Ask the Pro: Increasing an HR shared services organization's strategic value to the enterprise
I lead HR shared services, and I’m intrigued by Deloitte’s view in the 2009 global shared services survey that SSOs are evolving into ‘strategic enablers, not just supporters.’ What are some ways to increase an HR SSO’s strategic value to the enterprise?
I think one of an HR SSO’s biggest potential strategic contributions would be to help the enterprise leverage the enormous amount of enterprise-wide HR data it collects to drive business insights. For instance, an organization can apply workforce analytics to the SSO’s HR data to help identify high-performing employees who are at high risk of leaving, understand why and when they might do so, and take proactive steps to retain them. Typically, these analytics would be done by specialists in a shared “Center of Excellence” (CoE) – which we view as essentially shared services for business advisory capabilities. The transactional SSO would play an essential role in collecting, cleansing, and organizing the data and making it available to the CoE; the CoE would perform the analytics and work with the businesses to interpret the results. The transactional SSO could also give the CoE valuable “on-the-ground” insights on the types of analyses the data might reasonably support – for example, by telling the specialists what kinds of data are and are not available for particular business units or geographic regions.
Another way we’ve seen HR SSOs move “up the value chain” is to expand their scope of services beyond the purely transactional (e.g., payroll, benefits administration) into activities that touch more “strategic” talent management concerns, such as recruitment, hiring and on-boarding, learning and development, and succession planning. Of course, some parts of these processes aren’t really appropriate to put in shared services – in recruiting, for example, you’d want the local hiring manager, not the SSO, to perform the core candidate interviews and make the final hiring decision. But having shared services do certain parts of the work, such as sourcing candidates, screening resumes, scheduling interviews, and consolidating feedback, can definitely help make the whole process faster and more efficient. What’s more, shared services can also play an important data analysis/business insight role in some of these areas. For example, with its cross-enterprise information on open positions and hiring criteria, an SSO would be well placed to understand where in the enterprise a particular candidate might fit, and to refer him or her to other hiring managers if the candidate turned out not to be suitable for the job he or she originally applied for.
Beth Thiebault, principal, Human Resources Strategies Group, Deloitte Consulting LLP
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