Archive for the ‘HRO Services’ category

Mercer on the Move

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

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

This week I attended Mercer’s always well managed and informative analyst forum in Boston, MA. The meeting was focused on the talent consulting line of business.

Talent Management on the Rise

Mercer research indicates that human capital issues are a top CEO concern and managing talent is becoming a board of directors’ issue, moving beyond the traditional CEO succession planning and compensation to overall talent and workforce planning. The new Mercer Talent Barometer Survey, which was introduced at the 2013 World Economic Forum, reports that 60% of the 1,200 global companies surveyed are investing more in talent, but only 30% feel that their workforce plans are highly effective.

The business of talent has become both exciting and disruptive, with possible new entrants, globalization, media, innovations, and opportunities. (Talk about new entrants, eHarmony is considering getting into the talent matching game!)

With a possibility of double-digit growth, the talent group looked at how to grow across the talent value chain by expanding its services, tools and technology offerings for talent, rewards, and communications to increase growth and leverage Mercer’s depth of experience and capabilities.

The answer will become apparent over the next few months as more packaged solutions are launched that combine consulting, information, and technology to meet the needs of clients that want a less-customized consulting approach with “off-the-shelf” packaged and reusable services and tools.

Workforce Planning Versus HR Analytics

Some elements that will be leveraged are already mature and solid revenue producers. Surveys, benchmarks, and analytics for compensation/total rewards and job structures are a more than $200m line of business. Globalization of the revenues is already well on its way, with about equal distribution from North America, Europe, and emerging markets across 57 countries.

Instead of focusing on HR analytics, Mercer is emphasizing data acquisition and integration, data modeling, as well as data visualization as it applies to a wide range of workforce and data that drives business results. This may mean a consulting and outsourcing services engagement, it may mean workshops and training, or self-service use of integrated SaaS technology platforms with one or more Mercer products.

Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast

There are a lot of moving parts in Mercer’s strategy to create an integrated talent solutions portfolio.

It is brought together under the go-to-market Talent Impact label that includes new and existing products and services to forecast, engage, mobilize, reward and assess talent. Behind the scenes Mercer will be streamlining its own architecture into fewer and more integrated technology platforms to support the new offerings.

There is a lot to be done in a short time, but that is in alignment with the “think big, start small, and move fast” philosophy of Orlando Ashford, senior partner and president of Mercer’s talent business. Mercer is on the move!

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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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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.

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Benefits Outsourcing is Blooming

May 9, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Benefits administration is producing a bountiful crop of new and expanding services. Recent contract award announcements included ADP, Aon Hewitt, Ceridian, Equiniti, Fidelity, Mass Mutual and Merrill Lynch. A wide range of industry segments were represented: banking; food; education; non-profits; hi-tech; pharmaceuticals; and travel. This week, I have taken a look at some of the newer benefit outsourcing “crops” that are starting to grow nicely.

Managed Retirement Accounts

Fidelity’s relatively new managed retirement account offering – Fidelity Portfolio Advisory Service at Work – was designed to address the low rate of adequate preparation for retirement by many employees by combining Fidelity Investments plan sponsor customized portfolio active management services with auto enrollment and available advisory services to help bridge the gap in achieving retirement goals from a defined contribution plan. The service grew in both participants and assets by 50% in 2012. Already in 2013, another 135 new clients have been added, bringing the total to more than 1,800 plan sponsors.

  • Fidelity awarded a contract for Portfolio Advisory Service at Work by ADM.

Health and Wellness

ADP’s Vitality wellness solution supports employers with between 50 and 1,000 employees manage rising healthcare costs and also reduce employee absenteeism. Vitality’s incentive-based program includes an interactive wellness portal, health risk assessments, biometric screenings and personalized wellness plans with recommended goals and activities. It integrates with social networking sites, mobile applications and fitness technologies; and when employees achieve planned goals, they earn points towards lowering their health plan contributions. The service is also integrated with ADP’s payroll services.

  • ADP awarded a contract by Jackson Companies for ADP Vitality services.

Benefits Bouquet Bundles

HRO buyers want multiple related services from one vendor under one contract; and health and wellness lends itself to packaging separate services into bundles. Ceridian’s LifeWorks.com combines EAP, work-life, and wellness services into one program with its own portal and mobile access. Also available is Health Coaching – a program for high-risk employees that provides access to comprehensive health assessments and personalized guidance programs – and Client Value Dashboard – included for employers to monitor reports usage data and ROI information.

  • Ball State University chooses Ceridian’s LifeWorks.com

Private Employer Exchanges

Mercer’s Marketplace allows employers to improve management of their benefits spending and administrative responsibilities for active employees. Employers determine how much to contribute toward the cost of their benefits program and can select from a range of insured and self-funded products and providers. The platform includes full benefits outsourcing and provides employees with call center and online decision support.

  • Mercer recently announced names of 10 of its 20 national, regional and state carriers that have joined Mercer Marketplace for providing core medical and voluntary benefits.

A good garden has a variety of plants. Some base crops are evergreen like benefits enrollment and management services, while others are changed out to meet growing market demand. Benefits HRO: how does your garden grow? Very well thank you.

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HRO SaaS for the Small Business Employer

May 3, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

SaaS systems for HR administration and payroll have opened up the small business market to the benefits of web-based HR systems with self-service and easier implementations. The rapid uptake by clients is testimony that a ‘sweet spot’ has been reached in cost, ease and value.

MoorepayHR

I followed up with Anne Fitzpatrick, Moorepay managing director, for an update on how MoorepayHR, a cloud-based SaaS payroll and HR administration platform with BPO services, is doing one year after its launch in the U.K. small business market.

Moorepay, a NorthgateArinso (NGA) subsidiary, is already “large” in the U.K. small business market with >10,000 clients. However, past success does not guarantee future success. The company saw the need for an integrated HR and payroll platform and wanted to achieve this in its own way by combining new technology with its existing BPO managed payroll and HR services, including on-hand subject-matter experts for guidance on employee issues, into a business process as a service (BPaaS) service.

At first there was some concern if the market was ready for a SaaS multitenant cloud service. Moorepay quickly found that buyers understand the cloud based on their own experiences as consumers and were actually eager for the new service. By the end of April, MoorepayHR had signed its 1,000th customer, and this week the entire company is holding a company-wide celebration!

The client base is 80% new and 20% from existing clients.57% of clients add on payroll, and even more select one or more of the BPO options, led by compliance support for employment law and health and safety advisory.

Moorepay will be adding more offerings to the system, including a newly-released ‘lite’ version. Next for the company is the rolling-out of an advanced version that adds functionality for recruiting, performance management and learning. Targeted at businesses with up to 500 employees, MoorepayHR will be expanded to up to 1,000 employees in the near future.

RUN Powered by ADP

ADP first introduced its RUN system nationally in the U.S. in 2010 for the very small market (1-49 employees). More HR features and payroll functionality have been added to the SaaS cloud-based mobile platform on a regular basis. In addition to ease-of-use, RUN offers a 24×7 help desk with certified HR professionals and an online HR library. RUN added its 200,000th customer in April 2013.

Two Vendors, One Success Story

Both Moorepay and ADP understands that clients of any size have similar needs. As Anish Rajparia, president of ADP’s small business services division, commented: “Small business owners demand flexible tools and resources tailored for them to help manage the risks associated with running their business.”

There are already a variety of options in the market for the small business owner and I am sure we will see many more. One size never fits all, and I am pleased to see that this class of buyer now has HRO choice.

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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 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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