SaaS versus BPO

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

The HR Outsourcing Association (HROA) just completed a series of webinars on SaaS and HR BPO. There was a wide range of HROA industry experts bringing their real world experience on each panel including Accenture, ADP, Aon Hewitt, Futurestep, IBM, ISG, NorthgateArinso, Oracle/Taleo, and more.

SaaS or BPO is Not the Question

The conversation was largely about the difference between SaaS and the ERP systems included in most current BPO deals. It was not about using only SaaS or only BPO. SaaS can and does fit into BPO. I expect to see lots of growth in SaaS and BPO combinations in the next few years as SaaS platforms scale and grow in handling complexity.

SaaS is a Success Story of Innovation

The rise of SaaS was also fueled by the recessionary pressure to lower HR costs. Pre-downturn, HR leaders strongly preferred the customization power of ERPs to conform to a client’s policies and processes. Now the acceptance of the speed and economic advantage of configuration and standardized processes makes SaaS a viable option for an increasing array of HR services and even HR management system infrastructure (HRMS).

BPO service providers are also prime sources of many SaaS applications:

  • SAP and Oracle offer cloud HRMS used as the core for most HRO platforms such as: Genpact Hosted HRMS Platform, Infosys TalentEdge, CGI Oracle HCM, Caliber Point Republic, TCS HR platform
  • Proprietary systems include: ADP Vantage HCM and Workforce Now, NorthgateArinso ResourceLink Aurora, Preceda, and MoorepayHR, Ceridian DayForce and HRevolution
  • Talent management applications including RPO services have been so popular that Oracle snapped up Taleo, IBM acquired Kenexa, and SAP bought SuccessFactors.

Selection and Implementation Commonalities

The buyer experience has common elements whether selecting SaaS or BPO.

  • The upfront client planning process is the same: identify goals and objectives aligned with business and HR strategies; gather cost, process, and performance data to build a business case; consider enterprise risk; etc.
  • Vendor selection: do not just select the service; ensure there is a proven record of vendor performance and solid evidence of collaborative client relationships.

SaaS is not Self-Installing

While the total time and effort may be less, all the traditional elements remain. Webinar panelists warned that even if the decision has been made to use SaaS, do not underestimate the time and effort to make a vendor selection, manage change, gain buy-in, and project management implementation.

Even though one of the advantages of SaaS solutions is faster and “easier” implementations, it will still take buyers time and effort to standardize processes and data and to determine the configurations. Make sure that as a buyer, you know and plan for the skill and effort needed. Like BPO, experience says to consider a phased in rollout starting with one service / process and bring the learning forward to the rest of the implementation.

Next time, we will explore to SaaS or not to SaaS.

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Explore posts in the same categories: HR BPO, HR Outsourcing Association, HROA, SaaS

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