In a market where HRO projects continue to grow in size, comprehending all of the complexities associated with a global project is a critical factor to an effective implementation.
As companies undertake large-scale HR transformation, the importance of a project team that truly understands the complexities associated with a global implementation cannot be overlooked. The realization of global outsourcing’s benefits will be strongly dependent on the ability of those involved to incorporate the local variations inherent in such a large effort. Identifying the “right” team and building a project plan that accounts for regional differences is the first step.
During the upfront planning stage, a number of simple but important items must be taken into consideration. Additionally, once the project is up and running, it is important to remain flexible and adjust plans as necessary. Project management should understand and be prepared to react to each of the following areas:
• U.S. “Best Practices” Are Not Necessarily an Effective Global Solution. It is extremely important that a U.S.-based project does not translate into a
U.S.-centric philosophy. Developing regional teams that represent the key concerns within a region or country and incorporating the perspective of those team members is critical to creating global buy-in.
• Globalization with Local Variation. One of the primary objectives of global HR transformation is to standardize practices as much as possible. A company’s ability to harmonize policies and globalize processes is directly related to the project’s overall results. Striking the balance between local flexibility and global standardization requires a strong foundation. Regional teams should be provided with “global” guiding principles and standardized tools and templates to keep them integrated with the overall program. Additionally, recognizing that one global approach may not work across all regions should ensure that local requirements are incorporated appropriately. Always account for requirements that help the business remain competitive within its market or compliant with local legal and regulatory mandates.
• Working around the World Should Not Mean Working around the Clock. Be thoughtful of time differences when planning meetings and setting deadlines. The start of one person’s work day is the end of someone else’s. Keeping globally dispersed resources connected to the pulse of the project is critical, and time zone differences must be actively managed or integration will not occur easily. To facilitate constant information flow, use approaches such as creating a rotational schedule for regular calls with Asia, Europe, and Latin America, ensuring meeting minutes are summarized and distributed to global team members. Hold debrief sessions to summarize major activities.
• Terminology: Keep It Simple. Avoid the use of U.S.-specific acronyms and language such as FMLA, PTO, 401(k), and leave of absence. A term in one region could likely mean something else in another. Where possible, define global terms and ensure a consistent understanding across all regions. Prior to the start of a meeting or the distribution of a document, understand your audience and take the time to clarify any assumptions.
• Managing the Extended Team. Most HRO projects will require the active management of company and provider resources, contractors, and third-party vendors—all on a global scale. This complex arrangement of people and responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming. Recognize up front that your stakeholders will need care and feeding. Communications must be tailored to the audience in terms of content, language, and culture.
• Rolling Out Technology Around the World: Identify the countries that are “behind” in technology, and build a plan that supports those populations through the initial roll-out of the solution. Often times, many countries are not ready for manager and employee self-service solutions and paperless transactions. Understand that the existing technology used within each region and country will be impacted by the HR transformation.
The topics highlighted above are neither profound nor groundbreaking, but to overlook or minimize the importance of each may slow the progress of a large HR transformation effort. The acceptance of a global approach by the regions it impacts is typically the difference between a struggle and an effective implementation. So, before you take your next 11 a.m. call with Asia, ask yourself, Are you keeping global HRO global?