Bang the HRO Drum Slowly

In my blog last week, Don’t Rain on my HRO Parade, it was fun accentuating the positive signs of health returning to the HRO market. This week I’m taking another look at the latest NelsonHall HR Outsourcing Confidence Index, this time with a moderating eye.  

Total contract values are starting to rise as scope slightly increases, but remain far below historic levels. HRO contracts are still smaller in scale and scope, and there are fewer $100,000+ deals. Further, more deals are occurring in the mid-market, and platform HRO is making inroads, both of which will also lower the average total contract value. All these factors look to become part of the new normal, at least for the foreseeable future.

While the grand plan for multinationals may still be to go global, deal patterns indicate organizations are starting with a more regional approach with fewer countries in the initial roll out. Fewer service lines are also now typical, with payroll and basic HR administrative processes remaining strong as the entry point for companies looking to standardize processes across the enterprise.

 This continues to make it look like the era of multi-process HRO is over. And yet, part of what has traditionally buoyed HRO service providers is follow-on contract expansions of scale and scope, including new services. That approach will only grow more important, putting greater emphasis than ever on making sure the initial client experience is as smooth and positive as possible to build the base for attracting more share of the HRO wallet. With buyers demonstrating willingness to go with multiple vendors and multiple stand-alone services, the role and value proposition of a primary vendor needs to be refocused and honed to meet today’s reality.

Frozen decision-making is finally thawing, albeit very slowly. Service providers report that about 20 percent of buy-side organizations remain iced up on sourcing decisions, down only three percent from the previous quarter. Other inhibitors are reducing in impact, but do remember that given continued economic uncertainty, getting senior management’s attention on making a decision for a major change and financial commitment like HRO will still be difficult.

Expect buyers to continue wanting HRO solutions that do not require large upfront investments and provide robust technology at a transparent price. HRO vendors are increasingly emphasizing the business value in their propositions, which is important to build a bridge for the future. At the same time, buyers are increasingly looking for proof points of real business results before they are willing to commit to crossing the bridge with a service provider. 

The news is moderately good for HRO, but bang the heralding drum a bit slowly, as the celebration parade is not here yet.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

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Explore posts in the same categories: hr outsourcing, hro, HRO contracts, HRO providers, hro research, mid-market HRO, multi-process hro, nelsonhall, payroll outsourcing

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