Biogen’s HR Transformation
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
Driven by innovation, Biogen, one of the world’s oldest independent biotechnology companies invested in a digital evolution of their Human Resources department led by Adriana Bokel Herde. Adriana is Vice President of People Services at Biogen, and her mission is to deliver outstanding HR services for candidates, employees, managers, and executives. By selecting and implementing best-in-class solutions, she is successfully fulfilling that mission at Biogen.
PeopleDoc’s HR Document Management Solution helps Biogen’s HR department be agile, efficient, and compliant and plays a critical role in to delivering a great employee and manager experience.
From the kickoff, Adriana’s drive for innovation was evident – she came prepared with precise goals in mind. Her team was passionate and extremely bright. A close collaboration with IT and HR was key to this project's success. HR had a clear concept of their goals and IT knew the ins and outs of their Workday environment and configuration. To scale this project globally, there was a strong involvement of HR key business partners from each region. Adriana’s determination to transform HR created an inspiring environment; I could not have asked for a better team to work alongside to create a true HR revolution. I'd be excited to be involved in any future projects with Biogen.
Adriana told the story of her journey to creating better HR experiences for employees, managers, and of course, her own HR team during Digital HeRoes Day (DHD), an annual meeting of leaders, experts and visionaries in HR and the Digital industry held in Paris, France.
Couldn't make it to DHD? Here's an excerpt from her speech:
Biogen’s HR Journey
Biogen is a really cool company. Our R&D department is all about innovation and using innovation to change the lives of our patients. I joined Biogen because I care. I care about making an impact on people’s lives.
This is a journey of challenging the status quo and driving innovation within HR; most importantly, this is about how the HR change has contributed to Biogen’s overall mission.
Companies like PeopleDoc have helped me transform the way HR works, providing better and faster services to our scientists and engineers. Due to the changes we made to the HR function, our employees have more time available today to work on innovative medicine that help our patients.
I truly believe that once companies invest in “HR4HR” technology, they will make a quantum leap forward in overall employee satisfaction.
I have worked in HR in several local, regional and global roles in 8 different countries around the world. I had the opportunity to work in large organizations like Volkswagen as well as in a tiny start-up like MediGene. Often I wondered when someone would build a technology to improve internal HR work so that HR as a function can move from “reacting” to truly focusing on employee experience and business strategy.
Slowly My Wish is Coming True…
Our Digital HR journey is a story of vision, values, change and execution. I like to say that the HR function started an internal revolution in June 2013 when we decided to use a Software as a Service (SaaS) as our new HR system – it was the first SaaS technology at Biogen. I still remember Finance and IT’s initial reaction – they thought we had lost our minds to store all our employees’ data in the Cloud.
We chose Workday as our partner. It was the type of innovative HR system that we needed to enable self-service.
SalesForce came next. We were seeking an HR Portal to empower employees to find their own answers. The end result was great, but choosing a technology that was not designed for HR presented its own set of challenges and caused me a lot of white hair.
Despite the difficulties we faced with both implementations happening in parallel, we were committed to provide employees with the “wow” factor. On April 2nd 2014 – a day I will never forget - we launched HRConnect: A personalized, one-stop shop for all HR Services.
Employees immediately started using it. Within 3 days of the launch 75% of the employees had logged in at least once and the reaction was incredibly positive.
For the last 24 months, we continued to make improvements. We have updated and extended the Portal, we made it fully mobile, we made processes less clunky, more intuitive, and less time consuming. Up to this date it is rewarding for me to hear employees and managers saying how easy it has become to interact with HR.
Our HR Transformation
With the employee experience transformed, I was now able to focus on the HR experience - a cause that it is near and dear to my heart.
This is where PeopleDoc and Jonathan’s team has played a critical role. I met Jonathan around this time last year (which was around November 2015) and today, I can say that I had no idea how impactful that meeting would be to our digital evolution and our ability to scale HR.
In a crisp and seamless way, our HR Operations team has become more agile, efficient, and compliant. We are now truly centralized thanks to People Doc’s electronic employee filing solution. Our offers and employment contracts are now globally paperless using e-signature. Our team no longer needs to ask local HRBPs every time they need a document from the local employee file. No more filing of papers!
I don’t use the word “transformation” lightly, but this implementation has indeed transformed the way we work in HR at Biogen– it was fully focused on improving the experience for our HR team.
The entire HR function is more scalable and, most importantly, our HR team is proud to work in a company that cares for their work experience.
Building a better HR working experience
To close, I am convinced that by building a better HR working experience, companies can improve overall employee satisfaction. Our HR people have more time and better tools to serve our employees and managers. This drives more engaged and and more empowered employees, who then spend their precious time developing better and faster treatments for our patients.
Serving our patients is our mission; I am proud to be able to contribute to changing patients’ lives by focusing on providing a better HR working experience.
As you can tell, Adriana Bokel Herde has figured out the formula for successfully leading an HR Transformation. Mapping precise goals and implementing best-in-class solutions to achieve those goals has allowed Biogen to exceed expectations and create better HR experiences for managers, employees, HR, and patients.
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About Antoine Roubaud
Antoine Roubaud leads the Implementation Team at PeopleDoc in North America. He shares his global project management experience to setup all PeopleDoc modules for our clients.
He is dedicated to high-quality delivery and focused on client satisfaction.
He worked as a Consultant and IT Project Manager in Paris before moving to the US. He holds an Engineer degree from ISEP (Paris) and spent one year at UNSW (Sydney) for a Research Practicum Program.