Swicon360, an established business technology partner and solution provider within the international human capital management (HCM), HR and payroll markets, has played a key role in an SAP HCM project to address the operational requirements at AFGRI, the leading listed South African agricultural services group.

The contract to service AFGRI was awarded to the agricultural service group’s primary partner Deloitte in early 2010. Swicon360 was sub-contracted by Deloitte to provide SAP HCM-based services as part of the project’s deliverables.
Deloitte provided its client with a comprehensive suite of modules, with Swicon360 responsible for designing enhanced HR and payroll processes within AFGRI.
SAP HCM modules implemented to date include personnel administration (including labour relations), organisational management, time management, payroll and enterprise compensation management.
Liezl van Rensburg, SAP HCM manager consulting at Swicon360, says the project is a full life cycle implementation that required Swicon360’s involvement from the point of drawing up business processes right through to physical implementation – including integrating with additional SAP modules such as finance and controlling.
“AFGRI has been functioning as separate business units for quite some time. The decision to combine the business under one company umbrella was made as a strategic step towards enhanced operations and to strengthen its position in the market,” says Van Rensburg.
“For HR specifically, it has entailed establishing a central administration office where all system processing is done.
"In addition, moving to an SAP base has also allowed the business to support this one vision by streamlining processes and ensuring that policies and procedures can be applied consistently across all business units, thus ensuring more standardised practices,” she adds.
One of the main challenges identified by Swicon360 management was the fact that the implementation had to take place and run concurrently throughout the overall restructuring effort, in order to support the centralisation of certain functions.
In addition, AFGRI also moved into new offices shortly after go-live.
“In October 2010 the newly appointed HR staff took up their positions in the central administration office and simultaneously started working on the new system.
"We have had to establish and run an intensive handover and support strategy to ensure that this team had sufficient support when they started working on the newly implemented system,” Van Rensburg continues.
Swicon360 has a team of five consultants assigned to the project.
According to Van Rensburg, this team has established a very powerful working relationship with colleagues from AFGRI, and the result of this and the company’s service level is that Swicon360 have managed to work side-by-side with the AFGRI team to ensure a successful go-live.
“The service level to date and the overall functioning of the system has made a significant difference to the company and has reinforced its growth strategy,” says Graeme Bredell, CIO at AFGRI.
“I would agree that, certainly initially, the introduction of a new system was met with some degree of skepticism, but this feeling has changed and the feedback that we have received so far is that the system is efficient, with modules that deliver on all fronts in terms of direct benefits.
"These advantages make a real difference to operations and to helping us consolidate our resources and optimise our overall efficiency,” he adds.