HRO SaaS Uptake – What, How Much and Where?

As a follow-on to my July 7 blog titled, “SaaS More Than Just Catching On,” let’s today look at what types of HRO SaaS clients are buying, the size of awarded contracts and the industries in which HRO SaaS has had the greatest penetration to date.

The What

By rank order of the most commonly purchased software applications/modules:

• Payroll

• HR administration

• Benefits administration, including benefits planning, health and safety, claims submission, absence management and occupational health

• Employee and manager self-service

• Talent management, including recruiting and learning

• Workforce planning

• Compensation/salary administration

• Employee development for career pathing

• Travel  

The reasons behind the rankings, especially at the top of the list, are pretty self-evident. Payroll leads as it is the most visible and frequently used (and arguably, the most important) service. And HR administration really ties into employee and manager self-service, as one of the primary drivers of SaaS implementation is self-service for cost reduction and employee satisfaction.

The Size

As I noted in my July 7 blog, the mid-market is proving to be the ripest for HRO SaaS. Using Netherlands-based HRO provider Raet as an example – and a good one at that, as it in the past six weeks inked seven new SaaS contracts and one renewal – client company size is ranging from 250 to 12,000 employees. This uptake in the mid-market makes perfect sense, particularly on the lower end, as companies in this space need access to HR technology to enhance their operational efficiency but frequently lack the budget to invest their own capital in purchasing it. In terms of contract sizes, we’re seeing a length range from four to seven years, with an average of five years.

The Industries

In looking across all HRO SaaS contracts awarded thus far in 2010, education is the top industry, followed equally by local government and retail. I don’t necessarily believe there’s any secret sauce as to why these are the top three ranking industries, as organizations in virtually all – including healthcare, media, manufacturing and financial services – may be challenged with a preponderance of multiple divisions and locations, and often have several disparate systems for HR and payroll that do not communicate with each other, causing extra administrative work and duplication of effort, etc. Thus, the driver for most existing and upcoming HRO SaaS contracts is the ability to have one singular system for HR and payroll in order to achieve standardization, data accuracy, cost savings, self-service, timely processing and data, and employee satisfaction.

Due to all the inherent advantages, I believe we will continue to see a growing number of HRO SaaS contracts in the mid-market, across all industries. In addition, but to a lesser extent, I believe we will continue to see combined SaaS and outsourcing contracts such as the one announced on August 10 between MidlandHR and Swan Housing Group. Under this contract, Swan Housing will internally host MidlandHR’s iTrent software – which provides a single platform for HR, payroll, talent management and workforce planning. Swan Housing will simply provide the payroll data via iTrent, and MidlandHR will do everything else, from the structuring of pay and deduction calculations, through to payslip printing and distribution. The advantage of these hybrid-type contracts? Economies of SaaS scale coupled with outsourcing of processes for which internal resources and/or knowledge may be lacking.

Gary Bragar, Senior HR Outsourcing Analyst, NelsonHall

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