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NGA HR’s Digital Strategy is All About the eXperience


NelsonHall recently attended NGA HR’s Analyst and Adviser Summit in Amsterdam. The event set out NGA’s new business strategy, which is to make HR work better through digital transformation. At its core, NGA HR wants to offer next-generation enterprise HR and payroll services/technology built around the user experience, by offering new consultancy services, introducing bots/artificial intelligence, and enhancing analytics.

New consultancy services

NGA HR is an early adopter of the SAP Cloud Platform (since 2015): a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providing comprehensive application development capabilities to help organizations extend, integrate, and build innovative apps in areas such as mobile and machine learning. Seeing what benefits SAP Cloud Platform could bring to its own products, and the growing trend of personalized content on smartphones, just one year after launching cleaHRsky in 2016, NGA HR has shifted its product strategy for cleaHRsky, ensuring it is all about the employee experience (user interface, mobile-enabled, etc.). 

To build on this strategy, NGA HR has launched its XtendHR consultancy (with unique branding, enabling the stand-alone purchase of consultancy services), to build such apps for its clients. This can be used to create a more bespoke cleaHRsky solution, with NGA HR developing general software updates (such as GDPR compliance) as well as some tailored updates. Half of NGA’s XtendHR clients have purchased cleaHRsky along with the SAP Cloud Platform as part of a package. The remaining clients have purchased the SAP Cloud Platform independently, deciding later on to integrate NGA HR’s/third-party technology into SAP Cloud Platform by using apps. Some of the apps developed for clients are now being offered to a wider audience, where NGA HR believes the app is commercially viable.

In the future, consultancy services may be extended to cover the Workday Cloud Platform, which NGA HR adopted in August 2017. 

NGA HR eXperience: automation, bots & AI

NGA showcased its latest offering, NGA HR eXperience (NGA HRX). NGA HRX brings together some of NGA’s existing technologies and processes: payroll case management (myHRW), global payroll (via integration middleware PEX) analytics, and chatbots into a single standardized user experience. NGA HRX also connects to a customer’s HR system of record/system of engagement (such as SAP SuccessFactors or Workday).

The amount of available data in myHRW (with 160 clients registering 4 million tickets annually by 2017 compared to 35K tickets registered in its launch year of 2004), means that there are lots of instances of the same issues, previously dealt with via email interaction, which can now be automated via RPA/chatbots and machine learning. Now payroll cases are resolved immediately, as solutions pop up via exception processing, which link to tickets; e.g. for addressing a missing overtime payment.

A combination of using natural language processing (NLP), a Microsoft chatbot, and IBM’s cognitive technology means that processing errors have been eliminated. NGA HR is aiming to release this feature in December 2017. More complicated issues are also being developed; e.g. using sentiment analysis to look at email interactions with the chatbot, to ascertain tone of the email, the level of stress that employees are feeling about their payroll errors, and how to prioritize rectification of errors accordingly.

NGA’s Payroll Exchange, PEX, has added:

  • An enhanced data migration toolset, enabling extended and faster payroll insights
  • Workday Payroll Effective Change Interface (PECI), enabling extraction of the full stack of transactions in a pay period, sorted and grouped chronologically, to replace Workday’s Payroll Integration Common Output File (PICOF), which extracted just the latest changes in a pay period
  • Workday Visual Presentation Services (VPS), where NGA’s PEX forms can be seen in the Workday user interface, allowing the HR Professional to enter local payroll data directly in Workday.

The architecture in NGA HRX is designed to be completely channel agnostic, with NGA asking its clients which channels they use (such as Slack), so the right ones can be set to enable the clients’ employees to interact with the chatbot on a mobile device.


NGA HR is currently working on developing its analytics capability, moving from detailed descriptive analytics (where it already slices and dices data) to more predictive analytics. With an average employee having 80 data points, four of which are changed per pay period across all employees within NGA’s clients, that represents a lot of data to analyse every pay period. As new pay elements are added, the field of payroll combinations constantly changes and requires machine learning to visualize the data. NGA HR has so far brought together the data into a Microsoft machine leaning environment, principal component analysis (PCA) and anomaly detection, to create a prediction algorithm. Next on the agenda is the creation of a prediction algorithm for each service dimension (senior management pay, business division, etc.), to create workable actions to prevent the same issue arising in the future.   


NGA HR is well on its way to delivering on its strategy, having already implemented a number of technology enhancements to improve employee experience. Looking ahead, NGA HR’s clients are not only anticipating their product enhancements in December, but also what might be announced in March 2018 at the HR Tech UNLEASH event in London.

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