Posted tagged ‘Xerox’

Is HRO at the Table – the Investment Table?

February 10, 2011

IT spend on consulting and infrastructure increased in the fourth quarter of 2010, especially in North America and Asia Pacific.  There were even bright spots in Europe like France and Italy.  Accenture saw its strongest quarter in consulting in 2 ½ years and IBM had its strongest quarter of the last decade.  Increases in outsourcing tend to follow.  For example, at Xerox, now including ACS, BPO was up 11.1%.

The bad news is that major HRO investments often trail at the end of the outsourcing pack.  The good news is that HR and its HRO vendors can see trends coming and prepare to present the strongest business case possible for investment.

ADP was up 7% to $1,663m for Employer Services.  Its bright spot was beyond payroll services, which were up 16% and include benefits administration, MPHRO, and various point solutions.  One-time activities, or smaller add-on services, helped hold up results throughout the recession for many HRO vendors as they were smaller, less risky, and easier to fund investments, but it is hard to have significant growth through small increases in incremental spend.

Aon Hewitt’s Q4 2010 numbers were way up with revenues of $1,151m, an increase of 229%.  Stripping away the impact of the merger, organically HRO was $580m, down 2%.  The same was true at Towers Watson.  For FY Q2 2011, it came in at $791m, but in a pro forma comparison it was down 5%.  Towers Watson completed a lot of integration work in the past year and managed operating margins well at 18.7% for the quarter, but underperformed organic growth expectations.  All of the HRO service providers caught up in last years acquisition frenzy need to ensure they do not miss the current and coming window of opportunity for major HRO decisions and investments.

The business development profile for every HRO client, or hot prospect that wants to do business with you should include the timing and approval process for business case decisions.  Also know what can be done through operating expenses and local discretion.  Even the most solid HRO solution will run into trouble if the funding window is missed and all that is left are the scraps on the table.

Even with investment dollars starting to fly, pie-in-the-sky projects will still be grounded.  I really liked a term I heard in relation to an increase in consumer spend, frugal splurges.  Pragmatic investments that are well supported with facts and figures and direct ties to key business initiatives and business results will have the edge.  Don’t forget to add just a little bite of pizzazz!  Add-on modules, basic features and functions, workflow and service center capabilities are important, but a bit boring.  How will new major HRO investments be riding the tech wave of virtualization, cloud, and mobility – adding to the capabilities of an adaptable workforce of the future, ready to compete, and win today?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

It’s a Pac-Man World in HRO – ACS Buys ExcellerateHRO from HP

May 26, 2010

Google celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Pac-Man, one of the most successful and long lasting video arcade games, by putting the game on its home page. Created by Namco in Japan, the license to Pac-Man was bought by Atari, the biggest name in early gaming. And Atari hit big time with Pac-Man, selling a then outstanding seven million games. Unfortunately, it manufactured twelve million copies of the game. Success in the early stages of an emerging market is not always the path to long term success.

ACS, a Xerox Company, just announced it is acquiring ExcellerateHRO (EHRO) from HP, ending the rampant industry speculations, including those from NelsonHall, on who might want EHRO.  Almost from the start there was conjecture that EHRO was not a strategic fit with HP, which maintains focus on computing and IT-related services. (Try finding any references to EHRO services on the HP website.)

EDS acquired EHRO for around $400 million. Now being sold for an estimated $125 million in cash, EHRO now joins Exult – which was purchased by Hewitt in 2004 – and Convergys – which is in the process of being acquired by NorthgateArinso for ~$85 million –  as early HRO providers chomped by industry consolidation. 

Exult flew the highest first, literally helping birth the comprehensive HRO industry. Exult rapidly won a large book of large clients in the first generation of lift and shift deals that took over management of clients’ HR processes in place of complex ERP and legacy systems. But once the exhilaration of creation and big deal fever passed, it turned out to be a hard way to make money. Hewitt quickly learned this after its acquisition of Exult. In fact, given the major money lost by the early players year after year, it is amazing that the game is still alive and being played by a stronger, albeit smaller, field of service providers.

A shakeout and consolidation is not unusual in the early stages of industry development, especially when tempting bargains are there to be found. Just as the HRO industry was finding its way through the maze to a new level of services fueled by newer technologies and lower cost service delivery networks, the worldwide recession gobbled up growth and cornered hard won margins, leading to the availability of several of the early leaders at discount prices.

The question was, who was hungry enough to bite? NorthgateArinso wanted into the U.S. market in a bigger way and it is snapping up Convergys to do so. ACS is also hungry in its own way. Already a first tier player, it wants to be even bigger in segments such as benefits administration.

ACS has already spent more than $20 million on upgrading and enhancing its services and platform for benefits, and has been on an aggressive campaign to win share in benefits administration. And what could be even more enhancing than a shiny new acquisition? With the support of Xerox and the addition of EHRO’s assets, ACS will be significantly increasing its market share in corporate relocation services and benefits administration, especially in pension administration and health and welfare outsourcing.

Pac-Man survives thirty years. Long live Pac-Man. Long live HRO.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Getting HRO Deals Done Today – Start Yesterday

October 13, 2009

This week ACS announced a five year deal with Ford Motor Company to provide Total Benefits Outsourcing (TBO). While financial details were not released, it is a major contract that will provide all three benefits administration services – defined benefit, defined contribution and health and welfare – to more than 400,000 U.S. Ford employees and retirees.

What allows a major deal to get done in this still tough economic environment, especially in the automotive sector? If a deal can get done there, a deal can get done anywhere.

Ford is the only U.S.-based auto company that has not sought special government financial assistance. Alan Mulally, Ford’s CEO since the fall of 2006, has driven a focus on Ford’s cars and trucks. Bill Ford Jr., Chairman and family representative, selected the industry outsider from Boeing because he saw the need for the same type of business and cultural turn-around Mulally led at Boeing. Under Mulally, Ford has sold off non-core brands like Land Rover and Jaguar, and invested in not just needed model refreshes to core brands like Ford and Lincoln, but in new technologies and means of manufacturing to lower the cost of production and support faster responses to changes in the global marketplace.

Continuing focus on the core and cost pressures has brought new, open-minded thinking to what can be outsourced, breaking the mental barriers on what must be internally managed. That opened the door for Ford to outsource TBO for the first time.  Throughout the competitive vendor selection process, Ford had several clear objectives including a partner with a record of quality and progressive thought-driven innovation and investment, and one who would offer an “evergreening” of technology. Of course cost was also an issue, and Ford considered both long-term cost avoidance – what it would need to invest to continue to offer current state services in-house – and short-term cost savings – reductions in current spend.

TBO was already a big part of ACS’ Human Capital Management (HCM) Solutions services’ revenues. It is also a major growth focus under Rohail Khan, ACS’ Executive Managing Director Total Benefits Outsourcing. ACS has committed to investing $50 million through 2011 in upgrades to and expansions of its HCM offerings, technology and global customer service center network. According to Rohail, more than $20 million has already been invested in technology and capabilities that strengthen TBO. He considers the underlying technology design, which enables faster and lower cost changes and enhancements, as a key to strategic advantage and a means to protect profitability.

Having already made investments, enhancements and upgrades, ACS was test drive ready. Ford kicked the tires and selected ACS as the competitor who best demonstrated a match for its objectives.

However, to leverage its fast start off the line, ACS will need to address concerns about the Xerox acquisition. When the HCM unit becomes part of “ACS, a Xerox Company,” will it be considered a non-core unit like Jaguar at Ford, or will it be a strategic business line that is invested in and vitalized?

NelsonHall’s October BPO Index continues to show that buyers have revised strategies and budgets, as have providers. The Index further indicates buyers are on the path to getting deals done in 2010; they are identifying BPO opportunities (25 percent), expect to issue RFPs (48 percent) and make awards (37 percent). 

Competing for major deals starts way before the RFP arrives. Which services will be offered within a bundle and will be strong enough to stand alone against best-of-breed providers, and what investments will add both to competitive advantage and sustainable internal margins? Those best positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery and new growth opportunities will have already vetted strategic plans, made the investments, and now have shiny new cost competitive and compelling services offerings ready to roll off the lot.

The question is not just what you are doing today, but what did you do yesterday?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall