Posted tagged ‘Outsourcing’

Targeting Payroll BPO, Part II

April 26, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

There is so much in my colleague Gary Bragar’s NelsonHall Targeting Payroll BPO market analysis that I will cover a few more items this week. The payroll market is divided into three parts: payroll software services; service bureau payroll (also called managed payroll, where the vendor manages payroll production and the client manages data input and employee help desk services); and payroll business process outsourcing (where the end-to-end payroll process is outsourced, including tier 1 and tier 2 employee help desk support).

Payroll BPO market share is growing

Payroll BPO is what NelsonHall follows most of all, and it is a growing part of the overall payroll market. Even as SaaS payroll products become more ubiquitous, many clients will still want support for the whole process. We can see some of the reasons why in the changing pattern of client requirements. As I covered in the first Targeting Payroll blog, cost remains the number one priority. However, other needs have increased in importance over time:

  • Standardization of centralization of processes and technology: Instead of defending customization, now buyers are demanding standardization to increase efficiency and reduce costs from maintaining disparate systems
  • Compliance/risk management: Compliance with ever-more complex and changing regulations and work rules needs the time and attention of fulltime experts. For example, in Europe the complexity of regulations combined with employee populations spread over multiple countries adds to the challenges of compliance
  • Better employee experience: Users want access that is easier and simpler, including 24×7 access to data, self-service, and mobile. Payroll self-service is widely available and has become table stakes. The vendors that deliver the most useful mobile applications, the fastest and with the greatest security, will create valuable market differentiation.
  • Payroll subject matter expertise: Clients expect improved quality of payroll with augmented accuracy, which can lower overpayment and off-cycle payroll runs.

Payroll Cost #1 with a new spin

While cost remains the number-one client requirement, there is a new aspect and it is the same one NelsonHall is seeing in other HRO areas; balancing cost with value. Value for price is especially understood by second- and third-generation buyers who indicate their willingness to change vendors to get it!

Payroll Analytics

It has been my view for some time that the focus on improved payroll processes and systems is driven by more than the need to pay employees timely and accurately. It is also driven by the need to manage the total cost of labor with real-time access to data and analytics for decision-making that leads to improved business performance. Payroll is increasingly being seen as a valuable management strategic tool, and clients will be looking to payroll BPO providers to help them access and develop workforce analytics expertise.

It great to see how dynamic the payroll outsourcing industry has become!

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Targeting Payroll BPO, Part I

April 18, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

The NelsonHall Targeting Payroll BPO report has recently been released by my colleague, Gary Bragar. Payroll is such a well-accepted mainstay of HR outsourcing that it’s nice to see it still showing steady growth year after year.

Gary regularly produces the payroll market analysis, and profiles leading vendors in this space. Over time you can see how what seems like a basic service has grown, evolved and increased in strategic importance. What has not changed is that buyers are looking for savings by outsourcing payroll. The good news is that payroll BPO delivers: first-time payroll outsourcing can save from 15% to +40% depending on the degree of complexity and variables (like the number of locations, with everything from a single location to more than 100 countries).

The full report includes more on what buyers want from payroll outsourcing and what’s key in vendor selection; including where data needs vary between the mid-market and large market. Here are a few highlights of the report:

Why Outsource Payroll?

Cost saving remains the number-one reason to outsource payroll, and several nuances have been added including:

  • Clients want a more variable cost structure and less fixed costs
  • Savings now often include not having to refresh client technology (cost avoidance)
  • Simplifying payroll after a series of M&As or restructurings reduces cost
  • Reduction in payroll losses from ineligible and overpayments.

Centralization and standardization of process and technology has increased in importance, similar to what has been seen in other HRO areas. Where clients used to want customization, many are now seeing the benefits of standardization to improve efficiency, reduce cost, and to increase timely access to accurate payroll data across the enterprise.

With constantly-changing regulations and taxation across multiple jurisdictions, accuracy, compliance and risk management remain core payroll benefits.

Multi-Country Payroll

For MNCs, multi-country payroll remains a sought-after capability. MNCs want one vendor, one contract, and one payroll platform. Also wanted is visibility to aggregated costs and data reporting, in addition to the flexibility and scalability to add or change geographies.

Payroll BPO vendors have responded to the blended needs of clients for cost savings and global coverage by:

  • Increasing nearshore and offshore service centers
  • Partnering for coverage in some countries
  • Offering multiple technology platforms from SaaS to ERPs.

Pricing Pressure

Given the focus on cost reduction, pricing pressure should be no surprise. This is a market with many mature and capable suppliers, which in itself adds competitive pricing pressure and the need for differentiation to focus on value as well as cost.

As an indicator of payroll service provider capabilities to compete, I earlier mentioned the steady year-over-year revenue growth. That growth has been achieved at the same time as the average price per-payslip has fallen significantly over the last three years!

There is so much more in the Targeting Payroll BPO market analysis, look for more highlights in a future blog.

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What do Benefits Administration Clients Want from HRO?

August 8, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

What HRO clients want falls into several buyer profiles based on familiarity with outsourcing and organization maturity. The NelsonHall Targeting Benefits Administration (BA) market analysis was published earlier this summer by Amy Gurchensky, and I noticed Amy included differences in client decision drivers by whether they were new to outsourcing or were already experienced in outsourcing. The concept crosses all types of HRO services and matches my running conversations with service providers. Let’s take a look at the following three buyer profiles through the lens of BA:

  • Standard buyers
  • Experienced buyers
  • Progressive buyers.

Standard buyers: otherwise known as first time outsourcers are looking for reduced operating costs, better compliance with regulations, a way to transfer or minimize risk, updated technology and best practices, and improved participant communications channels. Employee and manager self-service and reducing HR administrative burdens are also popular drivers in the initial decision to outsource.

Experienced buyers: otherwise known as second generation outsourcers already have the basics in place and may be ready to broaden the scope of services, obtain more flexible technology, or increase participation in process streamlining to enhance efficiency and improve participant engagement. Changes may include adding new BA services or even consolidating vendors, but it can also include the decision to change to another vendor completely. Cost is still the number one concern, so contract renewals will not be a slam dunk. Providers who are on the ball with changing client needs and increased sophistication should be ready for thorough discussions on price, service, and value.

Progressive buyers: or sophisticated buyers may be ready to use the firm foundation they have built with their outsourcer to create the greatest possible business impact. In BA, this may include total benefits outsourcing where either pensions or retirement plan services are combined with health and welfare services under one vendor to:

  • Lower total costs
  • Simplify vendor management
  • Integrate technologies across the services
  • Improve the participant experience.

This is the time to bring out the most sophisticated offerings and analytics and focus on business value; leverage the value of benefits in employee attraction and retention; and optimize total program cost. Once again, existing BA vendors will be vulnerable to pricing concerns and client perceptions about the provider’s top-end capabilities and client retention will remain at risk.

As HRO matures and more clients gain experience in managing outsourced services, expect to see client needs change over time. Service providers can and do quickly tell which HRO profile a new prospect falls into by the language used, initial discussions on services, and outsourcing objectives, etc. It can be a bit harder to see when an existing client, even one satisfied with day-to-day services, is moving from one buyer profile to another. For clients new to BA, if you intend or even just hope to move up to the sophisticated buyer level, consider if the vendor who meets your initial needs will also meet your needs as your organization matures.

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Countdown to the 2012 HR Technology Conference

July 10, 2012

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

This year’s HR Technology Conference is just twelve weeks away. It will be held in Chicago from October 8–10. Be sure to check out the agenda, especially the new outsourcing track, which includes the following presentations:

  • Cisco Uses RPO to Hire Up to 15,000 a Year, presented by Mark Hamberlin, VP of HR Global Staffing at Cisco and Rebecca Callahan, President of Randstad Sourceright
  • Ericsson Outsources Global Payroll in Manila, presented by Mark Howes, HR Director of Asia Pacific at Ericsson and Mary Sue Rogers, Global Managing Director of HR Managed Services at Talent2
  • Benefits in a Time of Uncertainty, a panel discussion including Artell Smith from Aon Hewitt, Brian Johnson from Fidelity Investments, Norbert Englert from Mercer, Gail McKee from Towers Watson, and Tom Maddison from Xerox Corporation
  • Whirlpool Leverages RPO to Transform Talent Acquisition, presented by Lynanne Kunkel, VP of HR at Whirlpool North America and Rudy Karsan, CEO of Kenexa.

I’ve attended the conference the last two years and continue to find it an invaluable investment of my time to:

  • Attend presentations
  • View technology exhibits
  • Network with peers.

Presentations: In addition to Outsourcing, session topics include:

  • Strategic View
  • Talent Management
  • Social in the Enterprise
  • Workforce Analytics and Planning
  • HCM and Workforce Management
  • Recruiting
  • Expert Discussions.

Whether your company has outsourced or continues to do everything internally, there are bound to be several sessions that will teach you how to improve HR in your organization and be a better business partner. When I was on the buy-side prior to joining NelsonHall, I would attend such HR conferences to:

  • Learn about the broader industry
  • Think about how our HR outsourcing contract compared to others
  • Get ideas on improvements we could make.

Technology Exhibits: Since technology is changing so rapidly, it is often difficult to keep up with new applications that are available. The conference is a great way to get exposed to a broad-range of recent innovations, e.g., ADP’s Mobile Application, talent management offerings, etc. You can stop by any booth and see a demo; there is no pressure and vendors are excited about their new products and services and are happy to show you.

So here is your chance to make a difference at your organization; you might stumble onto a better, more user-friendly technology for example. Even if you are not the decision-maker, you can always tell your organization about it when you return and request a customized demo. Alternatively, if you are already outsourcing, you might see something that you don’t have and can bring it to your provider’s attention.

Network: The conference provides an opportunity to expand your network with others including HR practitioners, buyers, providers, analysts, etc. I also like to meet individually with companies I do business with and others I want to learn more about. In addition to the daytime events, there are evening socials too. HR deserves to have fun!

As a reader of my blog, you are entitled to a discount. Register for the conference and enter promotion code HRO12 to save $500.

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A Look at Automatic Enrollment in the U.S. to Predict the Success in the U.K. and Potential Opportunities for HRO Service Providers

December 8, 2011

There is currently a global crisis of people failing to save enough funds for their retirement. This reality is faced by those nearing retirement, and it’s affecting millions more. Reasons for this range from a lack of an employer plan to it being too confusing to simply just not getting around to it. In an effort to manage the crisis, legislation has been enacted to facilitate the ease of saving.

 

In the U.K., the primary answer lies in the automatic enrollment (AE) requirement of the Pensions Act of 2008. The AE requirement compels employers to automatically enroll their employees into qualifying pension schemes and to contribute to the pension as well. AE will commence in October 2012 and will be rolled out in stages based on employer size until September 2016 with large organizations (i.e., those with more than 120,000 employees) starting first.

 

Trying to predict the success that AE will have in the U.K. is difficult, but perhaps the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) in the U.S. can provide some guidance.

 

Recently, Fidelity highlighted the positive impact that the PPA has had on participation rates among other things. Fidelity’s plans that offer AE have increased to 21%, up from 2% in 2006. Furthermore, the AE feature is a part of 63% of plans with more than 50,000 participants, and Fidelity has seen participation increasing as a result of AE.

 

The average participation rate for plans without AE is 55%; but with AE, the participation rate is 82%. More interesting is the effect that AE is having on younger employees, who are typically not too concerned with saving for retirement. For employees between ages 20 and 24 years old, the participation rate for plans with AE is 76% and only 20% for plans without AE.

 

While the PPA in the U.S. does not require AE by all employers, it is proving to be an effective way to encourage participation to actively save for retirement, and it can also provide further opportunities for HRO service providers.

 

In the U.K., for example, Capita has already won business related to the AE requirement of the Pensions Act of 2008. It was awarded a 7 year £105m contract by the U.K. Pension Regulator to support direct communications and transactional processes with employers for AE that began in October 2011. Capita’s responsibilities include:

  • Communicating campaign messages to employers
  • Communicating AE duty dates to employers
  • Ensuring employers register with the regulator
  • Operating a customer contact center
  • Some enforcement activities such as administering compliance notices and penalties for non-compliance.

 

Shortly after Capita’s contract award, Xafinity became the first pension administration provider to launch an AE offering that:

  • Identifies who to automatically enroll and when to enroll them
  • Sets a course of action for all stakeholders
  • Runs financial analysis on different scenarios and take-up rates based on employee data, and selects a strategy that supports corporate objectives
  • Provides AE administrative services including member communications; employee identification; auto-enrolling, opting out, and re-enrolling employees; and reporting.

 

Expect to see more HRO service providers based in the U.K. and others doing business there to launch an AE offering. Some may be late to the game though since the first staging date is less than a year away and compliance can take ~18 months to achieve. It is an area with lots of potential and service providers like Capita and Xafinity are well-poised to gain the first-mover advantage.

 

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

 

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Health Savings Accounts on the Rise

November 29, 2011

The utilization of health savings accounts (HSAs) is rising, creating a win-win for employees, employers, and HRO benefits providers. Let’s take a look at the results of two recent studies to find out why.

Buck Consultants conducted a survey (http://bit.ly/uu10es), commissioned by its parent, ACS, A Xerox Company, which revealed that HSAs are not only saving employers and consumers money, but also helping employees (and retirees) make better decisions about their healthcare. Consumers of HSAs are putting aside more money for potential medical costs than they did before (69% of those enrolled in High Deductible Health Plans [HDHPs] contributed an average of $1,000 to their HSA accounts  for individual coverage, and $1,500 for family coverage). They are also engaging in healthier lifestyle choices and doing more research for preventative care. Employers report that the cost of providing an HSA-qualified plan is less than that of a standard Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. You might be thinking, this is good for the employer, but what does the employee think? Well, 72% of account holders chose the HSA-qualified plan even though they had other plan options, and 82% said their selection was based on the ability to save tax-free money.

According to the results of a survey released by Mercer (http://bit.ly/vZiiFL), due to the rising cost of healthcare plans and cost per employee, employers are taking action to try and keep costs down, e.g. nearly a third with 500 or more employees offer consumer-driven health plans, i.e. HDHPs linked to HSAs or health reimbursement accounts, up from <25% in 2010. Because of the high deductible to the employee, they cost less than other plans, around 20% less per employee than a PPO.

Here are two examples of leading benefits administration vendors helping their clients:

  • ACS, one of the first providers to implement an HSA in 2004, has 25,000 employer implementations and $1 billion in HSA assets
  • In 2010, Fidelity increased its number of HSA clients by >50% while adding 22,000 new indiviudal HSA accounts.

Providers can help with further education. Focusing on employees, I myself did not understand HSAs at first. I’m in my fourth year of having an HSA combined with my HDHP. First, let me say that I’m not the HSA spokesperson and there are pros and cons to any plan that need to be evaluated on an individual basis. The upside for those not familiar – speaking for my HDHP consumer-driven health plan I opened an HSA with – is that there are no co-pays and no forms to fill out. Preventative care is free, e.g. annual physicals. So if you are healthy, there are no costs except your monthly premium. But if you do get sick and need to go to the doctor, you pay out of pocket until the annual deductible is met, then in-network pays a high percentage until you reach your annual yearly max—that just happens to be approximately the same as the annual max I can contribute to my HSA; and like an IRA, the amount you contribute is deductible on your income tax.

HRO providers that can help clients navigate through the intricacies of healthcare will be greatly valued!

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, 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.