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UCC Holdings uses HRSD
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UCC kicks off user-centric digital transformation

Agent workspace

90% reduction in paper forms


One month to develop a new employee portal


Better UX with sophisticated, user-friendly design


Revamping legacy technology 

Founded in Japan, coffee service provider UCC Group is on a mission to ‘deliver delicious coffee to as many people as possible, anytime, anywhere’. With 88 locations across 21 countries, it’s certainly delivering on this promise. But the company isn’t just known for its international presence, it also launched the world’s first canned coffee drink and pioneered vacuum-packed coffee, which keeps the beans fresher for longer.

While UCC Group was leading the way with innovative new coffee products, its technology resources were ageing. “When I joined the company in September 2019, I realised our overall IT services, including equipment and systems, were several years out of date”, recalls Toshio Kurosawa, Executive Officer and Group Chief Information & Chief Information Security Officer at UCC Holdings. “I kicked off a programme in early 2020 to refresh our IT environment as quickly as possible”. 

An important aspect of this project was to transform the employee experience, and the group decided to replace its legacy portal, which was difficult to use due to its complicated user interface, with ServiceNow technology.

Adopting a cloud-first, mobile-first approach

Kurosawa’s goal was to deliver ‘easy-to-use’ technology. That meant replacing complicated processes such as workflow approvals. If a request or application for service came from outside the company, for example, employees had to connect to a VPN from their computer and log into multiple systems with their username and password. Of course, those are different in each system.

“There are solutions available to check and approve requests and applications for service with the tap of a button on a tablet”, explains Kurosawa. “That’s the kind of system I wanted to introduce to replace the existing process”.

Kurosawa decided to adopt a cloud and mobile-first approach for his transformation. The team began by eliminating VPNs from its network, using the internet and software-as-a-service (SaaS) to create a zero-trust network that supports remote work. They also rolled out ServiceNow to create a cloud-first IT environment with cutting-edge technologies to transform employee workflows.

Rolling out user-friendly technology

UCC Group chose ServiceNow because of its ability to connect and consolidate multiple applications into a single platform. 

“Memorising log-in credentials for multiple applications was time-consuming and inefficient. ServiceNow acts as a hub, connecting users to our system from a single log-in screen”, says Kurosawa. “This is much more efficient and enhances the user experience. It aligns with my vision for ‘easy-to-use’ technology”. 

The company also wanted a platform that consolidates many local business applications. ServiceNow as a Java based platform was very suitable, as it allowed users to create applications easily.

UCC Holdings logo right
UCC Holdings Co., Ltd.
UCC Holdings Co., Ltd.
Hyogo, Japan

We created a user-centric employee portal on ServiceNow, and we’re rolling it out across Japan and overseas.

Toshio Kurosawa

Executive Officer and Group Chief Information & Chief Information Security Officer

Designing a simple and sophisticated employee portal

When it was time to transform the existing employee portal, Kurosawa was ‘wowed’ from the moment he saw the demo on ServiceNow. “I was impressed by the excellent portal design. It was both simple and stylish”, he explains. “Our previous portal wasn’t well designed, so I wanted our users to have the same ‘wow’ moment that I had when they saw the new one”. 

The old portal contained a lot of information about each of the group’s operating companies. However, for many employees, a lot of that data was irrelevant, which made it difficult to find what they needed.

“We held talks with representatives from each operating company to remove unnecessary data and create a cleaner portal that’s easier to use”, says Shinsuke Omori, UX Design Manager in the ICT and Digital Division of UCOT Infotechno, IT subsidiary of UCC Group. 

The portal was revamped in September 2020 with a simple, sophisticated design. Seeing the art of the possible prompted the team to look for opportunities to further improve the user experience and made employees more open to future changes. This cultural shift helped to accelerate the digital transformation and created enthusiasm to improve other systems.

The next project the team focused on was how they could use ServiceNow to develop a workflow for internal requests or applications for services. Previously, only key workflows such as approval requests were implemented in SharePoint, with most other request processes on paper. With ServiceNow, all internal requests can be processed digitally.

“We eliminated complex procedures and rolled out electronic signatures, which has reduced stamp duties on taxable documents. We’ve decreased the number of paper forms by about 90%, from 1,549,000 previously”, says Omori. 

Focusing on people, not processes

In July 2022, the team built a new employee portal on ServiceNow HR Service Delivery to make it easier for staff to log life events such as marriage and pregnancy. Users and HR managers attended workshops to help develop the portal. Based on their feedback, the team simplified how users could embark on these journeys and the portal went live in just one month.

Kurosawa took a user-centric rather than operation-centric focus. As he explains, “There’s a tendency to prioritise the operational efficiency of the team processing the application over the employee experience. That’s why it was so important to hold workshops with our staff and get their feedback on usability”. 

In total, 10 workshops were held and supported by ServiceNow representatives. “ServiceNow helped in our discussions by showing us examples of portals that other customers have created”, says Omori. “This helped us have more productive conversations and opened our eyes to the flexibility of the platform”. 

Following the success of the employee portal, UCC Group plans to expand its use of ServiceNow. “ServiceNow is a global platform. We’d like to expand it both across Japan and to our subsidiary companies overseas”, says Kurosawa.

The vision for the global platform is to integrate the data platform, ERP solution and application platform. “We have high expectations for ServiceNow. It will play a vital role in developing our application platform”, concludes Kurosawa.

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