Brooks Brothers Reinvents a Classic: SuccessFactors Transforms HR

What happens to HR when cloud is much more than just a software implementation.

When clothing retailer Brooks Brothers first incorporated almost 200 years ago, the world was a very different place. Now with locations in more than 20 countries, Brooks Brothers needed a global human resources (HR) solution to match its increasingly international growth.

Justin Watras, Director of Talent, Management and Organizational Effectiveness at Brooks Brothers, was recently at SAPPHIRE NOW to talk about his company is using SuccessFactors and SAP in its transformational journey.

“Just as we reinvented our classic button-down shirt by introducing a no-iron innovation, we had to reinvent how we managed HR in a globalized business environment,” said Watras. “We wanted to better know and grow our people and become a talent factory. SuccessFactors meets the needs of our global HR population. Having a single system of record for all employee information is the heart and hub of our company.”

Making HR Strategic

One of the retailer’s underlying objectives behind the move to a cloud-based software solution was to make HR a strategic part of the business. With help from SuccessFactors, Brooks Brother’s HR group has increased efficiencies, changing its role and value to the company.

“We wanted to eliminate and repurpose a lot of roles in both HR and payroll that were previously dedicated to transposing paper-based HR content into legacy systems,” said Watras. “We positioned this as much more than a software implementation. It was a redefinition of responsibilities, an easier, better way to get work done, making the organization better and people’s lives easier.”

According to Watras, data integrity has dramatically improved as pieces of paper are no longer getting lost, misfiled or mistakenly transposed. Leaders now see themselves responsible for people in a new way, managing the integrity of the data in the HR system, along with employee development for the future.

Intuitive Software Eases Access and Connectivity

SuccessFactors serves as the company’s one-stop shop for all HR information including performance management, reporting and workforce analytics, recruiting and onboarding, and succession and development. Watras said that easy accessibility was a major factor in the company’s selection of SuccessFactors.

“We wanted an experience that was intuitive and easily accessible for all. For example, in one facility, we have more than 19 languages represented across 500 employees. It’s essentially a United Nations workplace.”

Interfaces allow managers to seamlessly connect with other company systems such as the organization’s active email directory, making changes and updates quickly. Customized permissions are tailored to individual employee roles, providing instant access to the information they need most. Mobile capabilities deliver information to employees wherever they happen to be, allowing them to take action immediately. The 360-degree feedback tool has radically transformed how people throughout the company receive input from employees at every level. Indeed, Watras has the highest praise for how SuccessFactors has brought people together across highly dispersed levels, departments, facilities and geographies.

“SuccessFactors has done an incredible amount connecting our people,” he said. “Just the ability to look someone up, see their picture, flip over to the org chart to see how they’re connected to someone, what their function is, how long they’ve been here, what skills, talents and experiences they have – it’s pretty remarkable what it’s done to connect us with each other.”

Centralized Transparency Empowers Employees

Having global transparency has been a boon to company and employees alike. SuccessFactors has eliminated what Watras called “blind spots” like who employees are, what skills they have or lack, and where they are located.

“We’re opening up great opportunities to our people while using the top talent we have anywhere in the world,” said Watras. “We can use these insights to understand who our people are and what they want two, three and ten years from now, and support their growth in ways aligned with our business needs,” he said.

With ready access to every employee’s information in one place, from salaries to past performance reviews, managers are now empowered to make better decisions. They’re also gaining insights from faster reporting and correlated data analysis. “We knew turnover rates before, but not what percentage of those people were high-performers,” said Watras.

Watras also credits SuccessFactors with giving employees more control over their careers.

“People used to wait for their managers to advocate for them or ask them what was what important in their work lives,” he said. “We decided that we’d still ask but told employees that they also have a responsibility to articulate their objectives for their own career. With SuccessFactors, we gave them a tool with an easy interface that allows them to speak up and plan their careers.”

Reinventing a classic is helping Brooks Brothers realize its promise of being an organization that supports, selects and retains great people. HR cloud transformation had made everyone even better.

Watch the Brook Brothers SAPPHIRE NOW session replay.

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