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15 min read

Case Study: Breakthru Beverage Group Transforms HR Service Delivery With Dovetail HR Case Management and Employee Portal

Jun 8, 2023 7:06:01 AM

Breakthru Beverage HR Service Delivery Dovetail Case Management Employee Portal

Breakthru Beverage Group had a vision for how HR Services could be delivered to their employees that would be efficient, provide data for management decision making and improve the employee experience. To achieve this, they decided to establish an HR Service Delivery function based on a Multi-tiered HR Shared Services model and acquire the right case management and Employee Portal software to support it. This technology would help a new HR Service Delivery team manage employee questions effectively and improve employee communications. Breakthru chose Dovetail HR Case Management and Employee Portal. Andrew Moss, Vice President of HR Services explains why:

Andrew Moss Breakthru Beverage HR Services Dovetail Case management

“After a thorough investigation of many solutions, we found Dovetail provides great case management functionality at a better price point compared to other solutions on the market. Dovetail's Total Cost of Ownership is also much lower, as it doesn't require expensive resources to make configuration changes, as this can easily be handled by an internal resource who is system savvy. As well as this, Dovetail had a faster implementation timeline, which was important to us, as we were looking to aggressively launch the tool in under 6 months from signing to roll-out.”

Read this case study to discover how Breakthru transformed its delivery of HR Services, improved operational efficiency, enhanced the employee experience and started the journey towards a data-driven HR function.

About Breakthru Beverage Group

Breakthru Beverage Group is a leading North American beverage wholesaler driving innovation in the marketplace with a nimble and insightful approach to business. Breakthru is proud to be family-owned and operated, bringing valued expertise to its operations across the U.S. and Canada. The company employs over 8,000 associates representing a portfolio of premier wine, spirit and beer brands totaling more than $7 billion in annual sales. The company operates across Canada and the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin.

Background & Challenges

During a previous role at a large, global beverage manufacturer, Andrew had experienced the benefits of HR Services being delivered through a Multi-tiered HR Shared Service Delivery Model supported by case management and Employee Portal software.

Looking to improve HR Services at Breakthru, the company made the decision to reorganize Breakthru’s HR Service Delivery function into a centralized, Multi-tiered HR Shared Services Model. To enable this new model and improve HR Service Delivery efficiency and the employee experience, Andrew made the decision to acquire Dovetail HR Case Management and Employee Portal software. A key success factor for Andrew was having systems in place that could gather data upon which better decisions could be made by the business. Dovetail’s HR Reporting & Analytics would provide this capability. 

In order to achieve his goals, Andrew needed to build a new HR Service Delivery team. He brought in Donna Nelson as Director of HR Service Delivery for her business reporting expertise and hired in HR personnel from Breakthru’s locations and made external hires. By the end of the hiring process, the HR Service Delivery team numbered seven HR Service Delivery Specialists. 
Donna Nelson HR Service Delivery Breakthru Beverage Group Dovetail
The first task for Andrew and his team was to figure out what the business needed and find answers to questions such as, “What realistically could be achieved with a new case management tool?”, and “How will the new HR Service Delivery team interface with the new case management tool?”. During this discovery process, the team identified a number of challenges that HR Services and the wider business were facing:

Challenge 1 - Remote Working Makes HR-Employee Communications More Difficult

During the COVID pandemic, corporate staff were working from home. This meant that HRBPs were no longer available in the office for associates to consult, and there was now no easy reference point for them to access the employee handbook, benefits information, or team contacts. If someone had a question about their benefits plan, or was experiencing a payroll problem, they couldn't quickly reach out to the relevant team for assistance. This lack of accessibility was a significant obstacle during the pandemic. Donna Nelson, Director of HR Service Delivery, said:  

“When everyone was working in the office, our operations associates could simply go upstairs to speak with their HRBP and have their concerns addressed. However, once everyone began working remotely, these challenges were magnified. We needed a system that could address these issues, and we found it in Dovetail.”

Post pandemic, Breakthru adopted a hybrid working environment for corporate back-office staff: 3 days at home, 2 days in the office.

Challenge 2 - Inefficiency of HR Service Delivery

Speaking about inefficiencies that Breakthru were having in delivering HR Services prior to implementing Dovetail, Michelle Memmo, HR Service Delivery Specialist said: Michelle Memmo HR Service Delivery Breakthru Beverage Dovetail Case Management

“Before Breakthru implemented Dovetail, local HR teams were managing employee questions, requests and inquiries using spreadsheets, Outlook, and calendars. This decentralized approach was proving inefficient and negatively impacting the employee experience of HR Services. For example, our employee referral program was manually intensive through a shared inbox and spreadsheets, which was causing delays in making payouts for referrals. Employee questions and inquiries were also falling through the cracks but now, with Dovetail, all cases are visible and tracked. Since adopting Dovetail, our processes are significantly more efficient.” 

Challenge 3 - Employee Growth Through M&A Activity

Breakthru Beverage Group has been growing through acquisitions and will soon grow from 8,000 associates to 9,000. This growth in the number of employees was making the delivery of quality HR Services through a decentralized HR model ever more difficult to achieve. Andrew said:

“As Breakthru grows and scales, there is a stronger need for standardized processes and a Service Delivery model supported by the functionality of Dovetail makes that easier. For example, centralized HR Onboarding managed through Service Delivery helps the overall HR team achieve much greater efficiencies rather than further stretching market resources to do one-off HR Onboarding every week. Instead, contact with candidates from clearing background through Day 1 is now more efficiently managed through Dovetail case management with notifications coming directly from our applicant tracking system (ATS) into Dovetail for an automated and seamless handoff between Talent Acquisition and HR Service Delivery.”

After identifying the challenges and business requirements, Andrew leaned into Dovetail’s expertise to figure out the best way to use HR Case Management and the Employee Portal in the new HR Shared Services Model. The result was a solution combining Breakthru’s HR and business knowledge with the power of Dovetail.


Solution: A Multi-Tiered HR Shared Services Model Enabled by Dovetail HR Case Management and Employee Portal Software

Multi-Tiered HR service Delivery Model DovetailThe solution required implementing a centralized HR Shared Services Delivery Model with four tiers of support, from Tier 0 to Tier 3, which would be enabled by Dovetail HR Case Management and Employee Portal. Donna said:

“We felt this was the best way to support our associates and offer them ‘help-on-demand’.”

The following is an explanation of Breakthru's Multi-tiered Model and how Dovetail Software supports it.

Tier 0 - HR Now Branded Employee Self-Service Portal

At the Tier 0 level, employees can now find answers to their questions on Dovetail’s Employee Portal, which Breakthru has branded HR Now. Comparing the capabilities of HR Now with Google, Donna said: 

“We like to think of Dovetail’s Employee Portal, that we branded ‘HR Now’, as the associates’ Google Portal, a great first stop for employees to find answers to their questions. It really is a great self-service Portal.”

Below is a video that Dovetail made for Breakthru to help introduce the new HR Now Portal to Breakthru employees to maximize their adoption rate.

The Employee Portal provides Breakthru associates with a number of capabilities:

24/7 Accessibility for the Entire Workforce

HR Now is accessible 24/7 to the entire workforce; from truck drivers, delivering cases of Breakthru beverages, and warehouse workers, who move and load products onto trucks, to sales staff, who are on the road selling the product, and merchandisers, who create branded displays. Corporate staff including inside sales, the finance department and other corporate employees also have access. All employees can now benefit from HR Now’s self-serve capabilities and find answers to their questions. 

Employee Portal Communications

Dovetail Software HR Case Management Employee PortalOn the HR Now Employee Portal site there are FAQs, guides and links. Other helpful content includes screenshots. For example, if an associate needs to know how to change their direct deposit details, they can view screenshots to show how to complete this task. The Employee Portal has also been valuable during Open Enrollment. Donna said: 

“We can now communicate a lot of information to our associates. We can add a banner so that when an associate lands on the Welcome page of HR Now, they can immediately see the Open Enrollment dates; from when it opens, to when it closes, and see a reminder to ‘Don't forget to do it’. This has helped communicate Open Enrollment much better than before we had the Portal.”

Case Creation by Employees

From the HR Now Employee Portal, associates can open a case that is routed to the HR Service Delivery team. Donna said:

“With HR Now, our associates can monitor their line of inquiry with HR very effectively. This is a capability our employees didn’t have before implementing Dovetail and I am sure it has enhanced the employees’ experience of HR Services.”

Employee Personas and Data Permissions

Dovetail's Employee Persona feature, along with data permissions, allows HR to limit access to data and information based on shared attributes like language, geography, job title, department, job grade, and union affiliation. This means that HR can restrict access to content by the employee's specific Persona. For example, HR Business Partners and associate employees at Breakthru only see information tailored to their specific Persona. Also, employees in different states only see content related to the laws applicable to their respective states. Ultimately, by leveraging Dovetail's Employee Personas feature, Breakthru can now share personalized content to different groups of employees.

Knowledge Base

So far HR Service Delivery has created 267 Knowledge Articles (known as Solutions within the Dovetail Knowledge Base) with answers to common employee questions that employees can access from the Employee portal. The majority of these articles revolve around employee benefits and how to use Workday. Other high usage Knowledge Articles include answers to questions about accessing pay slips, and W2s or T4s. From the Employee Portal interface, associates can use keywords to search Knowledge Articles  to find answers to their questions (in the same way Google search enables users to find what they are looking for). Every time an associate finds an answer in this way, a case is “deflected” from HR, saving valuable HR resources.

Employee Wellness

Breakthru has an associate Wellness department that offers seminars on financial wellness, through Fidelity, or emotional wellness, through the company EAP. This means that when associates are searching for help, they can also find seminars or other activities that can support them. This is another example of how Employee Portal software can enhance the employee experience.

These are just some of the capabilities of Dovetail’s Employee Portal software. Click here to find out more features.

Tier 1 - HR Service Delivery Team Support

At the Tier 1 level, Donna’s team of seven HR Service Delivery Specialists resolve questions that the associates were not able to resolve for themselves on the Employee Portal (Tier 0).

Questions the team receives from associates include: employee referrals and referral bonuses, reimbursements for the company Education Assistance Program, questions about leave of absences, policy and benefits inquiries, and general ‘how to’ questions on Breakthru’s ERP system. All these questions are managed through Dovetail’s HR Case Management system where the HR Service Delivery team has a wide range of capabilities at their fingertips. They include:

Case Tracking & Management

Dovetail HR Case Management enables the HR Service Delivery team to monitor, track and resolve cases. Dovetail allows for automated escalation workflows, or manual escalation. HR Service Delivery team members and associates are kept informed with emails and notifications that are automatically generated.

Case Visibility

Dovetail offers 360 degree case visibility. Commenting on this aspect of Dovetail, Donna said: 

“My HR Service Delivery team always makes sure every associate is given the time and attention necessary to resolve each case. Because we have the visibility that Dovetail provides, a case no longer gets lost in somebody's yellow pad of paper or post-it notes. The case is now there in front of us on the HR Case Management Console, and we will use all our resources to get it resolved before we close the case.”

Knowledge Base

Donna’s team are able to find answers to most of the questions within Dovetail’s HR Case Management knowledge base. Those that the team are unable to resolve are escalated to Tier 2 support.

Note: All these HR Case Management capabilities are accessible to Tier 2 and Tier 3 HR Support.

For a complete list of Dovetail’s HR Case Management capabilities check out HR Case Management: The Ultimate Guide.

Tier 3 - Highest Level of HR Support 

Questions that come through to Tier 3 are managed by Payroll, Benefits, HRIS, or local HRBPs.

Talking about the benefits of Dovetail within the new HR Shared Service Delivery Model, Donna said: 

“Now with Dovetail, we can track and trace cases that come in, which, if you were at one of our locations and you didn’t have a case management tool, you would have to use paper, email, or have a remarkable memory! Also, we can now share with the local HR teams (our key stakeholders) cases that need their attention. So, if a case is received, and it needs to go to the local HR team, we can move it, with all of its content, to the rightful owner for it to be resolved. And the great thing is, it leaves an audit trail, so we're still able to track that case.“

While it took a concerted effort, the solution didn’t take long to get implemented. Andrew said:

“From start to finish, it took us only 6 months to set up the new Multi-tiered HR Shared Services organization, which   included implementing Dovetail HR Case Management with Employee Portal. The capabilities that Dovetail’s software offers has enabled our new multi-tiered approach to HR Service Delivery. While it was a change for our HR COE’s, they quickly took to Dovetail and they have all told me they cannot imagine operating without it since the case management features are much easier to use and improve collaboration.”

Dovetail HR Case Management Reporting

Dovetail Software HR Case Management Reporting Report Andrew wanted the HR Service Delivery team to generate and give insight on the associates’ questions back to the HRBPs at each of the Breakthru locations, so that they could better understand their associates’ concerns and make improvements where necessary. This would not only enhance the employee experience, but also improve operational efficiency. His vision was for the HR Shared Service Delivery team to become the “behind the curtain partner” to the HRBPs. HR Service Delivery would manage case work and look for trends in data to answer questions, such as: What's going on in the HRBPs environment that they might need to know so that they can address common issues? HRBPs could then “take those cases out of the system”. The idea was that insights generated by the HR Service Delivery would take the quality of HR Services to the “next level”.

Therefore, part of Donna’s mission was to determine how to structure HR Service Delivery reporting so that Dovetail’s HR Case Management would become invaluable to the HRBPs they support. Speaking of the importance of reporting for Breakthru, Donna said:

“I believe reporting from within Dovetail Reporting & Analytics is going to be very powerful for us over the next 12 to 24 months. That's going to be the big driver of HRBPs to us, knowing that we can provide them with very robust, impactful information and insight. If we can go back to the HRBPs and say ‘Hey, here's not only how many employee cases your area submitted, but here's what it looks like to us, and you might want to share this information with your managers in the warehouse, because we're getting a lot of issues about this’, that will be great. To me the HR Service Delivery team’s value proposition is not just the lightning speed of response, but also the ability to give back insight and information to the local Breakthru HRBP teams. They need to have this data to improve the employee experience and quality of service for the associates they look after. That's why I see the reporting that I can access in Dovetail as being so valuable as we move forward.”

And commenting on the future of reporting, Donna said:

“I appreciate Dovetail’s efforts to continually enhance features and functionality, particularly the reporting capabilities, which we see as critical to HR's role as a business-focused function.” 

HR Team’s Empathy Combined With HR Case Management Software Improves Employees' Working Lives 

Donna gave two examples of how the new way of organizing HR Service Delivery with the support of Dovetail software has made the associates’ work-lives better: 

Example 1.    “We deal with a lot of people in really hard jobs. Just think about somebody who's working at night in a warehouse for example. They’re lifting heavy boxes of our bottled products and putting them on conveyors, or loading them on trucks from a forklift. These are hard, physical jobs, and when something goes wrong, that's when people reach out to us. This is somebody who's already got a very stressful, physical job, who is stretched for time, who works a late shift, and maybe sleeps late in the day, and is trying to connect up with someone who can help them. When this associate calls us in the HR Service Delivery team and has an issue, my team is empathetic, they look at every case. They look at the details of every case which Dovetail ensures is tracked, which makes it easy for the HR Service Delivery Specialist to reach back out to the associate to get the information they need to answer the associate and resolve the case.“ 

Example 2.    “In a recent associate case, a warehouse worker's banking information was compromised. The worker received a new debit card but struggled to enter the correct account number into our HRIS system to get paid. Despite working with an HR Shared Services Specialist for several days, the worker remained confused and upset. However, thanks to the empathetic approach of the HR Service Delivery team and Dovetail's HR Case Management system, we were able to spot the open case and bring it to the attention of local HR. The warehouse worker was able to get hands-on help from the local level HRBP and so was able to enter the correct information. The HR Service Delivery team then ensured that Payroll was informed, and the associate was paid promptly. We were able to more effectively manage this case thanks to case visibility in the Dovetail HR Case Management system.”


Breakthru Beverage Group was facing a number of challenges in delivering HR Services to its employees, including inefficient decentralized HR Services, a remote workforce, and difficulty in managing employee growth due to M&A activity. To overcome these challenges, the company adopted a Multi-tiered HR Shared Services Model, set up a new HR Service Delivery team and acquired Dovetail HR Case Management and Employee Portal software. By using Dovetail’s software, Breakthru has improved HR Services efficiency, enhanced the employee experience, and paved the way towards a data-driven HR function. 

When asked if she would recommend Dovetail HR Case Management and Employee Portal software, Donna said:

“Unequivocally, for a number of reasons. The first is because compared to other implementations I’ve worked on with other software providers, Dovetail is so easy to implement. Secondly, I think that the Dovetail interface is really user friendly and simple to use, and HR people like that ‘ease of use’. In fact, having worked with other case management software, I found that Dovetail has a much better user interface. Lastly, the quality of people that Dovetail has on board, many of whom have long tenures, is excellent. So they have ‘been there, done that, and know what they are doing.’ This has given me peace of mind." 

Andrew added:

“One of the more surprising features of Dovetail, that we weren’t thinking about, was the performance of their Support team. Whatever challenges we have, that we cannot figure out, the amazing team at Dovetail is always prompt in providing support. They listen to us and our challenges, and take very seriously how they can make the tool work better for us. Two years on from adopting and implementing Dovetail's software, I am beyond convinced we made the right decision.”

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Kelly Frisby
Written by Kelly Frisby

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