Archive for the ‘HRO Innovation’ category

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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HRO and Innovation – a Changing Dynamic

May 14, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Last week the Human Resources Outsourcing Association’s (HROA) Publications & Practices Committee held a webinar on collaborative innovation in HRO with industry experts Lisa Johnson, director of recruiting, North America at Gate Gourmet, Rolf Kleiner, senior vice president and chief innovation officer at Kelly Services, Inc. and Dr. Greg McLaughlin, senior vice president of research & development for Global Targeting, Inc.

Understanding Innovation

Innovation has been a conundrum for years for HRO buyers and suppliers. There are many ways to define the word ‘innovation’ and that makes it hard to be sure each party is speaking the same language. All three experts agreed that open discussions between clients and service providers are needed to develop a mutual understanding of what innovation means in the context of the relationship and contract.

Greg walked us through aspects of innovation range from the conceptual “innovation is an experience”, to the practical “innovation begins with a need and ends with an outcome that creates a competitive advantage.”

Lisa looks for HRO suppliers with the spirit of innovation – backed by experience. Rolf looks for employees who “rise above the white noise” to work on special innovation projects that also support talent management.

Innovation and Continuous Improvement

The HROA Buyers Group’s survey on innovation and continuous improvement showed there is a commonality in basic definition and understanding developing across the community of buyers, service providers, and advisors. From the words of HRO community members:

  • Continuous improvement is an enhancement of a product, service or process that already exists:
    • Increased operational efficiency, improved user experience, ongoing, incremental, and step changes
    • Efficiency and effectiveness gains that “keep pace with the market”
  • Innovation is something new and different:
    • Cutting edge, transformational, precedent setting, competitive advantage, disruptive, and dramatic
    • A significant and often transformational change that, once introduced, “you wonder how you ever lived without it.”

The HRO community is in agreement that continuous improvement and innovation should be a collaborative effort between the HRO service provider and the client:

  • 92% of respondents agree that this collaborative effort is what should be happening between service provider and client, but only 59% see that as true now, with 40% of buyers and only 22% of providers agreeing that collaboration is actually happening in the marketplace right now
  • 77% agreed that innovation should be a collaborative effort among the parties, with agreement from 100% of advisors, 60% of HR practitioners, and 83% of providers.

 The Innovation Gaps

Significant gaps – and therefore opportunities – remain:

  • 75% of respondents said that continuous improvement is in the HRO contract
  • Only 42% agreed that innovation is included in the HRO contract.

In the next blog I will be getting practical about innovation in HRO.

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here.

The Fertile Ground of HRO Innovation

February 9, 2012

Kelly Services’ recent announcement of its new Office of Innovation was fascinating as the company has long been a leader and innovator in the staffing services field. Go global, check. Provide MSP, check. Add RPO, check. Add consulting, check. Launch mobile access applications, check. Supply chain management, check. Its success shows in the results, with 2011 revenues totaling $5.6 billion, a 12% increase over 2010.

To find out more, I had a lively discussion with Kelly Services’ Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Rolf Kleiner. Basically, Kelly Services has already done so much that it is focusing on new solutions and capabilities to remain ahead of the competition and keep up with its many Fortune 500 clients.

According to Kleiner, the company has always done well with the “little I” incremental innovations that improve and enhance its current services and capabilities. Kelly Services is also looking for new “big I” innovations, those that can move the needle on results and set precedents within the company and in the marketplace. It was felt that by adding more visibility and vetting larger scale opportunities, the Office of Innovation will be able to identify, develop, and bring new innovations to market faster.

Kleiner plans to set up a “pull” process for ideas that includes many stakeholder groups including employees, clients, suppliers, and other industry experts. He likened the process to farming. It will take working with the communities of interest on an on-going collaborative basis to develop a harvest of ideas.

There were several items I found especially interesting. One is using this effort as an opportunity for talent management. Some proof of concept and development projects will be managed by the Office of Innovation and will provide highly visible opportunities for those assigned. When projects are managed outside of the normal lines of business, integration and communications will be maintained which brings reality to planning and brings market needs and innovation participation deep into the infrastructure and culture of Kelly Services.

Also, there is a very crisp vision for the strategic initiative and clear criteria for the kind of innovation opportunities that are being sought. There is solid alignment with the goals of the company, scale for sizing market opportunities, and an openness to solutions that could include internal developments, partnerships, supplier networks, etc.

Finally, the selection of Kleiner as head of the Office of Innovation is a strong indication of Kelly Services’ seriousness with this endeavor. He reports directly to the CEO and his previous assignment was as Senior Vice President and General Manager for the KellyOCG group, which provides consulting and outsourcing services. The pulse of the market, the voice of the customer, and the operational beat of the business are all fresh and fertile ground for Kleiner’s new challenge.

Our NelsonHall HRO team always advises clients to look for service providers that can meet today’s needs as well as offer partnership for meeting the needs of tomorrow. How is your HRO vendor focusing on the future?

Linda Merritt, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

HRO Focuses on the Future

February 1, 2012

HRO buyers want service providers that meet today’s needs. Sophisticated buyers also want partners who can help manage changes over time as new service needs and technologies emerge. In a rapidly changing industry, it is not enough to know what customers are buying and what their competitors are currently doing today, each vendor must also invest in the future.

Here are three different ways service providers are focusing on the future:

  • Ÿ   Kelly Services recently opened an Office of Innovation and appointed a Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer to define the next generation of workforce solutions for its global customer base. To meet the rapid rate of workplace changes, Kelly intends to accelerate the process of creating and launching new services. Kelly Services was one of the founders of the temporary services market and has evolved into providing a full suite of services including outsourcing and consulting. Given the company’s history of innovation, it makes sense for Kelly Services to see added strategic focus and investment in order to continue as a market-leading innovator of HRO services.
  • Ÿ   Infosys opened a new ‘Alternative Delivery Model’ HR-shared service center in a Tier 4 town in India. The company considers this as an important strategic move to differentiate its services and benefit clients by providing additional flexibility and competitiveness. Infosys is partnering with local suppliers, like Desicrew, to set up centers in Tier 3 and Tier 4 communities, creating a more sustainable model to access talent and provide long-term career opportunities in other areas of India. My NelsonHall HRO colleague, Gary Bragar, commented that by opening up a center in a Tier 4 city, Infosys can offer clients a reduced offshore price point, with the added promise of greater staff loyalty and lower attrition rates.
  • Ÿ   Lumesse, a provider of integrated talent management applications and services, completed its acquisition of SaaS-based learning provider Edvantage Group last October to add a full suite of learning services including learning management, content development and management, online content delivery, and custom course development. The combined business will have over 1,900 customers in 70 countries worldwide and around 2 million active users of its technology.

Just like buyers and vendors, in following news of the HRO community, we tend to focus more on the current activities and news of the day. Stopping periodically to review HRO business news over a several month period reveals trends and provides clues on service provider strategies for growth and the future.

Lumesse made a big acquisition to quickly add a major new service line. Infosys is adding cost-competitive capabilities for clients and the company should benefit from the reduced operating costs due to lower turnover in the outlying centers. Kelly Services is continuing its heritage of innovation to internally develop and speed to market new capabilities.

There is no single approach to preparing for the future, there are many ways to buy, build, or partner your way forward in HRO.

Linda Merritt, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

Does HRO Stifle Innovation?

September 7, 2011

A question since the earliest days of HRO has been, what about innovation? We all want cake and want to eat it too, and that’s what buyers have always wanted: lower costs, improved performance, and innovation in HR business process management. Even when a deal was structured for the lowest cost pricing and standard SLA performance, clients soon asked “where’s the innovation?”

Knowing if a service provider is a market leader in HRO innovation is important to some clients, especially those companies that use innovation as a competitive advantage. Perhaps an equally important question is can an innovative company risk using HRO and will it help or hurt?

The Forbes List of The World’s Most Innovative Companies may help us determine if HRO providers can be innovative and if HRO is being used by innovative companies. The list is based on an “innovation premium” which is defined as “the premium the stock market gives a company because investors expect it to launch new offerings and enter new markets that will generate even bigger income streams.”

First, can HRO providers be innovative? Well, ADP (#87) is on the list of the top 100 that includes the likes of Apple, Google, Amazon, and Starbucks. Infosys (#15) is on the list and it also offers HRO services. Congratulations to both ADP and Infosys!

Next, can innovative companies risk using HRO? Yes, they can and they do. Here are some of the top 100 companies on the list known to use HRO and their vendor partners. Notable is IBM HRO with at least three clients on the list: P&G, Kraft, and Avon Products. IBM HRO focuses on large market HRO and clearly can be a valued partner in HR transformation with leading innovators.  Other partnerships include Unilever with Accenture; KAO with ADP; Kellogg and PepsiCo with Aon Hewitt; and Agilent with NorthgateArinso. RPO providers are also represented with the triple threat of The RightThing providing RPO support for Amazon, Campbell Soup, and Praxair. I am sure there are many more connections to HRO among the top 100. Congratulations to all, let’s have a piece of cake in their honor!

According to the newly published “The Innovator’s DNA,” the 3P framework for innovation is people, processes, and philosophies that foster innovation as everyone’s job and there are key leadership skills and behaviors than can be developed to weave innovation DNA into the company. Of course HRO, even at its most innovative, cannot make a client an innovator. That must come from within. HRO can support each element of the framework for innovation and become an enabling partner to clients that are innovative or those that are striving to be.

Do you have an innovation premium? Is your HRO service provider capable of enhancing your journey of innovation?

Linda Merritt, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall