Success coming down the tracks – transparent, flexible and efficient HR processes
The Österreichischen Bundesbahnen (ÖBB – Austrian Federal Railway) is the largest national railway association in Austria. The ÖBB group moves a total of 459 million passengers and 111.1 million tonnes of goods to their destinations annually, all while following environmentally-friendly practices. 92 percent of the railway‘s power comes from renewable energy sources, 90 percent of this from hydroelectric power. In 2015, the ÖBB was one of the most reliable railways in Europe, with 96.3 percent punctuality. Group-wide, around 40,000 rail and bus employees ensure that around 1.3 million travellers reach their destinations safely each day.
ÖBB charts a course toward forwardthinking personnel management with EASY
Read a good book on your way to work or on vacation while you enjoy a fresh cup of coffee. Don’t sit in traffic – sit back and relax while you reach your destination on time. Train travel is hugely popular, especially in Austria. 238 million passengers board the Austrian Federal Railway (ÖBB) each year, and the average resident of this alpine republic travels a total of 1,427 kilometres by rail annually. This makes Austrians some of the most frequent rail travellers within the EU. One reason for this is that train travel is much less expensive there than the EU average. In addition, the ÖBB scores points for its good punctuality and easy connections. An ÖBB train starts off every 12 seconds, with 97 percent of the over 4,300 passenger trains reaching their destinations on time each day.
But that’s not the only reason the ÖBB is one of the most well-known companies in the country. The group also operates hydroelectric power plants, manages hundreds of real estate properties, and employs around 40,000 staffers across the country. “Whether they take on a classic office job, or work as a highly specialised technician or train conductor – anyone who works for us can select from hundreds of exciting positions”, Werner Teufner of ÖBB-Business Competence Center GmbH states, emphasising the group‘s diversity. He should know. After all, he works in the Human Resources (HR) area of the internal group service provider responsible for handling wage and salary accounting and personnel agreements for the roughly 20 group companies. “Keeping a good overview here can be a real challenge”, he explains.
That‘s why ÖBB made the decision at the end of 2007 to handle all of its core HR processes through fully digital channels in the future. To do so, it intends to integrate documents like employment agreements or change of address forms fully into the existing HR processes of SAP ERP, a smart expansion of the SAP document management system. The company searched for a suitable solution, and found what it was looking for at easy software AG: “The modular solutions in the easy PCM product family fill in the gaps in our SAP personnel management system, paving the way for efficient and flexible HR processes”, Teufner points out.
EASY creates a foundation in our company for transparent, flexible, and efficient personnel processes – from hiring to retirement.
Human Resources (HR) Austrian Federal Railways
mio. tons of goods
In the past, paper-based approval procedures slowed down processes, but today everything runs quickly
Just ten years after introduction, group-wide collaboration in personnel management is running like clockwork. Here’s one example: If an employee is scheduled to receive a pay raise, the responsible staffer at the ÖBB subsidiary simply enters the necessary information into the right form in the digital personnel file, then starts the approval process with just the click of a mouse. If the pay raise exceeds a defined value, the approval inquiry will be sent to the parent company. Otherwise, the ÖBB Business Competence Centre receives an automatic notification about the salary adjustment, reviews the information, and adopts it directly into the SAP system. The approval process is completed without any media disruptions and in accordance with compliance guidelines – all with clean and revision-proof documentation. The employee then receives their pay raise on time by the agreed deadline.
This wasn’t always the case in the past. Up until 2008, pay raises were still processed through a paper-based workflow. To put it plainly, this means that an employee needed to generate a form from SAP, then send it to various locations within the company for an approval, and finally enter the approved number manually into the system through the ÖBB BBC. “The whole process was time-consuming and not transparent”, Teufner remembers. It took lots of work and multiple telephone calls to find out where the documents were along the approval process. Today, in contrast, all the information staffers need is available at the push of a button, and the flow of information is much quicker. “With easy PCM, we have cut our processing time for salary increases, promotions, and position changes in half”, the project manager happily notes.
In addition, the company can save plenty of space and paper. It actually saves double the paper most companies would: While employee contracts used to be stored in both the specific subsidiary company and in the internal ÖBB service provider, all of these many metres of shelf space today stand empty. The company digitised the agreements through a consistent process, then archived them electronically. “Anyone who wants to view a document simply looks at the employee‘s digital personnel file”, Werner Teufner explains. This also means they always have reliable access to the most current version of the specific document.
Workers in the other group companies are just as excited about digital personnel management. “easy PCM provides classic personnel data in a clear and structured manner, and allows us to visualise the career paths of individual employees and view basic documents surrounding these career paths”, praises HR Manager Thomas Appesbacher from ÖBB Infrastruktur AG. From an employee‘s CV to contract amendments and official registration certificates, the digital file combines all the information personnel management needs into a single location. This is important, for instance, since an employee‘s residence can determine their commuter allowance. Their marital status and how many children they have can also affect their wages. That makes it all the more important to make sure master data quickly and accurately reflects any changes.
Thanks to digital workflows form easy PCM, these kinds of tasks are now child’s play. The employee in question just needs to update their data in the SAP portal and transmit associated documents like registration certificates or marriage certificates to the HR department. “We used to do this through the mail, but now a mouse click is all it takes”, Appesbacher states. The personnel manager briefly updates the master data to match the certificate and sends the information to the SAP system for approval. “The process has enjoyed enormous acceptance” project manager Werner Teufner says. “Just a few months after introduction, over 500 cases had already been handled automatically”.
Besides standard processes, the company also uses the easy software to easily handle special cases. For example, these might include approving a side job or part-time position. To do so, the personnel management simply sets up an ad hoc workflow – this lets them individually determine which managers and clerks are included in the approval process, and which contract amendments need to be generated. This reduces misunderstandings and speeds up the process enormously.
ÖBB is also set up well when it comes to attracting new talent. There’s a good reason for this: “We know that many of our colleagues will be entering retirement over the coming years” Teufner explains. By 2021, the group plans to hire around 11,000 new employees. easy PCM will help them do it. One area where the company is working with easy PCM is human resources planning: “The companies just need to report in the SAP system that they need additional personnel. This will automatically trigger a recruiting process” the project manager says. Although paper-based approval processes used to slow down job advertisements and hiring, today everything runs smoothly along familiar tracks. Electronic workflows insure all the positions involved are informed and that approvals are granted on time. Subsequent processes like preparing the employment contract or creating a new personnel file are also completed on time and automatically.
The group is currently introducing a digital retirement file to ensure its employees can also seamlessly transition into their pensions. “easy PCM creates a foundation in our company for transparent, flexible, and efficient personnel processes – from hiring to retirement”