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HR functions around the world have been transforming and reshaping themselves for the past two decades in pursuit of a business-aligned, effective and efficient HR service delivery model that contributes value to the business and underpins business success. While much progress has been made, particularly in process automation and the centralisation of services, the quantum leap forward anticipated by many organizations has so far eluded the majority of HR Transformation efforts. This article focuses on Cloud HR technology as a critical, missing piece of the HR Transformation jigsaw – a piece that enables HR to take that final transformational step and realise the significant benefits that the function, and the business, have long been waiting for.

In 2014 the HR Director is being tasked with responsibilities reaching far beyond HR administration and transactions to activities that demonstrably contribute to the achievement of business goals and priorities. A key expectation of HR is the development of a workforce with the desired mix of skills, capabilities, experience and behaviours, in specific geographies, at the right cost, required both now and in five to 10 years, to successfully execute business strategy.

Key challenges to achieving this include:

  • Leadership development
  • Attracting and securing the best people, with the required skill sets, in the right markets
  • Developing, retaining and rewarding the best talent
  • Managing ongoing change across the organization
  • Creating a customer-focused, service-oriented HR service delivery model capable of designing and delivering the required HR programs and services
  • Leveraging workforce analytics to inform business decision-making; and
  • Establishing HR performance metrics to measure progress, success and contribution to the business

Preventing HR from addressing these challenges is often the administrative and transactional activities that can consume up to 60% of HR time and resources. A more efficient and cost-effective approach to HR service delivery is required, furthermore one that is more customer-focused, service-oriented and better-equipped to design and deliver HR programs and services that differentiate against competitors.

A model that many HR functions have gravitated towards, with varying levels of success, is the “Three-legged stool” model of HR Service Centers, Centers of Expertise and HR Business Partners (below).

The model assumes a large degree of people management activity being devolved to line managers, employees, applicants, contingent workers, etc. However, where the model so often falls down is the failure to provide managers and employees with the tools and information required to fulfil their responsibilities in the new world.  This is largely because until recently these tools were either not available or were not viable for organizations below a
certain size. Cloud HR technology is now perfectly placed to bridge this gap and enable the HR service delivery model to finally realise the significant
benefits originally anticipated through HR Transformation.

Cloud HR technology enables and completes the transformed HR service delivery model best when it offers:

  • A compelling and modern user experience that is intuitive, simple and works the way that employees, managers and HR expect it to. This increases adoption and hence usage of the solution
  • Mobile access to HR functionality, processes and services from multiple devices (tablets, smartphones, laptops) is critical for employees and managers who expect to access HR services in the same way that they access services in other aspects of their lives (finance, shopping, information, etc.)
  • Powerful functionality spanning Core HR, Recruiting, Onboarding, Learning, Performance Management, Compensation, Succession Management, Payroll, HR Shared Services, Social and HR Analytics – providing HR, managers, employees, applicants and contingent workers with the tools and information they need to succeed in their roles
  • Standardized and simplified best-practice HR processes, combined with the flexibility to define unique differentiating processes on top of those standardized best practices
  • Embedded content and intellectual capital in the form of core HR workflows, skill and competency catalogues, job description libraries, best-practice recruitment templates, HR metrics, benchmarking data, dashboards and coaching advisors
  • Globalization and localization – beyond the ability to handle multiple languages and currencies true globalization and localization provides calendars, time zones, local best business practices, legal requirements, statutory reporting and payroll and critically all of this is kept up-to-date within the Cloud HR solution

The best Cloud HR solutions deliver all of the above, can be deployed rapidly, are suitable for organizations of all sizes, and are extremely cost-effective.

To respond to business demands HR functions need to transform and focus their time and resources onto value-adding activities that demonstrably contribute to business success. To free HR resources to be able to do this necessitates a redesign of HR service delivery towards a model where administrative and transactional activities are automated and centralised, where specialist HR resources design and deploy global, regional and local HR programs to deliver the workforce the business needs, and where employees and managers are not only empowered to manage their own teams, performance and careers, but are also equipped with the tools and information necessary to act on this empowerment.

It is the failure to put effective HR tools and information into the hands of employees and managers that has restricted HR Transformation initiatives in the past. “Wave 1” HR Transformations did deliver benefits by centralizing administrative activities, segmenting HR roles and by deploying HR technology that delivered core HR process automation with some self-service. Cloud HR solutions now present the function with the missing piece of the jigsaw: the ability to equip managers and employees with the powerful, accessible and mobile tools they need to operate effectively in the transformed HR service delivery model and to deliver the quantum leap forward that the function, and the business, have long been waiting for.

To learn more about enabling HR with powerful Cloud HR solutions visit SAP/SuccessFactors via the link: