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Digital HR transformation: From paper-based to automation and better employee experience

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Mira Fitria Soetjipto, director of HR, IT, and strategy management, at The Body Shop Indonesia, brings forth the story of how this team transformed its people, products, processes and platforms, backed by technology.

Q. You’ve held stints in compliance as well as lecturing – before settling into a long HR career with Citi, Microsoft, and now with The Body Shop. What did you love about HR?

The very idea that interests me of working in HR is the ability to not only contribute to the organisation but also make a positive difference in people’s lives. I am a firm believer that by the end of the day, the most satisfactory accomplishment is that we have contributed to the larger community through the work that we do.

Q. Having been in the HR space since 2003, what has been your most memorable moment?

Managing HR, IT, and strategy management at the same time! It has been such a steep learning curve for me, yet a very enjoyable one indeed. The role requires me to use and interchange many different hats and it is always exciting to learn and deep-dive further into the business. It also puts me in a unique position whereby I can serve as the business user and HR partner at the same time, which enables me to view things from a much more holistic perspective, empathise, and provide the best possible solutions.

Q. When you joined The Body Shop in 2017, what was your key mandate?

Transformation, transformation, transformation. In The Body Shop Indonesia, we are embarking on a digital transformation journey that encompasses our people, products, processes, and platforms. My key mandate was how to not only initiate the digital transformation across businesses but also ensure that this journey is completed successfully.

Digital transformation comprises small wins that then contribute to the larger journey. It’s important for everyone in the organisation to able to focus on identifying any aspects of their work that can be digitalised, simplified yet make them much more productive. The key success factor is people’s mindset – how to ensure they are continuously learning and improving without being afraid to be replaced by technology.

Q. Your job title is certainly novel – we don’t typically see HR and technology together! Tell us more about your unique role and how these areas have been merged so well.

My role in The Body Shop Indonesia is unique as I manage three parts of the organisation, which typically are unattached to one another in a usual organisational setting. However, there are more similarities than meet the eyes.

All three functions at their core manage and deal with three similar aspects: people, infrastructure, and data (both big and small) and these are key aspects which support the organisation in all phases of digital transformation. The main advantage which I have in managing these three divisions is that it allows me to ensure there is a seamless integration between people, technology, and data which in turn enables the organisation to be more agile, nimble and productive.

Q. You have since been credited with leading digital HR imperatives at The Body Shop. Tell us about the business need that led you to prioritise this digital journey.

When I first joined The Body Shop Indonesia, most of the HR-related processes were done manually and through paper-based mechanisms, which in our scale and geographical locations made it difficult to service our employees from a HR perspective.

Digital transformation comprises small wins that then contribute to the larger journey.

While the organisation is undergoing digital transformation, it’s equally important for our employees to digitally experience their work-journey with us. Otherwise, it will be difficult for them to relate to the vision of the company. With our employee demography, which comprises 76% Millennials, the notion of fast, self-service, and access-everywhere employee service is also very important and appealing.

Q. What initiatives did you implement as part of your digital HR transformation? What were some of the key milestones and partnerships to highlight from your experience?

The word ‘partnership’ is the main element of the digital HR transformation journey. Not only did we need to partner with internal parties i.e. IT and finance but also in selecting the external partner that provides the most suitable solution to our business needs. With SAP SuccessFactors, we found a partner that can accommodate our HR needs while at the same providing a platform that is user-friendly from employees’ perspective.

It’s important also to select an external party that you trust and are comfortable with. Technology projects run for three-six months or longer and we always find bugs, issues, and surprises along the way, so having a partner that you can collaborate with, discuss openly and find solutions together are key.

Q. What challenges have you faced in this process, and how have you overcome them?

Changing people’s mindset. Change is always scary, that is a very humane notion. As leaders, we need to be able to address these accordingly.

In digital transformation, it is key to have the buy-in top down. I am very fortunate that the CEO and executive committee of The Body Shop Indonesia believed strongly in the strategy and gave their full support. Once employees see the commitment, energy, and passion from senior leaders, this helps them in the transition and change their mindset, which in turn further engages them in the organisation.

Q. Since the adoption of technology, what best practices and innovations have you undertaken to reimagine business as well as workforce experiences?

The digitalisation of HR and employee processes. As much as possible, we have left behind the paper-based methods and use technology-based solutions.

Q. What considerations did you have in mind in the selection of a technology vendor – any tips to share with your peers in HR?

First, we need to understand our business needs and the idea of what platform or solution we are looking for. Second, market positioning is important – their rank in your market in terms of share, growth, and customer base. Third, customer portfolio and reference – do their customers represent your organisation? Are you familiar with these customers, despite being in the same or different industry? Are these customers key players or role-model organisations in your market?

The roles of artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to be larger in all parts of the organisation in the near future. 

With SAP SuccessFactors, we went through rigorous research and analysis until arriving at the decision – using this similar approach.

Q. What do you envision as the future of work?

The roles of artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to be larger in all parts of the organisation in the near future. With Gen Z coming into the workforce, we are also looking at the growing trends in the market of more flexible, result-oriented type of working arrangements with much flatter, matrix-reporting, and shared services type of organisation. Gamification is also revolutionising the ways recruitment and talent acquisition are run.

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Learn key drivers and strategic aspects to consider and address through HR transformation – explore the “HR transformation and the digital journey” IDC interactive guide.

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