Posted tagged ‘Mercer’

Highlights and Trends in the HRO Market for H1 2013: Part 2

August 14, 2013
Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Last week, I zeroed in on specific market activity within the payroll, learning and RPO service lines. This week, I’ll take a closer look at H1 2013 activity within benefits administration and MPHRO as well as provide some insights on what to expect in H2 2013 based on NelsonHall’s recent HRO Confidence Index.

Benefits Administration

Contract signings aside, there has been a plethora of activity within benefits administration in H1 2013, including:

  • New offerings:
    • Mercer launched a private benefits exchange, Mercer Marketplace
    • Buck Consultants launched an automatic enrollment offering in the U.K.
    • Secova launched a Coordination of Benefits (COB) audit offering to coordinate benefits with insurance carriers
  • Acquisitions: Wageworks acquired Crosby Benefit Systems and Benefit Concepts to strengthen its H&W administration offering, including reimbursement account and COBRA administration
  • Partnerships:
    • Fidelity partnered with Extend Health, a Towers Watson company, to provide retiree healthcare services
    • JLT Employee Benefits partnered with Vielife for health and wellbeing services in the U.K.
  • New technologies:
    • Xerox launched an account-based benefits portal, BenefitWallet, to assist with managing multiple health accounts on one platform, including HSAs, HRAs, FSAs, HIAs (health/wellness incentive accounts) and other specialized services
    • Aon Hewitt launched an absence management tool, 360 Absence Solutions, to help clients manage absence-related costs, compliance risks, the administrative burden and lost productivity
  • Educational resources:
    • Mercer and ADP both launched websites to provide information on healthcare reform
    • Ceridian launched an auto-enrollment knowledge center in the U.K.

MPHRO

In recent years, the MPHRO market has been relatively quiet in terms of contract announcements and H1 2013 was no exception. However, my last MPHRO research study, published in February 2013, revealed that the market is very much alive with new wins and contract renewals from all the major vendors, including IBM and Accenture. In fact, IBM recently won a new seven-year, multi-country MPHRO contract, which was bundled with F&A outsourcing services. Other wins include ADP and Marriott Vacations Worldwide for core HR, payroll, time & labor management and talent management covering ~9.2k employees.

Many vendors have been focused on their strategies for expansion, including Aon Hewitt with its acquisition of OmniPoint Workday Services. Although still early, NelsonHall expects ADP to make inroads in LATAM with its MPHRO services since it added RPO capabilities in this region from its acquisition of The RightThing and now expands its payroll footprint from the Payroll S.A. acquisition.

H2 2013

So what does the rest of the year have in store? NelsonHall’s recent HRO Confidence Index survey finds that overall expectations for HRO revenue growth remain at the same level as those reported for the last five quarters; with payroll leading followed by RPO. Top industry sectors for HRO services include healthcare, pharmaceuticals and high-tech. By geography, vendors have reported increased confidence for revenue growth in Central and Eastern Europe and Central and Latin America.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year unfolds for HRO.

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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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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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The Parable of IBM and Kenexa: Part I

September 13, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

I have not seen such a range of varied opinions from members of the HRO and HR tech communities as those about IBM’s acquisition of Kenexa. The commentary showed that many were taken a bit by surprise and weren’t sure how to analyze the news that IBM was acquiring Kenexa for $1.3bn.

IBM Bought Kenexa?

The surprise was not the purchase of Kenexa, which was foreshadowed by the acquisition of Taleo by Oracle and SuccessFactors by SAP. It was more about the fact that IBM was doing the purchasing.

A few  thought that ADP might make such an acquisition since it had already expanded its benefits capabilities with Workscape and SHPS and its RPO capabilities with The RightThing, so wouldn’t talent management make sense? Speculation continued, perhaps Mercer, Ceridian, or even ADP would be the target of an acquisition or merger.

IBM itself was considered likely to continue its acquisitive ways with something more in the talent management / HCM space. Likely targets mentioned included Cornerstone OnDemand, SilkRoad, SumTotal, Saba, with a few suggesting Halogen, Peoplefluent, and others. In short, someone is going to buy something else.

The Meaning of the Deal?

What does this mean we all asked, much like the tale of the Blind Men and the Elephant as was suggested by the leading light Naomi Bloom. Early viewpoints on the acquisition included:

  • Continuing IBM’s move into social media and analytics
  • Continuing IBM’s move into professional services including strengthening RPO
  • Disrupting the HCM market and becoming a talent management player
  • Delivering value to the HR executive
  • Delivering value to the C-suite and bypassing HR
  • Primarily being a HRO deal with some software attached
  • Primarily being a software deal with some HRO attached
  • Upping competition with SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and even Workday
  • Selling into Kenexa’s IBM-like customer base of Fortune 500 clients.

IBM’s news crossed many markets including HRO, HCM, HR tech (software, platform, cloud, etc.), BPO, social media, talent management, and financial and market analysts. Each commenter viewed the same information through the lens of their personal perspective and professional interest, much like the blind men touching different parts of the elephant.

With so many options before it, including IBM’s own announced intentions for the addition of Kenexa, the opportunities are new and exciting. Given the inherent complexities, IBM will face many risks as well. Look for more on The Parable of IBM and Kenexa coming in Part II.

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A Closer Look at Benefits Administration in H1 2012: Part 1

August 21, 2012

Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Earlier this year, I wrote a two part blog about how the benefits administration market was poised for a good year. Part 1 highlighted Q1 earnings results and part 2 focused on other signs indicating success such as acquisitions, hiring, and surveys.

Halfway through the year, signs are still indicating that 2012 will be a solid year for many benefits administration service providers.

 Aon Hewitt: For Q2, its Outsourcing segment reported organic revenue growth for the third consecutive quarter. In fact, the 6% reported was the company’s highest organic revenue growth rate for Outsourcing in several years. While Outsourcing revenues consist of more than just benefits administration, much of its growth was for benefits-related point services such as dependent eligibility audits. Its active employee exchange is set to be launched in Q4, which will begin to realize revenues in 2013.

Towers Watson: Towers Watson’s Benefits segment has been consist with positive organic revenue growth beyond the last four quarters. It’s Technology and Administrative Solutions segment revenues grew mid-single digits for the period ending June 30th and its pipeline is very healthy. The company’s Exchange Solutions segment, which was created after the acquisition of Extend Health, has had strong sales with a record number of participants enrolling, exceeding the 30% previously forecasted.

Mercer: Organic revenues for Mercer’s Outsourcing segment had another positive quarter, but were lower than reported in Q1. The suite of health care exchanges it launched earlier this year, which includes a retiree medical exchange, is expected to have ~500,000 employees enrolled across all three exchanges in 2013. 

Morneau Shepell: Canadian-headquartered Morneau Shepell has reported double-digit revenue growth for the last four consecutive quarters. In Q2, its pension and benefits outsourcing segment, which makes up ~25% of its revenues, had the largest contribution along with its health management business. Its growth is from new client wins, and its acquisition of SBC Systems has led to new business in the U.S.

According to the NelsonHall HR Outsourcing Market Forecast: 2012 – 2016, the projected growth rate for the benefits administration service line is modest compared to areas still experiencing rapid growth like RPO. Since benefits administration is the largest revenue generator in HRO, even moderate single-digit growth will add billions more to its total.

Later this week, look for more benefits administration mid-year updates from TRO and H&W service providers in Part 2.

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