Company / Branch
Linde / Industrial Group
Range of Services
Linde is the world market leader in the field of industrial gases. In addition to ready-to-use gases, Linde offers process systems for gas extraction and production.
The comprehensive digitization of HR processes with a highly integrative platform is an important element of contemporary strategic corporate management, especially for globally operating companies. The provision of self-services for employees and managers is a central component in order to accelerate HR processes, reduce administrative costs and create full transparency for employees. Not only the quality and scope of the functions provided is crucial for a positive user experience, but also a modern and intuitive user interface. Linde therefore decided to introduce the Fiori Launchpad and thus to completely redesign its original SAP portal-based self-service offer. The aim of the project is to ensure the acceptance and use of the existing employee and manager self-services in the future as well and to turn end users into participants by providing a positive user experience.
With around 74,000 employees worldwide, the Human Resources department at Linde is extremely complex and entails a large number of operational tasks. With Employee Self-Services and Manager Self-Services, Linde has been creating a way to simplify important processes in organizational terms by involving employees and giving them easy access to information that is relevant for them. For a long time, the focus was on the backend in terms of the pure functionality of the various self-services. With the merger of Linde AG and Praxair, Inc. to form Linde plc in 2018 at the latest, however, the pressure increased to make significant changes in the area of the frontend as well. As a long-term partner for SAP projects, projekt0708 was able to completely revise the platform at Linde for self-services based on SAP Fiori / SAPUI5 and the SAP Fiori launchpad. This significantly improved the user experience and seamlessly integrated the corporate design across functions. In addition, the two independent systems of the merged companies were combined under one roof, without users having to forego proven functions and individually grown applications.
“Form follows function” ist not enough
As a global industrial group and employer, Linde relies on SAP solutions company-wide. Since the introduction of SAP in 2008, following the takeover of the British BOC plc, the growing company has continuously invested in a global HCM system for all national companies. With SAP it was already possible to centrally manage all relevant HR processes in one system (SAP ERP HCM) across the various stages of the company's expansion.
In the course of the merger with Praxair Inc. and the associated connection with the existing SAP HR system, it became clear that two very different systems and approaches came together. On the one hand, the former Linde AG had a functionally sophisticated system that impressed with its global data structure and high consistency. On the other hand, the new American colleagues used a web-based platform with workflows up to now, which was valued above all for its user-friendliness. In addition to the complexities of the HR / IT system architecture, the merger resulted in an organizational shift in responsibility for IT system solutions. This made the individual departments of the company more responsible and shifted the perspective more towards the end user.
The pilot project started in the USA because it was primarily the 10,000 new employees of the former Praxair, Inc. who felt like they were taking a step back with the migration to the common system - at least with regard to the look and feel of the surface. After a successful go-live in the pilot country, the rollouts in Canada, the UK, Ireland and Singapore followed immediately.
Pragmatic, functional, effektive and elegant
The planned modification of the user interface of the self-services was first and foremost intended to address the desire for more user-friendliness. For projekt0708, it was also a question of fully maintaining the large range of functions, which, in many areas, goes far beyond the SAP standard, and expanding it where possible and sensible.
Historically, the system at the location of the pilot project has grown over the years and is therefore composed of a large number of services and applications. In principle, the SAP standard was based on this principle, but the system was often adapted to individual needs through modifications and configurations. Therefore, a comprehensive fit-gap analysis was on the agenda at the beginning of the project.
The biggest challenge was to precisely replicate the familiar functions and procedures in the new user interface, remembers Dirk Jäckel, project manager and managing director / CTO at projekt0708. "We succeeded in doing this, despite the heterogeneity of the existing system, which in some cases differed greatly from the SAP standard."
As a result, projekt0708 was able to map many of the usual functions via the new SAP Fiori standard applications. Nevertheless, there were some third-party applications that also had to be integrated into an otherwise closed HR-IT ecosystem. Thanks to a holistic design of the platform with seamless jump points to the respective systems, however, the uniform look and feel could be guaranteed.
Even if not all functions have been fully implemented, projekt0708 has succeeded in developing a unique, individual platform for Linde self-services with the help of the Fiori Launchpad. These already cover the international requirements of the global company.
Right from the start, the aim was to be able to implement further rollouts in other countries at high speeds and on a large scale.
In this sense, the structure of the platform with SAP Fiori Launchpad, a high proportion of standard-based applications (see figure on the left) and the porting of customer-specific solutions in the area of service allocation to different user groups have paid off. The system can be customized here at important points and basically enables an adaptation to country-specific or, in some cases, company-specific requirements with little effort.
In one specific case, the new platform combines 16 services, half of which consist of Fiori standard apps and a few customer-specific developments.
A task for experts
The long-standing, successful and reliable cooperation in previous HR / IT projects was decisive for Linde to choose projekt0708.
In addition to the shared experience in numerous international projects, in this case, above all, the competence in the area of user experience, certified by the SAP Recognized Expertise, proved to be the best prerequisite.
In the current project, projekt0708 chose a hybrid approach consisting of agile elements such as iterative feedback loops on the one hand and classic project management methods such as fit-gap analysis and test management on the other. A wide variety of stakeholders had to be taken into account, with responsibilities that were not always clearly separated.
“The service provided by projekt0708 was excellent across all areas,” explains Holger Holz. "Above all, the international complexity was a challenge". Projekt0708 was able to provide support with technical aspects that were not limited to the core of the actual project. “The colleagues from projekt0708 went far beyond the usual,” emphasizes Holz.
A basis for ambitious plans for the future
The general acceptance of the end users was an overarching goal of the project even in the early phases and the result was very high. Even supposedly banal innovations, such as the ability to change addresses independently, represent significant added value for Linde users in the USA.
Above all, the interaction with the “virtual agent”, a chatbot integrated into the platform, is perceived as very positive. This means that interest in the solution, which has so far only been rolled out for the USA, is also growing noticeably in other countries. In order to maintain this early enthusiasm, Linde decided to postpone the further development of the system and instead push for a broad roll-out in about 75 countries.
In order to further increase acceptance in a targeted manner, Linde is considering introducing a rating system for employees to better influence future developments of the system according to their individual needs.
In a second step, in addition to the self-service offer, the degree of automatization will be increased further; the Fiori platform is the perfect basis for that. In addition, more workflows should enable faster and shorter processing times for HR procedures.
The immediate goal, however, is the roll-out in a total of around 75 countries. For this purpose, the next step is to evaluate what time has to be calculated for a single roll-out sprint, depending on national prerequisites and requirements. The current goal is for a deal to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2022. Depending on available capacity, Linde and projekt0708 are aiming for even more ambitious schedules.