Hitachi Transport System Europe is a logistics company that specialises in warehousing. It employs 150 people across six business units in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. The company serves a niche market in Europe, acting as an intermediary for Japanese companies starting their operations there.

Being a relatively small company, Hitachi didn’t have a dedicated system in place for its HR processes outside of the Netherlands. ‘Due to our small size, we simply didn’t need to use a common HR system,’ says Lorraine Roomer, European HR manager at Hitachi Transport System (Europe). ‘So Sympa HR is truly the first system that is being used throughout the company, and it’s simplified many of our processes.’

The Netherlands-based HR team has responsibility for employees working for all six business units. Before adopting Sympa HR back in 2018 however, it fell to the local business unit managers to handle local HR matters. ’We didn’t have a clear overview of the company,’ says Roomer. ‘We basically didn’t even know how many employees we had in different countries.’

Important employee data was kept solely on Excel files and the information they contained often turned out to be inaccurate or plain wrong. ‘That lack of a good overview of our employees really drove our efforts to find and implement an HR system in which we could simply gather all data from all business units in one central place,’ Roomer adds.

The search for the right HR system was a short one. Sympa HR quickly became the top choice as a well-priced solution that offered exactly what Hitachi was looking for; a central location for all its employee data, availability in multiple languages and a high degree of flexibility that allows the system to be fully configured and adapted to local requirements.

The lack of a good overview of our employees really drove our efforts to find and implement an HR system in which we could simply gather all data from all business units in one central place.

The implementation eventually proved successful but provided important lessons along the way. ’The project team changed during the implementation process, causing us some tight deadlines,’ says Roomer. ‘This meant that we didn’t have enough time to train and prepare management and employees fully before the system went live.’

Now that the implementation process is finalised and Sympa HR is being used across the organistion in three different languages, it is easy to identify the benefits the system brings throughout the company.

Many processes have become smoother, more efficient and less time consuming. Take performance management, something previously only conducted in the Netherlands and handled in its entirety in Excel. ’It was very complicated to gather all data and follow up on who had filled in the performance reviews and who hadn’t,’ recalls Roomer. ‘Sympa HR now perfectly supports this process, making it easier than ever for me to show the status of the performance review to the management team.’

Thanks to Sympa HR Hitachi now finds performance reviews easier and has also developed the entire process further. ‘Employees can now take charge of their own development plan in the system, says Roomer. ‘They can request trainings or share their ambitions, and the manager can read and act on these requests. This really helps to encourage a two-way dialogue between managers and team members.’

Employees can request trainings or share their ambitions, and the manager can read and act on these requests. This really helps to encourage a two-way dialogue between managers and team members.

Managers have responded enthusiastically to the new employee and manager self-service tools. Recently Hitachi started using Sympa HR’s onboarding features, a great addition to its existing recruitment tools. ’When a candidate is hired, we simply create a profile in Sympa HR that contains all the information we need,’ Roomer says.’ With the onboarding process we use simple check lists in Sympa HR that the manager responsible can follow up on.’ This way new employees are up to speed in no time.

Most importantly, having saved so much time on administrative tasks, Hitachi is now able to focus fully on strategic workforce planning. ‘By using Sympa HR to define and manage people processes, as well as using performance reviews to make sure that everyone is happy in their roles, we’ll be more efficient in the long term,’ Roomer says. ‘In short, happy employees that like their jobs are efficient employees.’