Posted tagged ‘SaaS’

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 Déjà Vu

April 11, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Each quarter, we publish the NelsonHall HR Outsourcing Confidence Index (HROCI) for our clients and the participating service providers. I like to share some of the highlights in my blog, but it can be hard to make fresh insights during times when the results are stable from quarter to quarter. When the confidence ratings are generally strong, as they are, then stability is pretty good news for HRO service providers.

Overall Confidence Remains Stable

The most recent HROCI shows a vendor confidence level of 157 for Q1 2013, where 100 represents unchanged confidence and higher scores indicate increased confidence. That is in line with the 156 from Q4 2012 and a bit up from the 153 one year ago. Confidence dipped mid-2012 with Q2 at 138 and Q3 at 140, which was not too surprising given the political and economic uncertainty we saw last year:

  • While the overall confidence score at 157 remains stable, those suppliers reporting slightly more or much more confidence increased 13% quarter over quarter
  • Increased confidence is reflective of solid pipelines of potential new sales and expectations for growth.

Growth Expectations Vary

Service lines: HR business process outsourcing service lines do not grow at the same rate. Some services like RPO and payroll remain steady performers, followed closely by benefits administration. The pipeline for benefits administration is looking especially strong. Expectations for multi-process HRO and learning remain about the same, which indicates continued slow growth.

Geography: Location matters in HRO and the patterns of growth also vary by region. The economic recovery is uneven in pace, readiness for HRO is uneven, and multi-country deals are a smaller part of the mix than in the recent past.

Overall, vendor confidence by geography has weakened with many regions showing some decline in confidence. North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America show the strongest numbers, but there can be significant variation country by country. As we have seen for some time, growth expectations for Europe and the Middle East remain dampened.

Industry: High-tech and retail look to be the optimistic growth industries with most sectors remaining within prior modest expectations for growth. Expectations remain low for federal government and defense.

Mostly Steady and Stable Ahead

It is good to see the balancing of demand for cost savings and process standardization continuing. Client pricing expectations may still be unrealistic as there are always those who want a quick 50% off along with some freebies thrown in at the same time.

One area to watch is the growing client interest in and adoption of platform-based services. Some buyers are specifying SaaS and cloud-based services in proposals. We need to help educate buyers on leaving some room for discovering the best solution fit for each client situation.

To end on a positive note, 79% of HRO suppliers believe that a net up-turn in decision-making is taking place. Let’s get out there and get those deals signed!

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What to Consider When Considering HR SaaS

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

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Based on the HR Outsourcing Association’s (HROA) SaaS webinars and my discussion with Ceridian’s senior vice president Howard Tarnoff, who has been instrumental in the successful launch of Ceridian’s Dayforce HCM, here are a few key elements to consider when considering SaaS.

Determine Business Needs

Determine what business, operational, and organizational needs are driving change and if each decision-factor is equal or if there is a rank order as needs often conflict. For example, the need for control and customization will come at a higher cost and takes more time and effort than the configuration and standardization that comes with SaaS.

Sometimes that process is not completed before bringing in potential vendors. Howard has sat in discovery process meetings where the buyer team is having this discussion amongst themselves as much as with the vendor. Maybe that’s a bit late, but better late than never.

Consider Trade-Offs

Consider what trade-offs will be needed to deliver the best solution. HR SaaS can meet many needs and deliver many benefits, but it is a fundamentally different choice than a traditional ERP or other licensed or subscription software products.

Configuration and standardization:  acceptance and understanding of configuration and standardization is growing, as is awareness of the on-going cost of customizing into a corner, according to Howard. Still, it is vital to determine the limits of what can be accommodated as configuration is not infinite.

If compliance is a key factor, then the pain of standardizing policies and processes to fit within a system where the vendor keeps up with the constant changes to complex governmental regulations may be a risk management plus.

IT collaboration: the role of IT changes and becomes more collaborative with SaaS.  The HROA SaaS series reminds us there will still be a role for IT to play, so bring them in early in the process to address:

  • The impact on enterprise technology roadmap
  • Changes to IT workload and budget
  • Integration into the larger architecture (e.g., maintenance of interfaces, implication to other vendors connected to the system)
  • Vendor-driven upgrades on the IT team (e.g., understand the role, workload, and timing).

Customer collaboration: with real SaaS you will be one of multiple clients using a web-based system riding a single code base and that changes the nature of the client-vendor relationship and opens the need and opportunity to collaborate with other customers. You may have more input into the development of system enhancements, but you will be one among others.

Worried about future-proofing your services? Howard says change is coming fast and furiously. SaaS, with a great vendor partner and an active team of client users, can support affordable innovation.

Quickly, the question is becoming not if, but when and where to use HR SaaS.

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Have You Tripled Your HRO Business?

February 7, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

TriNet has tripled its PEO and HR services business in five years with major acquisitions and organic growth under CEO Burton Goldfield.Most PEO’s are small businesses serving the local small business market. TriNet started out that way as well in 1988 in San Leandro, CA. Over time, it acquired other PEO’s and began expanding services to new localities. The first big acquisition was Gevity in 2009, helping the regional company to become a national player.

Acquiring Growth

In 2012, TriNet went on a buying spree with three acquisitions fueled by low interest rates, easy access to capital, and its own cash:

  • Accord HR, a small PEO for additional geographic coverage
  • ExpenseCloud, which added expense reporting as a service line
  • Strategic Sourcing, Inc. (SOI), a larger PEO for additional scale and expertise.

ExpenseCloud and SOI will each maintain their name, brand, products, and services and operate as TriNet business units.

With the addition of SOI, the company almost doubled in size from 750 employees to 1,400, and it has gone from one office as a start-up to thirty-five in many areas of the country.

Growing Organically

Before and during growth by acquisition, the company was growing organically. It has been recognized by Inc. and included in the Inc. Hall of Fame for five years of rapid growth.  With the combination of both strategies, the company is now the largest privately held PEO in the U.S. and revenues have nearly tripled in the last five years.

Cloud-based, On Demand, and Mobile

Just this week, TriNet released it latest HRP Mobile app for Android and iOS:

  • My Paycheck: access to payroll data and compare payroll statements
  • My Time: information about planned time-off, accruals and balances, and submit and manage time-off requests
  • My Benefits: view of key health benefits details
  • About Me: update employee information
  • Company Directory: find and call work contacts; also includes an organization chart search option
  • Contact TriNet: contact employee solution center via email or phone.

PEOs like TriNet and its customers are benefiting from the evolution of affordable SaaS and cloud-based platform services and advances in mobile any-device access. Now even small local start-ups and mid-sized regional businesses have access to full HR suites and services.

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

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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The CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey and HRO: Part 2

December 13, 2012
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

To complete my review of CedarCrestone’s 2012-2013 HR Systems Survey, I will highlight some of the newer HT technology trends.

SaaS HRMS: The Breakthrough Trend of 2012

According to analysis of the survey results, the benefits of SaaS HRMS include:

  • Faster time to value from deployments that take about half the time
  • Improved user experience, which leads to higher usage rates
  • Higher customer satisfaction.

The 50 top performers, based on financial measures, are leading the move towards SaaS HRMS solutions. Approximately one-third have a SaaS solution in place and more are planning to add SaaS in 2013.

Large market HR ERPs are still in the leadership position and face little near-term erosion from cloud-based HRMS. Near-term erosion, however, is the key phrase. Cloud-based SaaS HR platforms are disruptive technologies and as such, they are likely to quickly move up the value chain and eventually be able to serve larger and more complex organizations. In the meantime, SaaS HRMS adoption will move fastest among mid-market organizations.

Total cost analysis, not just system costs, will be important in the adoption of SaaS HRMS in larger organizations where ERPs are still less expensive on a per-user basis. Over time that pricing advantage will disappear, especially if evidence mounts for better performance and lower overall costs.

What’s Coming Next

  • Social and mobile-enabled processes are increasing in user-adoption
    • RPO and recruiters are in the lead using social media as ~50% of all recruiters use social-enabled recruiting processes
    • Early adopters of social-enabled processes show a link to 8% higher revenue per employee
    • Almost 60% of respondents have some mobile enablement in their HRMS
  • Integrated talent management is linked to the highest financial performance
  • Organizations with business intelligence solutions that integrate workforce and other organizational data outperform by 12% over those without such integration.

Keep in mind however that the newer applications are starting from small adoption bases and have not yet reached breakthroughs.

Key Words: Integration and Standardization

Throughout the survey, the results are links to the need for integration of HR applications with the core HRMS to gain the greatest benefits, and the precursor to integration is standardization of policies, practices, and processes. For example:

Integrated talent management on the underlying HRMS platform attains the highest financial performance at the lowest cost and can lead to 50% lower BI costs.

HRO service providers can help clients with the initial standardization needed for creating an integrated HR technology platform, whether it will be ERP, SaaS, or a hybrid system. Buyers: have a clear plan and consider getting help in investing, deploying, and using the new tools strategically to create business results. It is harder than it looks!

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Update on Shared Services and HRO

November 29, 2012

I am on the Human Resources Outsourcing Association (HROA) Publications and Practices Committee and for the November meeting our hot topic was an update on shared services and HRO.

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Value Delivered

All three guest speakers agreed that HR shared services organizations (SSO) remain one of the core transformation trends in HR. Colin Brennan, Aon Hewitt product management and strategy VP, sees that the movement to SSOs and HRO is focusing more on value delivered and less on pure cost.  Clients want to improve both the cost and quality of services like talent management, recruiting, and learning. Clients also want to measure and manage HR issues across the enterprise, whether it is various operating divisions or regions of the world.

Tech Talks

Maribeth Sivak, a principal consultant with ISG, also sees an uptick in interest in SSOs and HRO, but as a follow on to HR technology decisions.  Many companies are facing major and costly upgrades in core HR technology systems, which create the opportunity to consider consolidation into shared services including HRO. Cost is a key driver, of course, but so is a desire to improve the employee experience with mobile and social capabilities as well as improve HR with access to more HR analytics.

Major technology costs also open the door for considering new vendor-provided systems and even SaaS. As SaaS offerings move “up stack” there is and will be a call for BPO service support.

The Chicken or the Egg

What comes first, shared services or HRO? Some start with HRO and others create SSOs first. Either way, clients usually want to get their arms around what they can do first and then look to optimize and increase velocity, often ending up with a blend of both.

At KellyOCG, Kathleen Bienkowski, global shared services VP, sees some organizations that start with shared services continue to evolve into multi-functional general business services as they mature. KellyOCG has its own showcase that demonstrates many of the aspects of a mature SSO: delivery centers, transaction processing, recruitment sourcing, and a knowledge center for global mobility. The contact center is outsourced to another division, Kelly Connect.

What Doesn’t Change

Each of our speakers commented on the continued need to manage major change including:

  • A strong internal sponsor / champion to drive the change
  • A clear vision that articulates the benefits and defines the future state delivery model
  • Change management  in transition and implementation plans
  • A governance structure for performance and issues management.

As both shared services and HRO reach a level of maturity, they are reaching a level of acceptance with less perceived risk in the decision, value is balancing the focus on cost, and pent up technology needs will be opening the door to opportunity. All in all, a great update with plenty of good news!

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