My little rant last week (click here) about HRO and SaaS seemed to ruffle a few feathers. It's clear, without the benefit of significant labor arbitrage, the advent of serious SaaS solutions is going to (and already is in some quarters) bulldoze the entire way enterprises access business services. None more so than HRO, which has been so reliant on onshore processing centers to deliver low-value administrative work for clients - especially those suffering dysfunctional / non-existent technology. I wanted to share a contribution to the discussion from matriarch of HR technology, Naomi Bloom, who expands on these points and provides a couple of excellent example of where the HR Cloud revolution is already well under way....
Phil, this is a great topic with lots of threads worthy of comment, but I'll focus on just two.
First, not only does the new breed of SaaS provide a better foundation for delivering a wide range of HR capabilities directly to the real customers, from manager and members of the workforce to applicants and vendors of contingent workers, but the best of the new SaaS offerings automate HRM so much more fully that the amount of manual work, the amount of HRO needed, is reduced substantially. Except in the heavily regulated areas, like benefits and payroll, great SaaS should eat a lot of HRO providers for lunch. Call centers? We shouldn't need them at anywhere near the level that exists today for many large organizations. HRO-provided self-service? Gone! But that doesn't mean that there isn't work to do with SaaS; it's just very different work, which takes me to my second point.
Second, with near continuous attention to turning on entirely new functionality as frequent releases deliver it or business conditions warrant its use in an already present release or even when changes in business require reconfiguration/changes to existing functionality, customers need clever business analysts with deep business and product knowledge to ensure that such work gets done well and quickly. But these are still scarce KSAOCs in our world, especially as regards understanding the growing number of models-based, metadata-driven products which old think analysts struggle to understand. What's needed to support customers here is a very new style of HRO, which is much more business analyst services than call center/manual processing services.
One example, OneSource Virtual, is such a new style HRO provider focused entirely on Workday's customer base for whom they provide not only a wide range of initial and ongoing implementation services but also a variety of ongoing back office payroll and benefits administration outsourcing services. Another strong example is Ultimate Software, which just bought one of its partners, which provided similar services focused entirely on Ultipro's customer base, to offer some of these same services in-house. These are just examples as you and I know that there are many such offerings in various stages from planning to real.
It will be fascinating to see if the larger SIs and/or HRO providers will be able to craft just the right mix of quality and cost-effectiveness to be successful in delivering much smaller, less labor-intensive and more tool-based implementation and post-implementation HR services.