Archive for the ‘hr outsourcing’ category

What’s New Again in HRO for 2013

January 15, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Even though predictions are a perennial New Year activity, the truth is that most trends play out over many years. Most HRO “predictions” are more like annual status checks and updates.

Transformation is new again

Several aspects of our old friend, HR transformation, are back on the table for 2013:

  • Operations transformation: new, upgraded, standardized, and integrated HR tools, systems, and processes
  • Strategic transformation: increases in overall HR performance that improve business performance
  • Accelerated transformation: the cycle of transition, standardization, and improvement needs to move at a faster pace than ever; which provider can help you get where you want to go with a track record of getting there faster?

A return to transformation fits with our NelsonHall 2013 HRO trend of value balancing cost and pent up demand for improved operations.

Even with more client and vendor maturity this go-around, we need to ensure that strategic HR transformation goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of the retained staff, HR generalists, and service delivery operations. One can either leverage and empower the other or hold back real progress in both.

Evolution and the use of new HR technologies  

Rapid technology advancement continues across all HRO services and within in each service line, providing a great opportunity for HRO buyers and a challenge for HRO service providers.

  • Easy access: mobility, bring-your-own-device, and cloud-based SaaS impacts every business including HR BPO. Increasingly, not only clients, but end users are expecting the same types of access and functionality from HR as they experience elsewhere.
    • HRO providers with modern platforms can bring these technologies to clients and their employees faster and at less overall cost
    • Service provider investments and the rapid pace of introduction add cost and stress to release cycles for services rapidly becoming table stakes which could pressure margins.
  • Emerging technologies: social media and analytics are new transformation tools, potentially powerful ways to improve performance of HR services and produce business results.
    • RPO leads in integrating the use of social media in recruiting, which helps RPO become a value play in the war for talent. This is a win-win: improved recruiting for clients and fuel for growth for vendors
    • Leading vendors with an active client community including early adopters will be able to create and test new and effective ways to leverage the new technologies that then can be added to service offerings. Learning vendors are already experimenting with effectively incorporating social media and gamification
    • Investments in leading-edge technologies that have not yet found breakthrough acceptance require a long view of growth and profitability, a risk that not all service providers are willing or able to take on.

From the most basic cost-reducing transactions to advanced partnerships in HR transformation, the full and growing range of HRO services has something for every organization in 2013.

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Onward and Upward for HRO in 2013

January 7, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Each year, the NelsonHall HRO team is asked by HRO Today to make predictions for the year ahead. Here is a summary of our featured article, Onward and Upward to kick off our 2013 blog series.

HRO is reaching maturity

There is a growing level of acceptance with less perceived risk in making the HRO decision; value is balancing the focus on cost, and pent-up technology needs will be opening the door to new service provider opportunities.

  • Value and cost are reaching parity for many buyers that want agile new HR capabilities that produce results, including the ability to measure and manage HR issues across the enterprise as well as improve the employee experience
  • The need for core HRMS upgrades and new technology should reach the point of increased budgeted spend; be ready to discuss whether upgraded and bolt-on additions versus a new core HRMS is the better path for increasing business impact and the total cost of ownership.

Breakthrough HR technology for 2013: cloud-based SaaS

Major technology costs will open the door wider for SaaS. As SaaS offerings move “up-stack,” the ecosystem for SaaS support will continue to develop in 2013 via consulting, implementations, integrations, BPO, etc.

  • SaaS HRMS adoption will continue to move fastest for mid-market organizations
  • Expect little large market HR ERP near-term erosion from SaaS HRMS; but cloud-based SaaS HR platforms are disruptive technologies that will quickly move up the value chain and be able to serve larger and more complex organizations
  • Total cost analysis, not just system costs, will be important in the adoption of SaaS HRMS in larger organizations; over time, the ERP per user pricing advantage will disappear, especially if evidence continues to mount of better performance and lower overall costs.

Emerging HR technologies: social media and HR analytics

There is increased interest in how to deploy the newer tools strategically. Look for adoption to slowly build as clients need a certain level of maturity in systems, services, and vision to create real value with the newer HR technologies.

The word for 2013: convergence

It may be a bit early to pick a HRO word of the year, but I think convergence will be a good candidate to cover changing client needs and new and emerging technologies.

Where, when, and how do we bring together the old and the new to create new synergistic capabilities? What can we do with a fully-integrated HRMS with HR analytics? How can we change the delivery of services with strategically deployed social media? Can we bring new magic to the employee experience with mobility and social tools?

As choices increase and grow more complex, confusion and inaction may result. With clear purpose, planning, and great advice and counsel the opportunity is before us all to create a real breakthrough year for HR and HRO in 2013.

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HRO Today Forum Europe 2012 Demonstrates the Value of HRO

November 20, 2012

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

I attended HRO Today Forum Europe in Dublin, Ireland from November 13th to 15th to present my “State of the Learning BPO Marketplace” analysis and to introduce subsequent speakers of the learning track.This conference was different than those I’ve attended in the past as several of the sessions were interactive small group discussions. The small groups allowed us to learn from each other, and created energy and enthusiasm!

Interactive sessions I attended included:

  • The opening recruitment session where we identified top challenges and solutions
  • A leadership development program workshop to identify top challenges and solutions.

There were ~260 registered attendees (the same as in Amsterdam two years ago), of which 87% were in attendance throughout the three days including ~50 HR practitioners. Here are some of the highlights from the forum:

Opening remarks: Elliott Clark, CEO of SharedXpertise, opened the conference by sharing some enlightening data from a recent survey, primarily Europe centric:

  • Twice the percentage of providers think HRO is thriving compared to buyers
  • 77% of vendors think M&A is good for HRO compared to 55% of buyers.

Opening keynote: David Andrews, CEO of AOI and founder of Xchanging, presented “Reshaping the HR Business and Lessons Learned from Across Europe.” David began by talking about the history of HR BPO and how BP was the first company to sign a major HRO contract with Exult in 1998 to obtain 40% cost savings to remain competitive. David’s concluding remarks were that the outsourcing space in the U.K. needs to be bigger since ~$18bn is spent by the U.K. government on back-office processes and only ~$700m is outsourced.

Panel discussion: “State of the Market Debate” was hosted by David Andrews and participants included Accenture, IBM, Logica, NorthgateArinso, and Xchanging. Margaret Spink, Managing Director of HR Services at Xchanging, stated SaaS will be the most important phenomenon in the industry and the mid-market will be the biggest growth area. I agreed with Margaret’s mid-market comment, but spent the next day wondering about SaaS until the Xchanging hosted breakfast when Margaret stated that HRO is not just about technology – I couldn’t agree more! Technology is an enabler and I believe more focus should be on implementation, process, utilization, effectiveness, and achievement of desired outcomes.

General session: The conference concluded with a payroll presentation led by Julie Fernandez of ISG followed by a panel that included SD Worx, Ceridian, and CloudPay. The focus of Julie’s presentation and panel were on multi-country payroll beginning with the benefits that include:

  • Reduced number of payroll providers for better procurement pricing and contract terms
  • Consolidated interfaces to HR
  • Improved visibility and reporting of employee headcount and cost
  • Reduced compliance and financial risk
  • Harmonized payroll processes and improved governance.

Challenges of multi-country payroll include securing buy-in of all the countries and funding. Part of the challenge is the implication that all countries must fit one model using one provider. All three panelists use partners in countries where they are not able to provide service themselves.

Q&As from the multi-country payroll session included:

  • Q: How do you get internal finance to have confidence in the provider to prevent an extra layer of checking on vendor performance?
  • A: CloudPay stated that multi-country payroll reports into the client CFO and that one way to satisfy finance is for the vendor to do more self-audits and disclosure.

An interesting discussion also took place on “cloud” with the panel in agreement that the true meaning is you can do anything from anywhere for anything, but that the industry is not there yet due to the concern of knowing where data resides. The industry will, however, grow into acceptance.

In sum, it was a worthwhile conference for anyone interested in learning, networking, and meeting potential clients. I look forward to HRO Today Forum Europe 2013 in London, November 12th to 14th, expected to be the biggest event yet.

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In Times of Crisis, HRO Business Continuity Means Business: Part 3

November 13, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

A deeper dive into business continuity planning (BCP) will wrap-up the series on how HRO can help clients during a crisis.  

As a HRO buyer, in addition to knowing the plans for transferring services to back-up systems and centers, it is as important to know that your account team will be ready, capable, and dedicated to keeping you and your employees serviced.

Communication and Partnership

Aon Hewitt, Mercer, NorthgateArinso (NGA), and Xerox all stressed the need to communicate early and often with their clients in preparation and throughout a disaster.  

  • “No surprises” is important in an emergency and Mercer began its outreach to clients the Friday before the storm made landfall on how to help meet client needs and to provide updates on Mercer’s plans and preparations.

Disaster Central

Coordination in a crisis is critical when normal operations and lines of communications maybe disrupted.

  • Using its prepared playbook, Xerox sets up a situation room and cross-functional team for handling major events and any contingency needs that arise.
  • For several days after Superstorm Sandy, the Xerox New Jersey HRO office was inaccessible with no power and impassible roads. While designated critical personnel were able to work remotely, normal operations shifted to the partner team in Manila and service levels were maintained throughout including the transfer back to New Jersey.
  • Xerox knew that it wasn’t enough just to have a generator since it would need fuel for perhaps an extended time. It, therefore, already had contracts in place with local suppliers and was able to get fuel and transportation when others couldn’t. In addition to fuel deliveries, Xerox had a bus available to pick up employees from several designated locations.

Practice Makes Perfect

Testing is what makes BCP more likely to work in the real world where no matter how good the plan, unexpected events will occur. Ask how often BCP is reviewed, updated, and tested. 

  • NGA holds surprise BCP tests where no one knows in advance it is coming or the scenario used for the mock disaster.

Aon Hewitt’s BCP covers specific needs by location, skills and knowledge coverage, and technology back-up.  Cross training in advance helps Aon Hewitt ensure the back-up buddy team will be prepared for specific client transactions.

Individualize

Needs vary by client and some may be in different parts of the HR monthly or annual cycle which impacts the services needed during an emergency.

  • An NGA client planning for a new system go-live on January 1st did not want a delay because of Sandy but needed to pull some of its own team away from implementation. NGA was ready and able to step into the gap and is providing the client some peace of mind in difficult circumstances.

Business continuity and disaster recovery can and should be a decision factor in the HRO vendor selection process as it illustrates both sides of HRO, operational excellence, and the care and concern that sets HR and HRO apart from other services.

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In Times of Crisis, HRO Is Caring and Concerned: Part 2

November 9, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Some think caring emergency response may be compromised by HRO, but response capabilities can be better with HRO. Major vendors have multiple service centers and back-up capabilities at levels above what is economically feasible for most organizations. Also, customer care and concern abounds when HRO vendors maintain an internal culture that values and recognizes customer service.

Care and Concern

Experienced HR people make up much of the client-facing service representative staff at HRO vendors of every sort and HR people are wonderfully caring folks, whether they are on your payroll or a service provider.

  • Being There: As mentioned in Part 1, Mercer was prepared in case they took a direct hit from Superstorm Sandy in the Boston area. When needed, Mercer will put up available service personnel in nearby hotels. Even though some folks were personally impacted, 75% of the staff showed up on Monday and 90% showed up on Tuesday.
  • The Spirit of Service is Global: Jodi Hayes-Roth, North American Service Delivery and Operations Leader at NorthgateArinso (NGA), said their representatives feel very loyal and connected to their clients and make every effort to be present even though there are back-up centers available. The spirit of service is as strong in client service centers like Manila as it in the U.S. or Europe.

Practice What You Preach

To have staff remain dedicated to their clients, they need to be treated with the same care and concern. Both NGA and Xerox have client service centers in the Philippines where typhoons and monsoon flooding can impact business services and personal lives. A great business continuity plan (BCP) addresses both issues.

  • Outreach: When the NGA Manila office was impacted by flooding, there was outreach to contact and ensure every employee was safe and accounted for and the team raised funds to help co-workers in need.
  • Safe Shelter: Michael Sigmund, General Manager of Operations at Xerox, recounted what happened when a monsoon hit the Xerox Manila service center that supports many of Ford’s global employees. The building is built with hurricane-standard materials and a generator back-up system and there are sleeping quarters to provide safe shelter for staff and their families. While work can be shifted to the partner center in Michigan, Xerox invested in keeping local employees safe and the employees wanted to support their customers. Even though short staffed, they kept tier 1 services operating while some tier 2 work was transferred. In return the team was recognized at a Ford leadership meeting.

There are many more stories out there of people working anywhere they could find Wi-Fi, getting to work without transportation, and carefully monitoring transfers to protect service levels even in the midst of a declared multi-state disaster.

Recognition of people that demonstrate a high sense of ownership is important.  Aon Hewitt, Mercer, NGA, and Xerox all shared great examples from formal to informal and local to enterprise-wide recognition that they provide. 

Stay tuned next week for more on HRO business continuity planning.

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In Times of Crisis, HRO Has Your Back: Part 1

November 8, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Whether it is a hurricane, typhoon, blizzard, earthquake, or flood, the weather can create a crisis for businesses, customers, employees, public organizations, and service providers alike anywhere around the world.

The latest natural disaster in the U.S. is Superstorm Sandy and it has severely impacted millions of people across several states. Early estimates are upwards of $50bn in damages. The cost assessment does not begin to account for the loss of life, loss of a family’s home and personal belongings, or the impact on small and large businesses in the area. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those impacted.

I reached out to several HRO vendors including Aon Hewitt, Mercer, NorthgateArinso, and Xerox on how they support clients in times of emergencies and how they ensure services are provided when they are also impacted.

Be Prepared and Proactive

Some disasters, like hurricanes, allow time for specific contingency planning in addition to the established business continuity protocols. One of those preparations is to consider the HR service cycle and what is occurring during the impending crisis.

For vendors providing benefits administration services, Sandy was heading into heavily populated business centers during annual benefits enrollment. Examples of actions taken included:

  • Contacting clients: Jocelyn Purtell, U.S. Operations Leader for Mercer, said they began pre-storm planning the Friday before hurricane Sandy made landfall. Mercer considered the impact on its clients and whether the storm would hit its client service center in the Boston area. They then reached out to the clients most likely to be impacted to let them know their plans and preparations.
  • Extending open enrollment periods: Aon Hewitt, Mercer, and Xerox all collaborated with clients on extending the annual enrollment period. One client wanted to quietly allow an extended “correction period,” others extended open enrollment and asked for assistance in communicating with employees to get the word out. Pat Quenan, Aon Hewitt Practice Leadership V.P., reported that 40% of its benefits administration clients extended open enrollment.
  • Amending policies or standard practice: Mercer has been able to make suggestions to clients on how to handle crisis exceptions (e.g., what to do if a short-term disability is in process or ready to expire; how to handle commuter benefits in urban areas affected like New York City; etc.).
  • Providing information: Aon Hewitt knows that retirees may be concerned about any delays to pension check delivery and provided information on its voice response system and website about possible delays in mail delivery by zip code. 

Asking about business continuity and disaster recovery is standard practice in an RFP, and it is important to know a HRO service provider’s capabilities. The reality is something more and is embedded in the strength of client-vendor relationships and culture that values dedicated customer service.

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HRO Yesterday and Today

October 29, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

NelsonHall was pleased to contribute to the HRO Today article Out of the Ashes for the 10th anniversary issue. 

Looking back ten years shows a picture of HR saddled with expensive and paper-heavy manual processes, even after the introduction of the big HR ERPs from PeopleSoft, SAP, and Lawson, providing impetus for an emerging HRO industry.

A New HRO Emerges…

The new HRO industry was full of great ideas and big plans and ready to grow well beyond payroll and benefits administration services. Unfortunately, intentions were a bit ahead of capabilities including the buyers, providers, and technology. Luckily for the industry, most clients and service providers fought through the issues, the losses, the changes in scope, and even changes in providers, to stay with HRO.

One of the biggest changes we have seen is the maturation of the HRO experience and enabling technologies. As the HRO experience has been developed, subject matter expertise has grown, global service delivery networks have been built, processes have become structured and standardized, and technology has advanced with more configuration and less customization.

…Goes Global…

HRO is now global in every sense of the word. Clients are based in every region of the world as are sales and service delivery. The highest revenues are still generated from the established markets like North America and Western Europe; the growth markets in Asia Pacific and Latin America are developing beyond service delivery (supply) for multinationals into internal markets for growing regional businesses (demand). For example, IBM is headquartered in the U.S. and Tata Consulting Services (TCS) is headquartered in India, both have major multi-county multi-process HRO clients in Latin America as well as a growing set of in-region service delivery centers.

… and Gets High Tech

Technology advancement is the great enabler of HRO services. The BPO industry as we know it would not be viable without global low-cost communications and the internet that allows work to be done anywhere at any time. Software advances bring not only better tools to clients, but improved workflow processing to HRO service providers, allowing work distribution to where it can be done most efficiently and effectively. Now an employee in the U.S. may call a service center on or nearshore with a complex issue that creates a tier 2 referral to a center of excellence in a third country using data and analysis derived from the data center in a fourth country.

Web-based services, mobile device access, and social media are all transforming the user experience and bringing more value at affordable prices to HRO. The creation of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) services, HRO platform services that add BPO to SaaS, and the Cloud are bringing more options and affordability to all clients, especially to the mid-market.  

The HRO industry has grown in maturity, capability, and has an even greater future ahead. 

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