HR digitalization experts Marco Klein (Head of HR Services at TRUMPF Group) and Holger Jungk (hkp/// group Partner and author of the HR Drives Digital study) report on the TRUMPF Group’s path to becoming a digital champion and explain what the most important aspect is when implementing a new HR system.

Mr. Klein, according to the findings of the HR Drives Digital study, your company is considered to be a digital champion. What challenges did your company face at when it started the HR digitalization process?
Marco Klein:
The biggest challenge in digitalizing our HR role was clearly building a unified, centralized and integrated HR system. Too many systems from too many providers ran in parallel and didn’t meet our unified global system requirements.
Holger Jungk: But TRUMPF isn’t alone in this situation. We see this problem in many companies. Additionally, a large volume of HR master data has to be shipped to a central system – often in short implementation cycles; this also goes hand-in-hand with the need to dismantle the old core system and set up a new one. At the same time, other processes and systems have to be continuously adapted and improved during the implementation phase.

And how did TRUMPF ultimately manage to overcome these challenges?
Marco Klein:
Instead of adopting the “best of breed” approach, where the ideal tool is used for each application, we opted for the “best of suite” approach. We considered many criteria when deciding on a suitable tool. For us, the most important requirements included mobile access, user experience, a central platform for personnel data, easy integration of additional data, connection to other processes, and the system’s future viability.
Holger Jungk: This approach and these requirements illustrate why TRUMPF is one of our current study’s digital champions. They reflect exactly what constitutes a high level of maturity in internal HR digitalization when it comes to the infrastructural framework conditions. A uniform global HR/IT system that has a high degree of coverage between the scope of functions and the company’s requirements is in place.

If you could share the insights you’ve acquired from your digital journey with other companies that are still in the early stages of HR digitalization, what would they be?
Marco Klein: Managers’ high level of importance was one key finding. With digital transformation they’re right at the heart of action, and are the be-all and end-all when it comes to fully functional implementation, especially at cultural level. That’s why our managers learn what it means to be a digital leader in face-to-face training sessions. They learn why digitalization – and specifically digitalization in HR – is so important, what the complex challenges are, and so on. This gives them a completely different view of the topic as a whole and HR.
Holger Jungk: A company’s digital culture is enormously important. The HR Drives Digital study identifies this point as one of nine drivers used to determine companies’ digital maturity level. This topic is playing a key role, especially in combination with manager and employee empowerment.

Mr. Klein, how did the new process ultimately go down with the employees, and what does the TRUMPF Group’s future look like in terms of digitalization?
Marco Klein: The new digitalization process was very well received by our employees. Since they were already familiar with how to handle digital HR processes from past projects, they sometimes only noticed the change in certain areas. For example, learning and development processes where there were no functional changes merely ran on a new technical platform. Over the next few years, we clearly want to continue building on the level of digitalization, by using the likes of chatbots and so on to support the implementation of internal HR processes.

Apart from strengthening their management teams, what else can companies do to promote internal digitalization? How can companies get started quickly and efficiently?
Holger Jungk: Anyone who’d like to obtain an academically sound overview of this topic would be right on track reading our current report on the HR Drives Digital study. If you’d like to take an even deeper dive into the subject and, above all else, obtain information about how your company’s standing in digitalization compared to other competitors, you can complete the study’s relevant questionnaire and have it evaluated and analyzed by our specialists to find out how mature your company’s internal HR digitalization is. We can use this data in turn to support the development of a company-specific digital timetable, with a view to initially defining what the term “digitalization” means for the company – and the goal of deriving specific recommendations for action.

Mr. Klein, Mr. Jungk, thank you for taking part in this interview!