New Rules for New Tools

Live from the HR Shared Services Executive Retreat

New Rules for New Tools

Posted by Marc Solow on July 30, 2013

In many organizations, HR has been one of the earliest adopters of cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions as an alternative to traditional ERP or home-grown on-premises systems. Our first panel discussion today at the HR Shared Services Executive Retreat, New Rules for New Tools, features perspectives from both users and a provider of SaaS technology.

From the user side, our panelists are discussing their experiences implementing SaaS and how the latest generation of Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS) is transforming how HR is delivered in their organizations. Some key insights from their point of view:

  • Standardization has improved. Because it emphasizes process consistency, SaaS HRMS has become a catalyst for standardization and enabled the organization to become much more uniform and streamlined in its service delivery. In many cases, it has also enabled changes in the HR organization itself by allowing it to move to a shared services model and become leaner by taking manual work steps out of the equation.
  • User adoption has been high. Because the cloud-based systems are generally more intuitive than traditional ERP systems, incorporating many of the web features and online navigation conventions that most users are already familiar with, employees and managers have embraced and become productive in self-service in a relatively short time.
  • You can believe some of the hype. SaaS-based solutions are often touted as being faster to design and deploy than traditional ERP/on-premised technologies. Our panelists say “yes and no”: For the initial deployment, it still takes time to think through and build a global model. However, once that model is built, subsequent phased deployments are generally faster and smoother. A lesson learned: You can save time and increase effectiveness in the long run by developing a global template of process and system designs that are then localized as they are rolled out to different geographies.
  • The basics still apply. Even though SaaS may be easier to implement than a traditional ERP solution, the tried-and-true tenets of effective change management still apply. Taking care to gain senior-level buy-in, involving local leaders in the implementation effort, including key stakeholders outside of HR in the design of manager and employee self-service, aggressively communicating before, during, and after implementation — these critical success factors have not become obsolete.

From the provider side, our industry insider on the panel is giving us his insights on what SaaS customers value, where the HR technology industry is headed, and how HR outsourcers are being impacted. Some key points from his perspective:

    • SaaS users value the freedom. Users appreciate being able to rely less on their internal IT organization to support their HR solutions. The cloud-based SaaS model can remove much of the “heavy lifting” from IT’s shoulders and give HR more autonomy in adopting systems to support their users’ needs.
    • But users know there’s still room to grow. SaaS users also understand that the technology is still evolving and that currently available solutions may not have all the functionality they’re looking for. Many are choosing a SaaS offering with the idea that they may have to supplement it with a stand-alone solution that they bolt on to meet a particular HR need while their vendor of choice enhances functionality to meet their needs.
    • HRT providers are committed to SaaS. The HR technology industry is seeing its customers shifting from on-premise and traditional ERP solutions, and considers SaaS to be the future of the industry.
    • HR outsourcers are having to reinvent themselves. The old model where an organization would hire an HR outsourcer to implement and operate an ERP solution and provide ancillary services is becoming obsolete. In the SaaS world, an HR outsourcer can’t resell a systems solution to a client; instead a client does business directly with a SaaS provider. While a new role for HR outsourcers is still being written, an evolving concept is a scenario where an HR outsourcer would wrap, say, a call center and other services around its client’s SaaS-based solution.

Today’s session is just a glimpse of how SaaS tools are impacting HR service delivery for our panelists, and the audience has chimed in with their own questions and experiences. Has your organization experienced something similar — or different —with your own SaaS implementation? We’d welcome your insights in a comment.

Marc Solow Marc Solow is a director with Deloitte Consulting LLP and responsible for leading Deloitte’s HR Shared Services market offering in the United States.

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