Green Means Go -- Members of the CS@P steering committee -- including Jason Ballard (front right) -- hold up their "GO" signs up to signify a critical launch in 2016.
Jason Ballard likes to tackle seemingly impossible tasks.
For instance, the newly appointed general manager of the IS Field and Administration team recently completed a 100-mile ultra-marathon. That seems like a lot to take on.
Still, his work as the lead for a group called Corporate Services @ Plano (CS@P) may have been the most challenging thing he’s done over the last two years.
After all, uniting processes and policies from two separate companies – Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing (TEMA) and Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) -- to ensure every team member is working on the same page is a job some may have thought impossible a few years ago.
“With the race, I was able to start training four months ahead of time,” Ballard says. “But CS@P was 18 months of dedication and commitment and collaboration across boundaries.”
And Ballard and his team got it done.
Toyota’s move to Plano was much more than a change of scenery. It was a tricky dance of meshing two separate corporate cultures. So, as team members began migrating to Texas from TEMA’s home in Erlanger and TMS’ offices in Torrance, it became clear that One Toyota couldn’t happen without creating common processes for everyone
“When we moved, the question was: What about our processes and our systems?” Ballard says. “Who is going to make sure that, when you and I are sitting next to each other, we’re getting paid the same way, that we’re doing our travel and expenses the same, that our employee administration is being managed the same? So that’s how it was born.”
So a team of executives that included then-Chief Administration Officer Simon Nagata, Chief Financial Officer Tracey Doi, Chief Information Officer Zack Hicks, Chief Human Resources Officer Cheryl Hughes, Chief Divisional Information Officer Tim Platt, TEMA Executive Program Manager Chuck Brown and Corporate Services Group Vice President Craig Grucza – set up CS@P to address those issues. In mid-2015, Hicks tabbed Ballard – then a Group Manager for Finance and Indirect Procurement – to lead the effort.
CS@P’s role was so critical, Nagata called it “oxygen for team members.”
CS@P’s main orders of business might seem mundane, but they have a tangible effect on the team member experience. For instance – where TEMA folks were used to getting paid through PeopleSoft, Toyota Motor North America adopted TMS’ MyTime to log hours. Similarly, TMNA adopted Workday as the main HR portal. Further, the group adopted a universal travel payment system in Chrome River.
The guiding principle between choosing between TMS and TEMA policies – or creating completely new ones – was which would benefit team members most?
“It’s just making sure the experience is more common for every team member,” Ballard says. “How you might procure office supplies, or how you submit expenses. If we hadn’t done anything, you would have people working with multiple processes. It was more about standardization and giving us a clean slate as we move forward.”
The Process Continues
Far Away Finish Line -- This is what Jason Ballard (center) looks like after running 100 miles. He's flanked by coworkers Mark Morris (left) and Marc Dyer (right) who drove three hours to support their teammate for the last 20 miles of the Rocky Racoon 100-Mile Trail Run in Texas earlier this year.
Sounds pretty simple, right? But Ballard’s team – made up of team members who joined the group in addition to their regular jobs – peaked at 10 teams and 100 people, with representatives from each affiliate.
The 10 teams included:
- Travel and Expense
- Contract Labor
- Indirect procurement
- Talent Acquisition
- Performance Management
- Next-generation Accounting and Finance
- Vehicle Services
Their work took about 18 months, including a mad dash in late 2016, as the team worked to achieve its goal of finishing the conversions by the start of 2017. On the morning of Dec. 26 – yep, the day after Christmas – the CS@P teams engineered a giant team member transition to the new TMNA Workday HR portal. TEMA team members moved from PeopleSoft to Workday, while TMS team members moved over from their version of Workday.
It was a seemingly small step that marked a big milestone in their work.
“Once the team members transitioned into Workday, our work flowed downstream,” Ballard says. “It changed how they got paid, it changed the cost centers, the accounting and the onboarding.”
The team met several times each month, for up to five hours per meeting. About three weeks before the launch of a particular service, they engaged in daily meetings to communicate their progress.
After that Dec. 26 transition, Ballard had an idea. An avid runner all his life, he decided to tackle the 100-mile ultra-marathon he’d always dreamed of completing. To honor his CS@P team, he asked all 100 to sign a sheet of paper. He carried it with him while he ran the Rocky Raccoon 100-Mile Trail Run in Huntsville, Texas, dedicating each mile to a different colleague.
“That paper ended up with lot of dirt and sweat and blood on it,” Ballard says. “But this program wouldn’t have been possible without each of those individuals’ dedication, hard work and commitment. And those names sure helped get me through the race.”
By Dan Nied