The Galapagos case: HR transformation in a fast-paced environment

Biotech giant Galapagos has been expanding and growing exponentially for many years. In order to tackle its HR challenges and support its ambitions, the firm set out to transform its HR processes – doing so in just one year.

Header Galapagos Success Factors

In our webinar ‘The Galapagos case’, we invited Galapagos Head of Payroll, HR Services and HRIS Sandro Flamée to reveal how the biotech leader succeeded in the exceptional achievement of their HR Transformation process within such a short number of time.

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Putting employee experience in the spotlight

Galapagos set out on a journey to become a ‘cool place to work’, aiming for an unparalleled employee experience. Within the company’s characteristic culture of high performance and excellence, the HR team plays an important role in realising the ambitions of the organisation.

“We asked our colleagues what they expected from our HR department”, explains Sandro Flamée. “An essential part of this process was aligning our leadership and our employees. Based on the feedback from both groups and combined with the goals set by the business, we performed an analysis of the challenges we needed to tackle during our transformation.”

Great growth requires new approaches

Galapagos is a pioneering global biotech firm with its headquarters in Mechelen. It aims to improve the lives of patients with unmet medical needs through the development of novel therapies. Galapagos employs more than 1,300 employees worldwide, a figure that has tripled in just 4 years. In 2020, they took on the challenge of transforming their HR processes to meet the needs of both the business and its employees better than ever before.

Lean processes for continuous improvement

“In a fast-paced environment like ours, it’s absolutely essential to deliver lean processes that drive continuous improvement”, Sandro continues. “The needs of our organisation and our employees are constantly changing, so our HR processes need to be adaptive, scalable and offer a seamless user experience.”

Sandro Flamee

“The needs of our organisation and our employees are constantly changing, so our HR processes need to be adaptive, scalable and offer a seamless user experience.”

Sandro Flamée - Head of Payroll, HR Services and HRIS at Galapagos

Sandro and his team wanted to ensure that the new HR approach meets the needs of both the business and its people. Galapagos identified four challenges:

  • rapid growth, with employees spread across ten countries;
  • a complex user experience for employees featuring employee data scattered across many systems;
  • multiple different systems for each process, leading to challenges in data reliability and reporting;
  • non-scalable, inflexible standalone systems with insufficient integration possibilities.

Starting from best practices and tailoring from there

Galapagos partnered up with Flexso to transform its HR processes with the introduction of SAP SuccessFactors, concluding the transformation in just one year.

“The result is an integrated landscape, which required integrations with SAP Finance, SharePoint, Active Directory and SD Connect, among other solutions and data sources”, explains Stijn Verschueren, project manager at Flexso.

Mock up galapagos successfactors golive

“The starting point was a fit-to-standard approach. To integrate the process across multiple different countries, Galapagos used a global template that keeps local exceptions to a minimum. We sped up the implementation using the Flexso Accelerator program, which is a standardised solution based on best practices. This solution is then enhanced to meet the needs of the client. The Flexso Accelerator was a key differentiator in achieving this transformation in just one year.

Valuable out-of-the box solutions

The exceptions and unique requirements were initially left out of the scope in order to ensure the speed of the project. Any additional enhancements and requirements were done outside of the standard trajectory.

One example of a high-value out-of-the-box solution that meets Galapagos’ unique needs is the contingent worker extension. Since the standard onboarding module doesn’t allow for contingent workers to be managed via the central data platform, Flexso built an extension that initiates the request for a contingent worker. It also autofills the basic data required and routes that data into the organisation.

Rooted in business needs from the outset

“Because the project was supported by our leadership team and aligned with the business goals from day one, we could move quickly”, Sandro explains. “It is essential to take the feedback from both the leadership and the employees into account to be able to align all needs within the scope of the project. Starting from business goals is a fundamental requirement for rapid and successful process transformation.

“The project was also a great example of cooperation between Galapagos and Flexso. For instance, Flexso took over the data migration, enabling us to fully focus on testing the implementations. The project management required a lot of agile planning, but the journey was a perfect example of teamwork between consultants and experts from both companies”, Sandro concludes.

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Written by

Stijn Verschueren

Stijn Verschueren