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Heads in the cloud

HR functions are increasingly required to devote significant time and resources to value-adding activities that contribute to business success, via an alternative HR service delivery model that leverages a new breed of cloud enabled outsourcing, freeing HR to think and act strategically. Mike Theaker, Global HR & Payroll Leader at HP, explains.

In 2013, the HR director is being tasked with responsibilities reaching far beyond HR administration and transactions to activities that demonstrably contribute to the achievement of business goals and priorities. A key expectation of HR is the development of a workforce with the desired mix of skills, capabilities, experience and behaviours, in specific geographies, at the right cost, required both now and in five-to-ten years, to successfully deliver business strategy. Key challenges to achieving this include; developing leaders, attracting and securing the best people, with the required skill sets in the right markets, developing, retaining and rewarding the best employees; creating a customer-focused, service-oriented HR service delivery model, capable of designing and delivering the required HR programmes and services; and Establishing HR analytics and performance metrics to measure progress, success and contribution to the business.

To be successful against these challenges HR must “raise the bar” in terms of the skills and capabilities of professionals within the function, and focus these resources on designing and developing HR programmes and services that will deliver critical value to the business. This necessitates creating a more efficient and cost-effective approach to HR service delivery, so removing the less value-adding administrative and transactional activities that can currently consume up to 60 percent of HR time and resources. A powerful approach to achieving this is through a combination HR Outsourcing (HRO) services that leverage cloud-enabled, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) HR solutions – such as SuccessFactors and Workday. Such services enable HR to deliver intuitive, functional systems and process automation tools which in turn increase service speed and reduce costs. The cloud-enabled HRO service also provides an HR Business Process as-a-service (BPaaS) approach that has the potential to deliver the quantum leap forward in HR operations that has so far eluded the majority of HR transformation efforts.

The central features of this HRO approach include: HRO services underpinned by cloud HR technologies to deliver powerful, flexible, scalable, rapidly-deployed and cost-effective solutions. SaaS technology connects HR with its primary customers through workforce administration, learning, performance management and recruitment processes to optimise performance in a cost-effective way. Mobile access to HR processes and services for employees and managers is a key feature and solutions must adapt to laptops, tablets and smartphones. The workforce, and in particular Generations Y and Z, not only want these types of technologies in the workplace, but expect them. Process and task automation tools that improve the accuracy and speed-to-complete of labour-intensive and complex HR processes and activities. These include robotic processing, scanning technologies, workflow technologies and call-routing technologies all of which reduce the usage of HR resources and therefore costs. HRO providers can deploy best-in-class automation tools to deploy for their customers’ benefit.

Analytical capabilities and tools to allow customers to access HR data, information, dashboards and tools, via the cloud, to support informed decision-making on recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining talent. Analytics can help answer questions such as: How will turnover patterns and age demographics impact growth plans? What is the profit per employee? Is it increasing or decreasing, and how does this compare to other organisations including competitors? Are top performers being retained? If not, why not, and how is this impacting the organisation’s ability to meet its strategic goals? HRO providers that can also aggregate information across multiple organisations and provide benchmark data by industry, geography and organisation size bring additional value to their services.

A global HR service footprint, comprising regional service delivery centres and standardised regional/global processes across geographies and business units to support the provision of global HR outsourcing through a single provider. Preconfigured services, using SaaS HR technologies and automation tools makes HRO cost effective for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and also makes it viable to support the small, as well as large, country populations of large organisations. To respond to business demands HR functions need to transform and focus their time and resources onto value-adding activities that demonstrably contribute to business success. To free HR resources to be able to do this necessitates a redesign of the HR service delivery model, ideally leveraging HRO providers that blend leading cloud HR technologies, mobile solutions, analytical tools and ‘live’ benchmark data and package these with standardised regional/global processes and a footprint of regional service centres, freeing HR to think and act strategically.

Mike Theaker, Global HR & Payroll Leader

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