Let Them Eat Tech

@AndySpence

The HR Tech Congress, the second held in Paris, was yet again a splendid mix of stimulating speakers, great organisations and brilliant technology.  However, the smell of revolution was in the air…

Professor Gary Hamel made a rallying cry that was so loud it could be heard 17km away in The Palace of Versailles,”Kill bureaucracy and you’ll unclog the arteries of business,” whilst Dr.Daniel Thorniley warned us about the economy, and it was not good news.  Debt, low growth and a rising populist tide in politics means soon we will all be working in the gig economy, whether we like it or not.

How will we survive this extended downturn?

“What will we eat?” they ask.

 “Let them eat cake!” the response of the ancien régime.

(Or as Marie Antoinette did not say “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”. But ‘let them eat brioche’ doesn’t have the same ring to it – anyway I digress)

Gary Hamel told the HR audience to “to stop fiddling at the margins” and take up arms against bureaucracy, the biggest barrier to productivity in business.  Hamel even invented a word for this corporate disease “Bureausclerosis

If you can spell it, surely you can destroy it, right?

The symptoms of bureausclerosis Hamel described were: added management layers, isolation of leaders, longer decision cycles, increase in formalized policies, rule proliferation, increase in power of staff groups, organization becomes primitive, loss of ‘voice’ from staff, increase in legal processes, decrease in risk-taking, and the politicization of it all.

Ready or not, here comes the Gig Economy

If Professor Hamel gave us some examples of what was needed to transform business, Dr. Daniel Thorniley provided us with the big picture on the economy.  We are living in an unprecedented period of low growth where 63% of youths in the Eurozone do not have proper contracted employment.  Many will be forced into the Gig Economy, and this doesn’t just mean a nation of musicians and artisans, but also hosts, drivers, plumbers and (of course) humble HR consultants. Many will struggle to make a living or have the security that the previous generation have taken for granted.  I read Thorniley’s latest 46-page report, Global Business Outlook 2016-2020, with the cheery subtitle, “Why there is no future for your children.”

Now all this makes for gloomy reading and we might expect delegates of HR Tech Congress to dust off their Édith Piaf records and get out the whiskey,

but many could be heard asking, “OK, it all sounds terrible, but does this impact me?”

“Mais oui, bien sur!” (my franglais is improving)

In HR, changing business models and global economic drivers will determine whether we are scrambling for candidates, sweating our employees for discretionary effort, or working on clever algorithms to automate work.  I would guess a larger proportion of the 3,500 delegates will be joining the gig economy over the next few years.

One thing’s for sure, we might not be able to guess where the economy is going, but there are plenty of technology developments to get excited about.

Software is eating HR

So, if our business models and organisations are changing before our eyes, this raises some big questions.

How does this affect the way we think of work, organisations, and society?

Do our old people management practices still work?

How does HR respond to this? “New systems anyone?”

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

This message seems to resonate with the HR Technology industry and is especially true now.

My concern is whether we have the right set of people management practices for the type of organisations that Hamel says will flourish?  Are we in danger of simply crystallising the processes that served us well in the last century?

These and other questions present the challenge for HR and the technology industry today.

I had the pleasure of introducing some excellent presentations in the well-attended HR Tech stream, so could not attend as many presentations as usual.  However, my fellow blog squad comrades have done a great job of sharing what they saw.

-> Reinventing HR: 12 key takeaways from #HRTechWorld from David Green

-> My top 10 disruptHR’ers at HR Tech World Congress from Faye Holland

-> Accelerating Gender Balance in Tech from Dorothy Dalton

-> And this is a great resource – all the presentations from Paris (and previous conferences) in one place: HR Tech World Congress Presentations

I was also fortunate enough to look under the bonnet of some of the latest tech tools, and I am particularly interested in the use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence in solving business problems.  I saw some useful tools that work as a stop gap for current recruiting/ATS software, e.g. tools that help prioritise recruiters workload using simple algorithms.

There were some nice looking visualisation tools that sit on top of current HRIS systems showing historic data.  However, I was disappointed that I didn’t find any genuine machine learning or pattern recognition in this space, despite some of the marketing claims.   People Analytics is an exciting area in the early stages of its development.  However we need to overcome some key challenges to be successful, see my recent post, “7 Challenges That People Analytics Must Overcome”

Building the new HR Republic

There were many great stories of companies building the new republic, making progress, solving business problems and embracing technology.   Technology is indeed being used to transform whole industries and the biggest impact on HR will not be on how we operate, but on how we manage work in the future.

For those in HR and leadership roles, there is plenty we can do before we even think of buy new software. We can start by asking, what is the evidence that this practice (e.g. performance, talent, hiring, learning, engagement) works in our organisation now, and will do in the future?

It was a dismal economist who gave our profession the name, Human Resources, rendering people as an asset to manage.

Maybe this term also belongs to the last century along with Bureaucracy?

As with many revolutions, there will be casualties, but change can pave the way for a new order and a better approach to people management.

So when managers in your organisation ask about the conference and the impact on their staff, you might mention defeating bureausclerosis, the challenges of low growth and the gig economy.

If they then ask, “But, what will they eat?”, just simply reply,

“Let them eat tech”.

À bientôt.

(This was a guest post on the HRN Blog)

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BPaaS Rising HR Outsourcing in the Cloud

BPaaS Rising HRNWhat is the impact of SaaS on HR Outsourcing?  I have written how BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) might provide a “Silver Lining for HR Outsourcing”.

One of the pioneers of BPaaS is OneSource Virtual, who are well known in the US as one of the largest Workday implementation partners.  They recently opened their Derry European Service Centre in Northern Ireland and plan to create 290 jobs by the end of 2017.  This is great news for Derry and also for prospective and current Workday customers in the UK and Europe.    I am delighted to share a conversation I had with Wesley Bryan, President, COO and Co-Founder of OneSource Virtual, who will be at HR Tech World in London next week. 

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Wesley Bryan, President, COO and Co-Founder of OneSource Virtual

Tell me a little bit about how One Source Virtual came about and what you do?

OneSource Virtual supports the automated delivery of Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) and supports the delivery of solutions exclusively for Workday. We empower organizations of all sizes by providing Workday deployment, consulting, training and in-application payroll services, benefit administration, finance and accounting outsourcing, and application management services.

It is exciting news about your new Customer Centre in Northern Ireland, why did you choose Derry?

Because we knew the next phase of our business was to launch our UK HRMS and Payroll services, we knew it would be strategically beneficial to have a service centre in that area.  After a long selection process, we finally settled on Derry because of its labour market, stellar talent, and the positive relationship its government has on businesses. The talent and workforce in Derry is absolutely unbelievable. We certainly haven’t regretted our decision.

What services will you be providing in the UK this year?

OSV provides UK AMS Consulting, Workday Deployment, UK Payroll and Tax Services, and will be launching an Employee Service Centre that will assist with Workday Helpdesk, Workforce Administration, Benefits Services, Document Management and Administration Services. In the latter part of 2017, we will also be providing AP Processing in the UK.

HR Outsourcing gets a mixed reception due to some tricky relationships in the last 20 years, is BPaaS less risky for organisations?

Absolutely. When BPaaS is used to outsource, we don’t have to go into a company’s system and takeover the maintenance of the software like a traditional BPO.  Through BPaaS, a company is able to outsource services within their system of record. This makes it less risky to the customer because their system is already in- house.  A customer can decide at any time to bring an outsourced service back in-house and we can make that change without altering their structure.

You have done 870+ Workday projects (initial deployments and add-on engagements). What is the no.1 tip you can give on a successful implementation?

Don’t underestimate the complexity in deploying the software. It is imperative to bring in a partner that can help you design and think through how you will utilize and configure the software.

At what point in the HR software buying/implementation cycle would an organisation consider BPaaS?

Typically and ideally during the buying cycle. The BPaaS delivery model is very different from your traditional BPO service model and if you want a true BPaaS offering, you have to be careful to choose a true multi-tenancy SaaS provider who can deliver a range of services that can be standardized across a variety of customers and ultimately be more cost–effective. If that is important to you, it should be discussed during the buying cycle.

Finally, what do you think is the most exciting trend in HR Tech in the coming years?

What excites me the most is the way systems are being built today.  It isn’t uncommon to see various platforms sharing information in real time. For instance you can log in to one platform by using your Facebook credentials. The possibilities with that type of technology are endless because you’re not limited to the information that is only in your database.

This was a guest blog for HRN Blog, "BPaaS Rising – HR Outsourcing in the Cloud"

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HR Robots: Transformers in Disguise?

Transformers-Robots-In-Disguise-San-Diego-Comic-Con-2015-Exclusive-Trailer

At HR Tech Europe last year I was fortunate to meet a very nice robot, called Oscar, who works for Oracle.

In ‘speaking’ to the Robot, I noticed it’s intelligence was limited by the human who was hiding behind the conference stand using a microphone.  It dawned on me that it passed the Turing Test, but in reverse.  As you know, the Turing Test, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from that of a human.  So, the reverse Turing Test, is a test of a human’s ability to tell if a robot is really human?

According to McKinsey, the automation of Knowledge Work will have an economic impact of between $5 to $7 trillion dollars by 2020.  (see  “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy”  which is an excellent 176 page PDF report)

In their book, ‘The Second Machine Age  – Work, Progress and Prosperity in a time of Brilliant Technologies’ McAfee & Brynjolfsson, explain that the ‘first machine age’ gave rise to the modern discipline of management; companies hired armies of managers to co-ordinate the workers who operated the machines, and to organise supply chains and distribution systems.  The ‘second machine age’ will reconfigure the discipline: much of the work of bosses, from analysing complex data to recruiting staff and setting bonuses, will be automated.  The impact on society of this and the age of “peak-jobs” is one for the economists, futurists and gulp……..politicians.  (see for example  “Intelligent” robots threaten millions of jobs warns Ed Balls )

However smart machines impact us right now.

Google’s “human-performance analytics group” uses algorithms to decide which interview techniques are best at choosing good employees, and to optimise pay.

Robots in literature and movies have been used to project our greatest fears. Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) (1921) – is credited with coining the term “robot”, which in its original Czech, “robota” means forced labour, and is derived from “rab”, meaning “slave.”

In the context of the automation of work, the visceral fear is not having a job or livelihood, but what we are talking about here is not so much CP30, but rather the general adoption of “smart-machines” replacing traditional white-collar work.

So what is the impact of Robots on HR ?

Firstly, the ongoing transformation of the workforce enabled by technology means our HR strategies are looking increasingly out of date.  We can guess that there may be less workers, probably different contracts of employment and definitely different skills required.  So our annual performance reviews and engagement surveys in a workforce full of freelancers, working 24 X 7 across the globe is looking very last century.

Secondly, even more HR transactional work itself has the potential to be automated.

When we talk about Robots in HR, what we really mean is Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

What is RPA ?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.

What does RPA really look like?

RPA in practice covers process automation, IT support and management and automated assistants.

An ideal set of circumstances in which to apply RPA are rules-based, repeated and standardised work activities.

So in HR, RPA lends itself well to core HR data administration using a central ERP system, payroll, on-boarding and off-boarding.

I have written about the impact of cloud technology on HR and the need for HR to standardise its processes to utilise new SaaS Technology,  “Will HR in the Cloud kill HR Outsourcing?” and Phil Fersht followed up with his slam dunk article, “HR in the Cloud: It won’t kill HRO, but it may kill what’s left of dysfunctional HR”.

There is a trend of reducing HR work, particularly transactional work, and I see RPA as a continuation of this trend.

When we review a HR function, we look at all HR work activity with different lenses.  So for HR work that is not subsumed by HR in the Cloud, we now look to see whether we can eliminate, automate or outsource – and now RPA can play a key role here in automation.

What are the benefits for HR ?

Howard H Nelson, Founder and Managing Director of Honhr Ltd, writing on the Genfour Blog,  suggests the following :-

“RPA will initially make significant in-roads into the transactional HR activities and eventually become the feeder of business intelligence into the higher-end activities and will impact all processes.  Robotic costs are already massively beneficial when compared to equivalent full-time employees (£2,000-3,000 of robot power can displace £20,000-30,000 of employee costs) the maths of the new proposition have already made a paradigm shift. “

See also my interview with Hayley Lange at Genfour, "Where does RPA sit in the wider HR transformational landscape?"

The term ‘Robot’ is probably not helpful, and may fall by the wayside after a few years.  However RPA will fill a gap in current HR Models until we all move to the promised land of HR in the Cloud with easy to use HR Technology.

The implication for HR and future Operating Models is that we often look at areas of HR which are core and strategic; those that need to be kept in house and those areas which could be outsourced.  Now we have a new string to our bow – which activities can we give to robots?

Maybe robots will turn out to be better guides than your humble consultant, but surely that’s taking it too far !

Get in touch and let me know what you discover @AndySpence and #HRTechWorld, and I will hopefully see you in London or Paris in 2016!

This post was orginally posted on the HR Tech Europe Blog as a guest post.

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Workday Service Partners – Overview of European Market

Workday Service Partners Europe

The Workday Rising Europe 2015 roadshow is kicking off in Dublin this week – a melting pot of existing customers, prospects and Workday partners.  One things for sure there will be plenty of HR Technology craic.

This article looks at the European Workday Service Partner ecosystem, provides some independent analysis of the market and some useful links for those thinking of moving to Workday.

So, why am I writing this article?  I have been involved in over 20 transformation programmes in the last 15 years, and nearly all of them involved HR Technology.  My particular focus is to help organisations develop smarter HR Operating Models aligned to business goals.  New waves of technological innovation has meant for the first time business needs are lagging technological capabilities.  See my article for HR Tech Europe Blog – “HR in a Time of Brilliant Technologies”, however when assessing the impact of new technology on HR, we sometimes get dazzled by the ‘glare’.  Workday has been a real catalyst for transforming HR.  One feature of selecting Workday as your HR technology system is that you have to work with an authorised Workday Service Provide, although there are good reasons for this, we think “how you implement” and “who with” should be a major consideration when selecting HR software.

To start with, we should say, we like Workday and what it has achieved in helping to transform HR. However, it’s role as a HR transformer is not because the functionality of the software blows away earlier generations, but also because it has risen on the wave of technological changes such as mobile, cloud and better integration.

There are three other reasons, we think why Workday is a true HR transformer.

1 – Workday’s main success has been to pitch successfully to the C-Suite.  By raising enthusiasm for great people management, HR has had another go at making the case for workforce transformation after some patchy results in the last 20 years.

2 – Implementing major new software usually requires a business case to the Board, and this has led to HR having to provide assurance that HR has an operating model that is fit for the future.  A new system has often triggered a review of what we do in HR to support the business, the structures, skills and ways of working. 

3 – Every Workday customer gets the same software, and this has forced HR to simplify and streamline processes.  The upshot has been that after making the case to invest in our people management infrastructure, HR has been able to focus more on business priorities whether that is developing talent, sales effectiveness or productivity.

 

In going through the process of choosing the best HR system to suit the requirements of your business, you will have considered some of Workday’s competitors :- SuccessFactors, Cornerstone, Meta4, Fairsail, FinancialForce.com, ADP, Ceridian, Oracle and MS Excel (joking!)

Whichever software you select, a key consideration is choosing the right implementation partner, in terms of cost, quality and risk management and ultimately successful business outcomes.   In our post, How to Earn your HR Cloud Tattoo, I shared some tips to consider when implementing your cloud-based HR system.  This included “Make sure you check out suitable partners before you select the software as this will significantly influence the pricing for your project.”

Once the HR Technology selection decision has been made, the next step is to find an authorised Workday Service Partner.  This is not necessarily a problem, but buyers should line up their preferred partner before signing the Workday contract.  This is important as the success of your Workday implementation will depend on the quality of the service partner, and it is worth thinking about this before you sign the contract.  We have also noticed it is harder to get good independent advice for buyers.  Analysts, well they analyse…Consultants provide advice, but also have big Workday practices – they know the product but have a clear vested interest, and Workday themselves are trying to create a healthy service partner ecosystem.  This involves supporting new entrants into the market and ensuring the quality of deployment is high. 

Anyone who has earnt their “HR Cloud Tattoo”, knows “putting in a HR system” doesn’t “transform HR” or improve the “workforce capability” despite some of the sales pitches I have come across.  Improving workforce capability will only start once the system is stabilised, the new operating model is working and leaders confidently empower managers to manage effectively.  This can take years, not a few months.

A view on the European Workday Service Partner market

For those who have selected Workday, your next step will be to choose one of the official Service Partners.

For customers, this is generally good news.  On the one hand you can be assured that service partners work to a stringent standard, that the software will be deployed using consistent service standards and every consultant is Workday certified.

On the flipside, you have a more limited group of service partners to choose from.  Also, although each partner is reputable, it is more difficult to get independent advice within this context on scope, commercials, programme management issues with Workday. To be blunt, some of the service partners, as you will see below, rely 100% on Workday for their revenues – they are not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

The market for certified Workday consultants is hot!  There is high demand from customers, but a low supply of experienced certified Workday consultants.  As the Workday sales machine does its thing, competition for consultants will increase and so will salaries – potentially pushing up the implementation bill for customers.

Workday is growing fast, but is still not profitable.  The cost per employee per year will not be going down, even if the competition mentioned above come snapping at their heels.  

The market is changing all the time and will evolve in the next few years which is very important for Workday’s long-term success.  As you can see the Workday European Service Provider market has some familiar names, and some more you will not have heard of.  We have characterised the 17 European providers into 5 different sections :- from the Big 4 and Tech Titans, HR Heritage providers, to the general Cloud experts and Workday specialists.  We will continue to see M&A activity in this space.   The Big 4 and Tech Titans (and outsourcers) will make a move for their smaller competitors as the best way to acquire certified Workday consultants and buy a chunk of market share.

I would also expect one or two of the US focused providers to enter the European market. For example, one of the largest Workday Service Providers in the US, OneSource Virtual, has recently opened a centre in Derry, Northern Ireland, so will be growing its capability in Europe.

I could plot the Workday partners on a 2 by 2 matrix with ‘completion of vision’ against ‘ability to execute’ and show you how many certified consultants each provider has, but I not sure this will help you find the right partner given your requirements and the maturity of this market.  Instead, I would characterise the market into 5 segments.

The Big 4

Well I am not sure if its Big 4 or 5 these days, it doesn’t look like Ernst & Young are a major player in this space for now anyway…

Accenture – 2nd largest service partner globally according to HfS, in terms of certified consultants.  Can take on the larger, more complex programmes

Deloitte – with 120 Workday customers, it is probably the largest service partner globally

KPMG –  showed ambition by buying Towers Watson’s Workday practice this year

PwC – have over 200 Workday professionals globally

Pros – they have big pockets and seem committed to this market.  They have a breadth of offerings in technology and consulting, and their Account Manager probably plays golf with your CIO and CFO.

Cons – they can turn any project into a massive industry fuelled by an expensive army of fresh-faced analysts.  Relatively expensive, and unless you are Unilever you will not be at the top of the queue for the best consultants.

Question to Service Partner – “Your sales director is *very nice*, but please can I interview the actual team I will be working with?”

The Tech Titans

Like the Big 4, the Tech Titans are well known and survivors. They can work on a mega scale and all keen to develop longer-term outsourcing solutions. (not sure whether Accenture fits in here or Big 4…)

Cap Gemini – European tech giant with HQ in Paris

CSC – A global leader in providing technology enabled business solutions and services

HPE – Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who recently split with HP Inc

IBM – recently bought Meteorix, probably the 3rd biggest SP in terms of Global Workday certified consultants

Pros – they will be on your short-list if they already run some of your tech infrastructure, so you will know how they work to some extent.  If you are thinking of implementing Workday then outsourcing or considering BPaaS then I am sure the tech titan will be interested in negotiating.  (see my article for CIPD on Will the Cloud have a Silver Lining for HR Outsourcing? )

Cons – not usually a great fit for smaller organisations as you will be down their pecking order, but some are trying to build up their practice quickly so worth considering if they are keen. 

Question to Service Partner – “What do you mean you can’t come to a meeting in Berlin because of your Q4 travel freeze!?”

 

HR Heritage

So these guys have been doing your pension and benefits admin since 1953 and know everything about HR and have some very good consultants.

AON – showed their commitment to this market by buying Kloud this year, also big player in HR Outsourcing

Mercer – one of the smaller Workday SPs, with a wealth of knowledge in pensions, investment and workforce

Pros – depth and breadth of HR knowledge.

Cons – Towers Watson had their Workday practice bought by KPMG…wonder whether Mercer can compete with the Big 4 and Tech Titans?

Question to Service Partner – “Can we talk about your Benefits plans? (only joking!)”

 

The Cloud Specialists

These two are regarded as expert at cloud implementations.

Appirio – very experienced with 900+ enterprises moved to the cloud with Salesforce.com, Google and Workday

Kainos – 750 staff with 150 global customers

Pros – both have good reputations and know their cloud deployment techniques

Cons – will have less breadth of offerings as Big 4 and Heritage HR

Question to Service Partner – “How do you stop your team being poached by the Big 4 and Tech Titans?”

 

The Workday Specialists

These service partners live and breathe Workday and have a symbiotic relationship with the mother lode.  Some have local payroll expertise.

Ataraxis – based in Belgium and know European payroll

Cloudator – A cloud-based multi-country payroll system for the Nordics

DayNine Consulting – European clients include Cambridge University Press, TIP Trailer Services and Global Blue

EverBe – Based in Paris.  HR and local payrolls for France, Benelux, Italy and Spain

Realright – specialist with focus on the German market

Pros – might fit your niche perfectly e.g. German/Nordic payroll and probably cheaper than the Big 4.

Cons – they are specialists so less able to provide broader technology and consulting services, also good candidates for takeover by bigger fish.

Question to Service Partner – “So tell me, how many share options do you have then?”  

This was a short overview of the main players which you might find useful, and some tips and to consider before choosing your Workday Service Partner, but if you have decided to use Workday here are some of the considerations when selecting a Workday Service Partner:-

– Consider the fit with your organisation and team – if you have 1,700 employees you will be way down the pecking order for the Big 4 and Tech Titans who might send their intern down to meet you for scoping meetings!

– Are you considering outsourcing, or BPaaS as an option?  Then it’s worth sticking with the same partner through the whole process if you can and evaluating the vendors outsourcing capability up front.

– It’s important to consider and see their proprietary Tools and Methods developed.  The winners in this market will develop the best tools that consultants want to work with and give best results and customer satisfaction.

– Workday will often recommend a particular service partner to work with, this is worth listening to, but their interests (keeping the ecosystem healthy) might be different to yours, so also prepare a shortlist to evaluate.

– It’s crucial that the consultants working on your project have a good understanding of the particular regulations in your geographies.  This could mean for your organisation, the 20 deployments in France and Belgium are more important than the 200 deployments in the US.

– Make sure you meet the actual implementation team.  As well as Workday experience, look for broader HR/consulting experience.  Will they get on with your team?

– Sector experience – Workday is building up its credentials in different sectors in Europe but isn’t there yet….check the Service Partners understand your industry?

– A general point, from our experience the cloud service partner can probably get the system up and running quicker than your organisation can make the required business decision and adapt to the change.  Make sure you have good governance, programme management and excellent change and communications skills in your team.

– Ask to speak to at least 2 or 3 customers in your industry/geography for references.

If you have already earnt your HR Cloud Tattoo, then please share your experience in selecting a Service Partner.  I would also welcome any tips and suggestions from Service Providers themselves, directly or on Twitter @AndySpence.

If you would like this article in a nice PDF format, then let us know and we promise not to charge you $1,295!  And enjoy Dublin if you are at Workday Rising this week!

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How to earn your HR Cloud Tattoo

HR in the Cloud Tattoo - Copyright Glass Bead Consulting

The relentless move of HR to the cloud is ongoing, with over 2000 organisations now using or moving to the Big 3 software providers.

And HR software in the cloud is not just for larger organisations, for example in the UK, Moorepay currently serves over 8,000 SMB businesses in the cloud for payroll, HR and compliance services.

The good news for HR is that the HR technology industry has accumulated a useful body of knowledge for those about to embark on this journey.

From my perspective having worked on over 20 different HR change programmes, HR in the Cloud, is a major catalyst for transforming HR.

Organisations have been forced to standardise their processes and procedures so they can use the software, as there is no customisation with SaaS (Software as a Service).  This brings simplification and focus on more valuable HR services.  Also, making the case to the Board for investment in HR software requires a well thought through business case, and gives confidence that the HR Operating Model is fit for the future.

So if software is forcing HR to rethink how it operates (the tail wags the dog) – who cares if we get positive outcomes?

It is crucial for HR to get this transition right, collectively we have plenty of scars to show after some painful ERP implementations in the last 20 years.

As an industry we need to ensure we pass on our learning and experience to others, and conferences like the HR Tech World Congress, this year in Paris, provide a good forum to do that.

With organisations moving to the cloud we should learn from those who have “been there, done that, got the Cloud Tattoo”.

If you are a HR leader, thinking about moving or in the process of moving to the cloud, then this article is meant for you.

Once you have selected the software, now comes the hard bit – planning a successful cloud technology implementation.

Here are some tips that you might not hear at the vendor pitch.

1 – It’s the people, stupid…

You might be putting in a new system, but to be successful you will need people to work in a different way.  The more thought you can put into the project  team, future HR team, new skills and relationships the better.  Sounds obvious, but it’s easy to lose focus with contracts, Board presentations and enthusiastic account managers to deal with.

The project team needs to have a good mix of people who understand the new technology, those with a vested interest in a successful implementation, and those who have a good understanding of business needs and nuances.

Do you have the right skills required for the project and if not, how will you fill the gaps?

The skills needed to manage HR are different to the skills needed to transform HR.

You will need storytellers, analysts, designers, trainers, pragmatists and optimists (contact me for this job description!)

Work out how you will facilitate knowledge transfer between the technologists and your operational team.

Ensure that when you set the budget and select the programme team, there are enough resources allocated to communications, change and training expertise – but you work in HR, so you know this right?

Do you have a business sponsor?

This is essential to provide guidance, support and credibility to the changes you are making.  Preferably the business sponsor is someone who stands to benefit from the change, and doesn’t work in HR.

William Tincup and Jeremy Ames, give some advice  “Catalog the ways in which your users will “love” the new software”

Do you have a group of fans who “love” the proposed changes?

These people will be crucial, so nurture their enthusiasm and lavish them with early reviews, and benefits.  Customer user groups should be established up front and this will help you with #2 Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (see below).

One tip from Michael Custers, SVP Strategy & Marketing at NGA Human Resources,

“apply some design thinking around ’employee experience’ – the cloud greatly improves the user experience of HR self-service applications. This is an opportunity to improve the touch points between employee and employer and puts the user/employee at the heart of your HR service delivery ‘engine’.”

You may have selected and costed the software, but have you done the same for your implementation partner?

Make sure you check out suitable partners before you select the software as this will significantly influence the pricing for your project.

With system integrators, insist on meeting the team who are being proposed for the project. Having worked on both sides of the client/vendor fence, I know scheduling pre-contract is tricky.  It is sometimes very difficult to say which of your team will be working for which client before the contract has been signed.     However, your project should not be a glorified training course for expensive ‘green-beans’ !

Have you taken the IT Director out to dinner yet?

The way we deliver HR is being revolutionised, and it’s similar in IT.  With SaaS, we might not have to worry so much about the hardware, but it does throw up a whole load of other technology issues e.g. data security, existing infrastructure, mobile access and support that will require you to have IT on your side.  The relationship between HR and IT is changing, but working together you can be even more effective in instigating change.

2 – Decisions, decisions, decisions….

You have made THE big decision – which software to buy. Now you now need to create the right environment to be a ‘decision-making factory’.

As Peter Drucker said, “making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level”.

Why? At this point the last thing you need is any delay, with deployment consultants on the project – every delayed day burns money.

As you get into delivery, you will have to make a number of decisions along the classic project management triangle of ‘Time vs Scope vs Cost’.

For example what happens if the implementation budget is cut or there are time delays?   Ensure you have a robust governance framework agreed from the onset with a Business Sponsor to help iron out issues, decide who will be on your Governance Board and what their role will be.

In my experience, the big time consumers are not always the big technology decisions, but changing the working practices, rules and processes and the hundreds of smaller decisions, such as ;

– How will recruitment approvals be made in different parts of the business ?

– How will workplan harmonisation work?

– The finer details of the revamped intranet design?

The list goes on…..it’s worth keeping some kind of decision log so you can go back to the original vision and review design principles if needed (see #4 below Is your operating model fit for the future?).

3 – Don’t let the software sales team pitch to YOUR customers

Well of course they will, but you need to be very clear about the expectations that are being set with your internal business customers – this is your job, not theirs.

Worst case scenario? A demo with a short film showing smiling, happy software users – like a scene from the “Truman Show”.  What the software vendors say will of course be true, but they might not (have time to) explain the effort, broken bones and cost to get to that dream state!

Make sure you manage YOUR customers expectations NOT the software account manager.

4 – Is your HR Operating Model fit for the future?

Make sure everyone is clear on why you are making this change, and how it supports your organisation vision. If it doesn’t – then STOP.

HR Operating Models are developing rapidly driven by technology, changing workforce demographics plus the insight that moving to a pre-defined model will not work. See these articles for more context Is Your Operating Model Fit for the Future?.

We need to apply our OD skills to deliver a HR model that works for our organisation, the system should support this.

Ensure the Board approve the vision and a simple set of design principles.

Develop the elevator pitch, to motivate and train up new team members.    Unfortunately, for large global projects, by the time the system is fully operational, the HR Strategy, and HR Operating required to support it might have changed anyway.  The new system will need to support future workforce needs and future HR structures whether you have Business Partners, Shared Services or use outsourced providers.

In this article from Diginomica, Gerard Hussey, VP HR Transformation at pharmaceuticals giant GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), mentions,

All the issues we had post go-live were around the end-to-end service model. So if you only focus on the technology, you’re dead.” 

 

5 – Build out your road map

By now you will have your trusty project plan, but you will also need something that moves beyond the duration of the project. When the project is over, the transformation is only in the early stages, how will you embed the changes into ‘business as usual’?

Jeremy Josephs, Sales Executive at HP for Workday and Outsourcing, gives some advice, “it’s essential to keep the momentum going after the first 90 days post go-live, make sure you have a plan in place to manage ongoing support and to reinforce the transformation goals.”

You will need the planners to be aware of the bigger picture, such as what other projects/programmes are going on that might impact your change?  What are the ongoing activities you need to plan around, for example, operational peaks and troughs, holidays?

The IT team will focus on the technology change, but how will old processes be phased out, as you introduce new HR services?

With cloud technology you can implement more quickly than in the past, sometimes the pace is above your organisations ability to change.  Try and factor this into your planning and expectation management.  Make sure you control the pace of change, not the technology provider.

Understand the known barriers before you start, there are plenty of lessons learned out there so make sure you can reel off the obvious ones and find a friend who has gone through the pain and earned their “Cloud Tattoo”.

 

Finally, clear your diary

You will have a project team and leader in place, but given that you are the HR Director, and know a lot about #1 “the people”, your expertise will be in demand.

You will have thought about how your organisation will make decisions effectively, but this will introduce just a little bit of process, meetings and review time.  Your management of the change will require you to sell the change to your managers, so if you are the evangelistic type of leader, you will be on the road a lot.  So clear the diary in the usual way.

Remember the 4 Ds – Drop, Delay, Delegate & Do

Finally, I hate to break it to you but even on successful implementation things will go wrong, sometimes really wrong.

So build up as much emotional and mental resilience as you can – you will need it!

As some old hands will realise, many of the considerations mentioned are not to do with Cloud models per se.   My point is that we should not forget the collective lessons learned and wisdom of past technology implementations.

For those who have been there, please share your tips and experience!

Tap me on the shoulder at HR Tech World Congress and I will show you my scars if you show me your cloud tattoo ðŸ˜‰

This article was originally published on the HR Tech World blog as a guest post.

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The Campaign for Meaningful Work

david graeber pointless jobs tube poster

This week I am thinking about the “why of work” for a few reasons.  Firstly, I am going to the Meaning Conference in Brighton, where I live, a gathering for people who believe business can and must be a force for positive change.  Secondly, the same evening I am seeing one of my favourite  bands, The Fall, who have been going strong since 1977.  As the late John Peel explained, they are “always different, always the same.”  Thirdly, I also have a 20 year reunion with friends I started work with back in 1995. 

If I apply the why of work to each situation, why has the lead singer of The Fall, Mark E Smith, churned out an album nearly every year since 1977?  Why is there still a bond between people who long stopped working or socialising with each other?

Work is clearly more than paying the bills, it fulfils a much bigger human need – to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  Through our work, we seek a sense of purpose and a connection with others.  Yet, there is a crisis in the modern workplace, from YouGov research that shows “37% of British workers think their jobs are meaningless” to David Graeber’s article, in STRIKE! magazine,  “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs”.  Quotes in David’s article were used by activists to plaster the Tube in London with posters. 

The workplace is a fragile balancing act between employee’s needs and employers’ needs. There is a  relentless pressure on employers to get more out of staff, and increasing employee productivity is the holy grail.

Over the last few years, employee engagement has been pushed as the solution with an assumption that increasing employee engagement increases productivity.

Organisations can spend massive amounts of energy and cost on initiatives to increase employee engagement with the belief that (1) it will raise productivity and (2) it is the right thing to do.

However, there are some glaring flaws with this:

We don’t actually know what employee engagement is.

Definitions typically point to many factors – see here for a good example of employee engagement which shows 9 factors.  This makes it far too complex to analyse, and definitely too difficult to convert into actions that make a positive difference.

We don’t know what actually causes employee engagement.

There are lots of studies which show correlations between engaged and productive staff, but it is very difficult to isolate cause and effect relationships. 

There is a correlation between organisations with high employee engagement and better performance.  However this does not mean employee engagement causes higher performance.  For example, we might also find that high employee engagement is correlated with older workers, taller workers, those that live nearer the place of employment etc.  In other words, it is very difficult to say one factor causes higher performance and this is a classic ‘chicken and egg’ debate.  Read Flip Chart Rick’s take on this  “Employee engagement hyperbole” or Professor Rob Briner, “Don’t believe the hype of employee engagement”

So we might spend time and energy on creating a happy, engaged workforce – but this raises another question:

Who needs ‘engaged workers’ doing the ‘wrong’ work?

You might have happy workers but it won’t necessarily help your organisation achieve its goals unless work is linked to the goals of the organisation.  This is much harder to achieve than ‘raising the engagement survey score by 2% every year’.

I believe employee engagement is a fad for a low wage environment – herbal teas and fresh fruit in the office is cheaper than an across-the-board 4% pay rise.  As wages increase I think businesses will focus on measures that will actually increase productivity.

So why are employee engagement initiatives still so popular?  This needs a fuller answer, but my views are:

  1. They are easier to do than root cause analysis and great job design
  2. An industry has been built up around engagement solutions – a massive sales push! #NuffSaid

 

The Campaign For Meaningful Work

 “He who has a ‘why’ to work can bear with almost any how.”  Nietzsche

Without a strong causal link between engagement and productivity we are simply left with a hunch or intuition.

Well here’s my hunch.

Meaningful work is important for our own personal sanity and well being, and so says Mark E Smith,  Marx, Maslow and my grandmother.  To me, it makes intuitive sense.

So what can we do to increase engagement, work happiness and possibly productivity?

Here are some of my suggestions to help make work more meaningful.

Link the work to something bigger

If you work as a CEO, a carer or a cleaner in a hospital, you are just as important in helping people to recover from illness as the nurses and doctors.

Why do I work? I help make organisations better places to work.  How do I do this? By working with HR teams to improve people management and the workplace.  This purpose gets me out bed in the morning (along with a strong cup of Yorkshire Tea).

By linking every persons’ job to the main goal of your organisation – whether that is to heal the sick, make people feel good, make organisations better etc you help create meaning.

Empower people to organise their own work

Some of our organisations are creaking under industrial age structures that haven’t changed since the 1950s.  The tools we use to collaborate at work are being revolutionised.  We now have an opportunity to reinvent how we work, and to empower teams to have a major say in the design.  I am not suggesting that we can all design our organisations like a start-up, or Zappos or Google – but we can start using some of the principles.  If you have had a say in designing your teams’ work then it should become more meaningful.

Show your organisation’s impact on customers

Medtronic are a specialist in medical devices, and make amongst other things prosthetic limbs.  Many of their employees do not have direct contact with their end customers.  Medtronic shares stories of patients who have benefited from the company’s products with its employees and meet customers at its regular ‘town-hall meetings’.   In the words of a senior executive,

Our people end up feeling personally involved in our company’s mission to restore people to full life.  They can see the end result of their work. Many are profoundly moved by the patients’ stories.

This has a much greater impact on morale than going through the quarterly earnings report.

Keep learning about what motivates us at work

Despite the glib books and 100 page academic reports, this is a complex area.

There are lots of misconceptions about what motivates people at work from financial bonuses, bowls of fruit, Christmas hampers or a pat on the back – take your pick?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn't just about the money, but it's not exactly about the joy either.  It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose.

Here are two videos worth watching on what motivates us at work.

Dan Ariely, a behavioural economist gives a TED talk – “What makes us feel good about our work?”

But, why have one Dan when you can have two?  Dan Pink, the author, illustrates  “The surprising truth about what motives us” with the help of an RSA Animation.  This has had over 14 million people view this on YouTube, make sure your Reward Manager is one of them!

“Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose” REPEAT “Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose”

Finally, ditch that annual engagement survey!  Unless in your heart you know that improving aggregated self-reported survey responses will really help you design and maintain a great place to work.

Put some of these things in place and watch the results – maybe in the emotional commitment employees have for your organisation, maybe the spring in their step as they travel to work, or just possibly in their productivity.  I will be listening and learning at the Meaning Conference, rocking to “Dead Bead Descendant” by The Fall, and as always irrepressibly tweeting @AndySpence.  It would be great to hear your views on the ‘why of work’ and how you make more work more meaningful.  

See also, What Makes Work Meaningful? and The Seven Deadly Sins Preventing Meaningful Work

 

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HR Change and Transformation 2014

This has to be the most interesting time to be working at the intersection of HR, organisation development and technology. 
 
Leading change in 2014 includes responding to growing markets, geographical expansion, mergers & acquisitions and cross-cultural leadership across 5 generations. The importance of effective leadership, talent management and high employee engagement has never been so great.
 

There is a lot of buzz around technology as a driver for change in areas such as talent identification and development and workforce productivity. Its use can span all areas of HR and management, from working out which candidates are most likely to be our top future sales performers, to providing tools that enable a manager to monitor performance of a global project team. At the same time we have massive changes in our workforce, from the rise of the freelancer economy, to skills shortages and demand for 24 X 7 collaboration.

We can be proud that HR has been a pioneer in adopting many emerging technologies such as Cloud applications like WorkdayOracle Fusion and SuccessFactors. Social Media in HR has in LinkedIn a high profile corporate leader, and the adoption of Mobile is changing the recruitment landscape.   HR also has the advantage of having change management skills to ensure successful implementations.

At the HR Change & Transformation 2014 Conference, we will hear from speakers who will showcase HR innovation happening in their organisations.  Speakers from different industries and sectors will share their insight and expertise in Leadership, Change & Culture, from identifying talent to developing and integrating a new generation of leaders.   Effective change management is a blend of the right change strategy combined with getting the small things right. We will hear examples of how different organisations have achieved this.

We are also at an HR Strategy crossroads, where many of our HR strategies are undergoing radical change. Some of them were developed 50 years ago, when business and society were very different to how they are now. In addition, the set of external drivers which moved us to the HR operating models of the 90s are changing fast, so now is a good time to re-assess.  Many current HR operating models are not fit for the future given the transformational change going on in our economy and workplace.
 
In some organisations, HR needs  to transform itself first before it can lead change and transform organisations. In our Talent & Transformation stream, we will hear examples of how organisations have transformed HR to delivery business goals.   HR Transformation is not really about HR. Although HR is the focus, the outcome is about improving People Management in organisations. HR is well positioned at the crux of workforce, productivity and human beings.  HR Transformation is really about “Workforce Transformation” with HR making the rallying call.  With new agile HR operating models, we need to think about what skills capabilities HR will need for better performance Management and business integration.
 
For successful HR Transformation, the trick is for HR to empower managers, in Technology, Tools & Insight. We will hear about the rise of Mobile, Social and Gamification and the benefits of Analytics in HR. Fundamentally, HR does not yet need Big Data; it needs Big Questions. What problems do we need to solve in HR? We will hear from speakers who have solved business problems using analytics and a new set of tools.
 
Over time, Software-as-a-Service will make us standardise our HR processes – because we will have to use the systems as they are, not configure them to our existing processes.
 
This is an important time in the  history of people management with the convergence of technology innovation, workforce demographics and  economic restructuring.
 
In 2014, we are too busy to care about being invited to the top table. We now have an opportunity to create our own table and invite who we want!
 
This conference will showcase many examples of HR innovation some of which you will adopt in the future. Enjoy the sharing and let us know what examples of HR innovation you will be speaking about in 2015.
 
I am chairing one of the streams at this event and will also be facilitating a Pre-Conference Workshop “7 Steps to Transform HR” – a pragmatic and practical approach to transformation using strategies that have worked with real HR case studies.   A 10% discount code is available for our HR Transformer Blog readers, CT14AS9.  Be great to see you there! #HRCT14
 
Andrew Spence
HR Transformation Director
Glass Bead Consulting
June 2014
 
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6 Key Questions to Ask before HR Outsourcing

HR Outsource - from HR Transformer Blog
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The HR Outsourcing industry is alive and kicking.  
 
Last year we highlighted the Most Important HR Outsourcing Contracts of the last 2 Years,  which highlighted large contracts and renewals in South America and Europe.  Next week I will be attending the 2013 HRO Today Forum, in London, where I expect to hear news of new contracts and developments in the world of HR Outsourcing.
 
I am particularly looking forward to the panel discussion “From Transactional to Transformational, Next Generation of Outsourcing” representing Buyers (David Mason RBS, Richard King Procter & Gamble) and HR Vendors (Mike Ettling, former CEO NGA HR, and Hew Williams from Capita).
 
For the Buyers of HR Services, there is strong demand from organisations who want :-
• Standardised HR Services
• Reduced Cost to Serve 
• Access to innovative workplace tools and technology 
• The business benefits of Big Data
 
From my experience as someone who has sat on both sides of the Outsourcing fence, there are challenges facing HR Directors when considering whether to outsource, they are broadly categorised as :
 
Internal – the readiness of your organisation to embark on a big change
External – finding a suitable partner who can deliver your requirements now and in the future. 
 
So if you are thinking of outsourcing one or more HR processes, here are 6 key questions to help you avoid the pitfalls.
 
1. How will outsourcing fit with your future HR Operating Model and HR Strategy?
 
In my recent keynote speech on the Future of HR Operating models, I outlined some of the technological and workforce drivers that will influence how we manage people in the future, such as, the rise of freelancers, our ageing workforce and the demand for more mobile services.
 
Before spending money on technology and external services – it is worth reviewing your overall operating model and HR service catalogue – which are essential to running the business (e.g. Payroll, Recruitment) and which might not be worth the effort (e.g. Performance Management) ?
 
Also review the capabilities you will need within your organisation (Analytics, Change Management, Vendor Management, HR Strategy) moving forwards and which are fine outside.
 
Any outsourced HR services need to be flexible enough to support your future HR Strategy, whether the focus is on improving workforce productivity or developing new talent.
 
2. How mature is your HR process or service?
 
Making an honest assessment of the maturity of the service you want to outsource is an important step to help determine if you are dealing with a ‘broken’ service, or one that only requires fine-tuning to your customer’s needs.
 
There are lots of lessons learned from trying to outsource broken processes to a 3rd party, and in reality this works only in certain circumstances.  It is critical to understand and be clear on why the process is broken in the first place, which is usually a function of people, process and technology.  
 
If you plan to transform the service as you migrate it outside the organisation, then allow for the extra time and resources for additional change management.
 
On the other scale, if you know pretty much how much it costs to deliver the service, what the customers think of it, and have some control of your service levels – then it is a much easier equation.
 
3. What is your ability to manage third parties?
 
Some organisations are historically very good at managing third parties, there is a strong procurement team, you have a track record of building good service relationships, and in return receive a good service.  Other organisations have less experience, and are simply more comfortable managing everything in house.  
 
Before you move to a strategic partnership, look at the capability you have in your organisation.  Do you outsource other services in IT, Finance and Marketing?  What procurement support is available? Do you have a standard contracts and governance models you can utilise?
 
4. What is your organisation’s appetite for change?
 
Whether the service you want to outsource is broken, brilliant or doesn’t yet exist – what you are planning involves a significant change.  Work out the change impact on employees, managers and whether there is appetite for changing the way people work.  If this follows on from a painful technology implementation – think about the best timing.
 
5. Could HR Outsourcing in the Cloud work for you?
 
Regardless if you call this service ‘BPaaS’ or ‘HRO in the Cloud’ – there are some clear benefits and pitfalls with this outsourcing option.   For HR Directors, this has the potential for killing two birds with one stone.
 
Firstly outsource chunks of your HR processes on a standardised platform.  
 
Secondly, while you are doing it, outsource the management of your HR Technology platform, therefore avoiding the cost and hassle of keeping up to date with the latest HR Technology.  
 
We are currently at an interesting time in the development of HR Technology, and the delivery of HR services are interwoven.
Take a look at my recent summary of HR Technology trends in Big Data, Robots and Cycle Paths  including the end of the HR enterprise software era. Speaking of the future, this brings us to the final point…
 
6. Where will your vendor be in 5 years?
 
In our article the “HR Outsourcing – The challenge of picking winners”, we mentioned that you need to look at the market longer-term.  The last thing you want is to persuade the board to outsource some HR and possibly HR Systems – and then for your vendor to be taken over.  At worse the vendor leaves that part of the HR Services market, at best, they are distracted for years and your service dips.
 
With plenty of mergers and acquisitions expected in the future, it is important to have a view on who is going to be in the HRO business in 5-10 years’ time, and which technology platforms will be leading edge and even offer you competitive advantage.
 
 
You pays your money (and you take your chances).
 
So there are 6 questions to start with to avoid dropping sauce on your tie.  There are plenty of others, but let me know if you have any questions about HR Outsourcing, the benefits, the pitfalls, the market or share your own questions with us.
 
I’m really looking forward to the HRO Today Forum, it will be great to see some familiar faces to swap notes, but for those that can’t make it, check out my coverage for what promises to be an engaging event. Follow me on Twitter @AndySpence and tweets next week on the twitter hashtag #HROToday
 
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