At the height of the pandemic, talent risk jumped 20 places in the 2020 KPMG CEO Outlook Survey to become one of the leading threats to long-term growth. It was the first time in the history of the survey that the 'people agenda' was seen as an urgent C-suite priority.

During this period, all eyes in the agribusiness sector were watching as a once tiny NSW south coast cooperative, Bega Cheese, took over the entire dairy products range of Lion Dairy & Drinks putting iconic brands back under Australian ownership and almost doubling in size and its workforce, leap-frogging NZ company Fonterra to become Australia’s second largest milk processor.

Bega required a unified HR solution to support its growth by providing a single source of workforce data for managers and employees. By becoming data driven, Bega’s HR function can be the enablers of change, architects for a distinctive employee value proposition and to attract and retain the best talent for the organisation.

Introducing Bega

The Bega Group are proudly Australian owned and collectively, for more than a century are dedicated to being leading makers and innovators of great Australian food and drink brands for all Australians to enjoy. With its origins and “heart” still grounded in the Bega Valley, the Bega Group is now a truly national business but with a local mindset and are now made up of thousands of visionary leaders and change makers from all corners of our great country driving greatness through – Great Food, Great People, Great Aspirations and Greater Good.

Over the past 15 years, Bega acquired Tatura Milk, Kraft foods cheese manufacturing facility in Strathmerton, Koroit milk drying and butter processing facility and many grocery brands, to what is now The Great Australian Food Company. As a values-led organisation, one of their four values is to “Grow our People –- we grow our people and give them the responsibility to achieve great outcomes together”.

These acquisitions over the past 15 years have left multiple and disparate HR systems and processes making it difficult for HR to respond quickly to its employees and the changing needs of the business. Existing systems and processes lacked the flexibility and scale to respond to the level of employee growth anticipated; as it stood, they required a HR transformation and a move to a cloud-based HR solution.

In 2019 Bega initiated the FutureToday HR transformation program that looked to harmonise processes, systems and establish the HR operating model reflective of their future growth.

Bega seized the opportunity to centralise HR capabilities, automate processes and harmonise workforce data to deliver improved workforce insights.

Setting the foundations for HR transformation

As the first step in Bega’s HR transformation, they sought to define their HR service delivery model of the future and in 2020, went to market to select a leading HRIS cloud solution that could enable a consistent leader-led framework, support life-long learning for their staff and digitise a differentiated talent attraction and employee value proposition.

Bega selected Workday HCM (Human Capital Management) and worked with KPMG to deliver the Workday solution to affect the HR and business change. Bega had never undertaken a transformation of this nature nor scale before – so they turned to KPMG to provide both the technology know-how and advice on the operating model change. Initially, Bega focused on the technical implementation to automate and digitise HR processes.

They quickly realised that, like most clients moving their applications to the cloud, they needed to adapt their operating model into order to adopt the out-of-the-box platform.

Bega pivoted and looked to KPMG’s Powered HR solution for Workday to inform what a leading HR operating model, business processes, job architecture and KPI’s as represented within a Workday pre-configured solution.

KPMG was able to provide Bega the guard-rails to the business design decisions needed to support their Future State.

Seeing a pre-configured Workday solution alongside what a leading HR operating model would look like helped Bega make decisions with confidence and to prepare early for the change to their organisation.

The HR transformation and Workday implementation commenced in October 2020 with a view to deliver phase 1 being the foundational services of HR being onboarding, remuneration, absence management and recruitment within 9 months, by July 2021.

Facing into some headwinds – the COVID pandemic and acquisitions

With a rapidly growing business, the HR function and Bega’s FutureToday program gained increased priority across the portfolio of programs in the organisation.

The acquisition of Lion Dairy & Drinks required a July 2021 deadline to transition the Lion Dairy & Drinks workforce into Bega Cheese requiring the separation of workforce and organisation data from Lion’s SAP HCM solution and ingestion into the Workday HCM implementation that was 4 months in-flight.

This required alignment of the job architecture, harmonisation of common HR master data.

There was a narrow turnaround period between finalising the acquisition of Lion Dairy & Drinks and the completion date by which Bega needed a functional HR software platform up and running.

Bega also needed to ensure that employees felt supported throughout the period of transition and the Workday implementation team had the capacity and support throughout the busy period juggling working from home in the pandemic.

Within this backdrop the Bega and KPMG were facing into the headwinds of COVID and lockdown adding fuel to the sense of urgency around workplace issues as record numbers of highly skilled and top performing employees have started to re-evaluate their jobs and careers.

Bega was able to meet the Lion Dairy & Drinks transaction completion date of July 2021 and having a unified HR and workforce management solution that could serve and support not only Human Resources, but the whole business – a mere 156 days after the acquisition of Lion.

Achieving this milestone required some purposeful decisions striking a balance between designing for leading practice HR processes versus retaining existing processes that Lion Dairy and Drinks were accustomed to and evolving that through subsequent phases.

Additionally, the HR transformation and Workday implementation was re-phased into three stages: the HCM foundations was to be implemented by the original go-live date of July 2021. Phase two was centred around talent optimisation and learning delivered in March 2022, while phase three focused on advanced compensation, recruitment and HR analytics to be delivered by May 2023.

Teaming up on change management process and employee support

Amidst the major changes, KPMG helped Bega support their people with a focus on change management. Already dealing with Covid and the challenges of working from home, they now had to adapt to an entirely new system of operations.

KPMG aided Bega in conveying an understanding of the impacts of a new system by describing the change journey. These change management techniques were an integral part of supporting employees through the transition.

Phasing the HR transformation and allowing time in between each phase gave Bega the opportunity to embed the change, drive user adoption of the Workday solution and the ability to prioritise their continuous improvement initiatives.

An impressive employee uptake

Within the first couple of months of going live with phase one, Bega experienced an 80% uptake of usage of the Workday HR software and new HR processes.

Phase two also had a massive employee uptake almost immediately and notably with the learning solution.

The learning modules saw over a 50% uptake within the first two months which overshadowed and initial target of 10% uptake that would have been considered a great success.

This indicates employees’ desire to grow in their positions, which has helped Bega to empower and engage their people in effective, sustainable ways.

Working together as one

Bega appreciated the feeling of connectedness with KPMG – the way the teams worked together as one to achieve important milestones was a major contributor to their success.

KPMG’s implementation of Workday is now helping Bega manage and support its 4,000 people, providing a single source of information, data and truth. A modern HCM solution has been an important enabler for Bega’s HR function to inform and lead important initiatives to support their Talent, Diversity and Inclusion through improved analytics and workforce insights.

The relationship between Bega and KPMG continues supporting their change and digital transformation goals, allowing KPMG to work on achieving sustainable growth for Bega.

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