Transform HR Shared Services Challenges to Successes

Hirra Pervaiz

HR shared services have become a popular means to give the room to HR professionals to focus on more strategic assignments and to serve as a strategic business partner in the true sense. HR shared services is not solely for the new businesses emerging, but is also for those organizations that have already adopted shared services for its other back office operations. Since the main aim of HR shared services is to serve as an engine for the HR professionals to drive and carry out a balanced and effective talent management agenda by not only reducing costs but also by continuously improving employee experience.

The successful implementation of HR shared services is possible when the implementers take a holistic approach transforming the HR strategy, the people and the technology to build on a service-oriented model giving the HR the voice to be a strategic partner that can directly impact the bottom line of the organization. However, the implementation of HR shared services and the complete transformation of HR is not an easy task and comes with a variety of challenges.

The Challenges of HR Shared Services

The transition to HR shared services comes with challenges and requires consideration on to a variety of factors.

1. Moving HR Away
The biggest challenge in implementing the shared services is the very notion of moving HR away from the local teams. A fear arises amongst the leaders as well as the employees that the personal connection between the HR department and their teams will be lost. It is here that organizations need to reach an equilibrium whereby the HR is treated as a business while also the connection to the employees needs is maintained as well.

2. Undefined Roles and Responsibilities
Often, the roles and responsibilities that tend to change with the HR shared services implementation is not clearly defined. This makes the complete process very vague and unmanageable. To fully address the scope of the HR process while implementing HR shared services, it is important to clearly define the roles of all involved. Generally this includes:
- Business Partners: serves as the catalyst that translates the operating units need into HR requirements and also evaluates the HR service delivered in contrast
- Centers of Expertise: the subject matter experts that build the HR programs to meet the requirements of the operating unit
- Shared Services Centers: the service centers that deliver complete HR services to the customers
- Local HR Delivery: involves those providing on-site support.
Only focusing on shared services delivery might produce efficiency gains, but without other roles clearly defined, it would become rather impossible to gain maximum results. The interaction of all these roles is critical to the success of HR shared services implementation.

3. Resourceful Service Delivery
The users of the HR services and information are diverse, ranging from the highest level professionals and HR executives requiring information for building HR programs to the other employees of the organization. Therefore, it is important that the service delivery to each group of individuals is catered according to their needs and through the right communication channels.
4. Flexible Shared Services Model
It is quite natural that HR services change over time— sometimes rapidly, and sometimes more slowly, mainly due to changing governmental regulations or organizational policies. To keep up with all these changes, the HR shared services model adopted should be flexible enough to correspond with all the required changes.

5. Multinational Deployments
For organizations having presence in different geographical regions, HR shared services needs to accommodate the disparate labor laws, financial taxes, etc. With the help of centralized HR policies and procedures the local requirements can be met while also maintaining the harmony between all the operating units.

Addressing Shared Services Challenges

The key to addressing the HR shared services challenges is to adopt a holistic approach for its implementation. The successful execution of the HR shared services depends on a variety of factors that include:

1. Enhanced HR Roles and Competencies
Since the whole HR environment is transformed with the implementation of HR shared services, so are the roles and competencies. With all the roles and responsibilities clearly defined for the entire network, the right work gets done by the right resources at the right cost.

2. Centralized HR policies and procedures
The centralized policies and procedures at all business units serve as the basis to deliver consistent HR services to the units while also helping to keep interaction and transaction costs to the minimum.

3. Integrated HR Information System
The HR shared service enables the organization with "one stop" HR data that the organization can use for making business decisions such as workforce planning. Also, the integration of HR information helps in improving business controls and facilitates employee self-service.

Considering the challenges involved in the implementation of HR shared services, it is quite evident that the success can be achieved by meticulously defining the entire end-to-end process. The successful implementation of HR shared services will transform the HR function’s role in the business setting and can help improve the predictability and consistency of HR services to the benefits of the organization.