Unlocking a fully in-house digital payroll engine at Farys

When Belgian water provider Farys realized they needed a new payroll engine, they doubted whether they’d stick to their trusted HR service provider or take a completely new approach to payroll. Together with Flexso, they developed an internal payroll calculator based on SAP – and they’re delighted with the results.

Farys SAP HCM payroll engine

As a public organisation, Farys is responsible for providing pure water to citizens across Belgium. More than maintaining the water distribution network, they offer a broad range of other water-related services – always with a clear focus on sustainability. Cutting-edge technology – often SAP-driven – helps them ensure socially responsible operations.

As the sun set on an old tool…

When it came to payroll calculation and management, Farys relied on HR service provider Acerta. “When we heard that our familiar tool would be sunsetting in 2024, we didn’t have any other choice but to consider the best way forward,” HRM director Hyacintha De Vlieghe starts.

Farys spent several months researching payroll solutions and engaging in dialogues with other companies:

Hyacintha De Vlieghe Farys

“We spoke with organisations who were working the way we’d been working, as well as with companies tackling HR services in house, and explored their solutions and partners to fully understand our options.”

Hyacintha De Vlieghe - HRM Director at Farys

One thing was sure, though: whatever solution Farys chose had to smoothly integrate with the company’s on-premise SAP ERP system.

… a new era of efficiency, future proofness and independence was born

Farys’ IT department worked out what the switch to an internal payroll engine would require. They decided to leverage the SAP backbone and the experience that they have close to home. “Considering that our IT people have been working with SAP on-premise for years, we have a rich pool of knowledge to tap into,” says Jan Smissaert, IT Project Manager at Farys.

Jan Smissaert

“Moreover, our HR department had also amassed plenty of payroll expertise and felt confident in their abilities to enable the company to work more independently. Even more, working with an SAP payroll solution is futureproof for us, since it aligns with upcoming SAP HR solutions on our integration roadmap."

Jan Smissaert - IT Project Manager at Farys

Still, in the highly specific realm of legal support, legislation and post-payroll requirements, Farys opted to continue their partnership with Acerta Consult. And they chose Flexso for the implementation of the new SAP-based payroll engine.

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When challenges come thick and fast

After kicking off the project, Farys realised that the implementation would have some challenges. “We had to ensure that we had sufficient in-house resources available, so we made sure that the right people were involved from the very start,” explains Hyacintha. “Life, work, and water services don’t stop for IT projects, and we had to take a new SAP release as well as the implementation in stride.”

Adding to the challenge was the fact that Belgian payroll legislation differs significantly between the private and public sectors. At Farys, there are different calculations and processes in place for contractual and statutory employees.

“Our plan was to generalise our processes as far as we could, but legislation makes it impossible, in some cases. And if that wasn’t enough, regulations concerning ‘short leave’ changed during the project, which had to be incorporated into HR processes at the same moment.”

Hyacintha De Vlieghe

Knowledge, planning, and collaboration win the day

Farys’ internal SAP expertise facilitated efficient implementation, change management and training, which in turn paved the way for a rapid transition.

“Prior planning was key here", adds Jan. "An extensive blueprint, developed via workshops with both Acerta Consult and Flexso, enabled us to scrutinise every aspect of the payroll engine and figure out exactly which actions we had to take. This proved invaluable when subsequent changes and decisions had to be made.”

Farys in house payroll engine SAP

The Farys team also had plan B scenarios in place in case the payroll engine experienced slowdowns, or payments failed entirely. “Thanks to this backup plan, employees could rest assured that they would be paid correctly and on time,” Jan says. “While these contingencies never happened, it was a nice safety net.”

Jan also credits strong collaboration between Acerta, Flexso and the HR and ICT teams at Farys for the successful implementation. “Each party had a clear SPOC and was 100% sure of their responsibilities.”

A futureproof solution that ensures agility

The digital payroll engine is now live, and everything is running smoothly.

“We’ve seen huge efficiency increases. Previously, a full month was spent on wage payments – easily adding up to 10 days of work. Thanks to the payroll engine, this period has been reduced to 2 days.”

Hyacintha De Vlieghe

Both Flexso and Acerta are currently standing by to provide maintenance and support services. “With their help, we’re confident that even after everything is fluidly working together, we can ensure high performance and rapid resolution of any issue that comes up,” Hyacintha concludes.

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