Headquartered in Hong Kong, Gammon Construction—a subsidiary of Jardine Group—has a reputation for delivering high-quality projects throughout China and Southeast Asia. Recently, the organization expanded its business to become a “digital contractor,” creating an innovative digital entity dedicated to furthering commercial opportunities. With a strategic focus on digitization, the company knew it was time to modernize its internal processes and systems as well.
“In HR, a lot of our processes were very manual. ...The pandemic pushed the business to be a lot more agile.”Jenny Pong Director of Human Resources Gammon Construction
Horace Chu, chief information officer at Gammon Construction, and Jenny Pong, the company’s director of human resources, recently spoke at Workday Elevate Asia about their digital transformation journey and how the pandemic impacted it. Below are highlights from their conversation.
How have the past 18 months impacted your business?
Chu: Just before the pandemic started, we had implemented new collaboration tools, so that helped our transition to a remote office staff. However, we also have front-line employees doing the construction work, so there was a different set of challenges we faced there. For example, the supply chain was greatly impacted. Materials needed on-site for jobs were not always delivered on time because of slowed international transportation. We also needed to ensure the safety and health of our construction workers, so very early on we implemented thermo detection and biweekly COVID-19 testing.
The pandemic also had a financial and operational impact. We needed to quickly adjust our financial and operational planning to meet changing business needs, and technology played an important role with that. We had to implement new procedures and processes, and be agile in rolling them out. Workday, along with other tools, helped us facilitate and communicate these changes in a timely manner.
Pong: From a human resources perspective, we needed the ability to very proactively connect with our people to update them on the latest information. We also had to make sure that our workforces’ well-being was intact, so transparency between leadership and employees was key. The upside of this was that the pandemic helped speed up some of the decisions that, under normal circumstances, would’ve taken much longer to implement.
What changes did you have to make to your business in response to this shift?
Pong: We had to change our way of doing things. In HR, a lot of our processes were very manual, and our processes and procedures weren’t consistent across the board. The pandemic pushed the business to be a lot more agile. We can't get fixated on just one direction because things change so quickly these days. We needed a new digital platform that provided us with consistency and flexibility to respond to changing demands. We also needed to be able to reach our front-line workforce, so having a user-friendly, mobile interface was important.
Chu: We accelerated our digital transformation to support these changes, and the implementation of Workday is part of that journey. Our digital transformation consists of three parts. The first is modernizing the core, which is our enterprise resource planning system, and that's where Workday comes in. The second part is accelerating growth, which includes the technologies we’re applying to our front-line operations, such as augmented reality and virtual reality. And the third is scaling new businesses. We’re now selling some of these tools externally as well and creating additional revenue streams. Our leadership team and our shareholders understand that digitization is how we will increase our competitiveness in the market.
What benefits are you hoping to gain from your transformation?
Chu: The first is an improved user experience and an increase in our workforce’s productivity. We also want to have more streamlined HR team processes, which should directly improve cost savings. However, the biggest benefit is going to be having all of our HR data in a holistic and integrated set of systems. We are looking forward to analyzing that data and gaining new business insights.
Pong: We also hope to see high engagement with our workforce, which means reaching them where they are. We want people to feel like they're part of a family and that they’re connected to our organization with the latest news and information. And to reiterate Horace’s point, I hope that the system will bring us more consistent and controlled processes across our different divisions, operations, and locations.
If you’d like to hear more from the executive team at Gammon Construction, you can watch the full session here.