Posted tagged ‘self-service’

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 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.


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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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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Customer Satisfaction is People Interaction – Back to HRO Basics Part I

September 15, 2009

What creates and sustains HRO client satisfaction?

The more services are automated, the more the remaining direct person-to-person interactions assume greater importance in shaping satisfaction. Granted, technology is very important in creating competitively priced HRO services, benefiting both the client and the service provider. And yet, meeting basic services levels does not create longer term satisfaction, and effective low-cost transactions are quickly considered simply part of the expected services. Competitive prices and compelling technology-driven quality services are necessary but not sufficient. Long-term end-customer satisfaction – whether the customer is internal or external – is sustained by people interacting with people.

For example, recent research by Convergys shows that 68 percent of customers still prefer to speak with a live service representative. And what they want most is knowledgeable CSRs who address their needs on first contact and treat them as valued customers. A strong second choice is live chat with an agent, followed by use of the corporate website. And acceptance of self-service options is also gaining in popularity, with 25 percent of consumers preferring to use the Internet to contact a company, up from 18 percent per a 2004 Convergys study. And as you would expect, the younger generations are more likely to actually prefer automated, self-service channels.

The relationship with the HRO service provider is critical in achieving and sustaining the depth of customer satisfaction that builds a loyal client, which in turn results in contract extensions of scale and scope, renewals and strong client references that help win new business. For HRO customer satisfaction is segmented into key client stakeholder groups including employees and other end users of the services, and key HR and business leaders including the outsourcing governance team.

Convergys’ president and CEO, David Dougherty said, “Being able to manage the customer experience depends heavily on being able to manage the employee experience. There is a clear link between satisfied, well-equipped and well-trained employees and the ability to provide a good customer experience.”

Watson Wyatt’s August 2009 survey of U.S.-based HR leaders found that more than half (52 percent) of employers are now more concerned about retaining top performers and critical-skill employees than they were before the economic downturn.

The survey showed that the top employee engagement activity (as cited by 83 percent of respondents) was increased communications. Much less cited were expanded use of recognition programs at 27 percent and special compensation programs for high performers and/or at-risk employees at 18 percent.

Watson Wyatt agrees that effectively using communication is critical to keeping employees engaged, but it advises that companies should also be using the HR programs they would normally use, such as employee recognition, development opportunities, and targeted compensation programs, to help employees remain focused and engaged throughout the downturn and recovery.

As the increased effectiveness of self-service transactions reduces the number of live agent interactions, each interaction assumes greater importance, as does the capabilities and attitude of the agents.

While the above-cited surveys were U.S.- and Canada-based, the economic downturn reduced voluntary turnover around the world. HRO provider employee contact centers are located around the world, onshore, nearshore and offshore, creating a global workforce that varies in language, culture and employee engagement needs. One prominent India-based BPO provider recently told me their turnover is now under 10 percent. Great news, but what happens when increased opportunity arises? 

Want to build customer satisfaction? Have a full internal program of employee development and engagement to ensure live customer interactions are handled by knowledgeable, caring agents enabled to solve as many problems as possible on first contact.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

HRO Gets SaaS-y

May 18, 2009

A recent study we conducted on behalf of the NOA (National Outsourcing Association) found that seven percent of organizations think SaaS will assist in improving business costs, and nearly 100 percent believe that SaaS plus BPO services will reduce business costs. In HR, a key enabler of this business cost reduction is the implementation of self-service for processes ranging from payroll to learning to benefits to wealth management.

So it’s no surprise that ACS just launched SyncHRO, a multi-pronged, Oracle-based self-service portal for companies with 4,000+ employees, and joined the ranks of other HRO providers like NorthgateArinso, Logica and ADP, whose existing SAP-based portal technologies are giving them good traction in the transactional multi-process HRO space.

Self-service’s value proposition for HRO buyers and providers alike cannot be underestimated. Buyers can save up to 20 percent annually by driving employees to an online portal rather than a people-staffed call center. And providers – whether onshore, nearshore or offshore – can increase their margins through the economies of scale enabled by self-service…and doing so is critical for profitability purposes.

My recommendation to the provider community? Develop and deliver a robust, one-to-many HR portal for your HR outsourcing services today, or whither away and die (indeed, some already have in cases in which one-to-many models have proved elusive.) Yes, doing so will consume some development and marketing resources. But the pay-off, for you and your clients, can be enormous. In fact, it can be life saving, and the time to invest is now.

Until next time, happy sourcing!                     

Helen Neale, Research Director, Human Resources Outsourcing, NelsonHall