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Please let me tell you about my experience in implementing a global SAP HCM system for a customer in the industrial sector which has his headquarter in Switzerland. I had the role of the SAP HCM lead consultant.

At first SAP HCM was implemented in the companies headquarter in Switzerland and then rolled out to the regional headquarter in Singapore and to the production sites in Poland, India and China. The focus was laid on the HCM Core modules covering Personnel Administration, Organizational Management, Payroll and Time Management. In addition we had to cover different requirements regarding Reporting and Interfaces.
In these various countries there are different legal requirements and different cultures. This makes Human Resources a strongly local field. On the other side, also in Human Resources, there are global processes within a global organization, which are best covered by an integrated HCM system, like SAP HCM. So the main challenge starts at the very beginning of the project, when the global template is designed.
It must be ensured that it covers the requirements of the global organization. At the same time it must allow each legal entity in each country enough freedom and flexibility, that local requirements can be addressed sufficiently. Implementing a pure global solution, which does not reflect local requirements, will not lead to acceptance in the specific country and it will limit the added value. If the global template does not allow a legal entity in a country to cover its local requirements, the legal entity is forced to use work-abounds, such as an additional local HCM system and/or Excel and Paper based processes. Usually these are exactly the things (double data maintenance, paper based processes, etc.) which should be eliminated, when implementing a global, integrated systems.
The requirement gathering phase and the design of the global template were extensive. And these phases involved all sites. All legal entities contributed and in the end agreed on a lean global template. The global template covered mainly infotypes and fields for global reporting purposes in Personnel Administration, as well as a global organizational structure in Organization Management. This means the organizational structure was driven by the business entities of the global organization, rather than the regional legal entities. This reflected the global reporting lines and was an important prerequisite for a later implementation i.e. of SAP Workflow or SAP Manager Self-Service. Furthermore global reports were defined and developed, i.e. for Full-Time Equivalence (FTE) and the Fluctuation Rate (incl. leave-reasons, etc.).
Another important topic was the handling of external employees. Obviously a headquarter with a few external consultants and a production site with hundreds of new external laborers coming and going each month have completely different requirements. So a guideline and a solution had to be found, which covers the needs of both. Finally it was also required that SAP HCM handles global employees (Expats, Transfers, etc.).
On the local site – besides naming conventions, number ranges and a couple of global wage times necessary for global reporting – the legal entities in the different countries were free to implement SAP Payroll. Some did cover their local requirements with SAP payroll, others decided to interface a local 3rd party system. The same applied for Time Management.

This approach, allowing each legal entity in each country to implement a relatively strong localized solution, has proven to be successful for this customer. The acceptance in the headquarters and in the legal entities in the different countries is very high, as many of their local requirements are covered. SAP HCM has added high value to the customer, especially in term of reporting and transparency which allows the customer to react faster on business developments. Also several global and local administrative processes that are now implemented in SAP HCM are handled in a more efficient and effective way.

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