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An agile approach enables GKN Aerospace to develop a world-class HR systems environment

Following numerous mergers and acquisitions, manufacturer GKN Aerospace had disparate and outdated HR systems. To achieve a single line of sight across its global workforce it took an iterative approach with its IT partners, explains chief HR officer, Gordon Pitman

GKN Aerospace

GKN Aerospace is a global aerospace and defence components manufacturer. It operates in 51 manufacturing sites across 15 countries and supplies most of the world’s major original equipment manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin.

The challenge

The business has been shaped by numerous mergers and acquisitions. As a result, its IT landscape, particularly from an HR perspective, had become disparate, based on numerous singular legacy systems and largely disconnected from any central management.

Following a change in ownership, GKN Aerospace needed to exit from group-provided HR systems within a short timescale, which presented several key HR challenges, especially for busy HR directors looking for a simple way of gaining insight into how employees located across multiple office sites were performing.

A key driver for future success was to create one integrated global HR system that provided excellent visibility for senior HR management across the entire workforce world-wide, seamlessly binding all operational aspects of HR, as well as improving two-way engagement between staff and HR teams and attracting and nurturing talent to ensure the future success of the business.

What GKN Aerospace did

GKN Aerospace chose one single, self-service hub and one global set of tools and processes that would simplify procedures which HR teams needed to carry out, while enabling employees to access resources and complete HR-related tasks quickly and easily. SAP SuccessFactors was selected as the enabling technology with its employee central, performance management and recruitment modules chosen for phase one of GKN Aerospace’s journey.

Gordon Pitman, chief HR officer, says: “The number one priority was to ensure the system supported our vision of GKN Aerospace as a great place to work. We wanted to transform our operating model into a global enterprise model, enabling us to lead and grow in our chosen markets.”

The company appointed consulting company Delaware as its implementation partner. Pitman explains: “I was looking for a partner not just in technology terms but also on the change adoption and process side, helping us create a world-class HR systems environment.”

After a five-month sprint, the project was delivered successfully on-time and on-budget, rolled out globally to 15 countries in 10 languages.

To encourage early user adoption, traditional methods, such as user acceptance training and process guides, were supplemented with intensive on-site workshops. HR business partners and key stakeholders were encouraged to test scenarios and processes, which resulted in business-driven change impact assessments, user training and process mapping. This helped to fast-track the project while encouraging adoption.

During the iteration workshops and a number of HR roadshows, key users were encouraged to challenge and test the new technology, often on their own devices, enabling employees to engage and interact with the new system.

The HR system now sits on a new platform named Wilbur and is at the heart of GKN Aerospace’s connected IT systems, uniting its people and processes.

The results

GKN achieved a strong adoption rate with 80% of key users using the system within the first month.

According to Pitman, one of the key factors of this success was the innovative, iterative design process which involved Delaware and GKN Aerospace’s global HR teams.

The collaborative effort has been essential to adoption success and recognises that the traditional project approach of system go-live can be replaced with a more agile approach of solution delivery, aligned to user adoption and underpinned with a culture of continuous improvement.

The new self-service functionally enables employees to have greater personal accountability for their own professional development by interacting with training tools and competence management. The ability to execute HR tasks and find information is empowering employees to take ownership of their own careers and development, boosting engagement and driving productivity, while also freeing up the time of the HR department.

Processes are more employee-centric and foster continuous feedback, which aids team dynamics. Accurate data and enhanced reporting capabilities allow managers, team leaders and senior HR staff to make better decisions faster and provide greater visibility into performance and satisfaction levels.

The new system has provided a strong, scalable platform, capable of helping to deliver accelerated business expansion and evolving HR demands. It is already supporting future phase rollouts and will continue to enhance GKN Aerospace’s HR processes, encourage positive change in the way that its employees work and innovate, and lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable growth.

Gordon Pitman, pictured below, is chief HR officer of GKN Aerospace

Gordon Pitman chief HR officer of GKN Aerospace

Published 3 October 2019

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