What can we do next?
So what? As with the first article it’s easy to criticise but what can we do:
• Determine a clear case for creating shared services that is based on the value-added to the business not just cost.
• Design the whole thing for service as well as efficiency and then build a service-oriented culture in the delivery team.
• Pay more attention to customer feedback and less to the ratio of HR practitioners to other staff in measuring success.
• Recognise that HR has a number of different customers to be convinced and, in particular, that senior management has to support the concept in theory and practice so adapt processes, policies and service specifications in consultation with line managers.
• If you require the line to act differently (i.e. through the introduction of on-line self-service), they must be given the appropriate support and training.
• Don’t underestimate the scale of resources required: budget, HR time, Central IT time/commitment, etc.
• Pilot it rather than roll it out in one go. This keeps up the momentum for change, minimises disruption to the business, identifies early problems and is an opportunity to validate existing data before transferring to the new system. Accept that the roll out will not go as expected.
• Be wary of IT delivery times, and be cautious whether the system will be fully operational on time and to specification.
• Avoid the temptation to design and implement a unique HR data portal and service, or to significantly customize one. Many effective products are on the market, and adapting one of them is much simpler, less expensive and more likely to succeed.
• Remember that IT is a channel for providing and disseminating information but it is the content and analysis of the information that drives business performance so plan to analyse the data. Data does not improve decision making unless it is used. If it’s just warehoused it might as well not exist.
• HR Business Partners must feel shared accountability for success so ensure that all HR are kept well informed of what is happening on the ground.
• Ensure staff have the appropriate knowledge, information and skills. Customer service and call handling are often seen as the minimum requirement. Where the centre provides more specialist services, HR knowledge is also essential. Indeed if this knowledge is dependent on understanding the organisational context then question whether outsourcing advice is the right way to go.
• Avoid the risk of de-skilling some administrative jobs to the point where they become extremely tedious to perform.
• Avoid the risk that shared service centre staff are ill-attuned to business needs, giving generic rather than specific advice and not seeing the work through to a real conclusion.
• Rotate people carefully and frequently within each area to avoid the 'silo mentality’.
• Finally communicate, communicate and then communicate some more.