Aveng, Britehouse 2016 SAP quality business transformation bronze award proves standard functionality can be transformative

Consolidation of five HR and 144 payroll systems across the global Aveng group achieved on time and under budget.

In its largest ever human capital management (HCM) project at the time (2014), Britehouse Specialist SAP Division (SSD) helped the Aveng Group achieve a single view of its human resources and payroll functions across seven operational divisions in southern Africa.

About 144 payrolls and their related HCM activities were consolidated into 31 payrolls, giving Aveng head office a single transactional HR system that provides the foundation for employee life cycle management across a diverse operational base that includes steel, engineering, manufacturing, mining, concessions, public infrastructure and water treatment.

The SAP HCM modules implemented included organisational management, HR administration, time management, payroll, training management, reporting, and manager and employee self-service for salaried employees as well as shared services.

Aveng Group Rewards and Benefits Manager, Vik Ramlugaan, says the project has given the company, for the first time in its 125-year history, an on-time real-time snapshot of its entire staff establishment and salary bill.

"The positive tax and reporting implications of what has been achieved are huge, especially considering the data complexity underlying the systems. Using standard SAP processes and functionality, we went from having no single source of the truth about headcount and wages to an unprecedented precision and timeliness in payroll processing, accuracy in costing labour overheads, and 100% accuracy in posting overhead costs into our financial systems.

"All of this was done on schedule and under budget, in spite of significant challenges in sourcing and bringing across data, such as leave and sick leave balances from multiple systems that were neither integrated nor standardised in any way.

"Even more remarkably, we achieved our projected return on investment in less than half the anticipated time-frame."

Jay Fakir, Aveng Group Business Systems Manager, attributes the success of the project to the competence, commitment, and continuity of the combined Britehouse and Aveng project team, which included senior Aveng business executives.

"We worked as a single unit with one goal. Britehouse became a part of Aveng for the duration of the project. Also, the project management process was proven and robust – as were the governance structures that we put in place."

The project was treated as a greenfields implementation, using standard SAP processes with the few minor changes required documented in the blueprint. This ensured that an orthodox employee life cycle process could be used across the entire Aveng Group. The implementation of shared services enabled standardisation of payroll processes, which, in turn, enabled the reduction of the number of payrolls.

Ordinary SAP functionality was used to drive the standardisation of key business processes, further helping to compress timelines and control the budget.

The required staggered go-live approach, coupled with a dual landscape that allowed live and project instances to operate side by side, minimised business disruption but called for detailed planning.

"Obviously, the risks inherent in a project of this size and complexity are significant," says Britehouse SSD project manager, Dawie Hattingh. "But, at Britehouse, we see an effective risk management programme as an accelerator, not a burden.

"Risk management brings a level of predictability to dynamic environments. By understanding the uncertainties of a project, you can manage the project in a proactive rather than a reactive manner. As a consequence, you gain far greater control of the variables and you're positioned to take the unexpected in your stride."

"As SAP's bronze award attests, the project really has transformed the business," Ramlugaan says. "To have done this in the time allowed and well within budget – in spite of scope changes – is an exceptional feat."