The role of HR took on strategic center-stage as managing a blended workforce became a primary challenge during the pandemic year. Organizations were left with no choice but to turn to technology to sustain the business, with virtual and remote working becoming mainstream. Ramky Enviro too underwent a tech-transformation with an intent to curate a great employee experience, and therein, leverage their people-power to tide through the tough times.
Ramky’s Vision for HR
Ramky Enviro, a specialist multidisciplinary organization with a headcount of 18000+ globally and has progressed at a consistent pace to become one of Asia’s leading players in the integrated environment management sector. A company that is so focusing on developing projects that positively impact both the environment and the economy as a whole clearly has a strong interest in people. The HR organization at Ramky aspired to develop an agile, diverse, and engaged workforce, with a primary objective to support their consistent business growth.
Moreover, as a 25 year+ old organization that was initially entrepreneur-led and later backed by a private equity investor(KKR), a high-growth outlook became the norm at Ramky Enviro. Yet, being a dispersed organization with a presence in 20 out of 29 Indian states, and 50+ project locations (sites), efficiency remained a challenge. For future expansion, the key leadership conundrum was, “how to optimize” and “how to gain efficient outcomes”. And so a digital transformation arose as a compelling need not only in HR but also in other functional areas.
The need for digital transformation to support HR vision
Gone were the days when one could wait for a site to give a data point, hence digital transformation arose as a compelling need not only in HR but also in other functions as the supply chain. One of the main objectives of implementing HR technology was to make data and information relevant to different people and available 24*7, 365 days a year. Efficiency in terms of managing and processing data across India, and connecting it with agility was the key driver of Ramky’s digital transformation journey.
“We were working on an old technology platform and were not able to make dynamic data-backed decisions. With different data dispersed at different sites, everything was manual and fragmented. A lot of time was typically needed to collate any manpower data, say exits, payroll or leave data, So, we had a challenge with controls.”, shares Sujiv.
The leadership imperatives therefore quickly emerged, towards having accurate data and ensure improved productivity by enabling employee self-service and manager self-service on web and mobile devices. Furthermore, efficiency in terms of managing and processing data across different sites, and connecting it with agility was the key driver of Ramky Enviro’s digital transformation journey.
Selecting the Right HR Tech partner
Ramky’s workforce comprises a mix of blue-collar and white-collar employees. Hence, to create a real ground-level impact, simplicity and user-friendliness were critical. The viability of the HR Tech partner was another consideration because the implemented HRMS would need to be capable of scaling for their 10000+ distributed workforce. This demanded robustness of the technology and a strong core while allowing flexibility for multiple BUs, SPVs, JVs, etc.
“We kept asking ourselves - How do you define the core of an organization to arrive at a simple yet effective design? Prompt after-sales service was a key lookout, and I believe, that if the product is so good that dependency on people is reduced, then it solves much of the problem. We found Darwinbox came the closest in solving our particular needs. Another deciding factor when choosing Darwinbox was the limited number of POCs in the entire connect-chain, keeping interactions light with not too many persons meant less cost-offloading on the customer i.e. on us”, says Sujiv.
The HR Transformation Journey
“Covid changed the earlier ease of interactions and decision-making. So, in the remote world of work, one thing that we constantly kept doing was to communicate, communicate, and communicate”, shares Sujiv.
The digital transformation exercise was kickstarted as a simple step-wise process. Here are some of the practices adopted by Ramky Enviro:
- Proactive Planning & Solutioning: When it came to planning, identifying the problems a typical HR person or an employee would face was key. Once these were identified, several open dialogues helped the team understand how technology could be leveraged to solve for them.
- Building the Core Team: A core team consisting of COE Leaders and HR Business Partner Leads formed and a fundamental tenet was outlined as a self-service model + response time, which was that any query must be responded to within 24 hours, and for exceptional cases, the team would gather for a shared understanding.
- Fluid Internal Progress-Tracking: The core team held daily meetings wherein, 15 minutes were dedicated to HRMIS implementation catch-ups. This ensured de-bottlenecking.
- Module-wise Implementation: Approaching the implementation of the different modules one step at a time translated to a more seamless experience ensuring the focus remained on first going live with key modules such Core, Payroll, Attendance and Leave Management and only then implementing the rest. 30 min orientation modules for stakeholders were created.
- Effective Error-Management: Post the pilot, error-management measures helped streamline communications. “For example, the moment we found an error, we used to create an error-list, and that would be tracked till its closure, across sites. Several of these issues which we solved were converted to FAQs and published, reducing the need for people to keep asking the same questions.”, shares Sujiv.
- Single Darwinbox POC: Having a single Darwinbox POC from start till end ensured the HR team had extensive and flexible support, be it for additional demos or for query-resolution. This ensured the transformation was smooth and seamless.
- Communicating Simply and Directly: Every communication was designed to be simple. Direct one-on-ones i.e. picking up the phone and talking to people, rather than generic workshops, helped people better understand the problems and solutions. Sujiv further added, “We decided that product guides or solutions to problems would not be more than a page long. We also took a call not to address multiple problems in one solution.”
Ramky’s change management approach was high-touch and leveraged tech. This ensured high end-user adoption and the organization was able to gain some immediate wins that showcased the success of this transformation. Enablement of employee self-service and manager self-service was one of the big wins. From a sustainability standpoint, with no paper increment letters and everything loaded on Darwinbox, a lot of green savings ensued. Perhaps, the biggest win was that with attendance, leaves, and other modules going online, transparency and overall productivity increased.
Here is a look at some of the quick wins from the digital transformation at Ramky:
Employee Empowerment as an Outcome:
In addition to the ease of use, enabling employee self-service and manager self-service was one of the biggest wins for this digital transformation. Self-service wasn’t even an option in the past but with Darwinbox, employees can access their information on the go—for instance, employees can view their attendance, payslips, training, policies, birthdays, and many others on the mobile app.
Central Database Acting as a Single Source of Truth:
Going digital meant the HR team at Ramky is now able to track its workforce in a single system of record ensuring they are better positioned to grow and scale with the business. Furthermore, from a sustainability standpoint, with no paper increment letters and everything loaded on Darwinbox, a lot of green savings ensued.
Transparency & Digital Efficiency:
Perhaps, the biggest win was that with attendance, leaves, and other modules going online, transparency and overall productivity increased. Real-time visibility also meant the leadership team and management could now have data & reports they need when they need it.
“The journey continues, it has been close to a year, and we need to quantify and evaluate the impact of these gains, to keep propelling ahead in the right direction”, says Sujiv.
Ramky and Darwinbox came together to create value not only for the two organizations but for many beyond. This was possible because the product had a strong and unique core, with a very well-designed and user-friendly interface. But more than any technicalities, a transformation is driven by an organizations’ people. “A committed and fantastic team who really want to make a change, is crucial to the success of any digital transformation”, quips Sujiv.