Implementing HR Shared Services at Carlson Wagonlit: keep it simple!

Earlier this month I had an interesting conversation with Richard van der Zanden, VP HR Operations at Carlson Wagonlit.

Richard and his team are setting up a Global HR Shared Service organization as part of a larger HR Transformation. Establishing a Global HR Shared Service organization is a 2,5 year program in which they aim to establish three HR service centers in three different continents: America’s, Europe and Asia. The centers are serving the Carlson Wagonlit employees and managers in the region with all HR transactional services. The services are delivered through standardized processes and advanced technology such as a portal for self-services, an Oracle (fusion) in the cloud HCM solution, a variety of supporting tools for the contact centers and more. A massive program, which brings the delivery of HR services into the 21th century, with clear cost benefits and increased effectiveness.

“We started two years ago and aim to finalize the program in 2016″,  Richard says. “In itself the program is not unique and follows more or less what other companies have also done in the last couple of years. What makes this program unique in my view is the wide scope of the program combined with a small implementation team and the fast pace”.

Success factors for successful implementation

“What is key for this success”, I asked Richard?

“Of course rigorous planning and project management, top down continuous leadership support, excellent people, rigorous change management and communication are basic ingredients for completing a large scale program like this”.

“But many similar programs have that in place and still struggle..”

“Absolute key is to keep it simple, good is good enough, Richard adds”. “So no hobby horses and internal design of tools, but just out of the box solutions”. “In addition we take dozens of decisions on a weekly basis to ensure we keep it simple and yet up to standard”. He also mentions the teamwork and support of the surrounding HR environment as a critical component. “In fact a lot of the change management which is required towards employees and managers is done by the HR managers and business partners”, Richard says.

“And let’s keep our fingers crossed because we are not their yet, still a lot to achieve for the coming months” he quickly adds.

Thanks Richard,  for sharing your learnings.

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