Driving growth with digital HR transformation at Sumitomo Drive Technologies

  • Case Study
  • 6 minute read
  • March 21, 2024



Our Role

Digital transformation of HR across EMEIA


Workday (HR Transformation powered by Workday)

Situation How to map out a route to HR excellence through growth and expansion

Sumitomo Drive Technologies (SDT) in Europe, Africa, Middle East and India has been a trusted provider of quality power transmission solutions in these regions for nearly 100 years. As part of Sumitomo Heavy Industries, this leading manufacturer consists of twenty five entities operating out of 15 countries. After embarking on an ambitious expansion strategy, Sumitomo has grown quickly over the past three years with several key acquisitions. 

With dispersed entities and an increase from 600 to nearly 2,000 employees, Sumitomo Drive Technologies was dealing with fragmented HR processes, manual management systems, difficulty with talent recruitment and a lack of centralised reporting. To support the company’s growth – now and in the future  –there has been a mandate to modernise and standardise its HR operations. SDT’s leadership is committed to transforming its entire HR function with the development of consistent data and processes and a cloud-based technology solution that would empower the HR organisation and greatly improve talent management and employee engagement.

Solution Drive HR transformation with digitisation, standardisation and insight

The alignment and chemistry between SDT and PwC was strong from the beginning and helped the leadership team decide to bring PwC onboard to help with not only the technology implementation of the Workday HR systems, but also the full blown transformation into one unified HR function.

“Our relationship with PwC was built on trust and shared values,” says Joris Blommaerts, Chief Human Resources Officer, Sumitomo Drive Technologies EMEIA. “We acted as one team with a goal to create as much value as possible through complete transformation of our HR organisation, processes and systems.”

Shifting gears to overcome the talent shortage

Initially, SDT intended to focus on harmonising HR processes across the company and then moving the entire organisation from pen and paper to digital. As their understanding of the ideal state broadened, SDT decided to add talent management and analysis to the first phase of the project.

“Throughout my entire career, I’ve never witnessed such a difficult labour market,” says Blommaerts. “Especially since we operate in a highly technical environment and employees who perfectly match our talent profile are very scarce. We’ve learned that it’s best to hire a certain type of employee then train them ourselves. To do that, we needed a way of unveiling the talent potential that hides within. The Workday Talent module helps us do that.”

“PwC was an excellent transformation partner for Sumitomo Drive Technologies. With their help, we have been able to realise our ideal state by setting up a strong organisational foundation, defining best practices and processes and working from the highest quality data. Workday was a smart choice for us given its cloud-based, adaptable framework along with rapid deployment and fast time to value. Sumitomo Drive Technologies’ HR function is now unified, digitised and future-proof.”

Joris BlommaertsChief Human Resources Officer, Sumitomo Drive Technologies EMEIA

All systems are operational

SDT had rapid timelines for implementation. They selected the Workday Launch methodology because it leverages a preconfigured setup that enabled Sumitomo to go live within a short timeframe and start creating value as quickly as possible. PwC advised on best practices to adopt within the preconfiguration and where to leverage the flexibility of Workday to adapt the system to their needs. In addition, the teams managed three custom integrations, including an end-to-end custom-built payroll integration.

“Tight deadlines drove many decisions,” says Blommaerts. “We put a very high priority on getting the foundation of the system right to increase sustainability and ease of maintenance. Rather than wasting cycles on endless discussions about how to adapt the system to specific requirements we had not yet defined, we followed PwC’s advice to adopt the standard processes that came with each Workday solution and then made precision configuration decisions from there.”

Revving up the data

Data was a key priority in the transformation process. Since the entities were using spreadsheets and payroll systems to manage employee data, there was no legacy system from which to extract data. PwC worked with SDT to collect, clean and unify its data through an iterative prototyping process that culminated in 99% data quality and consistency in the final prototype.

“Data was one of the main challenges in this project,” says Blommaerts. “Given our lack of consistent processes and the fact that some of our entities did not use an HR system, we put a lot of effort into data hygiene. We had to locate it, collect it and clean it. We repeated this data quality exercise three times in the short duration of the implementation. We chose to keep PwC aboard for ongoing maintenance support to ensure the high quality of our data over time.”

The road to HR transformation

The technical aspect of moving to a unified, cloud-based, scalable HR solution was important to SDT, but the real value to the organisation was in realising a complete HR transformation. PwC guided SDT through organisational design to create foundational HR structures that are simplified, consistent and future-proof. Together, the teams standardised and optimised processes and data to ensure best practices and high quality. And to undertake, what is typically an undervalued vital step to the complete transformation, train the employees to fully embrace the new system and get the most out of Workday’s extensive features.

“PwC focused not only on the technology but also on the organisation, the processes and the change that comes with every HR transformation,” says Blommaerts. “PwC was a critical partner that guided us through this transformation. They offered best practices and were bold enough to question and challenge us in order to achieve an optimal end result.”

“From a purely technical standpoint, the Workday solution is a great product that offers numerous opportunities for SDT’s technological landscape. The system will support the company well in the future. However, the real added value of deploying Workday with PwC lies in the holistic transformation of SDT’s global HR function, focusing on organisational design, processes, and people. And that is exactly what we did.”

Eva De VriesDirector HR Technology, PwC

Results Arriving at their destination

By implementing HR Transformation powered by Workday, PwC was able to help SDT standardise, simplify and digitise its HR function, which to date includes core HR, compensation, talent and recruitment (phase II). With Learning set to be rolled out in phase III.  In addition to the vast benefits Sumitomo Drive Technologies will gain from this technology, the company has also achieved a true transformation of its HR function.

  • Developed a future-proof foundational HR structure with organisational design, data quality and standardised processes

  • Improved strategic decision making with insights from HR data, processes and operations across entities and locations 

  • Created flexibility and sustainability with global standardised HR processes

  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction with intuitive self-serve tools

  • Improved employee recruitment by managing the full talent acquisition lifecycle

  • Shifted HR employees from manual tasks to value-added activities

Contact us

Dennis Beel

Dennis Beel

Partner Fit For Growth, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 477 59 71 55

Nathalie Parent

Nathalie Parent

Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 473 30 27 96

Bart Brusselmans

Bart Brusselmans

Director, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 485 88 13 56

Connect with PwC Belgium