South Dakota may be best known in the United States for the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial sculpture of four United States presidents, but it’s also home to a vibrant business community effectively pursuing global growth.

One example is Raven Industries, a manufacturer of precision farming equipment and other solutions helping feed people and protecting natural resources, as well as high altitude balloons for research, surveillance and parades that connect, protect, and entertain the world.

While most of the company’s 900 employees are based in its South Dakota headquarters, Raven Industries has expanded operations to Texas and Virginia in the United States, and Canada and Europe. As a growing company with a relatively small HR department serving three manufacturing and operating divisions in various regions, Raven Industries needed a centralized approach to its people strategy that would support its competitive vision around four dimensions: innovation, service, quality and peak performance.

Tammy Wierenga, HR Manager at Raven Industries, recently spoke at the SuccessConnect 2016 event in Las Vegas about the tremendous impact of SAP SuccessFactors software.

“We’re solving great challenges and have to make sure that we’re serving the world in the best way we can,” said Wierenga. “We’re using the same technology that huge companies are using, and seeing all these great efficiencies, which is especially important for a small HR team. Implementing SAP SuccessFactors directly supports our objective of helping people achieve their peak performance.”

SAP SuccessFactors directly supports Raven Industries’ objective to help people achieve peak performance

Fundamental Transformation

Using SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting, SAP SuccessFactors Compensation, SAP SuccessFactors Learning and SAP SuccessFactors Performance & Goals, Raven Industries eliminated paper-based recruiting and compensation planning, manual goal and learning tracking, and a standalone performance system. Process change has fundamentally transformed everything.

Tammy Wierenga, HR Manager at Raven Industries, recently spoke at the SuccessConnect 2016 event in Las Vegas about the tremendous impact of SAP SuccessFactors software.
Wierenga recently spoke at the SuccessConnect 2016 event in Las Vegas about the tremendous impact of SAP SuccessFactors software. Image via SAP.

“Becoming more efficient is not just about automating what we did before. You don’t simply take your old processes and attempt to automate them,” said Wierenga. “We looked at what processes we needed to rethink, and made certain the right people were involved. It’s just like how your company sells your products to your customers. You have to know your customers, in this case, employees, to determine how to help them do things better and easier so we can all do better.”

In initially defining, analyzing and measuring processes, the HR team realized the importance of speaking the language of the company’s engineering team. They learned Lean Six Sigma and applied it to the new HR processes, furthering everyone’s understanding of the upcoming changes and value provided, while fostering collaboration and support to make it happen.

Creating a Culture of Engagement: Driven by Managers and Teams

One of the biggest outcomes HR experienced was moving from transactional to transformational, focused on the value of the technology to employees, resulting in a strong culture of engagement.

“It’s important for the new system to be part of what employees and managers do,” said Wierenga. “You can’t just tell people that they have to do something. It’s all about selling the solution by explaining what all of this will do for them. We focused on explaining what it was going to replace and how it will make their jobs easier. As a result, a manager and team-driven change is now taking place.”

Wierenga also praised the easy configurability of SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, allowing the team to brand the software with the company’s colors, logo and familiar name. They decided to rename it “Team Central” because employees are called “team members.”

Integrating SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central into HR processes reduced administrative burdens on HR while improving data accuracy and visibility for more informed decision-making. Just as important, Wierenga said the system is driving valuable communication between employees and managers through quarterly check-ins that connect individual performance to overall company and department goals. Raven Industries has also extended its SAP SuccessFactors Learning platform to train the dealers that sell and service its solutions.

Continuous Improvement

Several years into implementation, Raven Industries continues to make improvements reducing even more paperwork and increasing process efficiencies and transparency around workflows including recruitment, employee information and compensation. Wierenga also said that managers are beginning to use mobile for faster approvals and other responsibilities.

Mount Rushmore is an enduring monument to greatness, but Raven Industries is proving there’s even more strength in transformational change.

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Top image via Shutterstock.