Posted tagged ‘hro’

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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RPO Generation 2.0 is Ready to Go

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

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is one of the younger HRO service lines and it is both growing and maturing quickly. The March issue of HRO Today recognizes the emergence of RPO 2.0.  NelsonHall’s RPO specialist, Gary Bragar, would certainly agree. Gary’s October 2012 Targeting Recruitment Process Outsourcing market analysis highlighted many of the same developments in this rapidly growing HRO segment.

What is New in RPO 2.0?

The rapid growth and incorporation of social media for recruiting is a big part RPO 2.0, one that keeps pushing RPO to the leading edge of innovation in the HRO space.

RPO services are rapidly moving up the value chain, and changing client expectations is the key. While reducing the cost of service provision is always on the table, it is no longer the number one issue. Flexibility and scalability will always remain important as well, given how quickly hiring needs can change.

Today’s RPO 2.0 clients are looking for more value:

  • Improved quality of hires
  • The latest tools and technologies for social and mobile
  • Expertise in accessing talent pools and passive hires
  • Greater focus on candidate experience
  • Analytics and insights, in addition to metrics and reports
  • Improved retention
  • Access to advanced services including employment branding, talent management, talent engagement, and integration with workforce planning.

Clients Simply No Longer Want To Do It

In the last few years, many buyers reduced internal recruiting staff in line with the reduced volume of hires, and they do not want to rebuild and reinvest in the rapidly evolving technologies and advanced skill sets it takes to succeed in today’s competitive, social, mobile, and global recruitment process market.

Buyer Choice is Broad

For every large staffing company that does RPO including Adecco, Kelly, Manpower, and Randstad, there are smaller vendors that specialize in RPO such as Ochre House and Pinstripe.   Most leading RPO vendors of all sizes can offer services in most of the regions of the world as they have partnered and made acquisitions to make their footprints global.

Not long ago, major multi-process HRO (MPHRO) providers either did not provide end-to-end RPO or saw it taken out of contracts. Now, more MPHRO providers have full RPO services strong enough to be offered as standalone services including ADP, Aon Hewitt, Infosys, and IBM.

With RPO 2.0 You Can Have It All

While having it all may still be a bit aspirational for most of us, we are finding evidence that successful client / provider RPO partnerships can improve process efficiencies (e.g., reduce time to hire 20% to 50%), reduce the total cost of hire (often 20% to 30% or more), along with increasing hiring manager and candidate satisfaction.

Imagine what we can achieve with RPO 2.0!

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HR Analytics and Big Data

March 21, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

I recently had the pleasure of moderating a webinar for HR Outsourcing Association (HROA) members on HR Analytics and Big Data on behalf of the Publications and Practices Committee. This was a natural hot topic for our group of HR service providers, advisors, analysts, and buyers as you can hardly read your email without finding a new batch of blogs, webinars, articles, and conferences on analytics and big data, including for HR.David Bernstein, the head of eQuest’s Big Data for HR / Predictive Analytics Division, and Yvette Cameron, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research, Inc. and founder of NextGen Insights, were our guest experts and both have an extensive background and long-term interest in HR measurement and analytics. The following is a summary from our discussion with Yvette and David.

How are HR Analytics and Big Data different?

When we talk about Big Data what we’re really talking about is slightly bigger than normal but not a huge amount. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done in getting better HR metrics and measures and better ways of communicating results. By bringing in data from a variety of sources from across the enterprise and pairing it with your HR data and looking at patterns, you can start to see correlation, infer causation, and create the ability for forecasting / modeling.

Much of the work we are doing today is measuring the effectiveness of our programs using HR system data – the challenge is getting to the broader business data in order to start making correlations to business value and outcomes and to build understanding of our own employees by mining data in enterprise, productivity, and employee interaction systems.

Are HR clients ready for Big Data?

The desire is there to push beyond the wall we’ve hit with current analytics and metrics. The industry is ready for that helping hand and is looking for service providers to offer help with this.

The struggle isn’t around ‘should I’ but around ‘how do I’ in terms of where to begin. The vendor community can help bring the profession forward in terms of ‘how to make it happen.’  Right now, there is more of a consultative need to fill in missing knowledge and skills; the opportunity for the vendor community is to provide these plus ongoing services that turn the data into insightful information.

Is there a Big Data skills gap in HR?

One of the biggest hurdles and obstacles to implementing a Big Data program, second to having the budget, is the lack of expertise and skills – the HR component of any implementation program can hold companies back. HR divisions struggle between bringing these skills onboard or developing them internally.  This is an opportunity for service providers to help HR become even more strategic as they increase their skills.

The interest in HR analytics is building, but there a gap in actual buying and client abilities to leverage the new capabilities. This provides a growing opportunity for us as an HRO community to make Big Data real in HR and HRO!

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Can HRO be Social, Smart, Quick, and Effective?

February 1, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Smarter Workforce and Smarter Commerce are the two major themes of this year’s conference for customers and business partners at IBM Connect 2013.

IBM is Messaging, Managing, and Delivering

First, I want to complement IBM on the clarity and alignment of its strategy with action. I have not seen this level of aligned organization and action across such a large and complex corporation before.

Building out under the Smarter Planet umbrella, IBM is bundling its many products and services, coordinating internal research and development, making targeted acquisitions, working across product and organization lines, and communicating clearly in its go-to-market campaigns. Given the great number of successful Smarter Workforce client case studies being presented, the proof points are already building to show business value can be delivered.

Smarter Workforce Supports Smarter Commerce

Smarter Workforce and Smarter Commerce are each separate service lines that can be coordinated to achieve greater business impact. Each is a combination of the IBM Platform for Social Business (social networking, social analytics, and social content) bundled with other new and existing products and services. Under the hood is a myriad of product lines making it work operationally, all tied together by messaging:

  • Smarter Workforce: Activate the workforce to improve productivity and unleash innovation
  • Smarter Commerce: Delight customers to increase loyalty, advocacy, and revenue.

Balance Individual Focus with Collective Value

Jonathon Ferrar, IBM vice president of Smarter Workforce, talked about the need to be social, smart, quick, and effective. Other words that were used a lot included community and relationships. Connecting communities of practice and building relationships, not for social intimacy, but for learning, leveraging, and leading to delighted customers and achieve business success.

Embedded throughout the social aspects of the services is a focus on the individual user that takes into account ease of use, mobile device access, points of need, and other behavioral aspects that are built in to increase collective business value creation.

Kenexa is Key to Smarter Workforce

The Kenexa acquisition closed in December 2012 and it is already being integrated into current offerings and it will be a key to plans for enhanced Smarter Workforce services as early as the second half of 2013:

  • Kenexa’s software platforms for recruiting and learning will be used for RPO and learning BPO services as well as integrated with the social business platform
  • Kenexa’s behavioral science expertise will be used to inform leadership, organizational, and talent management services and add to the analytics component.

IBM’s HRO services will be impacted by the changes. New options will be available to existing and new clients as talent management, learning, and RPO are brought together.

A lot of complexity remains to be managed, but it would be great to see IBM set a new high bar for making its services, client workforces, and HRO social, smart, quick, and effective!

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HRO Will Drive Ahead in 2013

January 25, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

With more organizations making the decision to use HR business process outsourcing services, even in the face of a still uncertain economic environment, the overall confidence of HR outsourcing suppliers in the market over the next 12-months is at its highest level in six quarters according to the latest NelsonHall HRO Confidence Index (HROCI).The HRO vendor confidence level is up 6% year-over-year reaching 155.5, where 100 represents unchanged confidence and higher scores indicate increased confidence.

Drivers Outweigh Inhibitors

The impact of the wider economy is strengthening the drivers for HR outsourcing which appear to be outweighing its impact on the associated inhibitors such as unrealistic pricing expectations and frozen decision-making. Currently, 89% of HR outsourcing suppliers believe that a net up-turn in HRO decision-making is taking place, with just 7% of suppliers perceiving that a net down-turn in HRO decision-making is taking place.

The top principal drivers for HR outsourcing include:

  • Increased cost reduction
  • Greater process consistency across business units and geographies
  • Organizations looking for an increased transformational emphasis.

New private sector HRO deals typically remain limited in initial size, and significant growth opportunities continue to come from existing clients in the form of added scale or scope. In line with the “increased focus on cost reduction driven by the worsening economic climate,” organizations are finally showing an increased interest in evaluating outsourcing opportunities previously rejected.

Transformation Beyond Cost Arbitrage

The HROCI supports our 2013 trends with “a clear ‘transformation’ agenda” and a focus on value. Clients are looking to vendors to help them:

  • Deliver a more empowered employee experience and access to learning using technology to administer, deliver, and share learning
  • Manage business outcomes by driving higher employee engagement including a better end-user experience and continual “future-thinking”
  • Achieve solid productivity and accelerate time to competency.

2013 Outlook

HRO vendor expectations for 2013 look best for payroll, then MPHRO which looks solid, followed by RPO, benefits administration, and then learning services. Multi-country deals for payroll and RPO will again be common with the average number of included countries around 20.  Of little surprise is that expectations for the government sector have slightly worsened, particularly for defense and state & local government.

Have You Listened

Another NelsonHall product of interest is the BPO Index which is supported by a quarterly conference call open to all who register.

According to the January Index, total BPO contract value was down significantly for 2012, especially in North America and Europe. The global economy and the U.S. fiscal cliff added to business growth uncertainty, which drove down industry-specific BPO the most.

At the same time, back-office BPO, which includes HRO, was up 25%, and HRO was up significantly year-over-year.

If you can lower total cost, improve performance, and increase business value, you can get an HRO deal!

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Accenture and Unilever Renew Major MPHRO Contract for Five More Years

December 20, 2012
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Let’s wrap-up 2012 on a high note for HR BPO with news of Accenture’s award of a 5-year multi-process HRO (MPHRO) contract renewal from Unilever. When orginally announced in 2006, the 7-year contract was the single largest HRO deal signed with an estimated value of $1bn.

First Generation HRO

The focus of the first generation Unilever contract was largely on cost reduction (20% – 30%) and creation of a unfied global HR operating environment of systems and services across 100 countries and 20 languages. Unilver had already begun the tranformation process by introducing shared service centers in key areas to capture some of the early gains on its own as part of its One Unilever program to reduce the cost of back-office services including HR, F&A, and IT. It then moved to HRO to make further progress in efficiency, cost, and to gain a single source of the truth in reporting and mearsurement capabilities.

Second Generation HRO

Accenture will continue to support ~130,000 Unilever employees operating in more than 100 countries through its global delivery network including multiple centers across the U.S., Europe, and Asia Pacific. MPHRO services include:

  • Core HR administration
  • Payroll administration
  • Recruitment
  • Learning services covering content sourcing and development, program planning and delivery, and learning system hosting
  • Management and administrative services.

As is common with renewals, there are some expansions of scope and a greater focus on improvements, in addtion to a desire for further cost reducing efficencies.

Accenture will be introducing service improvements to drive greater efficiencies and improve the user experience and align the services it delivers with Unilever’s Talent Agenda. New elements include:

  • Introducing a more proactive recruiting approach, including the expanded use of social media (Accenture itself has been using LinkedIn and Twitter to recruit staff for a few years now)
  • Expanding the scope of the learning services delivered by Accenture to include professional skill-building modules in the curriculum to support Unilever’s focus on developing future leaders; learning programs will make greater use of virtual instructor-led training (VILT), which is in line with Unilever’s sustainability agenda
  • Evolving in performance metrics to go beyond traditional operational SLAs to include metrics focused on the client’s desired business outcomes.

It is a good quarter when you can announce a major MPHRO deal, whether it’s new or a renewal. For FY Q1 2013, Accenture’s revenues were $7.2bn, up 5% in local currencies; EPS were up 10% to $1.06; and operating income was up 7% to $1.05bn. Outsourcing brought in $3.26bn in revenues, and $3.3bn in new bookings. A good quarter indeed!

Happy holidays from the NelsonHall HRO team: Gary Bragar, Amy Gurchensky, and Linda Merritt.

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