thank you Annie. Thank you for these kind words and thank you for having this conversation and sharing your experiences with us and to our audience thank you for joining and for being with us on this podcast. So, stay tuned and bye for now.

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Adessa Group was founded in 2005 as a specialised, pan-European Human Resources service provider. The company was founded with the vision of supplying sustainable computer solutions through the development of an international network of subsidiaries, close to their customers and with the aim of growing organically. This vision was translated through the values that shaped Adessa’s corporate culture.   You can follow us on LinkedIn by clicking here.