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Journey From Administrative HR to Strategic – Swire Group

By September 26, 2016April 6th, 2023No Comments

Journey From Administrative HR to Strategic – Swire Group

Sep 26, 2016 Singapore

About Swire:

The Swire Group is quite a large organization. It has a number of different categories – you have the aviation group, which has kept a Pacific and Dragonair; you also have properties which is essentially a group in Hong Kong to develop property; we have a beverages group that bottle beverages in all through China and we also have a marine group and an industrial group. We work for the marine group and they’re essentially made up of two organizations, one of them is one of the oldest businesses in Swire 200 years and they are logistics, container shipping and bulk shipping business. We also have another group called Swire Pacific offshore group, which is essentially a marine support and offshore support business. The organizations are not large there are 1300 and total shore staff and around three thousand to four thousand sea staff but the business is highly specialized it’s across about 18 countries over the world and it is very dangerous business that requires very specific skills.


The HR team when we first started and embarked on this journey we’re basically a personal management group we did basic HR administration functions and we did them to varying degrees of success, so we had a significant amount of a kind of redundancy in terms of effort and we were not really able to commoditize the activities well enough. So, we decided that we would look at the HR structure as well as the processes in the systems in HR to ensure that we were able to create a more structured environment to help employees get more out of their HR function.

In doing that as well, we started to look at the processes we try to align those processes that make them more aligned to best practice processes in each region as well as look at our global system and try and improve their global system from the old sequel server database that we’ve had previously. We did a request for information (RFI) across a number of different HR solutions and we landed on SuccessFactors (SF) as the system of choice.


We met with a number of different implementation vendors and walk through in great detail how they would help supply us with the services to implement system. It was quite a difficult decision to make about which type which type of vendor we need to use. Rolling Arrays was one of the only vendors that came to us with a very flexible plan to work with our schedule understanding that we still had operations to run we still have an HR activities to do and they were able to build that project plan around how we wanted to implement the system at our pace and our time. They were also very competitive in terms of the what they offered in terms of solutions how much time, effort and personnel they gave to us to implement the project at a very cost effective price for us that meant that we could do it effectively within the budget that we had.

Rolling arrays basically ran our end-to-end project around the system so whilst we were doing all of the work of keeping HR afloat at the same time they were essentially developing the project plans to how we were going to do all the configuration workshops, all of the testing and all of the data migration into the system. So, they really helped us in terms of kind of compartmentalizing all of the different steps required to develop and to implement the system. They also helped us after we’ve we had done the implementation with all of the things which inevitably we didn’t think about and things that we needed to fix because of some other issue internally. And they were flexible enough to help change those things as we moved into almost like the embedding phase of the system as well as offering us now a consultation support so whenever a new enhancements happen they would be with us and working with us to explain those enhancements to us explain the effect they have on our system and essentially turn them on if we needed to and to ensure that they are turned on and tested smoothly.

The issue that we have with that we found with a software solution is that it has such an aggressive enhancement timeline that we were not really able to hold a lot of expertise within our organization to essentially keep up with all of these changes so we liked the idea of working with Rolling Arrays because they offer our services after the implementation to help us understand these enhancements, to help us grow that the system and to build it into something that is keeps improving as we improve our HR processes.

We have been working with Rolling Arrays for almost two years now we started back in November of 2014 and since then we have rolled out about five modules there we have rolled out the EC which is the employees central module, performance management, calibration compensation and the learning management system. We still have the recruitment and the workforce planning module to remaining to go and will more than likely finish those in 2017.


Rolling Arrays basically managed our project for us. We subject matter experts from our business and our HR business to essentially consult on different processes and different parts of the system in terms of configuration but they were ran the whole end-to-end project of developing the different elements of the system. We also consulted on them in terms of some best practice around HR to ensure that we had we’re actually doing something that makes sense for our business in the long term rather than just what sort of processes we are currently running at the current time and develop a system around that. They also had quite a large or broad expertise around SuccessFactors and because it is an online kind of cloud solution it meant that there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for customization or anything or any customization at all so their expertise was brought on board to help us understand what that system could do and how we could then look at our processes in relation to that system.


We currently now have about four modules in play and we have pretty good usage and most of our employees are using it in fact both Swire Pacific Offshore and China Navigation, we have 100% usage across time off employee self-service as well as performance management and learning. So there’s quite a lot of I would say convenience to the system which has really helped our employees get a very short and sharp kind of experience around HR data management and allowing them to really utilize it quickly. We’ve also had a significant amount of reports being driven out of that system more accurate data, better org. charts, better visibility of the organization that helped us with our management decisions around people.


When you’re developing system picking implementation partner is a very personal thing you really need to understand what sort of requirements you need and you definitely need an implementation partner that you trust and that is able to listen to your challenges and help you and be flexible with you when you deliver that project. Rolling Arrays were able to do that with us and they were very open and flexible when we had last minute changes and issues that we needed to finish very quickly. They’re also very good at being able to help us with the aggressiveness of all of the enhancements that we have on the system, so, with so many enhancements coming out of the system as it is a software as a solution (SaaS) they were able to give us good feedback about what these enhancements do and how they will affect our system and work with us on trying to either turn them on or delay them for whatever requirement we may need.

In terms of the way that these things usually work most of the time HR Department’s don’t have the in-house expertise to be able to understand the system and so you really do need people who are able to listen and Rolling Arrays were able to help us deliver the project the way we wanted to deliver it and to deliver all of the different enhancements in the way that we needed them to be delivered as well. There is no one size fits all in terms of being able to build the system in a way that makes sense to a different HR teams you really do have to make sure that there is a there is a the group that you work with are very attuned to the issues that you have in your organization. Rolling arrays were able to do that for us and we were very happy with that.

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About Rolling Arrays

Rolling Arrays has been driving SAP SuccessFactors-led HR Transformation since 2009. The company specialises in SF consulting, implementation, and support and also builds applications to enhance the utility of the SuccessFactors platform. It is committed to designing systems that help its customers to attract, develop and retain talented individuals. In 2021, Rolling Arrays was recognized as one of the top 75 fastest-growing companies in Singapore by The Straits Times & Statista.

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