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Supporting organizations going through change


Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Ltd (Al-Pac)

Activating a change champion community, executing a tailored change management strategy and effective change sponsor engagement resulted in a successful enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, SAP S/4HANA, implementation. 

"Seeing the change ambassadors being proactive and engaging their teams in this way is encouraging and quite frankly impressive—something I’ve not seen at Al-Pac before.


Many thanks to the Harbinger Team for getting us this far, please continue the amazing work!"

Michelle Sulz, Project Manager, Al-Pac

Who is Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Ltd?

Al-Pac is the largest single-line kraft pulp producer in North America. They are leaders in the industry known for quality products, mill operations, responsible forest management practices, dedication to growing and developing their team members and work with local communities.

What was the challenge?

At its inception, Al-Pac possessed the leading technology systems, operational machinery, and processes. To support continued growth and solidify its position as the largest single-line pulp producer in North America, Al-Pac embarked on a ten-year business-led transformation journey. This included the implementation of a multi-phased ERP, SuccessFactors and Employee Central Payroll (ECP) project in 2019 that would enable sustainability by adopting industry-leading and proven business processes and practices. 


This project involved three focus areas:

1. Modern Integrated Platform

a. Replacing an aging portfolio of core business systems with a modern platform

b. Simplifying their systems and reducing customization

c. Building robust integrations with other applications where needed. For this implementation, this involved: 

i.     LIMs interfaces (inbound and outbound)
ii.    LRM interface (inbound)
iii.    QMS interface (inbound)
iv.     Forte interface (inbound)
v.     Rader interface (inbound)

2. Improving the “Speed of Business”

a. Automating current manual processes

b. Providing access to quality information that enables sound business decisions

c. Providing advanced capabilities to effectively manage cost-intensive projects such as shutdowns

d. Increasing access to modern tools


3. Sustainability and Growth

a. Responding quickly to new business requirements and projects

b. Adopting industry best practices

c. Uncovering new opportunities and ways to innovate

The functional scope was substantial touching processes and technology in ten areas including finance and accounting, project accounting, purchasing, inventory management, enterprise asset management, production planning, quality management, sales and distribution, transportation management, and human resources and payroll.

Although the organization experienced change, the scope and magnitude of this system implementation was a first for Al-Pac.

Al-Pac engaged Harbinger to lead the Organizational Change Management (OCM) and Learning program for the ERP implementation with a mandate to empower formal and informal change leaders to support their people through the digital transformation taking the long tenure, experience with change and diverse workforce into account.

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What did we do?

​Stakeholder Engagement and Analysis

With COVID-19 restrictions, we launched our OCM program with virtual stakeholder interviews with more than 40 employees to understand current ways of working, change appetite, awareness and buy-in, and support requirements for the digital transformation. We discovered that most stakeholders understood the need for the change; however, the impacts on their current ways of working, the investment of time and support needed from leadership, and the effect the SAP S/4HANA implementation would have on their culture were unclear.

Change Champion Community

With these insights, we selected a tiered framework for Al-Pac’s Change Champion Community that consisted of a Change Sponsor, Change Leaders, and Change Ambassadors that included representatives across all business units. Collectively they supported their teams through the change; however, the responsibilities of each were different:

  • The Change Sponsor was the visionary and an active and visible spokesperson of the change.

  • Change Leaders consisted of the entire senior leadership team, managers, and business unit leaders at Al-Pac responsible for localizing the change vision and translating what the change is for their teams.

  • Change Ambassadors were the go-to individuals, who provided their teams with updates, gathered feedback and were our boots on the ground to make up for travel restrictions during the pandemic.

The success of the Change Champion Community was attributed to the creation of an engagement strategy that reflected the insights collected from the stakeholder interviews and diverse cultures within Al-Pac. The engagement strategy included:

  • Establishment of strong relationships with key stakeholders like the Change Sponsor and corporate communications team. This enabled us to leverage communications channels like town halls where the project took centre stage with a Myth-Busters presentation and was supported by all executives who translated the change vision for their respective areas. Other activities included Change Sponsor Listening Tours where Change Ambassadors shared challenges, what support they needed to be successful in their role, and opportunities for improvement with the Change Sponsor 1:1.

  • The appointment of more than 30 influential, trusted, and employees as Change Ambassadors that possessed attributes like being open to change, enthusiasm for learning, and working knowledge of the legacy systems and their processes.

  • The development of Change Ambassador meeting toolkits that included presentations, speaking notes and discussion points used to increase awareness and buy-in, as well as drive commitment and reinforcement of the change.

  • The completion of a Change Leader Strengths Capability Assessment. These strengths were used to develop action plans and reinforcement strategies based on specific attributes possessed by the Change Ambassadors.

  • Regular engagement touchpoints for all roles used to disseminate updates about the project, attain regular pulse checks to determine how people were feeling at various points, and provide early access to system demonstrations and walkthroughs.

  • Leveraging communications tools and resources like MS Teams where a channel was created and used to ask and answer questions in real-time, improve collaboration across functions, and house OCM resources in one easy-to-access location.

Change Readiness Assessments 


  • Change Readiness Surveys were distributed to all internal SAP end-users bi-annually to assess where employees and the business were on the change curve. It was also used to engage and listen to stakeholders and was a measure of success in areas like aligned and visible leadership, involved workforce and effective communications for the system implementation. ​​

The change readiness surveys achieved an average of 36% participation rate. This is considered a good response rate and provided statistically viable data given a significant percentage of the demographic are non-desk workers. The data provided baseline information to understand areas of opportunity, risk, and resistance. It was also used as a decision-making tool and was one of the checklist items for the go-no-go criteria.

A Tailored OCM Strategy

A tailored OCM strategy was leveraged for Al-Pac that focused on dedicated OCM resources for high-impact or resistant areas like Plant Maintenance and Human Resources (HR), upskilling and coaching of change leaders and ambassadors, change leader assessment and lessons learned activity.

The Plant Maintenance business unit comprised the largest group of front-line employees who used a highly customized visual system for their day-to-day activities. This system was replaced by SAP S/4HANA out-of-the-box solution, with more complex processes and a different look and feel.

The HR team’s implementation of SAP SuccessFactors and Employee Central Payroll (ECP) impacted all employees. What is more, SuccessFactors is a self-service tool, a contrast to their legacy system. Traditionally HR would complete all HR-related functions for employees.

To support the Plant Maintenance group, as well as the implementation of SAP SuccessFactors and ECP, the OCM Leads developed tailored plans that focused on the people side of change. For Plant Maintenance, this involved ensuring there was an adequate number of change ambassadors to cover all shifts, keeping the leadership team informed and engaged with regular touchpoints and updates, and tailored Roadshow events where employees would be provided with a preview of the new system and had the opportunity to ask questions.

What was the outcome?

Confidence and Ability to Use the ERP System in their Day-to-Day Operations

The change program increased confidence in the change and the ability of employees to use the ERP system to complete their jobs. This was determined by the final change readiness survey which reported 90% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the changes resulting from Mosaic were manageable, and 85% strongly agreed or agreed they would be able to perform their jobs as of go-live.

Identification and Activation of Informal Change Leaders

More than 30 employees who possessed change leader attributes like influencer, problem-solver, and proactive, were appointed to enable change as part of the Change Champion Community. Throughout the project, they were tasked with cascading information, providing the project team with updates and feedback, and contributing to the planning and development of the OCM monthly touchpoints.

To support the hypercare period, the Change Ambassadors transitioned to Key Users. They were level 0 tactical support, the first individuals to contact for help with non-technical issues related to the SAP S/4HANA or SuccessFactors. The Key Users resolved almost 50% of the incidents before reaching the Help Desk over eight weeks.

Many exceeded expectations and Al-Pac is continuing to leverage this group for transformation activities.

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