Update on Shared Services and HRO

I am on the Human Resources Outsourcing Association (HROA) Publications and Practices Committee and for the November meeting our hot topic was an update on shared services and HRO.

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Value Delivered

All three guest speakers agreed that HR shared services organizations (SSO) remain one of the core transformation trends in HR. Colin Brennan, Aon Hewitt product management and strategy VP, sees that the movement to SSOs and HRO is focusing more on value delivered and less on pure cost.  Clients want to improve both the cost and quality of services like talent management, recruiting, and learning. Clients also want to measure and manage HR issues across the enterprise, whether it is various operating divisions or regions of the world.

Tech Talks

Maribeth Sivak, a principal consultant with ISG, also sees an uptick in interest in SSOs and HRO, but as a follow on to HR technology decisions.  Many companies are facing major and costly upgrades in core HR technology systems, which create the opportunity to consider consolidation into shared services including HRO. Cost is a key driver, of course, but so is a desire to improve the employee experience with mobile and social capabilities as well as improve HR with access to more HR analytics.

Major technology costs also open the door for considering new vendor-provided systems and even SaaS. As SaaS offerings move “up stack” there is and will be a call for BPO service support.

The Chicken or the Egg

What comes first, shared services or HRO? Some start with HRO and others create SSOs first. Either way, clients usually want to get their arms around what they can do first and then look to optimize and increase velocity, often ending up with a blend of both.

At KellyOCG, Kathleen Bienkowski, global shared services VP, sees some organizations that start with shared services continue to evolve into multi-functional general business services as they mature. KellyOCG has its own showcase that demonstrates many of the aspects of a mature SSO: delivery centers, transaction processing, recruitment sourcing, and a knowledge center for global mobility. The contact center is outsourced to another division, Kelly Connect.

What Doesn’t Change

Each of our speakers commented on the continued need to manage major change including:

  • A strong internal sponsor / champion to drive the change
  • A clear vision that articulates the benefits and defines the future state delivery model
  • Change management  in transition and implementation plans
  • A governance structure for performance and issues management.

As both shared services and HRO reach a level of maturity, they are reaching a level of acceptance with less perceived risk in the decision, value is balancing the focus on cost, and pent up technology needs will be opening the door to opportunity. All in all, a great update with plenty of good news!

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