Article: How one of Asia’s most successful conglomerates, JG Summit, champions HR innovation with Darwinbox HRMS

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How one of Asia’s most successful conglomerates, JG Summit, champions HR innovation with Darwinbox HRMS

JG Summit and Darwinbox share the same value of people-centric innovation. Find out how this has helped the conglomerate maintain its longevity and competitive edge in the digital economy.
How one of Asia’s most successful conglomerates, JG Summit, champions HR innovation with Darwinbox HRMS

In a climate where agility can translate into business success, the size and complexity of an organisation and its many moving parts can either hamper the speed of transformation – or work to accelerate it.

In fact, industry heavyweights in the Asia Pacific are proof of this powerful dynamic: legacy corporations and conglomerates are maintaining their longevity, and their competitive edge, even in the new digital economy where the quick and nimble prosper.

How do large organisations successfully steer their HR transformation projects?

JG Summit, one of the most diversified conglomerates in the Philippines and the Asia Pacific, with more than 21,000 employees, shares its secret to transformation on a massive scale. For an organisation with 9,500 employees on Darwinbox working in 11 companies that are spread across 11 industries, the challenge is about:

Successful conglomerates like JG Summit – when innovating their process, technology, and culture – consider the aspirations and requirements of each business while developing a cohesive plan for the entire organisation.

“When it comes to the talent management process, there are areas that need harmonisation across the organisation. For example, we see value in building best practice appraisal methods and succession management that support career opportunities across our group. Therefore, we need process harmonisation,” said David Gulliver “Gully” Go, CHRO of JG Summit.

Outlining the talent development process, in line with the organisation’s growth strategy, is only the first step. Selecting the right tools to support the needs of each employee group comes next.

“For most of our business units, our core HR management software is not in one server. Because we are multiple companies, this was a major factor for us in evaluating our HR solution,” said Gully.

Putting the end-user first

Given JG Summit’s emphasis on technology and process innovation, the team understood that the user experience and user interface would form a significant component of the employee experience.

“Employees want a platform that requires simple guidance to get to an intuitive experience. Nowadays, the measure of an easy-to-use platform is that you need minimal instructions on how to use it,” said Constantino Felipe, HR Head of Robinsons Land Corporation.

We want to make sure that our people can use these efficiencies in their day-to-day work, so that they can focus on the more valuable aspects of their employee experience,” said Karla Marie D. Gregorio, HR Head of UNICON Insurance Brokers Corporation.

To achieve a high adoption rate at the end-user level, JG Summit needed to build a responsive and versatile HR management platform that could be integrated into its existing technology stack.

The solution was Darwinbox HRMS, an intuitive and highly configurable end-to-end HR management software trusted by the world’s biggest brands.

Recognised as one of the global leaders in cloud HRMS suites for large enterprises, Darwinbox paved the way for a diversified conglomerate like JG Summit to transform its HR and people strategy across multiple business units while providing a cohesive experience for all their employees. The result was a significantly higher adoption than on the previous platform.

Darwinbox is renowned for helping large companies manage their workforce even as they are located in different geographies, and for ensuring these firms respond to the ever-changing needs of their teams.

JG Summit leads a diverse workforce operating across multiple sectors, so configurability – or the ability of the platform to be customised – was a critical factor that the conglomerate needed to consider.

“We know that we cannot literally harmonise everything because we are in different industries. Configurability is something we really value,” the Employee Experience Implementation Team shared. “What we looked at when we started was a modern interface – highly configurable across our business units and integrated into our value system – to deliver a seamless experience.”

The in-built flexibility of the Darwinbox platform, guided by the vision of JG Summit’s HR leaders from various business units, enabled teams to co-create the HR and talent management solutions that worked for them. Darwinbox wasn’t just another tech vendor but a partner in mapping out the needs of the enterprise.

Yet, even with JG Summit’s extensive program of process and platform harmonisation, some elements such as the nomenclature for the organisational structure (titles, designations, job descriptions, etc.) still created different ‘vocabularies’ for charting the growth of the various companies and their respective teams.

The Employee Experience Implementation Team observed that “there are different nomenclatures, as well as terminologies, which we use. There are instances wherein you’re able to control that in the system. That’s one part of the business process mapping.”

Darwinbox genuinely listened to our non-negotiables from an experience standpoint and a system standpoint.

Darwinbox and JG Summit share the same value of being customer-centric, putting people at the centre of their business. “A concrete example for us at JG Summit,” said MJ Putong, the Darwinbox Project Lead—HR at JG Summit, “is customising the user interface so that our business units have, for example, their own company logo and colour themes.”

Even in a conglomerate, he said, employees tend to identify themselves, first, as part of the business unit where they belong; then, only after that, as part of a larger enterprise. Darwinbox helped to amplify the identity and values of each business by giving their platform a signature and exclusive feel.  

Building culture through technology – in a period of disruption

Even amid the challenges of the COVID pandemic, JG Summit’s subsidiaries rebounded in late 2021, with revenues surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. In fact, the implementation of Darwinbox was completed by the team during this period, 100% remotely.

The companies’ journey of people, process, and technology transformation forged on despite restrictions on social and economic activity in the Philippines and Asia. “We had to do this in hyper-care,” remarked Gully. “So, it’s very different from the typical way it used to be.”

JG Summit’s commitment to innovation and its agility in adopting technology that improves the lives of employees ultimately paved the way for its businesses to stay focused even in the face of disruption. Technology enabled business recovery across the conglomerate.

“Thinking of that adage, ‘We first make our tools, then our tools make us,’ I believe the Darwinbox platform was helpful in creating a digital-first culture at JG Summit. It’s something that we’re now more conscious of,” Gully said, stressing the fact that some HR processes were yet to be digitalised before the onslaught of the pandemic.

JG Summit’s tech implementation during the pandemic was not solely the product of operating in diverse sectors. As Gully explained, it was also the result of the “varying maturities of HR processes across the group”.

In the area of recruitment, for example, different teams at JG Summit required enhancements to their candidate touchpoints. Darwinbox’s platform customisation again played a key role in addressing various hiring challenges.

Data migration for JG Summit also went smoothly, with a wealth of employee data ported onto Darwinbox to ensure that staff and managers have continued access to relevant information.

“We migrated two years' worth of past performance appraisal forms of our employees. They can still access these forms for continuous improvement. It's all documented in one place,” said Dianne Irene B. Mendoza, Darwinbox Project Lead—IT.

Developing champions of change among employees

Changing platforms without proper support from stakeholders can easily lead to failure. In introducing new tools across the business, however, JG Summit chose to partner with select employees (‘champions’) who would help achieve a higher user adoption rate. These champions would be part of the user acceptance testing and change management phases.

“We established our ‘Darwinbox champions’ at the onset. We felt they would be integral, given our size and the numerous actions that needed to be done, such as train-the-trainer,” MJ said. “There’s someone at the business unit level to do the testing and elaborate the needs specific to the business units, as well as oversee change management.”

Further, the JG Summit team was certain that they wanted to complete UAT for their Darwinbox champions before training them, and collaborated with Darwinbox on this game plan.

The Employee Experience Implementation Team acknowledged that “since we know our Darwinbox champions from the HR departments of each business unit, and we have worked with them in the past years, we felt that they would prefer to have a feel of the system first then be trained on the platform. In the context of how we do things at JG Summit, that approach has been effective. And Darwinbox once again was very accommodating.”

Darwinbox was clearly the better choice for JG Summit compared to their previous platform, Gully explained. With Darwinbox, there was “more collaboration and listening” and so, various stakeholders were involved in the discussions.

Change management can be daunting for many. Based on the experience of JG Summit, Gully advises change leaders in other large organisations to identify their pain points. 

Be clear on what you're solving for.

Know what your people need internally. Then match the problem with solutions that are already out there.

Involve key stakeholders.

These are cross-functional stakeholders who help to deliver a positive employee experience. They include the leadership working together with HR. Stakeholders should have a say even at the onset, in the vendor selection stage.

Be transparent with your solutions provider.

Establish a two-way communication with your partner.

“One of the guiding principles when we started the adoption campaign was the idea and brand we were rolling out, not just another platform,” Gully said. “We have career development programs in place and the tool is an enabler.

“Second, it’s important to partner with business units because they are a big component of driving and cascading change among our employees. 

“Third, leaders should make resources available to employees and over-communicate.”

Contact Darwinbox to understand how Inflexion™ can bring a smooth and fast HR transformation to your organisation.

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Topics: HR Technology, HRMS

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