Sucessful HR Transformation should develop the people of an organisation. Many HR professionals study very hard to be able to do this. The last thing they should want to do is spend countless hours embroiled in administration whether that is with a new starter, leaver, or with an employee grievance. In my opinion the key to making HR world class is to develop people through all aspects of the journey.

There is some amazing technology around now, both in HR Management Systems, CRM, Time & Attendance and Payroll Systems. But these are all driven from Process, Data and People. They all involve operating models and in many cases transformation to get there in the first place.

The key to making HR world class is to develop people through all aspects of the journey.

I recently attended a webinar with a leading consultancy talking about the future of HR Shared Services, Employee Services and People Services, and I heard the same as I did 10 years ago. Yes, times change and Cloud Technology may be with us but the fundemental activities to transform HR have not changed in my experience. These fundementals don’t just determine a successful transformation, they can make situations a whole lot worse if not completed correctly.
I have worked with many HR System Vendors and consultancies and it’s not that one system is better than another, it’s about how you build, transition and transform them. I can assure anyone, you put bad data into these systems and you will not have a very good HRM solution. I often get asked my opinion about vendors and systems, and my response is usually the same – “It’s the factors of how you build them, the people used to build them, and what goes into them”. Yes, some technology may suit a business sector, but from experience time and time again it’s how you transform everytime which makes it successful.

My opinion on vendors and systems – it’s the factors of how you build them, the people you use to build them, and what goes into them that matters.


There is sometimes a tendency to start off a project and spend month upon month working on process maps which work great for a project, but I have seen so many times when process maps do get used operationally. I much prefer to start off using a continuous process journey before engaging with any 3rd parties. This is because I believe it is important to dream, why not build a dream process and then go find a technology partner who can enable this? It is always key to have a vision for every aspect of HR. This should be short, medium, long term and a prerequisite for building a HR process.

My recommendation is always to do a pre-project, much like pre-season at football, using a process approach called SIPOC ( Supplier, Input, Process, Output and Customer). This enables handoffs to be built, which can be changed throughout the journey. But it means an organisation can go into a transformation understanding their vision, what their key requirements are and then make the technology, data and any constraint fit to the requirements. This can mean substantial savings in both projects and transformations, and is a great basis for building the Optimum process.

SIPOC works great because it makes the organisation think about handoffs, best practice and allows action plans to be put into place to get to that optimum process. It will also make a business case stand out a mile. On the negative side, I have seen many times that technology determines the path for transformation, but it should be about People & Process and using technology as the enabler.

I have seen many times that technology determines the path for transformation, but it should be about the People & Process and using Technology as the enabler.


Again, as per process if this can be started pre transformation it can have extensive savings especially if part of a System Implementation. There are 2 most common parts of harmonisation, which can run continuous. These are the simplification of terms and conditions, and data cleansing.

I usually find that terms and conditions differences build up over a period of time especially for a company that has experienced acquisition, and has had Tupe transfers. This type of transformation can tend to be extensive as negotiation of agreements and union involvement may be required, but against the cost of a process it is worth it to clean these up.

Data cleansing is in 2 stages. There will be data over a period of time which just needs a good clean up, but if doing a System Implementation there maybe requirements as part of a project to complete further data cleansing. My recommendation in this area is to identify any resource requirements as quickly as possible in the transformation journey.

Harmonisation should not be underestimated, it can save many months in a project. For example a Global project I was involved in, we saw it save 12 months in transition time and costs.

Target Operating Model

One of the most popular structures is the Ulrich Model. However if this is not set up correctly it loses all the benefits it should provide, including tangible and intangible benefits. If there is a Systems Implementation, it is very important to include people from the key areas of HR in the Project so they can learn the set up of the new processes and technology as well as provide a vision.

HR Information Systems (HRIS) is a real key role in Cloud Based technology. If the HR is implemented correctly with the right people and training, it can take away the need of HR to require support from an ICT department or from a Vendor. Most importantly in the long term it can add a lot of value to the business.

When reviewing a TOM it is always beneficial to analyse against processes, key performance indicators and volumes. There are several debates such as, does Payroll belong in HR or Finance? But for me it always comes back to is HR performing its objectives? thus being the development of people. If the answer is NO, then a review of the TOM is always a good idea, and during technology projects there should be a full review.


Payroll is always a determining factor with HR, it has to be as the inputs to Payroll will come from HR. It’s not very often anyone sees Payroll as a key to Transformation, however when Payroll does not go to plan, the issues it causes can run to millions of pounds, causing huge business disruption. Payroll has to be the key to transformation, and it can be measured by several Key Performance Indicators.

Moving to a new Payroll system has its pitfalls. The most common being complicated terms and conditions not configured to the correct employee record, multiple time and attendence solutions not linked to Payroll, and making multiple manual adjustments. This is why you should avoid manual processes in Payroll, and put automated controls in place, making sure it is joined up to HR.

Key Performance Indicators

Measurements around HR processes vary. Some examples include:

  • HR cost per employee, providing an overall cost of running a full HR service.
  • Time to hire and time in roles, both from the Recruitment Process.
  • The costs to hire.
  • Cost per payslip, measuring productivity in payroll.
  • Analysis of starters, leavers and movers.
  • Analysis of sickness.
  • Headcount KPIS.

I am a firm believer its not about running reports or KPIs, it is about what you do with them, and there is usually some familiarisation which needs to happen in this area. My advice is use KPIs and reporting etc. to drive Root Cause Analysis (RCA). If a process is going wrong and you want to establish where it is going wrong, try and establish measurement points as part of the process. This will lead you to improved process, better productivity, and better skilled people.


For me People are at the hub of everything, and so it should be when it comes to HR. I often hear individuals mention People, Process and Systems. For me its down to people every time, I see it operationally in HR and I see it in Project Transformation work. The best blend of success is where Consultants work with people from a business to achieve transformation, usually with people who want to change and have a vision of where they want to get to. On every project I have ever completed people develop within organisations due to being involved in HR transformation. The lessons which can be learned during this period are ones that cannot be learned in a classroom.