Engaged Workforce

Agile and social models are changing performance management, rewards, coaching, goal-setting and development. How you engage with your workforce will directly correlate with how to maximize the productivity of employees whilst giving the best possible opportunities for development.

Caterpillar Chooses Kenexa for Survey Services

Kenexa (NASDAQ: KNXA), a provider of talent acquisition and retention solutions, announced that it will be providing Caterpillars workforce with a comprehensive survey offering to gather valuable employee feedback. Caterpillar is Continue reading →

BT and Accenture Sign Five-Year Learning Outsourcing Contract

LONDON; July 6, 2005 BT and Accenture (NYSE:ACN) have signed a five-year, $127 million (70 million) business processing outsourcing (BPO) contract for learning services. This contract renews a previous learning agreement between the two companies and complements the 10-year (US$575 million) human resources outsourcing contract signed by BT and Accenture in January 2005.

The services to be provided under the new contract include technical and safety training around switching, data, transmission and network technologies

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Is Your Lease Keeping You in the Current Model?

How to make sure your outsourcing arrangement stays on course.

by Curtis S. Morgan

Outsourcing is like deciding whether to buy or lease a car. If you buy, the cost of repairs, upkeep, and eventual replacement are all in your control. If you lease, you expect to turn the car in for a new one every few years. The lease decision provides access to current technology and offers the advantage of upgrades available in the newer models. So if outsourcing is, like leasing, an expectation of always having the latest engineering, why do so many relationships fail to deliver continuous development and improvement?

Of course, upgrading the HRO space is certainly more difficult than going to a dealership and turning in your old car for a newer model. Often, process change and development start out full throttle, yet the expected continuous improvement fails to materialize after the heady results of the early transition effort. Given the obvious advantages of process or cost improvements to both provider and buyer, why do so many relationships eventually become stagnant? A typical pattern of events runs something like this:

The buyer and provider start out with a mutual commitment to focus resources on cost control and process improvement after live date. Presumably the providers team has the focus and expertise to execute the transition to the better future state, and contract provisions typically are set so that its in the providers financial interests to invest in improved processes.

During transition, all resources are focused on transition efforts, change management, and minimizing the adverse impact on employees and business partners, while continuing to meet the buyers ongoing service needs.

Once services have transitioned, the reality of changing requirements, corporate transactions, special projects, and competing buyer demands distracts the change management resources assigned to the core optimization efforts. The vendor has to redeploy change management resources toward what the buyer now needs to have done rather than the intended process improvements or implementations. At the time, redeployment seems to be a win-win: The buyers needs are met and the vendor provides revenue-generating special projects.

At some point however, the long-term impact of this shift in focus becomes apparent when the promised continuous improvement fails to materialize. Somehow, everyone was working hardyet the service delivery and cost controls have lagged behind expectations.

So how can you realign with your original objectives while continuing to meet interim needs? Below are the steps necessary to get things back on track.

1. Assess where you are and why. Make sure that the primary obstacle to achieving improvement is the diversion of resources and not a decision not to pursue certain efficiencies. There may be other reasons why the transformation has stalled or been deemed not feasible. Spend time with the teams to gain the reassurance that the goal is still worth the investment and the resources are still appropriate to the goal.

2. Examine alternatives for the destination state. Has interim technology or process improvement created alternatives that did not exist in the past? Evaluate what levels of improvement in service or process can be achieved and what other tangible and intangible advantages such as increased flexibility, responsiveness, or employee appreciation might result. Finally, assess if these advantages are realizable for the employee population involved.

3. Evaluate the resources needed to move from assessing to implementing the selected improvements. Building the full project plan for the transition is necessary for identifying and putting a price on resources. The resulting cost benefit analysis (reflecting cost and return sharing arrangements in the contract) will be used to validate the investments made by all parties.

This planning process can be time-consumingespecially when there is an eagerness to just get started. Although you have to get the ball rolling, both the buyer and provider owe it to themselves and their employees to keep the improvements smart, focused, and timely. To keep the new initiatives moving, you may need separate resource teams from those deployed against other initiatives using the existing team has not worked in the past. Added dedicated resources are typically neededalong with the commitment to keep them isolated from the distractions that may have derailed past efforts. In short, a more disciplined investment approach may be necessary to keep you in the latest HRO model.

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HR Is Alive and Getting Better!

A report from the San Diego SHRM Conference

by Matt DeLuca

I just returned from the SHRM Conference. It was such a terrific gathering that it will take two columns for me to do it justice. This months column will be an overview. Next months will be devoted to a major topicadding value and getting to know the customer. Now for the conference highlights.

First, new buzzwords in HR terminology abounded, some helpful and some just silly. For example, the 9-80 schedule. Houstons oil companies are putting exempt and non-exempt workers alike on a 9-80 schedule where employees work nine days every two weeks for a total of 80 hours. Everyone usually gets the same day off, (I guess calls all go to voice mail on the tenth day). Then there was the 720, a 360-degree performance measurement tool that includes customersbut isnt that what a 360-degree evaluation was already supposed to include?

Second, there didnt seem to be a lot of new products out there, just more of the same. The only exception was new products in healthcare and wellness. Medtronic and others are now offering leases for sophisticated monitoring devices so that employees can check their blood pressure and heart rate at work as frequently as they like. Will the sequence be 401(k) investments first and blood pressure next or the other way around?

Third, tchotchkes a Yiddish word for give aways with no English equivalentare getting more elaborate. Thomson was giving away luggage on wheels (lines were at least an hour long). The Gap offered flipflops (hopefully not encouraging employees to wear them on their business casual days). Human Resource Executive was putting attendees pictures on the cover of their magazine as vendors at carnivals frequently do (You too can be TIMEs person of the year!) And vendor-sponsored parties included star quality entertainment Hootie and the Blowfish (at the San Diego Zoo of all places!) and the Village Peoplealong with open bars, pedi-cab transportation, and, of course, more open bars.

Fourth, outsourcing is being re-examined as an HR service delivery strategy. First Advantage used the conference as an opportunity to kickoff its new superbrand. You may know First Advantage for the variety of HR services they provide on the back end (reference checking, tax consulting, and risk management, to name a few). Then again, you may not know them because First Advantage has taken an aggressive strategy of acquiring a disparate group of organizations in a very segmented marketplace and have been demonstrating the real synergies that come from economies of scale and top quality service delivery by pulling several companies under one huge net. Of particular interest was CEO John Longs response to an outsourcing question at a press briefingthat his organization may provide services, as a third party vendor, to an outsourcing organization under their own brand, but his strategy is for First Advantage to offer its services as a provider/supplier in a more traditional sense.

Fifth, content is still king. The presentations I saw were loaded with useful substance and very thought provoking. Of course, I have a bias for HR practitioners who told their stories, such as Margaret Morford or ex-SHRM CEO Michael Losey. Or Bob Pruitt, who discussed how by bringing humor into the performance appraisal process at Parkview Noble Hospital he vastly improved the results. Then there were the metrics (Fitz-ensupdated, finally!), benchmarking (Kaplan is outinflexible!), and best practices (UCLAs Professor Moshe Rubinstein, a Masters Series presenter, asked why we should limit our line of sight to yesterdays best?). More important, SHRM demonstrated terrific research initiatives that included its second-year sponsoring of the 50 Best Small and Medium Places to Work. More kudos to SHRM for making it so easy to spot both the CEOs and their HR leaders from all the winners, by providing them with large badges so that we could see for ourselves their passion and energy and hear how much they value their employees and HR.

Last, it was good to see that HR is getting a seat at the table. Now we need to be sure we know what we need to do (and how to act) once we get there. More on that next month.

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ACS to Provide Electronic Benefits Transfer Services for New Jersey Department of Human Services

DALLAS, June 21, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ — Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (NYSE: ACS), a premier provider of business process and information technology outsourcing solutions, announced today that it has been selected by the New Jersey Department of Human Services to provide electronic benefits transfer (EBT) services for food stamp and cash assistance benefit programs.

The contract is for five years with two, one-year extensions. Valued at approximately $24 million, the contract provides EBT transaction processing, a call center, account management, Web-based transaction inquiry, online reporting, retailer management for merchants, and ATM access

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USI Holdings closes acquisition of Humanex

USI Holdings Corporation, a US financial services and insurance company, has finalized its acquisition of California-based human resources and employee benefit company Humanex Inc. 

21 Jun 2005, 17:16 GMT – The acquisition is expected to contribute approximately $2.5 million in revenue to USI on an annual basis.

USI Holdings provides specialty property and casualty insurance and financial services such as employee benefits outsourcing

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KnowledgePlanet Becomes First to Offer One Price, Bundled Training Back Office Solution

KnowledgePlanet Training Back Office offers on-demand technology and ongoing administration and operations management in one solution 

MECHANICSBURG, PA (Jun 14, 2005) – KnowledgePlanet has further integrated its Training Back Office components to become the first learning solutions provider to offer a one-price, bundled service of on-demand technology and ongoing administration and operations management. The consolidated suite advances KnowledgePlanet’s strategy to focus learning technologies on significantly increasing customers’  competitiveness and profitability

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Time Warner Selects Pilat HR Solutions to Manage Talent

LEBANON, New Jersey (June 14, 2005) – – Pilat HR Solutions, a leading provider of talent management consulting and software, announced today the signing of an agreement with Time Warner Inc. (New York, NY), a leading global media and entertainment company, to provide them with HR PulseT, a web-based human resource system. This configurable software will provide Time Warner with an enterprise-wide succession planning solution.

“This agreement underscores the enterprise-wide capabilities that the HR PulseT software can address

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DDC HRO and Black Mountain Create Asia Pacific HR BPO Solutions Alliance

(New York, NY and Hong Kong) June 14, 2005 — DDC HRO (www.ddchro.com), a leading provider and enabler of data processing and human capital business process outsourcing solutions, and part of the DDC Group of Companies (www.datacapture.com/DDCbrochure.html), today announced a strategic alliance with Black Mountain Human Resources (Continue reading →

Esurance Selects Mobility Services International to Drive Its Growing Relocation Needs

– Online Auto Insurance Company Anticipates Multiple Relocations By Years End – 

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (June 13, 2005) Esurance is on the road to relocation success.

Mobility Services International (MSI), a leading relocation management company serving the employee mobility needs of corporations worldwide, today announced that San Francisco-based Esurance, a direct-to-consumer personal auto insurance company with more than 150,000 policyholders throughout the United States and a subsidiary of White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd

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