James Governor's Monkchips

On Nestle careers, Shared Services, SAP and Geisinger Health Compliance

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I followed a thought flickr from Peter Dawson to a Nestle careers site. I am not sure the vision statement is exactly a model of less jargon in corporate comms, but my post isn’t about that anyway.

Far more interesting to me when I surfed around a little was this content:

Our Human Resources department (@hr) is built on a ‘Shared Services’ model, a model which is actually leading Nestlé’s HR strategies globally. By ‘Shared Services’ we mean it contains a whole range of corporate functions to support our people including: Recruitment, Learning & Development, Payroll and Policy, Occupational Health & Safety, and a rather special ‘Information and Advice Centre’ – the first point of contact for anyone with HR queries. We also have a team that deals with our SAP system and ensures that our employee information is correct and up-to-date. Our various advisors divide the work up by focusing on different processes – for instance when people join the business, when they leave, or when they transfer to a different function.

Evidently Nestle really does get it, in a few important dimensions.

For one thing, the notion of Service Oriented Architecture without organizational change makes little sense. If your organization isn’t committed to shared business services then its probably not SOA you’re working on, but JBOWS (just a bunch of web services). 

The shared service approach, rather than underlying technology, creates value. Thus, the idea of an HR team dedicated to keeping SAP employee records up to date. This is a great example of a shared service, although a reductionist might argue its not SOA per se because its users working directly on an application, probably using SAP rather than web service APIs. I call that pragmatism.

Also note the fact the SAP team is mapped to HR events–joining the company, moving to a new division and so on. Nestle would almost certainly pass any compliance audit focusing on internal systems authentication and authorisation. No danger of a disgruntled former employee or contractor causing problems with old credentials. Its amazing what a little care and attention to business processes and “employee events” can do to your security architecture, isn’t it.

Nestle also personalises all this content with personnel stories, even evidently experimenting with a blog approach back in 2002, before doing so became fashionable. [Where else but a blog would you discover facts you really didn’t need to know, such as Korean women get 12 days off a year by law for menstruation]. Come on Nestle Careers, its time to start blogging again…

One more thing I find intriguing about the link, and associated content, is the fact Nestle calls out SAP explicitly. This is not an IT portal, remember, but a generic business site. But SAP is increasingly the context of corporate life in many companies. Nestle makes that clear. SAP isn’t an application, its a system of record. Master Data Management indeed. And one that is not hidden from lines of business, but rather celebrated. Other technology vendors would kill to have that kind of recognition. And lets bear in mind that 5 years ago the media was talking to Nestle SAP as a potential failure. Perhaps the major investment in process changes (more than $80m) though is bearing fruit after all – another lesson for SOA: don’t expect an immediate pay off from technology when organizational benefits will take some time to accrue.

Another example of shared services driving SOA to help you understand what I am getting at with this shared service nattative: When RedMonk was researching and developing our Compliance Oriented Architecture model, we were particularly excited when we came across Geisinger Health because the company was an example of best practices that directly informed our COA thinking. Rather than having doctors running around with patient information on their iPods, and physical records stored in files all over the place, it made sense to establish a central records clearing house, with its own staff and platform, for digitisation and management of any records relating to patient health. So Geisinger built a records management shared service center for the entire company. Well done David Partsch, program director.

His are the kind of moves you make when you’re serious about patient privacy, rather than treating it like an HIPAA check box item. Just to further illustrate Geisinger’s credentials in compliance and shared services is the central coordination and use of software for compliance training. Compliance initiatives without staff training are pretty much useless. Geisinger certainly seems to understand the balance between centralised control and management and distributed operations pretty darned well. The Geisinger model has now become Vignette’s go to market approach to healthcare compliance.

I would love to talk to Nestle’s Regulatory Team to find out how the service-based approach applies.


  1. Yes, SOA’s is about, Company change. We have these warring fractions which belive “coulda/shouda” but still don’t do a darn thing to get the foo together. Its like snafu deje vu syndrome !!

  2. Your enthusiasm for Nestlé and SAP is in direct contrast with my views (http://resourcingstrategies.com/2005/07/06/erecruitment-how-not-to-do-it/) back in July when I suggested that it should be a case study in how not to implement e-recruitment.

    Given that, as a competitor for staff I hope that they continue with it in it’s present implementation. The candidate-experience is truly shocking and off-brand which can only be a good thing for all of their competitors.

  3. not sure where you get enthusiasm for SAP from this. but how its used.

    but i see you are right about the browser issue.

    Business Server Page (BSP) Error

    What happened?

    Call of BSP page terminated due to error.


    * Following error text processed in system:
    : (*) This browser is not supported. IE as of 5.50 and Netscape as of 6.20 are supported for design2000

    Error Type:

    Your SAP Business Server Pages Team

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