How to Create an Effective HR Service Delivery Model in 2013 and Beyond
HR professionals are no strangers to dealing with change. There has been a continual flow of new techniques and technologies as well as a growing breadth in the strategic responsibilities of HR. In the new eBook “5 Essentials for Making HR Service Delivery Look & Feel Effortless” five seasoned experts expand on some of the most current challenges and opportunities in creating an effective HR service delivery model. The authors recently took some time to answer some key questions which I think truly underscore just how much change HR has seen, as well as provide a glimpse into where things are heading.
Founder and President of the HR Shared Services Institute (HRSSI)
You have almost 20 years of experience in shared services. How has shared services changed and evolved in the last 20 years?
Shared services is like one of those massive road races, like the one in my home town of Atlanta, the Peachtree Road Race. Each year, sixty thousand runners line up so deep at the starting line that the runners at the back cannot even see the start banner. The professionals and fastest runners who earn places at the front of the pack actually finish the race before thousands even get started. Similarly in shared services, the earliest adopters left the gate about 20 years ago, while many organizations are just now beginning their journey. Since organizations are at such different places on this journey, it is very difficult to generalize about where they are and have been.
But in retrospect, I do see shared services moving through three phases. The first phase I call the consolidation phase, in which the focus was on removing duplicative staffs and defragmenting roles. Next, the transformation phase continued leveraging consolidation savings but shifted focus to leveraging shared services to transform the role of HR, particularly HR business partners. We are now entering the third phase, which I call the empowerment phase. The new breed of web-based HR portals and HRMS platforms feature consumer-grade user interfaces that are taking employee and manager self-service to new levels. In this wave, self-service will progress from being a nice-to-have preferred alternative to being the primary channel of service. This shift will have a significant, if not profound, impact on the design and operation of shared services.
Chief Strategy Officer for Dovetail Software
What are some of the biggest implementation challenges you see?
Global by nature is one of the biggest challenges. Most of the time, companies are not documenting what they actually do on a day by day basis. A QMS (Quality Management System) should be in place so all employees and managers know and understand the necessary process. If companies do not know what their localized HR professionals are commonly doing on a day-to-day basis, it becomes more challenging to harmonize across a global footprint. You also have to take into account the legal and contractual laws within each country that you have localized HR deployed in. For example, in Russia you cannot pass employee data outside of the legal entity the employee belongs to without first obtaining a physical sign off from the employee. So if you’re running a global payroll outsourcing project that encompasses employees based in Russia, you would be required to get a physical employee signature from each Russian employee prior to any Russian employee data being passed to the payroll outsourcing vendor.
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of cfactor
Creating a unified gateway for employees can be challenging for companies who already have various systems in place, what is your advice to help overcome some common hurdles?
As part of my day job, I regularly get to speak with HR practitioners from a wide range of companies operating in vastly different industries. A technology challenge that routinely comes to the forefront is: “How do I deliver a unified, highly adopted employee technology environment?” Often companies have made significant investments in technology but they are disappointed in the level of adoption – their employees don’t use it much. Why? Often, it is too complicated/fragmented – too many URLs, user Ids, passwords etc. Employees are not sure what system does what. Employees are busy. For the HR system to be valuable, it must simplify their lives – not add to the complexity.
When companies look to improve the employee experience and drive new efficiencies by upgrading their HR Tech environment, they are often presented with the daunting proposition of an expensive, “rip-and-replace” project. This often entails an expensive price tag, lots of risk and significant delays in getting to the strategic ROI desired by the senior leadership. However, there is another way. Advances in Internet technologies and integration methods now make it possible to effectively link and extend disparate HR technologies within one consolidated web-based environment. By deploying a unified employee gateway that delivers the right information, analytics, metrics, processes, consultation from within one consolidated web-based environment – 1 URL, 1 set of login credentials, regardless of what role, location or type of employee (i.e. permanent or contingent). When you leverage this unified environment, you can deliver the essentials an employee needs, such as access to self-service tools (i.e. pay statements, income verification letters, schedules etc.), company communications, key performance metrics, employee social networks and real-time collaboration.
One of the most common barriers to change is in actually understanding what cost savings are associated with unification and usually there is some debunking of myths that you have to replace all of your systems to find something that works. If you take an inventory of what systems/processes are already working and note the gaps in functionality that you need that’s a good start. Ask a few questions of your people in different roles and locations to find out just how accessibility is affecting productivity, how much time is spent manually porting data from one system and cross-referencing or re-entering it into another. And build a business case for unification from that. If you take a closer look at how well-used the systems are, that can also be a good indicator of whether or not people are able to leverage what is being provided for them. It could also mean that the process or system itself is not as effective as needed, and you probably need to examine that carefully as well. When you can attribute a value to the lost productivity and related to accessibility issues, it can be very powerful in identifying the need to adopt a unification platform.
Why is technology user adoption so critical to successful HR service delivery?
Just as with any other process or tool, the value is defined by the customer or end user. If a new tool, process or platform is put in, but no one uses it, you've effectively wasted a significant amount of time and money. If we are to truly be effective and efficient, we can't give away critical resources like that. We have to design our systems with adoption in mind, and eliminate anything that doesn't enhance the experience of the user and the customer.
VP Sales at cfactor
What is social HR and why does it matter?
I think “social HR” can simply be defined as the convergence of the traditional HR function with social technologies. You can look at it as an evolution of the HR role – starting when HR for the most part meant administration and paperwork – things had to be transacted and recorded manually. Next came the introduction of automation and self service types of technologies which provided new capabilities to move transactions online. The social HR age we are in now encompasses the benefits that social technologies have to offer in HR. Things like collaboration forums, live chat, user-generated content and ratings, video, etc. can be embedded right into HR processes and systems at the exact time and place where they are needed. This employee-centric environment delivers greater efficiencies and improves productivity. It also provides users with the same type of engaging and interactive online experience as they would experience in their personal lives. The coming together of those elements is what can really take HR service delivery to the next level by creating a comprehensive “engagement platform”– employees don’t just have to be in the system, they want to be there.
This passionate dialogue with HR Stars will continue in the upcoming HCI webcast How to Run HR Shared Services like a Thriving Business on April 24th. If you are interested in reading more from them, download a complimentary copy of the eBook 5 Essentials for Making HR Service Delivery Look and Feel Effortless here.