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About Sodexo

  • Industry: Food services and facilities management company
  • Founded: 1966
  • Headquarters: Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
  • Employees: 427,000+

Sodexo: At the service of its personnel

Managing human resources and information systems is a difficult task, especially when you’re an organization that employs over 100,000 people across Europe. Sodexo, an international food services and facilities management company, recognized the challenges of managing a vast workforce — even more so with 30,000 employees in France alone. Michel Foulon, VP of strategic planning and control at Sodexo, decided to take on the challenge of implementing HR change in France and Germany.

The challenges

Sodexo decided to align the working practices of its four subsidiary companies at the end of the 1990s. It wanted to update its systems before the year 2000, so it worked with Alight (then called NGA HR) to find a solution that best fit the needs of the business and its people. 

The complexity of processing Sodexo’s payroll in France

Sodexo’s payroll in France is particularly complex. This is as a result of the diverse employment statutes and contracts. Some of these complexities consist of:

  • 32,000 salaries paid per month
  • 5 x collective agreements: SNRC, SYNTEC, Hospitality, Index-linked payroll for Seconded Municipal Staff, Monaco
  • Around 30 different types of employment contracts
  • 7 x salary categories: active, apprentice, artist, extra…
  • Employment type L122-12 resulting from restaurant buybacks. Consequently there are significant number of transactions per month: 3,900 incoming and 3,500 outgoing

First SAP payroll project before 2000

The initial payroll system project was based on SAP and launched in 1999. With the year 2000 quickly approaching as a deadline, Sodexo had to work ambitiously to reach this goal and optimized its payroll over the subsequent two years. During this initial stage, Sodexo’s priority was to guarantee the internal maintenance of the application.

During the upgrade of its SAP system to improve productivity and quality, the organization began a second phase in the strategy to:

  • Reduce the maintenance budget.
  • Manage internal resources dedicated to non-strategic tasks (9 FTE: Full-time equivalents).
  • Guarantee quality operations and constant growth, notably with regard to regulations.

“Alongside its commercial competitiveness, one of the key factors which convinced us to choose Alight was their leading position in SAP HR with respect to payroll. It came down to having the best possible consultants in order to maintain a certain credibility with the internal teams, who are themselves experts in the field.”

Michel Foulon, VP Strategic Planning & Control and IS&T
Sodexo Alliance Europe

Phase two: Outsourcing payroll

There were several objectives set by Sodexo:

  • Reduce the total cost of salary slip production.
  • Standardize the calculation rules.
  • Implement the “organization management” module.
  • Add a decentralized time registration module for the 3,000 sites across France.
  • Integrate the HR/payroll systems between the various countries.

Transforming Sodexo’s payroll

Sodexo found itself at a crossroads with its payroll: to continue developing and maintaining its HR/payroll applications internally, or outsource payroll processing and change management to a model already in use with specific employee groups (China, Asia-PAC, etc.) They ultimately decided to outsource with Alight (legacy NGA HR) for its rapid ROI and straightforward quantification. The results have simplified payroll processes for Sodexo as they transferred their data and systems to Alight’s external platform. Routine, time-consuming tasks were delegated to the Alight team, freeing up time for Sodexo employees to focus on more value-added work.


Sodexo also observed additional benefits after implementing Alight’s HR solutions, including:

  • Significantly reduced total cost, per salary slip.
  • Substantial gains on shared SAP technical environments.

Looking ahead

After Sodexo had seen the successful implementation of Alight’s solutions for its HR challenges, it decided to pursue the development and optimization of its HR/payroll systems by utilizing its partnership with SAP and Alight. Projects currently in progress include:

  • The development of a HRIS for Europe (in progress).
  • The development of an HRIS for Europe.
  • The implementation of a time registration module supporting various job profiles in different locations.

An initial – and successful – ASP test has already been carried out with Sodexo in the Netherlands (6,000 salaries) and Sodexo’s German employee population has already undergone full outsourcing (5,000 salaries).

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