Catching Up with ADP

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

The recent passing of long-term U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg reminds us of his early role in the formation of what became ADP, a founding member of HR outsourcing. In the early 1950s he was engaged in selling insurance and sold a policy to two young New Jersey businessmen, Henry and Joseph Taub. The Taub’s were pioneering a then new concept; payroll outsourcing. The brothers knew payroll processing and Lautenberg knew sales and marketing. Lautenberg took a risk and joined the Taub brothers and together they created a new industry.

Establish Operating Principles

By the time the company incorporated in 1961 the three leaders established principles that still guide the company some 60 years later. Following are a few of the principles they put in place.

Focus on Business Markets that Offer Significant Growth Opportunities

ADP has always pursued growth through new market opportunities, both by expanding it service lines and by entering new geographies. Much of the early growth was through acquisitions, as well as organic growth. Lautenberg retired as CEO from ADP in 1982 having made over 100 acquisitions!

Over time, ADP became a global player. An early acquisition was GSI, a large payroll and HR services company in Europe. The latest 2013 acquisition is Payroll S.A. to expand LATAM payroll capabilities to Chile, Argentina, and Peru. In the last few years major acquisitions included Workscape (benefits), The RightThing (RPO) and SHPS (benefits).

Embrace Technological Change to Enhance Product and Service Offerings

By the early 1960s ADP had moved from manual operations to the pre-computer punch cards and on to leasing its first computer: an IBM 1401 mainframe. That willingness to continue to embrace the new is seen in ADP’s successful launch of a series of cloud-based SaaS HR technology and BPO service platforms, including Workforce Now (1k-20K employees), Vantage HCM (50-3k employees), and GlobalView for multi-nationals. Together, the three services support more than 40k clients.

The company has also launched extensive mobility options, including RUN powered by ADP for small business mobile payroll and ADP Mobile Solutions for access to a broad range of information and transactions spanning time and attendance to benefits and pay cards.

Attract and Retain Motivated and Talented People

ADP has grown into a $10bn global outsourcing business with one of only four remaining AAA credit ratings in the U.S. With ~570k clients across 125 countries, we know customers support its line-up of services and proprietary developed technologies. What about people? A few recent awards tell the story:

  • Ranked second on Fortune’s 2012 list of America’s Most Admired Companies in Financial Data Service
  • Ranked in the Top 50 on IDG’s Computerworld 2012 list of the 100 Best Places to Work in Information Technology (IT)
  • Named to the 2012 Working Mother 100 Best Companies, for the third time.

We therefore need to ask the question of prospective purchasers: does your prospective or current HRO service provider have long-term guiding principles and can you see evidence of them in action? Because ADP does.

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