Global change to new ways of working up to speed at Huhtamaki

Food packaging manufacturer Huhtamaki wanted to improve collaboration and information sharing throughout its organization globally, in line with its strategy. To enable new ways of working, the company adopted Microsoft O365 tools in place of the corresponding systems previously used. CCEA acted as a change management partner to Huhtamaki in the project and also provided project management services.

Huhtamaki has more than 18,000 employees in 34 countries, so the change project was massive. A particular challenge was to get the business units operating in different countries on board with the change in the short one-year schedule.

“In addition to the tight timetable, the project started out with challenges related to the technical implementation because there were no previous experiences with specifically this kind of combination of data output and target environments. All existing data had to be secured with no loss of business-critical data. The possibility of production disruption had to be taken into consideration and eliminated,” CCEA’s Principal Consultant and project manager Juha Lindfors recalls the initial phase of the project.

The change was understood in total, not just as an IT project

Huhtamaki had built a good team for the project; the core team consisted of about ten people, and a total of some thirty people worked on the project. Everything went well with smooth team work between the Huhtamaki employees and the partners. The entire team worked in close collaboration towards the same goals and with a flexible attitude. From CCEA Juha worked as the Project Manager and ensured that the project was implemented on schedule and in accordance with expectations; CCEA’s Senior Consultant Katri Ranta was responsible for the overall change management. The partner for migration to modern Microsoft cloud services was Sulava, and the project also included other partners e.g. for communication planning.

“A key prerequisite for success was that the people at Huhtamaki understood the comprehensiveness of the change. It wasn’t seen as an IT project, but as change in the culture and ways of working with HR, IT and Communications working together to advance a common goal,” Juha emphasizes.

Change agent network a key driver

Huhtamaki purchased CCEA’s change execution service, but because of the scope of the project change portfolio leadership expertise was also needed. Both the CCEA’s and the customer’s own change management processes and tools were put to use.

“In this project, CCEA’s way of operating was particularly visible in the fact that we identified also other key change projects that were simultaneously under way in the company; this allowed us to bundle them under the same umbrella and communicate about them collectively to the units and their management. Additionally, we were able to plan change communications so that information about multiple changes was distributed to end users uniformly. I believe this brought comprehensive benefits to every Huhtamaki employee who was a target of the changes,” Juha reflects.

Communications Manager Reeta Eskola from Huhtamaki considers the network of 150 change agents to be most valuable for change management. CCEA was responsible for building, launching and running the network.

“Without the network, the project wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain and inspire a network of people who have differences in the way they operate,” says a grateful Reeta.

It will still take a lot of persistent effort to bring about true change in the work habits and for everyone to learn to use the tools efficiently and to adopt them as part of their daily work.

“Changing the ways of working takes time. And individuals embrace change in different ways. After some initial excitement, disappointment may follow – or vice versa,” Reeta says.

Huhtamaki Group IS Infrastructure Manager Aki Kemppi is also pleased with the project’s progress: “The biggest benefit of CCEA’s service was the solid change management know-how and expertise already in the planning phase. I would especially highlight the comprehensive understanding of the change and our business, as well as the flexibility of the service as the project progressed.”

Huhtamaki is a global specialist in packaging for food and drink with a network of 78 manufacturing units and additional 24 sales only offices in altogether 34 countries.