Archive for the ‘Cloud’ category

HRO Inflection Points

June 28, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Everywhere around us inflection points are occurring. Inflection points are a sign that change is occurring that will create a new order of things. Whether we see them, understand their long-term implications, and leverage them to our advantage is another issue.

Social Inflection Points Impact HRO

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two issues impacting marriage law that will change who is entitled to marriage-related federal benefits.

Major social change invariably impacts HR and HRO services, and the marriage law rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court will have wide-ranging implications for workplace benefit plans in at least 12 states.

The long-term implications may take many years to become clear, but leveraging in the short term has already begun. ADP was the first HRO vendor I saw tweet about the court’s ruling by announcing an upcoming webinar on the changes to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Mercer quickly followed with a ‘benefits administration alert’ letter.

Technology Inflection Points Impact HRO

As a disruptive technology, SaaS has started a global “cloud war” that is only just beginning. HR and HRO are just a small piece of the IT landscape and we will see skirmishes as new entrants and long-term leaders battle for market share, industry leadership and shareholder value as they transform not only technology offerings, but revenue streams and business models.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison has been in the news for the last two weeks reporting on earnings that were already impacted by SaaS and the cloud war. Here was one of the industry’s titans comparing Oracle’s SaaS revenues (annualized at ~$1bn) to comparable revenues posted by perennial competitor SAP and upstart Workday!

Upgrade or rip-and-replace decisions are becoming imminent for HR clients and HRO services providers. Many vendors, including Ceridian, Mercer and Talent2, are already developing integrated service platforms and more cloud offerings for organizations of all sizes.

Client Inflection Points Impact HRO

To identify current trends in HRO customer requirements I reviewed current (2013) sources, including NelsonHall’s Targeting Payroll BPO market analysis and HR Outsourcing Confidence Index, and also HRO vendor discussions. Further, I reviewed a research survey by Mandy Sim, a University Teaching Fellow with the Business School at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, entitled the HRO Adoption Survey Report 2012, which identified key Asia-Pacific HRO practices based on a survey conducted on delegates who attended the HRO Today Forum APAC 2012.

Following are my findings on what today’s HRO clients, across service lines and geographies, are wanting from prospective vendors:

  • Value for price, balancing cost with improved outcomes and business impact
  • Standardization of processes and technologies
  • Advanced subject-matter expertise and best practices
  • Scalability across services and geographies
  • Access to new tools, technologies and services.

Ready or not, change is coming to HRO. Are you ready for how will it impact you and your organization?

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Catching Up with ADP

June 20, 2013
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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HRO and Innovation – Getting Practical

May 31, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Innovation in multi-process HRO (MPHRO) has been a topic of discussion, and some contention, since the early mega-deals that created the modern MPHRO market more than ten years ago.

Even in the early days there was a desire for innovation, but there was also a lack of common definitions and mutual understanding, along with difficulty in articulating innovation in contract language.

There was an even greater barrier – systems spaghetti. Early MPHRO clients had highly-customized ERP infrastructure, aging legacy systems, and third-party applications, much of which may have been non-centralized and non-integrated. Each major customer was in their own bubble of services and systems. It quickly became apparent that it would be hard to add new and different innovations within the constraints of the contracts and the technologies.

Platforms for Innovation

Major MPHRO service providers now have global multi-client service delivery and data centers with sophisticated workflow processes. Early clients have been moved bit-by-bit into the common support infrastructure, even if they remain on their own, licensed ERP systems.

Many HRO clients are ready for increased standardization and multi-client platforms to reduce cost and to improve performance. Innovative cloud-based SaaS and services platforms are opening up new services to the mid-market and parts of the large client market:

  • Clients on a shared service platform benefit from ongoing incremental improvements
  • Clients benefit from access to new products and services without paying a significant portion of the R&D needed for a one-off innovation.

Some tension between continuous improvement and innovation is natural, as the line between an “included enhancement” and what is “new and different to be added as an extra charge” looks very different depending on whether you are a buyer or a supplier.

Collaborative Innovation

Client user groups support both HRO improvement and innovation. Vendors were originally reluctant to let clients communicate with each other (partially because the clients might “gang-up” on the vendor – and sometimes they did!).

Companies like IBM and Xerox were leaders in developing client advisory boards. These interactive groups provide feedback on the services, give input into common needs, and even offer guidance on parts of the vendor’s development roadmap. They are not just “the voice of the customer”; they are also a built-in base of beta testers. Willingness to put some skin into the game is also a great way to test market viability and further strengthen relationships.

Infrastructure of Innovation

Buyers can develop their processes for HRO innovation in the following ways:

  • Assess vendors for innovation capabilities as part of the selection process
  • Develop the language and mutual expectations for measurable innovation upfront and include in the terms of contract. Include who pays, and when, determine if there will be vendor incentives, and clarify the client’s role
  • Use the governance process to jointly monitor, manage, and measure improvements and innovations over the course of the relationship.

The good news is that we are beginning to build the HRO infrastructure for future innovation; common language, standardized multi-client platforms, and client user groups.

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Moorepay’s Roadmap to Success is in the Cloud

October 4, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Moorepay is a payroll and employment service provider in the U.K. with over 10,000 clients and it is a part of NorthgateArinso (NGA). Earlier this year I blogged about the launch of its new HR and payroll platform service for the small employer market in the U.K. This week, I spoke with Ann Fitzpatrick, Moorepay managing director, for an update.

In a brief recap, MoorepayHR is a cloud-based SaaS and BPO service built on NGA’s Preceda SaaS platform that is customized for the U.K. market and combined with Moorepay’s payroll and HR services such as employment law and health and safety advisory.

Cloud Opens the Small Employer Market

Most major HRO vendors do not attempt to reach the small employer market, which is just what Moorepay serves. Certainly small employers want professional and modern services, but until the rise of streamlined HRO platforms in the cloud, the costs were unaffordable for both clients and vendors. In the U.S., ADP has had such great success with Workforce Now, it launched a larger version called Vantage HCM. Now, employers in the U.K. can have the same level of service as larger companies at very affordable price points.

The Roadmap to Success

There are three levels of service, each with its own pricing openly displayed right on the company’s website. Payroll is available as an option with each of the service levels.  Approximately 40% of clients are currently adding payroll. In a bit of a nice surprise, ~80% of customers are choosing the highest level that comes with client services, making it a real BPO offering.

A 1Q 2013 launch is planned for the highest level of service, HR Advanced, which will add modules for talent management, recruiting, and remuneration. That will make the service more valuable for employers in the 100-400 range with more complex HR needs.

With its large base of payroll clients, Moorepay will later market the new system and services to its existing clients to allow conversion to the new system and added services.

Finally, Moorepay is receiving good support from the NGA Preceda team and they will work together to ensure the technology development roadmap is completed in the near future, including mobile and tablet access.

The Proof is in the Pudding

The new system has just reached its three-hundredth customer and all of these customers are new to Moorepay. The company now has a solid base of wins and users to move forward with its multi-stage approach to growth.

The small employer market is clearly hungry for such a service. Even before launch, there were hundreds of inquiries, and the number of inbound leads has rapidly increased. You know something is going well when customers are lining up at your door!

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Oracle Buying Taleo: Is It a Good Deal?

February 20, 2012

As Howie Mandel always says to his guests after they’ve pressed the button and say “Deal!” on the TV show Deal or No Deal—”but was it a good deal?” Time will of course tell, but I do believe Oracle has made a very good deal. As the acquisition was announced just last February 9, I’ll briefly recap what had happened.

Oracle announced an agreement to buy Taleo for $46 per share, an 18% premium over Taleo’s stock price the day before the announcement, equating to $1.9 billion. As Taleo’s board has approved the acquisition, it is now subject to normal regulatory approval and is expected to close by summer. This follows SAP’s announcement on December 3, 2011 to acquire SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion. I had blogged about my take on the acquisition last December 13, 2011, stating that SuccessFactors is a provider of talent management software, but software alone does not get at the core of what makes for effective talent management. First, let me state that I also feel that SAP buying SuccessFactors was a good deal, albeit a steep price, as cloud-based software, including talent management is clearly on the rise and expected to continue to grow. NelsonHall has seen a large increase in the number of cloud SaaS HR services contracts and nearly 15% of HRO contracts in 2011 also included talent management software, often performance management, mostly in the mid-market.

Getting back to Oracle, Taleo provides cloud-based talent management software as well, so this is also a good deal, but how does that make this different? Because Taleo adds recruitment capability that Oracle did not have before. And although SuccessFactors provides recruitment software as does Taleo, Taleo also has an applicant tracking system that according to NelsonHall’s 2011 RPO report is the most widely used recruitment technology and applicant tracking system, utilized by approximately 80% of all RPO vendors for their clients, Oracle’s PeopleSoft had been in sixth place. The RPO report also noted that approximately 45% of all recruitment technology was platform-based. Taleo also has a business edition, popular in the mid-market for clients seeking a more standardized solution, used by vendors including Alexander Mann Solutions and Pinstripe. According to NelsonHall’s HRO forecast, RPO will have the highest growth of all HR services through the forecast period of 2015.

In summary, I think both acquisitions by SAP and Oracle are good; especially as clients continue to focus on talent management and recognize the need to have integrated technology and processes, most importantly supported by leadership that understand this. I’m in the final stages of my learning BPO research interviews and I‘m seeing a clear trend that learning vendors are now also providing talent management software and associated consulting services to their clients along with their learning services. I look forward to aggregating this data that I’ll present at the HRO Today Forum in Washington, DC on May 1st, titled State of the Learning BPO Marketplace, including the Emergence of Social Learning.

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

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Is HRO at the Table – the Investment Table?

February 10, 2011

IT spend on consulting and infrastructure increased in the fourth quarter of 2010, especially in North America and Asia Pacific.  There were even bright spots in Europe like France and Italy.  Accenture saw its strongest quarter in consulting in 2 ½ years and IBM had its strongest quarter of the last decade.  Increases in outsourcing tend to follow.  For example, at Xerox, now including ACS, BPO was up 11.1%.

The bad news is that major HRO investments often trail at the end of the outsourcing pack.  The good news is that HR and its HRO vendors can see trends coming and prepare to present the strongest business case possible for investment.

ADP was up 7% to $1,663m for Employer Services.  Its bright spot was beyond payroll services, which were up 16% and include benefits administration, MPHRO, and various point solutions.  One-time activities, or smaller add-on services, helped hold up results throughout the recession for many HRO vendors as they were smaller, less risky, and easier to fund investments, but it is hard to have significant growth through small increases in incremental spend.

Aon Hewitt’s Q4 2010 numbers were way up with revenues of $1,151m, an increase of 229%.  Stripping away the impact of the merger, organically HRO was $580m, down 2%.  The same was true at Towers Watson.  For FY Q2 2011, it came in at $791m, but in a pro forma comparison it was down 5%.  Towers Watson completed a lot of integration work in the past year and managed operating margins well at 18.7% for the quarter, but underperformed organic growth expectations.  All of the HRO service providers caught up in last years acquisition frenzy need to ensure they do not miss the current and coming window of opportunity for major HRO decisions and investments.

The business development profile for every HRO client, or hot prospect that wants to do business with you should include the timing and approval process for business case decisions.  Also know what can be done through operating expenses and local discretion.  Even the most solid HRO solution will run into trouble if the funding window is missed and all that is left are the scraps on the table.

Even with investment dollars starting to fly, pie-in-the-sky projects will still be grounded.  I really liked a term I heard in relation to an increase in consumer spend, frugal splurges.  Pragmatic investments that are well supported with facts and figures and direct ties to key business initiatives and business results will have the edge.  Don’t forget to add just a little bite of pizzazz!  Add-on modules, basic features and functions, workflow and service center capabilities are important, but a bit boring.  How will new major HRO investments be riding the tech wave of virtualization, cloud, and mobility – adding to the capabilities of an adaptable workforce of the future, ready to compete, and win today?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall