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Softworld preview: Transforming HR to support the future needs of the business strategy



Bettina Pickering and Neil McEwen, Managing Consultants at PA Consulting Group will be speaking at the Softworld HR & Payroll seminar ‘Transforming HR to support the future needs of the business strategy’ at 9am on Wednesday 2 March. Here’s a snapshot of what they’ll be discussing …

For more than a decade, major organisations in the USA, UK and now Europe have been restructuring their HR functions to focus on higher value activities and make HR transactional delivery as efficient and inexpensive as possible.

However, the performance of HR shared service and HR outsourcing activities has often disappointed and the difficulty of embedding effective and credible HR Business Partners has cast doubt on the robustness and validity of the currently accepted model of HR best practice.

Therefore, the jury is still out on whether these HR transformation efforts have succeeded, particularly as the pressure to prove HR’s worth to the business intensifies by the day.

The journey from transaction based HR to a becoming a strategic adviser to management offers numerous challenges and opportunities for HR professionals.

This journey is in part about driving cost down and driving up efficiency by moving step-by-step to a more reliable and efficient service delivery model. The ultimate goal however, is about facilitation and creation of greater business value by HR.

Therefore HR transformation activities must always be guided by business and operational need. Because business and employee needs as well as regulations change, an HR transformation must not be seen as a finite process but as an ongoing journey.

Bettina Pickering and Neil McEwen from PA Consulting Group will map out the HR transformation journey which gives rise to a number of choices about structure, processes, capabilities, systems and sourcing.

Decisions have to be made on the basis of an up-to-the minute knowledge of current as-is costs and benchmarks as well as forecasted business benefits, scale of investment, speed of return and affordability.

The presenters will offer practical examples using case studies on how other organisations have dealt with the challenges and opportunities of an HR transformation for example decisions whether to go for shared services, outsource and off-shoring together with how to upgrade the capability of HR professionals to perform the strategic role of building organisational and people capability to deliver changing business goals.

PA have identified six key elements that HR functions need to bring together to execute and demonstrate a successful HR transformation programme. These are new skills for the HR function, long-term commitment, output performance measures to demonstrate increased organisation and people effectiveness, good HR support systems, an open mind to new and innovative solutions and assertiveness by and from the HR function. The presenters will explain how these six elements contribute to a successful HR transformation and what steps organisations can take to put these in place.

A full-blown HR transformation takes time, unflagging energy, resilience and investment in structural, behavioural and service delivery changes and may seem daunting to organisations, which have not yet embarked on the journey. Bettina Pickering and Neil McEwen will provide a range of practical options on initial steps towards an HR transformation for businesses with an appetite for HR transformation and ways and means of managing ongoing change.

Some of these options include taking stock and introducing targeted initiatives such as business-focused measures and KPIs, skills audits, wider communication of HR’s successes and education programmes to build acceptance of new approaches and delivery channels for HR. HR might also pick out those people in the function with the greatest capacity for strategic thinking, and use them to start developing that agenda.

About the speakers
Bettina Pickering
Since joining PA in 1997, Bettina has worked across a variety of private sector industries (various manufacturing, chemicals, telecommunications, legal, banking and insurance) and public sector clients (Health and Work & Pensions).

Her focus is on managing and delivering Business Transformation projects (in particular HR and Finance Transformation), Business and IT-enabled Change, Corporate Performance Management and Business Intelligence. Her most recent projects included HR Strategy for an insurance company, HR Transformation including shared services for a law firm, HR Transformation Review for a Retailer and performance management for a health organisation.

Bettina regularly speaks at conferences on HR, Performance Management and Finance related issues and is the main contributor to sister site Accounting Web Guides on Corporate Performance Management.
Neil McEwen

Neil McEwen has 20 years consulting experience in the HR and change arena and has worked with a number of major organisations to help them design and implement HR transformations, including building HR Business Partner roles and assessing HR managers for role suitability, designing expertise centres and setting up shared services as well as thinking through whether to insource or outsource transactional HR activity.

He has particular expertise in the analysis of HR processes and costs and in the practicalities of setting up shared services and migrating HR processes to shared service and/or outsourced environments.

Neil frequently speaks on conference platforms and writes on HR Transformation issues.

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