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Photography: Aad Hoogendoorn

Professional but still Personal

Text: Nienke Deuss

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Fons Manders (l) and Jacqueline Hendriks - DSM

TOPdesk for HR at DSM
In the past, it was not uncommon for employees to stay at life science and materials science company DSM until they retired. DSM would take care of them for their entire lives. Even now, with hundreds of branches worldwide, DSM values a personal approach to HRM. But how do they combine that with standardization and new tools?
“DSM has grown rapidly over the past few years,” says Fons Manders, head of DSM’s Business Support Centre HR (BSC HR). “Takeovers have resulted in an even broader base of expertise in our company. At the moment, DSM has over 22,000 employees worldwide. The BSC HR supports 6,000 employees across 16 locations in the Netherlands, from factory operators to site directors. The location we are at right now houses a number of central services.” about certain terms of employment, you need to know which of the seven agreements applies. This is why we divided the front office into two teams, each specializing in a number of collective labour agreements. Thanks to their knowledge and experience, the front office can answer eighty per cent of all incoming questions. The rest of the queries are sent to the back office.”

YOU OFTEN DEAL WITH RESISTANCE WHEN TRYING TO AUTOMATE HR PROCESSES
Fons Manders - DSM

Seven collective labour agreements
When we ask Manders what role the BSC HR plays in within DSM, he draws us a diagram. “The BSC HR department functions as the HR service desk, which means we primarily work with two groups. First of all there’s HR Netherlands, an advisory body that defines our HR policy and ensures we apply this policy in our operations. We also have a lot of contact with the HR officials from the Dutch plants. These business partners are intermediaries for colleagues at their location. When an employee leaves or joins the company, or if there are any questions or changes for us to process, they send us the required information.” The BSC HR employees are part of a socalled skilled service desk. Manders explains why this is necessary. “Most branches have a unique collective labour agreement. This means that when you answer a question

Shared service centres
DSM has been working on improving its efficiency for a while now, as Manders explains. “Shared service centres have been on the rise over the past few years. With the current economic climate, we thought that this would be the best way to improve our efficiency and cut costs. I frequently attend HR congresses, and noticed that a lot of organizations have only just started looking into shared service centres. HR is often behind the times, possibly due to the nature of the field. Personal contact is very important: people like being able to quickly visit the HR employee down the hall. However, this means often having to deal with resistance when trying to automate HR processes. We set up a shared service centre five years ago, and often received comments that things were done differently before. We had to apply a lot of change management before everyone was used to the tool and standardization.”

Tools for HR
DSM has a separate department dedicated to automating HR processes: Global HR Information Solutions. This team is concerned with optimizing processes, supporting HR systems and safeguarding the quality of data for DSM worldwide. Global HR IS’ activities ensure that HR managers and employees can focus on their personal development. “We support six systems, including recruitment and career management,” says Jacqueline Hendriks, Global HR IS expert and TOPdesk functional manager. “We look for tools to support HR processes and determine whether these systems should be implemented locally or globally.” Hendriks had previous experience implementing TOPdesk as a case management tool for a Finance Shared Service Centre. “When the BSC HR started looking for a new tool,

8 customer in focus

Photography: Aad Hoogendoorn

Fons and I looked into TOPdesk to see if it could provide a solution,” says Hendriks. Manders adds, “We already used SAP Solution Manager, but it was not efficient enough. We had to manually copy incoming emails into SAP. That was a full-time job for one of our colleagues.”

with a tool, but there was still some resistance. Everyone had to get used to the new system. This is why I trained a number of ‘key users’ after the system went live, who in turn trained their colleagues. These key users are also ambassadors: they are their department’s contact person for questions about TOPdesk.” “Such things always take getting used to,” says Manders, “but in a matter of weeks we were hearing that staff never wanted to go back to the old system. When you get such positive feedback so quickly, you know you’ve made the right choice. We really notice the difference in user-friendliness. For instance, it’s easy for us to create reports about our customer services because we have defined SLAs for categories and subcategories. We

also keep an eye on trends: which topic and which category are most common among incoming questions? We reserve room in our newsletter to provide extra information about these difficult subjects.”

Fewer obstacles
Manders explains that TOPdesk was a logical choice. “The most important factors were how quickly the tool could be implemented, the price and the user-friendliness.” “The implementation was completed in ten days,” says Hendriks. An essential part of the implementation was training the HR staff, says Hendriks. “Our employees were already used to working

TOPDESK GAVE US THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAINTAIN OUR PERSONAL APPROACH
Fons Manders - DSM

The DSM office in Sittard

Text: Nienke Deuss

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One tool for the Netherlands and the US
The implementation went smoothly, even though there were many things that DSM had to take into consideration, as Hendriks explains. “We didn’t set up TOPdesk just for the Dutch HR employees: we also kept our American colleagues in mind. This meant that we had to carefully consider how we could have these groups work together in a single TOPdesk environment, without them having to deal with the other team’s questions. To do this, we set up a branch filter on a national level. Now users only see information relevant to them.” “Using a single tool for branches in different countries has both advantages and drawbacks,” says Manders. “If you need to restart the system, you have to find a moment that works for both time zones. However, sharing a tool lets you share an investment and limit costs, and you can learn from one another’s processes, approach and experience.”

registered in TOPdesk. “But it’s hard to quantify whether TOPdesk has made us more efficient,” says Manders. “After all, the number of cases you have processed doesn’t really say anything, as each case is different.” However, TOPdesk’s automatic mail registration and notifications have saved between 1 and 1.5 FTE. “The colleague who had to manually copy emails can now focus on something we have wanted to do for a long time: visiting customers. We already did this, but wanted to make it a structural part of our tasks. Using TOPdesk meant we had the opportunity to maintain our personal approach. We currently visit the HR directors and business partners several times a year to discuss and improve services.”

domly selected customers are sent an email with three questions about how they were served. This provides us with continuous feedback and lets us actively apply changes where needed.” DSM created the quick survey in cooperation with TOPdesk. “At DSM, we are always looking for new ways to improve our efficiency and customer-oriented approach,” says Hendriks. “We try to get the most out of our current systems, which is why we collaborate with TOPdesk so frequently. I know that this tool has a lot to offer, and we’re only reaping some of the benefits. We might use TOPdesk for other processes in the future, such as planning HR workflows, issuing company cars or keeping track of digital staff files.”

Improved customer satisfaction
Manders explains that the BSC HR team’s customers have also noticed a difference. “We conduct a yearly survey to gauge how customers experience our services. We only just scored a pass mark in 2010 (5.6/10), but that grade has already gone up to a 6.8. I believe the main reason is that we created more room for customer contact. Customers also indicate that we are better at keeping them up to date: they can use the intranet to check their questions and requests in TOPdesk. This keeps them informed and saves us a lot of phone calls. We are confident that our score will be even better this year. Our goal is a 7.3.”

Working towards a single CLA
DSM is about to undergo extensive changes. “A recent benchmark revealed that DSM has a large amount of HR employees,” says Manders. “This isn’t surprising when you consider how tasks are scattered across departments.” To address this, DSM wants to switch to a single collective labour agreement on 1 January 2014. “A single CLA will help DSM save money and increase efficiency, and it will make our work much easier. Even more importantly, the terms of employment will be modernized. Each employee will be able to make personal choices regarding their terms of employment.” DSM’s future is exciting, but the employees remain enthusiastic, as Hendriks explains. “It’s a challenge to design efficient processes for such a complex organization. We have the right tool, but there’s a long way to go before all our processes are in line.”

Room for personal contact
The BSC HR team receives questions via telephone, email and the online Employee Self Service (ESS). The ESS forms are automatically

QUICK SURVEYS PROVIDE US WITH CONTINUOUS FEEDBACK AND LET US ACTIVELY APPLY CHANGES
Jacqueline Hendriks - DSM

Continuous feedback
DSM is taking the next step in customer contact, says Hendriks. “Customer satisfaction survey results are snapshots. Maybe someone had a negative experience with the department just before we sent out the survey, causing them to give us a lower score. This is why we recently introduced so-called quick surveys. Once a case is processed, ran-

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