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…’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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HR in a time of Brilliant Technologies

We are indeed living in a time of ‘Brilliant Technologies’.
I studied Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence back in the mid ‘90s. The multi-disciplinary researchers dreamt about natural language comprehension and powerful AI computing power.  Fast forward 20 years and they would be delighted to meet ‘Miss Siri and Mr Watson’.  

I am passionate about the impact of technology in organisations and have written about the role of automation in a HR Tech Europe blog article, ‘HR Robots: Transformers in Disguise?’ 

However, when assessing the impact of new technology on HR, we sometimes get dazzled by the ‘glare’.  The biggest impact of living in a time of ‘Brilliant Technologies’ on HR is not the cool tools, but the way technology transforms our economies and societies, changing the workforce skills needed in a globalised economy.
In our workforce we now see:
• Five generations working together in an ageing workforce – in 2020, nearly a third of the UK workforce will be over 50
• Freelancers working 24 / 7 across the globe – Harvard Business Review estimates 1.3 billion people will work virtually in the next few years
• The continued automation of knowledge workers – wiping out swathes of middle managers
There is a relentless push for organisations to survive and flourish in this competitive environment.  Since 2000, 52% of the Fortune 500 has disappeared, Professor Gary Hamel makes the prediction that 50% of the Fortune 500 today will no longer be with us in the next 10 years.
“Management 1.0 at its core is a mash-up of military command structures that go back thousands of years layered with the discipline of industrial engineering, which goes back maybe 120 years,”
He argues that survivors will need to move to Management 2.0.
“…a reboot where Values & Transparency replace Rules & Hierarchy and Fear.”
If our management structures are not suited for a digital age, the same principle applies to some of our HR people management practices.  For example, our annual performance reviews and engagement surveys in a workforce full of freelancers; working 24 / 7 across the globe is suddenly looking very ‘Management 1.0’.
We can now provide employees with better technology to manage their teams more effectively, such as tools that provide real-time feedback on performance and goals.
In this new digital age, people management practices and HR operating models will also be revolutionised.   Josh Bersin argues that ‘People Management is replacing Talent Management.’  
“Talent scarcity is still a problem, but engagement, empowerment, and environment are now the real issues companies face.”
What does this all mean for HR Technology?
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
Peter Drucker
In his speech at HR Tech Europe in 2013, John Sumser took the historical perspective – he noted that we are at the end of the HR enterprise software era.  The HR Technology industry has done its job well, and provided automated solutions for most HR processes.   In some cases we have calcified these obsolete management and HR processes from the last century.
We see the benefits of the cloud, mobile, analytics, robotic process automation and collaboration tools.  The adoption of HR Software in the Cloud in combination with mobile technology is a catalyst for HR to empower managers to improve workforce productivity.  
There is a steady move to migrate HR systems from on premise to SaaS (Software as a Service).  Along with the required HR process standardisation; this technology will reduce the total HR transactional effort with less HR administration support required.  Savings can be reallocated to strategic goals such as developing talent, with learning solutions and collaboration tools.  The new systems also allow better data quality over time and enable us to move from descriptive analytics, to predictive and prescriptive analytics where we can predict not only ‘when’ an event might happen, but also ‘why’.  
So the way we deliver people management is changing, driven by workforce, new business models and technological innovation.  HR structures, organisation, policies and processes are also in need of a review to ensure they are fit for the future.  The CIPD recently curated a series of 10 articles from leading thinkers such as Josh Bersin, Dave Ulrich, Ed Lawler, Nick Holley and others, on ‘Changing HR Operating Models’, which is worth a read.   
What can you do to determine whether your Technology and HR Operating Model is Fit for the Future ?  
Start by asking the following questions:
• Do your current HR practices deliver your organisational goals now and in the future?
• What will your HR model (services, skills, organisation) look like in the next few years and will your HR technology support this?
• What tools and solutions does your changing workforce require to achieve their goals?
I believe we are indeed living in a time of  ‘Brilliant Technologies’, but don’t be dazzled by the glare!
What will I be looking for at HR Tech Europe?
I am looking forward to the insightful conversations and presentations at the HR Tech Europe conference and aim to find examples of organisations that have found more agile ways of supporting engagement and improving performance to report on.
I am also really interested in hearing about the journeys that organisations have gone on to adopting “Brilliant Technologies” and capture the lessons learned.
Get in touch and let me know what you discover @AndySpence and #HRTechEurope, and I will hopefully see you in London or Paris in 2015!
This post was orginally posted on the HR Tech Europe Blog as a guest post.
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Will the Cloud have a Silver Lining for HR Outsourcing ?

Organisations have had to respond to the seismic shifts in the economy with the increased use of contractors, zero-hours contracts, interim resources, partnership arrangements, consultants and outsourcing to weather the storm. This process has also been mirrored in the HR world as HR directors scrutinise how to source current skills needed to deliver HR services.
Outsourcing started out as a necessity of 'doing more for less' and has increasingly become standard practice, with many organisations using outsourcing to drive efficiencies. However, before outlining why outsourcing might rise again, it is worth a quick refresher of its history and some of the lessons learned.
The birth of multi-process HR outsourcing came about in the late 1990s as part of the first wave of HR transformation, the goal of which was to spend more HR time helping to deliver organisational strategy and less HR time on administration. The tactics deployed involved tools for managers to do more people management and restructuring HR based on economies of scale. These included HR shared services and tactical outsourcing, and economies of scale with business partnering and specialist HR teams. Some of the enablers of these changes adopted ERP technology, corporate portals as well as the emergence of a multi-process HR outsourcing industry.
First wave of HRO – the early adopters
We all understood the logic of the first wave of HR outsourcing in 1999 – freeing up HR to focus on strategic aspects of the job. It is worth pointing out that outsourcing wasn't a new concept in HR, with most organisations already outsourcing their payroll as standard practice.
It was this desire for HR transformation that created ground-breaking global HR outsourcing deals, with Exult-BP and ePeopleserve (Accenture and BT).
The rationale for the 'buyer' organisations such as BP and BT was to use outsourcing to help drive transformation, including standardised HR services, reduced HR cost to serve and access to new innovations such as HR portal technology.
The thinking behind HRO vendors such as Accenture and Exult (eventually bought by AON Hewitt) was to build up a large global client portfolio and benefit from labour arbitrage by offshoring work to countries such as India. The economic case provided a client with 15–20% savings and the possibility of making a 15–20% margin over a ten-year contract.
A longer-term aim was to provide standard HR services using the same technology platform. However, the problem was that each client was taken on in a different state of standardisation, with a different configured HR system, which meant that the service was very much tailored to that organisation and couldn't easily be shared with other organisations – in other words, the antithesis of standardisation.
The results of this first wave of HR outsourcing were mixed for both client and vendor. As someone who was involved in one of the very first outsourcing projects, I found it exciting, but it caused many sleepless nights! I witnessed at first hand the trauma of moving the organisation to standardised services, HR service centres for clients and also restructuring HR with new roles such as business partners.
As David Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, reflected, 'Often the first pancakes or first batch of cookies do not come out well.'
Second wave of HRO – some vendor consolidation and indigestion
The second big wave of change in HRO contracts came around 2006, including Unilever-Accenture and Johnson & Johnson-Convergys. These didn't quite deliver our dream of a standardised multi-tenant service enabling each client to benefit from new innovations either. Instead, these services offered bespoke solutions, tailored to clients' demands and meeting the particular nuances of their HR operating models. They had some success; according to industry analysts, Everest Group, the multi-process HR outsourcing market is worth about US$3.3 billion globally.
Although the HRO industry consolidated, outsourcing contracts lasting a decade were thin on the ground when organisations couldn't see where they might be themselves. Single process outsourcing went from strength to strength, such as benefits administration, recruitment process outsourcing, payroll and learning.
From my perspective working on both the client side and the vendor HRO side, there were a number of lessons learned in the first two waves of HR outsourcing.
Key questions that need to be thought through before considering outsourcing:

– How will outsourcing fit with your HR operating model and HR strategy?

– Does your organisation really have the appetite to standardise HR processes and services?

– Do you have required experience managing third parties?

My view is that cloud will have a significant impact on HR and will help HR to deliver the original goal of freeing up time to focus on strategic imperatives. And outsourcing will play a big part in that for many organisations.
Third wave of HRO – will the cloud give HRO its silver lining?
There is a lot of excitement around technology as a driver for change, particularly in talent identification and development, and workforce productivity. HR continues to have challenging requirements, from finding future top sales performers to providing tools that monitor the performance of a global project team. There is now a relentless move to migrate HR systems from on-premise to SaaS (software as a service).
At the 2013 HRO Today Forum in London, Mike Ettling, Global Head of Cloud and On-Premise at SAP, commented that:
'The game-changing impact of SaaS is the fact that SaaS is melting business processes. In the past we designed our system around the process; now we have to design our process around the system.'
A great benefit of an SaaS solution is avoiding the expensive and time-consuming customisation 'fudges', for example trying to get the system to map your exact paper-based performance management process. SaaS drives process standardisation because 'you get what you are given' in terms of functionality, and then configure it for your organisation. However, you still need to persuade employees to work differently.
Cloud will force HR to become more standardised, requiring less centralised HR teams to maintain it and breathing life into the HR outsourcing market.
A new offering – business process as a service (BPaaS)
The impact of cloud technology also gives HR some attractive outsourcing options, for example, move HR processes onto a standardised SaaS platform and outsource the management of the HR technology platform and HR administration. This combined offering of business process outsourcing and software as a service has been called BPaaS, or business process as a service. BPaaS offers standardised yet highly configurable HR services, allowing organisations to standardise transactional HR processes. The rise and rise of Workday, and others such as SAP's SuccessFactors, has stimulated the HR outsourcing market with NGA HR, IBM and AON Hewitt all with HRO contracts using SaaS.
As SaaS forces HR to standardise, there is less HR administration needed, therefore the BPaaS deals so far have been smaller in size. The BPaaS model fits nicely with the new generation of agile HR operating models.
So with the potential benefits of a new generation of HR outsourcing, how might this impact future HR operating models?
Impact on HR operating models
To benefit, HR will need to learn from the past and execute a more standardised approach to the delivery of HR services.
Software ultimately has to be used by us pesky humans. Good design, robust governance, communications, training and support are always needed irrespective of the next technological breakthrough.
And with any outsourcing, the same questions need to be asked about how it fits with the HR operating model and HR strategy.
As we design a new generation of agile HR operating models, the adoption of cloud and outsourcing will pose some interesting trends to watch, including:

– SaaS will automate many HR tasks; manual HR work will be reduced substantially.

– There will be less need for HR service centres as cloud-based systems manage to support the move to self-sufficiency for managers.

– There will be a new type of HR outsourcing which develops more around business consultancy services and specialist HR advice than service centres/manual processing.

– More HR resources will be allocated to solving business problems.

The early innovators of multi-process HRO had the right idea, but perhaps at the wrong time. The conditions for multi-tenanted HR outsourcing are now possible because of cloud technology. HR will have to overcome a resistance and scepticism to outsourcing, after mixed results in the past. Whether we use cloud or on-premise ERP HR systems, the hard work required to standardise HR services across geographies and divisions will still need to be completed, but now the benefits will be worth it
This post was orginally published by CIPD,  'Will the cloud have a silver lining for HR outsourcing?' in a report 'Changing HR Operating Models'
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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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Will HR in the Cloud kill HR Outsourcing ?

Will HR in the Cloud destroy HR Outsourcing ? HR Transformer Blog
Will ‘HR in the Cloud’ kill the HR Outsourcing industry  ?
Or, are the claims of the HR Technology industry in ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ ?
In Aristrophanes play, ‘The Birds’, written in 414 BC, “Cloud Cuckoo Land” was an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect.
In our 2013 HR play, Ms HR Vendor helps the trusting Ms HR Director erect a perfect HR operating model in the clouds.
For HR Directors, this has the appeal of ‘killing two birds with one stone’.
Firstly outsource chunks of your HR services on a standardised platform.  Secondly, hand over responsibility for your HR systems to the same vendor.  
This service has been called BPaaS or ‘HRO in the cloud' and this report from Gartner, is worth reading on the topic –  From ‘BPO to BPaaS: HR Outsourcing calls for the cloud.
Will SaaS melt HR processes ? 
At the recent 2013 HRO Today Forum, in London, Mike Ettling, former CEO of largest global HR Outsourcing company, NGA HRcommented that the demand for HRO will decrease over the next few years.  In Mike’s view this is because  :-
“In the last 2 years we have seen the phenomenal rise of enterprise ready SaaS solutions in the HR industry.  The game changing impact of SaaS is the fact that SaaS is melting Business Processes.
In the past we designed our system around the process, now we have to design our process around the system.  There will be less scope for customisation.”
From this perspective, there will be less HR work in general and less outsourced work.  Not a good signal for the growth of the HRO industry.
For those interested, Matt Charney from Recruiting Blogs covered this panel debate well, in Transaction to Transformation: The Next Generation of Outsourcing  
HR SaaS – Practical Lessons from HR Buyers
In a separate session, Julie Fernandez from analysts ISG, provided some insights from HR Buyers, typically clients with > 10,000 employees. 
Amongst the trends and themes I picked up from Julie, were :-

– HR Buyers are cautious, ‘letting the dust settle’ on SaaS providers as they review their current HR Operating Models and future needs. 

– The rise and rise of Workday has actually breathed life into the HRO market – NGA HR, IBM and AON Hewitt are implementing or have HRO contracts using Workday software.

– HRO Buyers want both SaaS and services together, however are not willing to lose portal, chat, contact centre solutions that have been developed over last 10 years.  Expect HRO providers to develop solutions in this space. 

– There is a 15-20% HRO penetration level for orgs with >10,000 employees and there has been more new buyers in last 8 months than previous 2 or 3 years

– According to ISG, it seems HRO is not dead yet and in fact SaaS will actually stimulate market.

One of the HRO vendors told me that the Workday (SaaS) HRO deals are certainly smaller in size, which does tend to support Mike’s view on the impact of SaaS – it does reduce the HR work required.
Are the claims of the HR Technology industry in ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ ?
It is natural to have some healthy scepticism about the claims of the HR Technology providers on the latest generation of HR systems. (especially if you’ve had as many sleepless nights as me working on Transformation Programmes over the last 20 years!).
Haven’t we heard these promises from the HR Technology industry before ?    The claims are remarkably similar to the promise of ERP systems back in the 1990s.
That the new generation of software will be rolled out to willing managers enabling them to be more productive, more self-sufficient and  will help them manage their teams more efficiently.
Did the technology deliver the promises? Well generally, no.
One of the reasons that HR is no more strategic than back in 1995 is that HR Technology has not delivered the promises.  There are lots of other reasons why, and I refer to them in other posts “How to avoid HR Technology bogeys” and “Is your operating model fit for the future?”.
Part of the problem is that the software ultimately has to be used by those pesky human beings.  So we need good communications, training and support.
Isn’t SaaS or HR in the Cloud, just the ‘next wave’ of HR systems I hear you say?  We expect better functionality and usability in each new release, and HR Directors or managers don’t really care where the servers are located.
What is it about SaaS in particular that will drive such process standardisation compared to just another release of software ?  We still need to persuade employees to work differently. 
One of the great benefits of going with a SaaS solution is we do not have the expensive and time-consuming customisation fudges.
You get what you are given in terms of functionality and then configure for your organisation.  There will be a need to use the system provided for your HR Processes, and so there will still be change management required.  This will reduce the HR Service cycle times and the HR administration support needed – which is all good news as these savings can be spent on more value add activities.
Is SaaS a catalyst for more or less HRO ?
In my opinion, The 'size of the pie' will decrease (not as much as tech firms say) but the HRO slice will increase
In other words, there will be less work overall due to the benefits of implementing standard process, however, the proportion of work outsourced will stay the same or increase.
The drivers for RPO and HR Outsourcing will still be there.  Standard software will make transitions easier with consistent service levels – increasing the appeal of outsourcing.
Over the next couple of years we will see lots of activity with reviews of HR Operating Models, implementation of new HR systems, and more HR Outsourcing contracts. (and hopefully roughly in that order!)
The Workday marketing machine will get to your Board and you will need to have worked out your plan.
So as the 2013 HRO Today Forum ended, the HRO industry could be heard to mutter a collective breath of relief and echo Mark Twain,
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated". 
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HR Tech Europe 2013 – Big Data, Robots and Cycle Paths

Andy Spence discusses Future of HR with a Robot at HR Tech Europe 2013
I have always found Amsterdam an inspiring place to be.   As you walk by the canals you experience the artistic and technological ambition of its residents with its rich history as the hub of a global trading empire.
The reason Amsterdam is still a thriving global hub in oil, diamonds, flowers and ideas is not because of its location or wealth but to it's engineering excellence and vision.  
Nearly one-third of the Netherlands is below sea level and prone to floods. In the 1950s, a series of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, levees and storm surge barriers were constructed to radically reduce the change of flooding. The American Society of Civil Engineers called it one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Just like the engineers who enabled Amsterdam to survive, and flourish, many delegates at the HR Technology Europe Conference have goals to provide the technology infrastructure required for their organisations to thrive.  They provide the right technology and tools in candidate selection, training, collaboration, productivity or basic workforce management.
The conference chatter and tweets was about psychopaths, psychos on cycle-paths (a hazard in Holland!), robots, the jargon of behavioural science, big data and predictions about the future of work.
Some facts and figures :-
• 1439 delegates attended
• 42 nations were represented
• 1 cute robot attended
• 8,245 tweets using hashtag  #HRTechEurope
82 tweets by myself plus 125 mentions – not bad as I was in listening mode this year – thanks to HRMarketer for the analysis
• 57%  of male vendors wore brown shoes (Thanks to @AndyHeadworth but you should always check your data source!).
Whether you were there or not, Download Presentations from HR Tech Europe 2013 and View some fantastic photos from Heather Bussing and others.
As I have written before, in Why HR Need to be Technology Champions, this is an exciting time to be working in HR, Technology and Org Development.  There are some important strategic choices to be made about the future of technology in our organisations.
Here are some themes for buyers and vendors of HR Technology that emerged for me in conferences sessions, conversations and tweets.
Its all about the strategy 
In Professor Costas Markides session, “Make your Strategy process democratic” he demonstrated why the first stage of the development of ideas needs to be democratic.
A question for HR Directors, is how widely did you cast your net for ideas into your HR Strategy ?
As Naomi Bloom outlined in her keynote,"Poirot's Order And Method: Making the business case for HR Technology" the starting point for any business case should be “what is the vision, metrics, value targets that matter?”
There is no point buying HR Systems that do not support the HR Strategy that in turn does not support your business strategy and goals.  Naomi in a later session also provided some useful historical context of HR systems and data requirements which have changed completely over the years. Put bluntly, the code and data structures that supported our organisations yesterday will not do so in the future.
The end of the HR enterprise software era
John Sumser took the historical perspective further in his session, "Re-engineering The Human Resources Function" in his view we are at the end of the HR enterprise software era, in terms of maturity.  The HR Technology industry has done its job well and provided automated solutions for most HR processes and in John’s view we should not expect much innovation at this phase.
However, very quickly we will move to a new exciting phase which will include integration of new data sets from outside HR from aggregate health care data, labour market data and actual work measures.  This really has the potential to transform workforce management, and provide competitive advantage to organisations who adopt early. Imagine the possibilities of predicting peaks and troughs in employee performance by merging HR and performance data with health indicators?  Of course there would be a few privacy concerns to iron out in this brave new world.
Talent minus Big Data = Unsubstantiated Rubbish
On the topic of data, there was lots of talk of Big Data, Nick Holley from Henley Business School gave a very interesting presentation on “Talent minus Big Data = Unsubstantiated Rubbish”  and also won the prize for best session title.  Nick gave good examples of using data analysis to solve business problems and told delegates that one of the most successful talent tactics is to identify and manage out the narcissists & psychopaths in your organisation.
Josh Bersin, in his session “The Datafication of HR” also demonstrated how HR Analytics could smash some organisational myths such as “people from top universities with good grades are high performers”.  Josh illustrated how HR has been evolving big data solutions for years and presented some great pointers in building this capability into your HR Operating Model.  We need to look at the current capabilities we have in HR and recruit people who are comfortable with data. 
One of the iHR Award 2013 finalists, MacroMicro, showcased a tool that sits on top of your HR data providing visualisations of your organisation (just don’t let the CEO get their hands on it until you have done a bit of data cleansing).
Visualising and playing with data is fun but this all needs to link back to your strategy, we need to start with the Business Problem we are trying to solve.
HR Technology Buyers are at a crossroads
‘61% of HR Professionals are changing their HR Technology in the next 18 months’ – with all the workforce and technology changes out there, there is understandably some hesitation in making long-term buying commitments.   In his presentation to industry analysts the day before the conference, Adel Al Saleh, the newish CEO at NGA HR (used to be Northgate Arinso)  gave his view that ”More HR Technology options has created inertia as organisations take time to review their technology and services landscape”.
I can understand why, and demonstrates why this is a good time to ask yourself, “Is your HR Operating Model Fit for the Future?”.
Congratulations to Appical who won the iHR Awards 2013 with a successful product and an innovative pitch.  They made the case for turning onboarding new employees into something much more fun with cutting-edge technology and social media.
The industry behemoth, Oracle, intends to continue to invest heavily in HR Solutions according to Mark Hurd at Oracle.  Mark also brought along his robot, Oscar, who is seen in deep conversation with myself about the future of HR.  After a couple of cocktails, Oscar confided that he planned to deliver a session next year on “The new field of Robotic Resources – RR”.
Finally, looking into my Google HR Glass (John Sumser predicted 10% of delegates will be wearing these at the Conference in 2014)  there will be lots of HR Tech contracts signed in 2014.  
I am looking forward to the HR Technology Europe Conference in 2014 and seeing how this group of  Workforce Visionaries will be building the technology infrastrucure for our future organisations to thrive.  And through my Google HR Glasses, I will also be watching out for less organisational psychopaths, psychos on the cycle paths and robots doing more HR and the odd keynote speech.


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Why HR Need to Be Technology Champions

This has to be the most interesting time to be working at the intersection of HR, organisation development and technology. 
There is a lot of buzz around technology as a driver for change in areas such as talent identification and development, or workforce productivity.  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.
With this techno buzz comes heightened expectations on HR from shareholders, employees and the Executive.
HR technology solutions and HR strategy are intertwined, so that every HR Director needs to know the opportunities and challenges of new and emerging technology.  In 2010, Professor Ulrich said HR must master 6 competencies, including being a Technology Proponent.  In other words, HR needs to be a Technology Champion in our organisations.
Not necessarily understanding the nuts and bolts of configuration, but ensuring that the solutions will ultimately delivery our business goals and then successfully embed into the organisation.
With this in mind I am excited about attending the HR Technology Europe Conference in Amsterdam next week to see some of the technology solutions we will all be using in the next few years.
Now this may get the HR Technology Sales Teams excited, but not necessarily for HR Directors who do not want to go through the pain, and expense of divorcing their current HR Technology.    What we don’t want is – a lengthy courting process (i.e. sales pitches), where you show your colleagues the new 9 Box Talent Grid, only to realise that your HR Tech spouse is not quite what you signed up for.  For some large global projects, by the time the system is fully operational, the HR Strategy and HR Operating Model required to support it might have changed.  
We increasingly need to be looking at the HR Operating Model required to deliver our HR Strategy now and in the future.  A key part of that future HR Road Map is Technology.   So before you make technological changes, ask yourself – “Is your HR Operating Model fit for the future?”  
There is another very real reason why HR need to be Technology Champions – a staggering 68% of Technology Projects Fail.  However we define that failure, be it over budget, over time or outcomes not delivered, my belief is HR has valuable skills to prevent this failure.  HR has experience in change management, training, communications plus sourcing the right people to Avoid the HR Technology Bogeys  
Any technology that can give us predictable behavioural measures, can be a potentially powerful transformative tool. For example look at How Google Uses Data to Build a Better Worker.  However, for most organisations the reality is we do not have Google’s capabilities.  Research by Josh Bersin shows that only 14% of organisations have done any significant “statistical analysis” of employee data at all.
Let’s face it most of us struggle with the challenge of reconciling headcount data with Finance reporting! 
To make the most of ‘Big Data’, we need ‘Big Hypotheses’ from HR driven by our Business Goals.  Technology should not be about the art of the possible but the art of solving specific workforce problems.
….and talking of art….
For all those who like to combine cutting edge new technology with old Dutch Masters, another good reason for visiting Amsterdam is the reopening of The Rijksmuseum following a 10 year refurbishment programme, yes 10 years!  Hopefully your HR Data & Systems won’t need a ‘10 year refurb’ after this conference!
I will be blogging and tweeting as part of the Blog Squad at #HRTechEurope, so hopefully will see a few of you Amsterdam!   There are tickets still available with a special discounted rate for HR Transformers, so do get in touch for what promises to be an engaging event.
And follow @AndySpence and #HRTechEurope next week.

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Is your HR Operating Model Fit for the Future ?

HR Strategy Glue - Glass Bead Consulting
Current HR Operating Models are not fit for the future.  The implementation of the Ulrich model in the 1990s was driven by changes in technology, the need to demonstrate value for money, development of the HR Services landscape and a focus on more HR Strategy.  Ulrich’s research was built on trends which were transforming the IT and Finance sector at the time; including shared services, outsourcing,  manager self-service, and ERP technology enablement.  The ultimate goal was to spend a higher proportion of HR resources on delivering HR Strategy, and less on HR administration.
The Ulrich model delivered some benefits, but patchy implementation gave mixed results.  So after all the effort, the question remains – why is HR no more strategic now than in 1995?
The HR Business Partner (BP) role was introduced as a strategic partner and account manager for HR Services, however there have been challenges with the timing of the introduction of the role.  Launching BPs before HR Shared Service Centres have started leaves them with an impossible task of balancing transactional workload with the strategic expectations of customers.  In my experience of training BPs, I observed the ‘rule of thirds’ in larger organisations; a third are excellent, a third would be excellent with time and development, and a third will never be ‘strategic’ BPs.     The Business Partner is stuck between a rock and a hard place in a mismatch of expectations. 
In my view the great promise of HR ERP Technology has not delivered. Most organisations do not have one interconnected system for HR records, recruitment, learning, payroll, compensation management, succession planning tools and performance management.  Many multi-million dollar transformation initiatives based on HR Technology, have not delivered their goals, been late or over budget damaging the credibility of HR to transform organisations. 
HR has built a set of specialist functions that work well in silos, for example in Talent, Learning, Reward, Recruitment, Employee Relations, but don’t often work together as a whole to deliver HR Strategy.  There is evidence that we are not spending a higher proportion of our time on delivering HR Strategy as we did in the 1990s, from research carried out by Professor Edward Lawler of the University of Southern California. We have not made progress in improving the productivity of managers through enabling self-service tools. According to Towers Watson, 56% of organisations now require HR to approve transactions, which was certainly not the original vision of the Ulrich model.
The Ulrich model was developed from external drivers relevant in the 1990s but we now have a different set of drivers in place, and should re-evaluate our current structures.  Now is a good time to review our HR Operating Model, with over 50% of organisations with more than 5,000 employees in the process of re-organising their HR department from bringing in a new leadership team to redesigning HR services from the bottom-up. 
Technological innovation has provided big changes in the workforce.  It has also provided more opportunities to deliver better HR Services to a mobile, and more global workforce.  McKinsey estimate that the automation of knowledge work will have an economic impact of $5-7 trillion dollars, displacing workers with technology.  Workforce changes mean we have high youth unemployment in some areas, a jobless recovery, an ageing workforce that will need to work into its 60s and 70s and localised skill shortages, for example in science and engineering.  The demand for Talent is constant.
So where do we locate our businesses in an economy with high unemployment? Do we need a core set of employees on permanent contracts and flexible contractors who provide the right skills at the right time? Which employee services can we deliver through mobile devices?
HR is becoming increasingly fragmented and hived off into HR Services and specialist advice.  There is a growing need for more HR Strategy, yet there is less capability to deliver it.  There is a demand for support to transform organisations, yet HR has struggled with change management, technology deployment and Organisation Design required to transform itself.  The HR Services market is moving every quarter with new entrants, mergers and acquisitions.  New skills are required in analytics, influencing behaviour change, vendor management, and for HR to be workforce technology 'evangelists'.
So what can we do?  We can learn from the experiences of implementing the Ulrich model, but challenge parts of the model that are no longer applicable. 
1. Understand the changes in your workforce now and in the future, and assess the likely impact on your organisation
2. Challenge current and future HR skills you have and will need in the future 
3. Review technology innovations and partner with organisations that have a passion for improving workforce productivity
By focusing on the journey and not the end destination, you can move towards a HR model that will provide the 'HR Strategy Glue' enabling you to adapt and respond to future drivers of change. 
Join in the discussion on HR Transformer Blog or at the Tucana HR Change & Transformation Conference where Andy Spence is delivering his keynote speech on Future Trends in HR Operating Models.
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Top HR Transformation Articles from November 2012

In November we found out who will be the leaders of the United States and China for the next few years.  In the world of HR Transformation, we start with two articles which slay two old HR dragons, Performance Reviews and Employee Engagement.  We highlight the most important HR outsourcing contracts of the last couple of years, and finish with a book recommendation on Negotiation.  A skill we all need to be very good at in HR!



Before we put on the armour and go HR dragon slaying, we have been looking at the best way to share our favourite HR Transformation articles with you, so its worth checking out our new HR Transformation Magazine format below.   All our recent articles are featured here in addition to the HR Transformer Blog.  Bookmark this for your daily scoops on HR Strategy, Recruitment, HR Shared Services, Change Management, Business Transformation, Leadership, Learning, HR Outsourcing, HR Technology and other randomness.

We are now getting towards the end of the year, so it is a good time to look at what we should Stop, Start and Continue in 2013 both personally and professionally.  At the top of our STOP list are the dreaded annual Performance Reviews……
Why Performance Reviews Don't Improve Performance

You know we like to peek at what our Academic siblings are up to, and Ray Williams has written a good article in Psychology Today, Why Performance Reviews Don't Improve Performance. (incidently Ray has also written a novel called Dragon Tamer)
When we hear the phrase "would you mind if I give you some feedback?" what that actually means to most of us is "would you mind if I gave you some negative feedback?" wrapped up in the guise of constructive criticism, whether you want it or not. According to Williams,
“constructive feedback, which is usually critical, rarely helps anyone, and certainly rarely improves employee performance on the job.”
The prevailing theory is that criticism, which invariably is part of the performance review, will improve the employee's performance, and in addition the employee will positively welcome it. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The reality is that the traditional performance appraisal as practiced in the majority of organisations today is often incongruent with our values-based, vision-driven and collaborative work environments,yet Performance reviews have become institutionalised.
Samuel Culbert, a professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management "this corporate sham is one of the most insidious, most damaging and yet most ubiquitous of corporate activities."
If you can look your Executive in the eye and tell them that the annual performance review is worth the effort, then fine.  However, if you have ever wondered whether they really do increase the performance levels in your organisation – then read this article for a different perspective.
Our view is, If your appraisal doesn’t improve performance then do something else with the time and energy this will free up.

The second HR dragon to be slayed this month is the Employee Engagement Survey. This article was written by Jacque Vilet at TLNT.  Most people recognise that engaged and motivated employees are more productive, however are we getting the murky lines between correlation and causation mixed up?
A typical quote from the those selling the merits of Engagement Surveys is :
“high engagement firms have a shareholder return that is 19% higher”
But isn't this a bit like saying :-
“more intelligent firms have a shareholder return that is 19% higher”
“healthier firms have a shareholder return that is 19% higher”
All possibly true, but the question for me is, is the shareholder return higher because of higher engagement or is higher engagement just correlated with higher shareholder returns?
Of course successful organisations have higher engagement levels, profit margin and productivity.  They are possibly healthier and more intelligent too.  In these organisations, The Executive is getting something right on strategy and management.
I do vaguely remember torturous statistics modules at University – and it was drummed into our heads by exasperated Psychology Professors that  Correlation does not imply Causation
Making the assumption that higher employee engagement improves shareholder value is a bit like saying that
"Sleeping with one's shoes on is strongly correlated with waking up with a headache.
Therefore, sleeping with one's shoes on causes headache."

As Vilet explains “Every HR department wants to believe that high employee engagement causes company performance. But that is not true. Many in HR mistake correlation with causality and therefore don’t understand what drives what.”

We just do not know enough about the specific causes of high employee engagement.

Again if the activity conducting Engagement Surveys and associated reporting is only neutral on productivity, then it is not worth doing. You could be doing something better instead – like analysing specific performance issues.
So, why are engagement surveys so fashionable ?  This is another topic for another day, but a quick answer is (1) they are much easier than doing a proper root cause analysis  (2) they are pushed by a powerful sales effort.  Enough said for now.
To some, HR Outsourcing is another dragon that should be slayed, but we think there is still some puff in this dragon for the time being….

Our latest HR Transformer Blog article has a look at the The Most important HR outsourcing contracts from last 2 years.   Although there have not been too many blockbuster deals, there has been plenty of HR Outsourcing activity in smaller deals and single process outsourcing.  Find out which company has created an "HR Ice-Cream Sundae" by mixing up its HR vendors.

The Future of HR & Competencies

The new HR Competencies, have been issued from SHRM and highlighted by Cathy Missildine. You might remember from last year, Professor Ulrich's  What's next for HR? The six competencies HR needs for today's challenges which are:-

Capability Builder, Change Champion, HR Innovator/Integrator, Technology Proponent, Credible Activist and Strategic Positioner. 

We would both be interested to know which set do you prefer and why ?

Some other great articles from November

A Revolutionary Approach to Strategic Change  In this hour long Harvard Business Review webinar, John Kotter, foremost expert on leadership and transformation discusses a new approach to accelerate the achievement of their strategic initiatives in a rapidly changing environment.

BigData in HR: Why it's Here and What it Means

Given the global recession and talent imbalances in the world, companies are focusing on replacing their legacy HR systems to help apply analytics reasoning to HR and talent.  Josh Bersin provides his analysis, and for the visual thinkers provides a useful diagrammatic history in The inevitable Shift to HR and Analytics.

9 Ways HR & Recruiting Technology Will Evolve in Next 4 Years

"Most of the 10 million Millennials entering the job market during the next three years will expect a far better candidate experience than today’s." An interesting article on TLNT, from Heather Huhman.

The Amazonification of Recruiting

Bob Corlett creates a new word AND provides insight into current recruitment trends.

"The Amazonification of recruiting is accelerating. Sites like Yelp and Glassdoor are pulling back the curtain on candidate experience. LinkedIn has found a way to rapidly accelerate the endorsement process, and apparently will start to weigh your endorsements in their search results.  It’s a brave new world of accountability coming. Are your recruiting practices ready for it? "

Negotiate your L&D budget successfully  Why do people buy ? Apparently, there are 'good' reasons vs the 'real' reasons.  If you like what Simon has to say, we recommend his new book,  Negotiation Mastery: Tools for the 21st Century Negotiator. This might make a good Christmas gift for that special HR Business Partner in your life.

And finally, What Colours mean in different Cultures, with thanks to Tom @TomWHaak for this link.

We hope you have enjoyed our latest HR Transformation articles, a big thank you to those who contribute with fresh ideas and suggestions to share with the HR community. Do keep in touch with any of your future articles and suggestions @AndySpence on Twitter.

Subscribe now and get the latest and greatest independent views on HR Transformation direct to your inbox.

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Top HR Transformation Articles from October 2012

The HR Transformer Blog is back – we have been trawling the web to pull out the best HR Transformation related articles from October 2012.
There have been two big HR Technology Conferences either side of the Atlantic this month, filled with talk of ‘big mobile gamification in the data cloud’, or something similar.  After being initially dazzled for a moment, I rubbed my eyes and remembered, “It’s all about the People” and found some great articles on managing change.  I’ve taken a brief look at HR’s past and it’s future, finishing with some useful tips from HR Metrics to running your HR Shared Service centre like a Gordon Ramsay restaurant (but obviously without the expletives!).
Big mobile gamification in the data cloud  – and other disruptions at the HR Technology Conferences
The HR Technology Conferences in Chicago and Amsterdam made a big splash online. The jargon can get a bit confusing, so XpertHR have provided a very helpful guide for those who only dabble in HR Technology. The industry is buoyant after record conference turnouts, the successful Workday IPO and a flurry of takeovers including; SuccessFactors, Taleo and Kenexa. According to the press releases, new services in SaaS, mobile and big data will transform the way we manage people in organisations. The fact is many large scale HR Technology programmes do not always deliver intended goals. At a Technology Conference, funded by the technology companies – this is unlikely to be a theme with the speakers and bloggers.
Which begs the question, where are the unbiased, independent voices to support HR buyers of technology and services?
It is well known, that some analysts work for both the buyers and the vendors. According to an article by analyst, Mark Smith, Industry Exposé: Technology Vendors Skew Analysts and Influencers
“The dirty secret is that some of the largest technology vendors have forced industry analyst firms to contractually agree to the right to review, edit and approve any written research that references their name or products before it is published.”
With nearly two out of every three IT projects failing, I think there should be more focus on good governance, solid requirements and the people elements involved in change. See our article on How to avoid HR Technology Bogeys, inspired by the Ryder Cup.
“Nice interface, it even looks a bit like Facebook! Great, I can view on my phone. But how will this really help my organisation achieve its goals?”
Charlie Judy reminds us that “it ain’t a HR Strategy without technology” in a good post with some useful tips. HR Strategy should determine your HR Tech requirements, not the other way round, so don’t let the Tail wag the Dog.
A development I think will make a big impact is Salesforce’s entry into the market, with If this sounds strange, read this excellent article by Appirio The Future of Work : Employees as Customers showing the parallels between HR and Marketing. I will be watching this develop with interest over the coming months.
For the visual thinkers, this caught my eye, HR technology on Pinterest from Deb Maher, spotted on #HRTech hashtag on Twitter.
Talking of Twitter, we have recently updated our lists of HR Transformers on Twitter for you to use, so let us know if we have missed anyone, and connect with me @AndySpence
People first
One of my mantras is that for technology investment to be worthwhile, we need to focus more on the people who will use it, these two articles on Change Management were clear and insightful.  Ten Reasons People Resist Change from a true teacher, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, and a golden oldie with some useful lessons, from Harvard Business Review – The Hard Side of Change Management.
HR Operating Models – Ulrich Model 2012
The evolution of HR operating models over the past two decades has been slow in some areas.  In the article, HR's Future Looks Strategic—or Does It?  University of Southern California professor Edward Lawler has tracked the amount of time HR managers spent on working as a strategic partner since 1995. He recently released the results of his latest research, from 2010, and found nothing has changed.

"When we ask them: 'What is their role in developing business strategy for their companies?' we're getting the same answers as we've always gotten," Lawler says.

Why is HR no less strategic than in 1995?

My view is the move to a simpler Ulrich model has generally aligned HR better to organisational goals, focused more on the customer, enabling economies of scale and economies of skill.  However the transition to this model has not always been successful and the interpretation of HR roles such as the Business Partner have not been wholly successful. 

Which leads me to an interesting article Has the Ulrich model narrowed HR career paths?   
My observation is that we have some great HR Specialists in Reward, Pensions, OD, Learning – however we are slowly losing those who have the big picture of the HR Strategy.  This is retained with those with more of a generalist background – currently in leadership positions, but I have concerns about succession when they retire. 
Another question for HR Operating models related to demographics,   in 2020, one third of workers will be over 50, so how will this impact HR?  We ask the question of the Impact of the Ageing Workforce on HR.
Ulrich’s original work on HR Operating Models was influenced by what was going on in other functions such as Finance and IT.  I was interested to read that there are similarities between HR and IT in the challenges the leaders face. (e.g. struggles for the CIO to become a true partner to their business  –  sound familiar?).  Time for the CIO to jump on the wave of change from Outsourcing Magazine.
Some other useful articles for HR Transformers
HR Shared Services: What works well for a restaurant could help HR Shared Services function. Simon Brown, writing in SSON, suggests Restaurant-style Service (Tier-0 and Tier-1) “Tier 0 – to ensure your menu is well laid out, easy to search, navigate and read.” Great article, but be careful with following Gordon Ramsay’s style too closely!
HR Metrics of Note: Revenue Per Employee VS. Profit Per Employee  A good example of using HR Metrics that matter, in this case to the investor community, who use Revenue per Employee to analyse retail giant Amazon. Who else could this come from but the HR Capitalist?
Powerpoint use and abuse – Few pieces of office software have simultaneously been so used and abused even causing ‘death by PowerPoint’. Find out about Cognitive Dissonance, Noise & Overload from Donald Clark.
The Top Social Tools For 21st-Century HR Humans, communication, work etc, makes HR the ideal spot from which to harness changes in work habits for the benefit of the company – good read from FastCompany.
And finally, Live language translation. Now this is a disruptive technology! Remember Babel Fish from Hitch hickers Guide the Galaxy.  I did a Masters in Cognitive Science in the mid-90s and some of these technologies are starting to emerge – very exciting developments indeed! Hat-tip to Graeme Codrington for this link on Twitter.
We hope you enjoy our latest HR Transformation articles, a big thank you to those who contribute with fresh ideas and suggestions to share with the HR community. Do keep in touch with any of your future articles and suggestions @AndySpence on Twitter.

Subscribe now and get the latest and greatest independent views on HR Transformation direct to your inbox.

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