ai-generated people world Image by Nicky from PixabayWorkday has revealed how Philips, a global leader in HR, leverages Workday HCM. And, more recently, Workday Adaptive Planning to empower its workforce. Philips first started using Workday in 2014. Once deployed, the solution enabled the company to centralise its HR data and deliver insights about its 60.700 employees (Based on Annual Report 2023) across 77 countries.

Last year, the firm helped improve the lives of 1.88 billion people, including 221 million in underserved communities. It is on track to deliver on its objective of bolstering the health of 2.5 billion people by 2030, including 400 million in underserved communities.

Pushing the boundaries of its HR

The company adopted the Ulrich model for its HR Organisation in 2007 when it had 130,000 employees. However, moving to such a model from a localised one brought technological challenges with disparate HR systems and many spreadsheets. In 2012, the company turned to Workday, integrating it into its tech stack.

Efthymios Zindros, Global HRIS Architect, Philips. Image credit - LinkedIn
Efthymios Zindros, Global HRIS Architect, Philips

Philips’ Global HRIS Architect, Efthymios Zindros, commented, “The introduction of Workday has enabled the company to overcome a multitude of local variables, which is helping to drive greater consistency and much smarter ways of working.

“We always like to push boundaries, and that goes for the way we use Workday just as much as it does for all other areas of the business. Having all headcount costs at our fingertips has created new possibilities and extended our internal capabilities. It is certainly helping us to flex and adapt at short notice to meet constantly changing circumstances and priorities.”

One of the key things about introducing a centralised local was the ability for Philips to have a single view of the company from a single screen. Zindros added, “One extremely crucial factor lies in answering the question: do you have a single source of truth?”

Babette van Biljouw, Philips’ Human Resources Project Manager, explained further, saying, “We are now able to take full account of all headcount costs – from salary and wages to country-specific social security costs, annual incentives, all kinds of bonus plans and so on.

“This overcomes the need for local Excels and provides us with an accurate and holistic view of what lies ahead. Such information enables us to prepare plans that take full account of so many different factors.”

In Workday terminology, the Power of One would enable Philips to enhance its HR practice. However, much of the resource planning was still done on spreadsheets. Philips, therefore, decided to deploy Workday Adaptive Planning to further enhance the system and better manage its workforce planning.

The power of three

Workday is now used across the global organisation to manage many of the HR Processes. The firm also uses Prism Analytics and cloud connectors to integrate the solution into the wider technology stack. However, when Workday Adaptive Planning was implemented, it brought together the resource planning elements from its SAP ERP solution and Workday HCM into a single solution. The system has enabled Philips to calibrate all headcount costs across the organisation. Therefore can plan and forecast the financial implications of changes to workforce management.

With a single Workday system in place, the Philips team has better visibility. It can react quickly to the changing demands of the modern world, whether economic, legal, cultural or something else. Due to the nature of Workday, it has been able to create start-up organisations that can operate differently. Yet whose data and insights are still contained within the corporate whole.

Lessons from implementing a centralised solution

Zindro has also shared some insights from the implementation of Workday across the organisation. He advocates three pillars for any change management: people, process and systems.

He states, “It always starts with the people: you need to think of adoption, you need to think of change management, you need to think about what it means for the end user. Then, focus on the process, on how you can apply what the end user needs towards a specific process. And the system really comes last from that perspective. A good system can enable the other two components and a bad system will never be able to do that. But those two first components are key and that is what many individuals or many organisations forget sometimes.”

Achieving a global standard for HR in Philips

Ultimately, Philips now has a global standard for HR that is enabled by its global cloud-based solution from Workday. The solution drives visibility, adoption, understanding yet has a lower level overall of maintenance required than the siloed systems and spreadsheets it once used. The solution enables personalisation at the local level, ensuring that cultural and legislative differences are maintained within the guardrails of the corporate culture.

Zindros added, “We saw, with the evolution of Workday, there was a very clear drive towards always being on the same line of code and the latest technological innovation, and that was no longer the customer’s obligation.

“We’ve benefited greatly because we were able to begin adopting all of the components that were already available with each release, which created a lot of agility in deploying the latest technologies when we wanted to, but also in adjusting our technology stack whenever we had an urgent business need.

“Those benefits are feeding into Philips’ broader ambition: to see a world where all our hopes for good health and wellbeing are enabled by technological change.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

Ultimately, this is a case study that is light on metrics about what it has managed to achieve in detail. These almost certainly exist, however, Philips may prefer to keep these private. And the efforts to create something meaningful for Workday might not align with the needs of Philips.

However, its importance is in the support that Workday has given Philips through its strategic transition to an Ulrich model for managing HR. As organisations grow, adding more international offices to their footprint, many face similar issues that Philips once had. This includes disjointed processes that have been defined locally — local systems or spreadsheets.

Often, the home HR system is only suitable for the home nation. Yet companies do not want to invest in a global HR system that will not benefit the majority. Instead, they acquire locally. All scale-up organisations reach a point. However, where replacing their disjointed HR technology landscape with a single global solution such as Workday (it is not the only one) is an obvious step. Not only can it save costs, it also offers a huge strategic advantage with a single view of HR data. Philips has achieved this with Workday.


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