For over 24 years, the EDF energy group, originating in France, has been operating on the Polish electric power and heat energy market.Implementing a policy of strong commitment to local markets, it has since strengthened its position by taking over the shares of the biggest Polish heat and power plants and other energy sector plants.
The entity coordinating the activities of EDF subsidiaries in Poland is EDF Polska Headquarters.The Shared Services Centre operates within its structures. Its main tasks include the provision of comprehensive services to the group companies in the area of finance and accounting, HR management, IT support (including SAP HR system administration) and logistics.
The organization of the Shared Services Centre for a capital group consisting of entities with different histories, management models and organizational structures is a real challenge. However, as emphasized by EDF, the reorganization and centralization of the SSC is a key element in achieving economic efficiency within the group.
One of the shared areas implemented in the SSC in Krakow is the personnel administration, human resources and payroll calculation for all of over 3500 employees of the EDF Group in Poland. The centralization of HR and payroll tasks in the group is facilitated by the SAP HR system which is integrated with other areas.
In addition to the financial effects, other benefits of such employee service models are obvious: a source of employee data, extensive capabilities of HR and payroll information reporting, standardisation of HR processes in all the group companies, taking advantage of the economies of scale by concentrating the employee service for many companies in one place, and building a coherent employment and personnel development policy are just a few examples. However, this is the employer’s perspective.
For an employee, the incorporation of his or her company into the structures of a capital group or the centralisation of processes in the SSC may result in the “distancing” of the HR and payroll department and limited access to the HR information that is important to the employee.
Information is the basis for communication
The personnel information flow is very important in any company. It is particularly important in large companies with a distributed structure, employing a significant number of people. In such a large organization as The EDF Group, the centralisation of HR processes in the SSC does not mean that all employees who are responsible for human resources and payroll work in Krakow. Besides the headquarters, individual companies have local branches that provide ongoing support for the employees by preparing the certifications they need or by gathering information on events (changes in data, sick leave, etc.)
Nevertheless, as with any business, HR and payroll departments of the EDF companies are inundated with questions: ‘how much unused leave do I have?’, ‘when should I have the periodic medical examination?’, ‘when exactly should I get back to work after maternity leave?’, ‘when will the salary transfers be made and how much will I be paid this month?’ among others… Transmission of this information individually to each person creates a considerable amount of work.
In large or distributed organizations – particularly in production or service companies, where not all employees have access to corporate email or portals – there are often no tools available to help in monitoring the deadlines, and sending advance reminder notices about the mandatory training courses, the employee assessment deadline, or the need to provide documents or certificates. Therefore, employers are looking for a solution which would streamline and automate the distribution of such information.
Notifications of personnel events
Since December 2011, the Shared Services Centre of the EDF Group in Poland has been using the EasyReminder application made available under the SNP offering. It is a solution which,based on SAP HR, allows you to define and then send notifications of personnel events via SMS and/or e-mail. The purpose of the implementation was to streamline the process of informing employees and managers in such companies as EDF Headquarters, EDF SSC, Elektrownia Rybnik, Elektrociepłownia Kraków, Energokrak, Elektrociepłownia Wybrzeże, Everen, Kogeneracja in Wrocław, Cergia in Toruń and PEC Tarnobrzeg.The idea of this application is based on the use of data collected in SAP HR (e.g. date of return from leave, expiry date of the periodic medical examination, and contract termination date) and converting it into short text messages sent to selected recipients or groups of recipients.
Different notification types
From among the capabilities offered by EasyReminder, EDF decided to use three types of employee notifications to start with:
- Absence notifications
- Reminder of the periodic health examination deadline
- Salary transfer information.
Absence notifications are generated after the employee returns to work and contain the information on the type of absence they returned from (annual leave, child care, L4, i.e. sick leave) and the number of remaining leave days they can use during the year. These types of messages are sent only to the employees, while the reminders of the impending periodic medical examination deadline are sent both to the employee and his immediate superior (manager). The last type of information – salary transfer information (remuneration amount) – is sent only to the employees.
The date when the data is sent is defined in EasyReminder and can be correlated with information from the financial department. The salary message is created automatically after the payroll and corresponding transfer information is generated in the system. It is then buffered and sent after the transfer is made (payroll preparation in the payroll department can be made even several days before the actual transfer date). It is also possible to set a repeated message (e.g. information on the medical examination deadline that expires in one month and another reminder two weeks before the deadline.)
E-mail or SMS?
SNP EasyReminder allows you to send information through two channels: e-mail and SMS. Although sending a text message through gateways of mobile phone network operators entails certain costs (as opposed to e-mail), the EDF Group decided to use SMS for several reasons. First of all, not all employees have access to a computer and corporate e-mail. The second and most important reason arises from the nature of the transferred information. This data is sensitive and contains personal information and the salary amount. EDF estimated that SMS is a more secure communication channel because the data transmission to the operator is encrypted. In addition, SMS is faster than e-mail.
The information is sent only to the employees who have given their phone numbers and agreed to receive such messages. In the EDF Group companies, the number of people interested in this type of messaging is growing each month.
From SAP to SMS
The working principle of the EasyReminder application is fairly simple. For individual events of which we choose to inform about, based on the system data, the following is defined: an addressee or group of addressees, whether a message is sent only to employees, or also to their superiors, when in relation to the event the information will be sent (before or after the event) and whether it will be repeated. For regular (periodic) notifications, you can also enter the date upon which a relevant notification or message will be sent.
The application is run automatically once a day (if needed, it can also be started manually), and during this cycle it collects the data from the system which is necessary to generate the defined messages.
The content of the message is created dynamically. For fixed fragments of text stored in EasyReminder, the application retrieves data from the relevant infotypes or SAP system tables (for example, information on the leave available for use from infotype 2001, or the salary amount from a table with transfer information and from a payroll cluster).
The result is a ready message.
The content of text messages received by employees of the EDF Group follows below.
- Return from leave:
“Please be advised that by dd.mm.yyyy you have used annual leave
holiday: <value for subtypes (A+B+…) (including on demand <value>) >
outstanding: <value> (subtype A for deduction dates…)
seniority: <value>(subtype E)
4 brig.: <value> (subtype F)”
- Salary transfer
“Please be advised that we have made the transfer in the amount: <value>”
- Periodic medical examinations:
“Please be advised that on dd.mm.yyyy the validity of the periodic medical examination expires”.
Building human resources policy
Although EDF uses three types of event notifications for the time being, the solution is so flexible, easy to use, and administrate that in the future, along with growing personnel requirements, SAP administrators in the SSC will be able to extend the range of messages sent to employees and managers to include other events, e.g. information on training courses, notifications of the technical authorisation expiry date, etc. Practically speaking, it is possible to send a notification of almost any time-determined employee data.
The implementation of EasyReminder represents practical fulfilment of strategic goals of the EDF Shared Services Centre. The solution is one of the elements of implementing the HR processes alignment policy in the organisation and standardisation of communication requirements. Automatic generation and distribution of messages for employees also contributes to a significant reduction in the workload of HR departments, and thus an increase in available working time.
Apart from these advantages for EDF, the employee perspective is also important. Easy access to the employee-relevant information on leave entitlement or salary amount is one of the elements that help build loyalty and trust towards the employer.
More and more people interested in SMS
The decision to implement EasyReminder in the EDF Group in Poland is a result of discussions between HR and IT directors on how to better use and further develop the IT tools supporting the HR processes in the company. EasyReminder proved to be an attractive, easy to use application that meets those expectations. At a relatively low cost, this tool allows you to better use SAP, which is an integrated IT system for the management of HR and payroll processes in the group.
The SAP HR system supports more than 3,500 employees of the EDF Group companies in Poland; more than 1,500 of whom are users who work directly with the system. Because of their geographic distribution, EasyReminder significantly facilitates the contact between the HR department and the employee, adding an extra level of communication and improving the company’s image in the eyes of the employees.
Thus far, about 500 people wished to receive text messages from EasyReminder (because sensitive data is sent, everyone must give their written permission to receive those messages). Last month, the system sent almost 1,600 of such messages. The number is variable, depending on the number of HR and payroll events that occur during a given period.
We informed our employees about the new tool and the new communication capability in our magazine"Shared Energy" and, of course, through e-mails and conversations with immediate superiors. The initiative itself is perceived positively by employees; from day to day the number of people willing to receive information from EasyReminder increases. Only the transfer of salary data fuels mistrust. The tool is very flexible, so we do not exclude the possibility of further enhancement of the scope of information which we want to communicate to employees.
Andrzej Nowak, SAP Competence Centre Manager, EDF Poland SSC