Contributors

Going Somewhere?

HR has evolved from cheerleading to data mining—time to think about the next chapter.
 
I have written before that the future of HRO is really about the future of HR. The pressing question of where the HRO industry is headed lies in the parallel question of where the practice of HR is evolving. HR has had an interesting journey from the people-
oriented “cheerleaders” of 25 years ago to a hard-headed, data-oriented science of productivity management, compliance, and process optimization.  New roles have emerged or evolved in the areas of HR business partnership, staffing management, and organizational development.
 
The pressing question for HRO in this evolution of HR, as I see it, is the question of the management of external service providers. Will companies outsource to a single provider on an enterprise basis or to several providers on a selective basis? The answer is they will do both, based on their needs. The selective outsourcing model will become more prevalent based on current buying trends. To outsource to several firms you need to develop an HR program management office capability.
 
At our recent successful HRO Summit in Tampa and our HRO World Summit Europe in London, several attendees listed their titles as “Something HR Operations.” This is an emerging management discipline within the HR function. These folks are not about their SPHR, can’t quote FMLA, don’t prepare OFCCP audits, or know from P-D-Q, S-O-L or M-O-U-S-E in the sea of acronyms that HR (is that an acronym?) practitioners swim in daily.  They are Six Sigma black belts and Lean proponents. They come from HRIS backgrounds and have procurement experience. They are, in short, a new and different discipline, focused on the delivery of HR service and technology itself and often through third party providers. 
 
As we look to this evolution of HR, HRO Today wonders where have we been, and can we learn something from looking backward as we look forward?  I had a recent experience that made me think about this differently. After our event in London, my wife and I took the train down to Paris to visit friends. We rendezvoused with them and began walking. After about a mile, I asked, “where are we headed?” as the husband had been directing the turns. His response was, “Nowhere, we are just walking”. I walked on for awhile longer and started to become faintly annoyed. I have taken leisure walks, but it was always to a given point and to return. I started to realize something about myself, which was, in itself, odd. You get to an age where you believe you are not going to have new revelations about your own world view, but here I was having one. I do not like a journey that has no specific destination or at least no definable beginning, middle, or endpoint. If I am going somewhere, I want to know where I going, where I came from, and to what purpose I was traveling.  (Yeah, I know Type A personality, I don’t need e-mails to point that out. Thanks anyway.)
 
This revelation dovetailed with an editorial decision that we would like to announce as a new multi-arc series in 2010.  We will be conducting a 10-year retrospective on HR and HRO.  We will be asking some of the leading voices, the lions and lionesses of HR, where we have been and where they think we are going or should be going. We will be offering this as a recurring feature for you to evaluate, based on what you are seeing in you own organization. 
 
In the last 10 years, we have seen everything from dot-coms to dot-bombs, to mega booms to mega busts, to mega deals to mega tragedies. We have seen a world wracked by grief, economic euphoria, then economic turmoil, and near systemic failure. How has all of this changed the practice of HR, and how has it changed the HRO community that follows its lead? We will cover this and look for your feedback as well. 
 
Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and, most of all: Thank You for paying attention, from the staff of HRO Today and SharedXpertise. 
 
Elliot Clark is the CEO of SharedXpertise. 

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