Insight from a practitioner that led a major global transformation.
By Debbie Bolla
Norman Ross has an interesting view of HR operations from his side of the desk. The global vice president of HR shared services for Motorola Solutions Inc. recently led the HR part of the separation of Motorola’s Mobile Phone business from Motorola Solutions when both organizations became independent companies in January 2011. Since then, he has helped drive the transformation of the global HR function through a two-year project in more than 63 countries and 23,000 employees—details below.
How did you vet Aon Hewitt? What was the process around that selection?
We spent the early part of 2011 looking closely at our HR service delivery model, being clear on what we would outsource, what we would retain inside, and agreeing how we wanted to deliver services to our employees around the world. Once we were clear on that, we ran a very rigorous request for proposal (RFP) process where we invited five of the major global HR BPO providers to discuss what they could do. We were coming to the end of a 10- year arrangement with ACS Xerox and we knew the HR BPO market had changed significantly during that time—as had our business model. So it was important that we took a fresh look at everything we were doing and make sure that we found an organization that we could develop a strong partnership with and drive a much more standard approach to our “back office” administration and frontline services we offer employees.
We involved the broader HR organization in the RFP process ensuring we had a good representation from around the world. We found that Aon Hewitt was able to meet our requirements in terms of quality, cost, and service. In addition, as we’d gone through the RFP and contracting processes we found that Aon Hewitt fit very well with our culture and values, making them a good fit for us as a long-term partner that we could work with to continuously improve the way we deliver HR services.
The partnership aimed to improve your organization’s HR portal, payroll system, and performance management processes. Why was this the case?
We had separated the company into two independent companies in January 2011 so Motorola Solutions was going through a rapid cultural change and these were all part of that change. Some of our payroll systems were outdated and had been put in place when we were an organization of more than 100,000 employees. So in some countries we had a payroll system designed and managed for a much larger and diverse population. Our largest payroll—which was in the United States—was running on an older version of ADP, and we took the opportunity to upgrade that system at the same time we were changing from SAP to Workday as our HR transaction system. In many ways it made sense to make these changes concurrently, although at the time it definitely added complexity. We had to stay very focused in order to make sure everything went as planned. In Europe, we took the opportunity to move to a single payroll vendor—Ceridian—where previously we had a series of local vendors providing payroll services at the country level. It’s fair to say we still have a lot to do on the payroll front but we’vemade a good start and moved closer to a more consistent approach globally.
In terms of the HR portal, this had originally been designed for a different service delivery model in a very different company and here was an opportunity for us to refresh the way we delivered content. I’m pleased to say that the feedback from employees has been very positive and has allowed us to move people to a single point on the intranet for the vast majority of their HR-related needs. However, we need to continue to monitor this and make sure the portal keeps pace with the needs of employees—nothing lasts forever!
In terms of performance management, we realized we spent way too much time getting to a “rating.” This had created a culture of evaluation and labels, and it didn’t support collaboration—one of our core values as a new company. We wanted to create a culture of high performance and we recognized that in the past we spent too much time and resources trying to “hit the distribution.” That time could be better spent on meaningful dialogues talking about how we can improve performance at the individual, team, and organization levels. Basically, we were always looking in the rear view mirror instead of looking out in front.
What were some challenges during the process prior to going live?
As you can see we changed a lot—all at the same time. We were very focused on what needed to happen and when. We had two years to complete this phase of our transformation and we spent a lot of time at the beginning being very clear on our objective. We developed a set of guiding principles to help us through some of the more difficult decision-making we knew we’d be faced with throughout the project. I think we did an excellent job at project managing and maintaining tight governance on a multifaceted project where sequencing and interdependencies were critical. To be honest this is one of our great strengths as a company so in many ways we expected this part of the project to be a success.
One of the biggest challenges we had prior to going live was in the payroll arena where we had issues relating to the integrations between Workday and the local country payroll systems. These issues really reflected years of complexity where we had customized interfaces extensively. Trying to unravel that was very difficult especially when you know that above all else, the one thing you need to get right is people’s pay! The team did an outstanding job at making sure that these issues got fixed and we went live in all countries as planned. I’m pleased to say that apart from a few teething problems, everyone got paid on time.
How did you communicate the new process to all HR resources part of the MSI global community?
We had a work stream as part of the overall project that was focused solely on communication and change management. They had their own project plan which was fully integrated with the overall plan. This ensured we communicated at the precise time to the appropriate stakeholders across the organization whether it was HR, managers, senior leaders, or employees.
The first component to this approach was stakeholder involvement which was at the center of our communication and change efforts. Upfront, we conducted a stakeholder analysis to fully understand all of our stakeholders, identify what’s changing for them, and document the benefits and concerns. We also asked for input from our global HR and manager teams throughout the process, including conducting surveys. This input led us to create a comprehensive change strategy and plan.
Next, it was important to tell the story. At the time of separation, we told a very crisp, cohesive story. Our employees appreciated and responded well to that approach. So, we articulated an HR transformation mantra called “It Just Works” to reinforce the ease and simplicity of our new systems and tools. We also built a visual identity system to make it easy for employees to identify HR transformation communication. And, of course, we had a full- blown communication strategy and plan.
We knew the best way to reach MSI employees was to engage them in a variety of timely, relevant, and compelling communication. We leveraged email—some from leaders, some highly visual to provide just-in-time action-oriented information. We used video, meetings, and a variety of other tools such as flyers, webinars, know-before- you-go guides, and so on.
Finally, we prepared our global HR colleagues to manage the change. We set up a global change agent network and put them in charge of managing and communicating the change.
What were some successes and challenges of the big-bang roll out?
The roll out was very successful; we achieved what we set out to do. Our systems went live, the interfaces to other systems such as payroll worked, the Service Centers came on stream on time around the world, and employees used them extensively right from day one. Overall we’re very pleased with the way the launch has gone, and our focus for the first nine months has been on stabilizing what we have. Inevitably we’ve already started looking hard at how we can improve the performance of all the parts, and to be honest we will probably always be looking at how we can make things better. We are working hard to reduce manual interventions, and fine-tune our employee service centre knowledge and the operating model. At the same time we’re continuing to standardize and simplify our processes wherever possible to make things easier for employees and managers.
Ultimately, we believe our HR technology and service delivery model can help us unleash the value of HR. We’re shifting from implementation mode to continuous improvement mode—and that will free up our HR folks for more strategic activities. We’re also focused on leveraging the power of our new technology to provide meaningful talent intelligence that will help us drive better people and business decisions.
Your new model operates on a Workday platform. What are some benefits of being SaaS based?
There are a number of benefits we see using the SaaS model. The fact that we are all on the latest version of the system and that it’s updated regularly—three times in 2013 and two times a year in 2014—means we see system uptime pretty much at 100 percent with no customization costs. You run the latest version of the system at all times so you are not locked into old software or prevented from upgrading due to prohibitive costs.
There is a significant saving in the total cost of ownership versus a more traditional model. You pay a subscription charge, but you no longer have hardware, software, or database costs either through buying or maintenance. We found that customizing our old system led to significant maintenance charges every time there was a system upgrade. We’ve also found that the overall user experience is much improved. Accessing the system is easy and finding information within the system is fairly intuitive. We see this through the number of employees who regularly access the system.
The system is available 24 hours a day and can be accessed securely from virtually anywhere. Once we get through our initial transition to Workday and our new administration processes, we will make the mobile version of Workday available to employees. This will be a huge step forward, allowing many of our employees who are on the move to access and transact on the system using their smartphone or tablet. We also still need to realize the full benefit of the reporting and analytics capabilities, and have plans to put much more focus in this area as we move into 2014. We see big benefits for our business by doing this.
Any data around return on investment you can share?
Right now we are on track to realize the return on investment we used in our original financial model which was based over a five-year term.
The Provider Perspective
“MSI began their transformation journey in 2011 which led them to choose Aon Hewitt,” recalls Heather Perguidi, service delivery manager for Aon Hewitt. The engagement was no easy feat with tight parameters: a speedy implementation timeline of 12 months. The secret to making it work? Change management.
“We see change management as critical,” notes Pam Hein, partner, Aon Hewitt. “What Motorola Solutions did more effectively than most is that they brought the regions and HR leaders into the fold prior to even working with Aon Hewitt. So in the design and implementation phase, they already had people on board and part of the process. We were lucky that Motorola really believed in change management and getting people involved. They wanted to make sure they were telling a cohesive story, a broad HR transformation story.”
How did they execute on a communications strategy? Motorola voiced a very clear cut campaign through emails, videos, meetings, webinars, and more.
They also got leadership involved. “The most important part of what happened was their communications from the top,” reports Sandy Miller, managing principal at Aon Hewitt. “They involved leaders in each of the regions. They felt they needed local buy in, local involvement, and they needed everybody to understand that this was an organizational transformation.”