NelsonHall: HR Technology & Services blog feed NelsonHall's HR Services program is designed for organizations who need to understand, adopt, and optimize the next generation of business process models to support their HR function. The program covers all areas of HR services, including Cloud-based HR, Payroll, Benefits Administration, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), Managed Services Programs (MSP), Total Talent Acquisition, Learning BPS, and Multi-Process HR Services. <![CDATA[SD Worx’s HR Vision Post-COVID]]>

Like many HR service providers, SD Worx has been supporting its clients over the last six months by continually making updates to the changing legislation and dealing with client queries and operational challenges. SD Worx also launched a study to better understand changing market needs, the findings of which have just been published. The SD Worx study was one of the most extensive European HR COVID impact surveys, across 20 industries and 3,000 companies from 11 European countries, and it found that the highest HR priorities in 2020 are operational, administrative tasks. As part of its thought leadership white papers, SD Worx has also set out a new vision for HR, to enable clients to balance “Stability” and “Fluidity”.

Key study findings

The study confirms HR’s top priority in 2020 was payroll. When asked, “What priorities or projects do you have (or plan to have) within payroll and HR?” the option “To ensure smooth, efficient payroll calculation and payment” scored the highest (#1 priority for 8 out of 11 countries) across 19 different options covering all aspects of HR. Payroll has never been more valued than in times of crisis; payroll administrators are “essential workers”.

So, when will things get back to normal? Nearly half of European companies surveyed were convinced that COVID-19 would have a lasting impact on their business. We will have to radically change the way we work (together) after the crisis. However, the HR study finds that HR directors rate their level of digital maturity as low: only 37% of surveyed organizations claim to have reached a high level of digital HR maturity. So, as many lives and business models have been disrupted, HR agility has never been more important.

The SD Worx study showed that the top three areas companies look at to leverage external specialists and outsource service providers are:

  1. HR process automation
  2. Regulation expertise
  3. Digital transformation.

Other insights from the study demonstrate that besides payroll and HR services and performance, many European country priorities were as diverse as they are homogenous, something seasoned European HR directors are not unfamiliar with. As well as reflecting cultural priorities that might result in different priorities, NelsonHall expect the variations also be partially due to the timing of the different countries' COVID responses. The study was conducted over the month of June 2020 and during this month, many European countries were at a different stage of their COVID19 responses. The impact of the crisis was just starting to be understood and realized. According to most countries surveyed, the three areas that were the lowest priority were HR policy, reward, and contingent workforce.

Employee experience has been a common theme of many HR strategies over the last few years, and many still aim to optimize the employee experience better. With so many employees now working remotely, the employee experience and employee engagement are more critical than ever before and require modern technology to keep employees connected while ensuring timely, accurate, real-time information, and facilitating reliable outcomes throughout the HR delivery model. The SD Worx study showed ~60% of employers are still actively trying to improve the employee experience, either with existing projects or projects planned over the next 12 months. SD Worx defines employee experience as the digital workplace experience and cultural & inter-personal engagement as well as the physical work environment. SD Worx recognizes a trend towards more personalization in HR, with almost half of companies having “flex reward projects” in progress or planned within the next 12 months.

SD Worx response

In response to the HR study, to meet European countries' needs across such a wide range of industries, SD Worx set out its HR service vision. Its vision is to bring stability to HR services alongside a fluid offering, enabling each company to find its own optimal balance.​ The concepts of stability and fluidity are outlined below as well as some examples of how SD Worx addresses these:

Stability is defined by SD Worx as:

  • Future-proof HR tech: SD Worx offers cloud-based HR/payroll technology offerings in the core markets of the U.K., Ireland, Benelux, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland
  • Efficient HR processes; SD Worx recently developed its HR SME digital services platform “SD Worx Buddy”, piloted in Q2 2020 in Belgium. Frictionless tools: SD Worx launched its mySDWorx app for absence, expenses, payslip, internal communications, and a FAQ for HR. It has over 160K installations It uses machine learning to determine the ten most asked questions and is tailored to the client's database. It supports conversations designed for the employees (not for the process). Over 2019 it has rolled out an onboarding assistant to capture more employee data; now released in Belgium and UK, and the next country onboarding to be developed is Germany.

Fluidity is defined by SD Worx as:

  • Personalization: SD Worx enables personalized remuneration packages through its reward cloud platform. This lets employees tailor their reward components with voluntary elements. Helping employees to value their rewards can not only boost motivation but also complement a cost-efficient overall reward policy
  • Empowerment: SD Worx empowers organizations to be proactive and adapt to fluctuations in the workloads through its workforce planning offerings. It takes each employee’s qualifications, availability, seniority and other requirements into account which could be fulfilled by permanent or flexible staff, through the SD Worx Flexible Staffing solutions
  • Autonomy: SD Worx solutions support personalized training trajectories, enabling organizations to boost employee engagement, performance and giving them greater autonomy.

For those who want to get more in depth insights on the research, SD Worx is creating a series of publications that will be published on the SD Worx platform (link). These are the first:

  • Payroll: highly valued, hardly optimized
  • HR, fluid as Hula-Hoop shaking (publication end of October, webinar at Unleash)

Also foreseen are ebooks on Workforce management and on Digital HR and Employee Experience.


The themes of SD Worx’s vision align well with the benefits Cloud HR transformation buyers look to achieve, according to NelsonHall’s Cloud HR Transformation Services market analysis report. According to the NelsonHall report, the top three were improved compliance, simplified and modernized technology, and improved employee experience. In 2020 and following the pandemic, it is evident that improving employee experience as an HR objective is not disappearing. Its definition and the height of the bar is being raised, moving beyond the realm of just a mobile app offering,  as vendors strive to deliver more frictionless and efficient offerings.

<![CDATA[OSVAtmosphere: Removing the Mystery from HR & Payroll Service Delivery]]>


The recent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic exposed many HR and payroll service delivery models as being unequipped and unprepared to pivot to remote work, access the data needed to obtain government support, and move money to employees in a timely and compliant fashion. The pandemic also accelerated an already intensifying push toward digital HR and payroll adoption, particularly as the “work from home” response has turned into the “work from anywhere” norm.

With so many employees now working remotely, the employee experience and employee engagement are more critical than ever before and require modern technology to keep employees connected while ensuring timely, accurate, real-time information, and facilitating reliable outcomes throughout the HR delivery model.

While cloud HCM technology remains the vehicle for HR digitalization, existing solutions often lack the ability to support the HR service delivery function in-platform. Thus, integrated HR service delivery technology is key to extending the HCM capability and enabling a next-generation delivery model and user experience, one that facilitates critical HR support activities in real time, such as knowledge and inquiry management, document storage, process monitoring, and automation. 

As a result, more organizations across sectors are considering managed HR and payroll services as the lever and pathway to modernizing their HR delivery models and advancing their digital capabilities, tapping into the innovations HRO providers have proliferated in recent years in preparing for the “future of work.”

Here, I take a look at how HR and Finance BPaaS provider and Workday specialist OneSource Virtual (OSV) is leveraging its proprietary service delivery technology, OSVAtmosphere, to differentiate its managed services, providing its clients access to the types of next-generation apps required to enable a resilient, modern HR service delivery model and user experience.


In line with its mantra and branding, "Make the day more doable", OSV maintains a relentless focus on supporting its clients with integrated solutions that maximize their Workday investments while elevating the HR service delivery experience.

OSV enables its service delivery in support of ~800 clients through OSVAtmosphere, which provides real-time, in-application service delivery capabilities leveraged by OSV resources on the back end for HR and payroll process administration, as well as by its client administrators on the front end. This is key, as both the client and back-office OSV resources remain in lockstep in real time throughout key processing and service delivery activities, enabling OSV to operate as a tightly integrated extension of the client's HR delivery team.

For its client-facing OSVAtmosphere solution, OSV has developed a bundle of web apps aligned to its core managed services offerings (HRO and FAO).  With >500 of its clients adopting its managed payroll services, OSV has focused its recent app development around providing its clients with real-time actionable insights at every step of this critical process through to funding.

OSVAtmosphere currently offers five fully responsive web apps that include support for the following processes:

  • Payroll: a centralized control center for end-to-end payroll administration (on and off-cycle), providing client administrators real-time, in-flight updates and push notifications on the status of their payroll(s) as it progresses through the entire cycle, up to employees receiving their pay-slips
  • Tax: provides a control center for tax liabilities and remittance processing. Post payroll submission, the necessary tax data, and details are automatically drawn into Atmosphere from the client tenant, providing full visibility into tax activities conducted by OSV on behalf of the client. Clients have access to both summary and detailed tax jurisdiction details with drill-down capability for more in-depth analysis and actionable insights, designed to identify downstream exceptions and errors for proactive client notification and resolution, with correspondence capability in-application. OSV has also enabled the Tax app in support of COVID-19 compliance activities, providing clients with access to details and insights into deferred tax codes, deferred tax liabilities, federal tax credits, and supplemental form data
  • Garnishments: enables real-time visibility into the fulfillment and payment side for client garnishment orders and wage attachments across their workforce. RPA and OCR technology automate the loading and interpretation of court orders, as well as the remittance of outgoing letters and payments, including electronic copies attached to the client Workday tenant for reference, resulting in a near touchless process   
  • Treasury: provides clients real-time visibility into the timings/deadlines for payroll liability funding and money movement, including activity details and historical check registers for identifying cashed and uncashed checks
  • AP Invoicing (for FAO clients): provides clients real-time visibility into their invoice coding and supplier updates to drive invoicing accuracy. The app includes the ability to code and search by keywords, to pinpoint line items within Workday finance, with the ability to code by keywords as well as other standard factors.

Roadmap and future apps

As a central technology to its service delivery and omnichannel support model, OSV is focused on deepening OSVAtmosphere's capabilities and continues to invest in roadmap initiatives that will produce additional next-generation apps.

OSV has plans to expand the solution with additional apps due in early 2021, aligning to its broader HR service offering, which includes dedicated apps for workforce data administration and maintenance and benefits and COBRA administration services, including apps for both client administrators and employees. 

With Workday adoption accelerating outside of the U.S., OSV will enable some of the apps in support of clients in Workday-supported countries beyond North America, including a payroll app enabled for U.K. and Ireland due in early 2021. (OSV's Treasury service is not currently offered outside of the U.S. and Canada.)

Aside from continual UI/UX enhancements, OSV also plans deeper collaboration and correspondence capabilities between the client and OSV across all of its process apps (similar to its Tax app capability) to boost communication and speed issue resolution. It also plans on expanding its back office automation through RPA, which is already present against several critical payroll use cases.

Longer term, OSV plans to explore the infusion of AI in OSVAtmosphere to address key use cases and drive deeper predictive capabilities, as well as adding KPIs for potential benchmarking and process improvement insights and recommended actions.


<![CDATA[2021: The Year of the Human Cloud]]>


Quarterly financial reports for 2020 (April onwards) from recruitment organizations show that in a COVID-19 world, temporary hiring is more resilient than permanent hiring, faring on average about 10-30% better (albeit both types of hiring are seeing negative growth overall). Meanwhile, gig work has increased on average 10-15%, over the same period. These figures are not surprising as organizations undertake recruitment that minimizes labor cost risk. And, in 2021, with the economic situation likely to be the same as 2020, organizations will want to maintain flexibility with their workforce, making contingent hiring the most attractive option.

With a multigenerational workforce demanding more flexible working arrangements (avoiding the 9 to 5, choosing working hours, characterized by freelance or gig work), now is an ideal time for organizations to embrace a holistic (total talent) approach to talent acquisition. Organizations have also demonstrated their resilience in embracing technology/tools to enable remote working. So, now is the time for organizations to combine the two: using additional technological channels to find the flexible skilled workers they need to get tasks done, while minimizing labor cost risk in an economically challenging market. 

Human clouds, where task-specific jobs, projects or gigs are carried out on demand from any location, using an online/digital platform, have seen a growth of ~15% in 2020 over 2019. And they could see a further uptick in use in 2021 as workers laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic seek new ways to find work.

Challenges in determining the most suitable human clouds

At first glance, there are potential challenges in determining the most suitable human clouds to use, when:

  • There is a choice of at least 1,800 online recruitment platforms/human clouds (KellyOCG, 2020)
  • Some advertise a broad range of skills, while others are highly niche. How do you know which ones are most suitable for hiring specific skillsets?
  • There are choices on human cloud/platform types: organizations would likely seek candidates by entering a direct legal relationship with an individual worker, using an online marketplace platform such as Toptal. But another option is to use a crowdsourcing platform, where several workers bid for, then independently work on, specific elements/constituent parts of a project. 99designs is an example of such a platform. In another example, restaurants refocusing their business for online delivery may use a service platform such as uber eats to seek drivers to deliver takeaway food to the public
  • These marketplaces operate in their own environment, with their unique ecosystem and end-to-end process
  • For procurement, it is an expensive way of getting labor (by paying separately for resources on different platforms).

One vendor that has addressed these potential challenges is KellyOCG.

KellyOCG’s one-stop-shop solution

KellyOCG has recently launched its human cloud aggregation service, offering a one-stop-shop for access to best-in-class human cloud platforms. Initially offered as part of its MSP/CWS offering, the service fills the gap in its holistic/total talent acquisition offering. The service combines human support underpinned by technology.

The Kelly Human Cloud technology (co-developed with Avature) automates and consolidates the process steps and harmonizes the profile information from each human cloud (with their unique profile formats). Some platforms involve going through a mini RFX process, where freelancers bid on the work to be done. Other platforms have a white glove hands-on approach, with a consultant that understands the requirements and finds the talent. The platform links to the organization’s VMS, enabling the hiring manager to review worker information and manage the project via the most appropriate human cloud. The system integration allows an organization to use existing invoicing and time-sheeting functionality within the VMS without re-inventing the wheel externally.

Once a new organization comes on board, it signs a client-specific contract or an addendum to a master services agreement, allowing for very easy onboarding with minimal administration. This saves the organization from needing to negotiate all the platforms separately. The organization determines whether a human cloud environment is suitable to get the work task done. KellyOCG liaises with the hiring manger to determine ground rules around using human clouds, then configures the decision-tree functionality within an organization’s VMS to determine the best hiring option. If the work can be delivered remotely (with talent sitting anywhere in the world), human clouds can work, though obviously they are not suitable for organizations that want the physical presence of a worker in an office environment.

One of KellyOCG’s clients needed to undertake quality control on 50 billboards it had set up across 50 airport locations. After posting a requirement on a platform, the client identified candidates to undertake the work of going to an airport, taking a picture of the billboard, and uploading it to enable the client to check on the quality of each billboard. The candidates received payment for the work done.

After initially reviewing eight human cloud platforms, KellyOCG settled on an initial five with which to launch the aggregation service: 99designs (leading in the creative space), BTG (Kelly major stake), The Mom Project (diversity), Toptal, and The core five cover most of the skillsets hired within its clients’ existing hiring programs. KellyOCG plans to expand the human cloud aggregation service, adding more human clouds over time.

The need to use remote talent will endure 

In addition to the ongoing budgetary concerns about the cost of labor in an uncertain economic market, other restrictions remain in place, making remote talent an attractive proposition. Many countries are not processing visa applications, so workers cannot travel internationally. The second wave of COVID-19 is already well-established, potentially forcing further lockdowns at a local or country level well into 2021. Embracing human clouds should not be concerned with the “if” but rather the “when”.

While KellyOCG does not yet have any data/analytics around the usage or success of leveraging the human clouds in its aggregation service, there are some statistics that serve as a starting point. For example:

  • 99designs have 20K designers working on the platform every month, and a new design is created every two seconds, with 97m designs created overall
  • In 2019, posted 1.9m projects
  • In 2020/21, The Mom Project expects 10k projects to be posted on the site.

Undoubtedly, the number of candidates registering on human cloud platforms will increase, as more traditional methods of hiring requiring in-person interviews are stalled. Companies need to act to capture these work-ready candidates.

<![CDATA[Global Employer of Record Services: Outsourcing’s Best Kept Secret]]>


This past month, NelsonHall released the first market analysis dedicated to the Global Employer of Record (EoR) Services space, an emerging yet largely unknown HR outsourcing service model that enables growing multinational firms to compliantly employ foreign workers in support of global expansion initiatives.

While co-employment service models have historically been U.S. centric, global co-employment offerings have emerged, providing multinational firms with a highly agile, turnkey support model for rapid, compliant international expansion.

Global EoR services at a glance

Global Employer of Record services, also commonly referred to as Global PEO or International PEO services, facilitate international expansion by leveraging vendor-established legal entities and pre-defined country-specific contracts to employ workers in new countries of operation, where the organization lacks the proper business base, expertise, and capability to operate in full compliance. Contracted workers are thereby employed compliantly, in-country under the provider’s/partner’s established entities, while the client maintains full day-to-day control over workers’ activities and performance.

The service provides a comprehensive, highly localized HR and payroll support model for workers throughout the life of the contract and remains purposely decoupled and un-integrated from the organization's broader HR infrastructure and service delivery model.

While large multinational organizations are leveraging the service, the model is particularly well suited toward small and midsized firms operating in high-growth sectors, which often lack the resources and knowledge (time/cost, attorneys, expertise, infrastructure) to execute on a global expansion effort in-house.

The solution offers a lower risk, cost-effective, time-saving alternative (often deployable within days) to navigating the lengthy and complex process of establishing legal entities in-country, or simply deploying contract workers, which are often misclassified under local laws exposing the firm to fines, penalties, and compliance risks.

By design, the service model is particularly effective at enabling HR with greater speed and agility in supporting strategic business initiatives, leading to a competitive advantage for growth-focused multinational firms seeking to expand their footprints globally, test emerging markets, or access talent outside of their home country of operation.

Global EoR market outlook

Despite the recent global economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers interviewed overwhelmingly indicated that global expansion remains in their plans in the coming few years, as borders re-open and economies restart. While North American-headquartered firms will remain the predominant target and adopter of global EoR services, Europe and Asia will provide strong pipelines for new client/new worker growth, as the top targets in focus for expansion by both external and regionally-based firms.

Further, with organizations of all sizes increasingly finding their brands expanding internationally, and the intensifying need across sectors to access top talent globally, particularly as the 'Work from Anywhere' trend continues breaking down talent access barriers, the demand for agile, compliant global HR and payroll operating models will continue to intensify, accelerating the global EoR services market size toward more than $1bn by 2024.

While buyers confirmed that the global EoR service enables HR with greater agility in supporting international growth strategies, its ability to transform operations is less impactful at this stage, partly due to the lack of digital maturity present in the market, but also the narrow scope, low volumes, short durations, and temporary/contract nature inherent to the global EoR service model. 

However, look for enabling technology platforms across the global EoR services marketplace to mature in the coming 12 to 24 months, particularly as differentiation in the space is commonly centered on the volume of entities under vendor control and in-country expertise, and the overall customer/worker experience. 

Despite global EoR workers being purposely unintegrated from the broader HR infrastructure and operating model, it is critical that employers provide the same level of employee experience expected by a traditional employee. Therefore, expect to see increasing vendor investments in maturing, developing, and offering digital enablers and capabilities including mobile-first design, deeper process automation, infusion of AI, and analytic insights.

Looking ahead, as the solution gains traction and adoption, expect to see a deeper focus by vendors in cultivating a technology-enabled, 'one-stop-shop' of global expansion enabling solutions. Marketplaces of integrated partner services and technology aren't there just yet, but I expect to see these gradually take shape as vendors seek to fill the white spaces within offerings and extend client value beyond their core service offering.

I’m excited to see this service mature as I believe it is an exceptional lever which HR leaders of emerging, growth-focused firms have available to quickly execute and deliver speed and agility for their business. With vendors in hyper growth mode and currently investing in advancing their capability, technology, and offerings, I will be keeping close watch on the space as it heats up and matures!


For more information, or to access to the Global EoR Services market analysis report, contact Guy Saunders.

<![CDATA[Digital Talent Acquisition Helps Survival in an Uncertain World of Work]]>


Everyone speculates as to what the long-term world of work could look like as we head into the second half of 2020 and beyond. But the reality is that we don’t really know how things will pan out. While organizations might be preparing for an uptick in hiring activity behind the scenes, the biggest challenges are the ongoing uncertainty around the future of work, and even survival from week to week.

Organizations have demonstrated resilience and agility in adapting to tech-enabled, remote, and socially-distanced operating models, often being surprised by the outcomes this has brought, notably business continuity with minimal interruptions. To continue talent acquisition (TA) activities, organizations have embraced tech and tools to aid remote interviewing, electronic signatures for documents, and remote onboarding.

However, organizations that fail to embrace such digital change, will leave themselves inflexible to sudden changes in business requirements, putting long-term survival in jeopardy.

Here, I look at three of Korn Ferry’s clients at different stages of digital TA transformation, to measure the impact of that journey on their hiring activity, as business priorities were turned on their heads.   

Organizations embracing digital talent acquisition can pivot at short notice

A long-standing consumer products client, with 70% of its workforce sitting in high-volume categories (production, retail, etc.), approached Korn Ferry in 2017 to support its shift to a more digitalized approach to hiring. Using its six pillars methodology, Korn Ferry focused the client on identifying the hiring challenges they were trying to resolve. It recommended a third-party tech stack as well as proprietary tech to best enable the client’s objectives: scalability for seasonal and geographical expansion ramp-ups and ramp-downs being its priority (with the technology designed to handle candidate volume - 15,000 annual hires - at the top of the funnel).   

While the funnel would normally be slow and inactive, with Korn Ferry seeking out talent through active campaign work, 2020 has seen that flipped on its head. A spike in unemployed people looking for work has transformed the client’s talent funnel to being very full and active, yet the client has absorbed the funnel ramp-up with no drop-off in service due to the scalable technology already put in place. The client can deliver a good candidate experience because the automation handles the sheer volume of applicants and screens them out if they are not suitably skilled. Having the digital capability to scale has clearly enabled this organization to pivot to the new circumstances of an oversupply of candidates.

A financial services client, hiring 30K heads annually, had fragmented, inefficient, and manual hiring processes. It was looking to digitally transform its talent acquisition function to increase efficiency and improve the candidate experience. Following a tech stack audit, it was advised to use a combination of Korn Ferry’s proprietary technology and a few select external providers. Korn Ferry Recruit (KFR) with its AI-sourcing capability would be suitable for niche roles (10K annual hires), while KFR’s Nimble platform with its chatbot and short-form assessments would be suitable for high-volume recruitment (20K annual hires). A proposed trial of an internal mobility platform was a feature of the tech stack. Many organizations keep scant records of employee skillsets. However, the internal mobility platform takes non-confidential employee details from basic HRIS records and augments them with in-depth public domain information available externally. The enhanced information acquired by Korn Ferry enables internal talent with specific skills to be identified and deployed elsewhere.

As March 2020 resulted in the immediate cessation of hiring in its retail setting due to the pandemic, there was an immediate need to redeploy employees into other roles within the business. While the recommended platforms/trial had not been implemented at this stage, there were strong indications that continuing with its planned TA transformation during COVID-19, would reap hiring benefits post-COVID-19 or in subsequent lockdowns. Benefits would include improved Time to Fill (when ramping-up numbers to meet pre-COVID BAU staffing levels), Interview to Hire, and Quality of hire measures (due to better AI matching of candidates), or easier redeployment of workers elsewhere if retail premises needed to close again.

It’s not too late to embrace digital TA and reap the benefits

The ongoing uncertainty for another of Korn Ferry’s clients (in the hospitality sector) will linger until a Government decision is made on whether to permit the mass gathering of people in 2020. And the window of opportunity for hiring is drawing ever tighter (with the final client decision for a “go” or “no go” hiring situation due in July). However, that has not prevented the client from preparing its TA strategy for this year.

The client would normally launch multiple in-person, recruiter-intensive hiring events, over five months (as it did in 2019) to find the 4.5K part-time talent needed for the Autumn season: a process that from year-to-year rarely sees the same talent apply. However, by March 2020, it was clear this talent campaign was not going to happen, so the client approached Korn Ferry for support. Korn Ferry suggested going 100% digital for its 2020 campaign – a dramatic pivot for the client, but one which would enable an instant 60% reduction in campaign duration – great when leaving the decision whether to hire until the eleventh hour!

Korn Ferry has deployed the Breezy HR platform and designed a single workflow (enabling a single application process) for six separate franchise companies that come under the remit of the client (rather than requiring six separate application processes), much improving the candidate experience. The manager’s decision to hire specific candidates is the only manual phase, with all other process steps being automated. If hiring does not go ahead, the worst-case scenario for the client is the cost associated with the consulting work undertaken in standing up the project. There will be no costs associated with the technology.

When decisions must go to the wire, with potentially 75 heads to be hired daily for 60 days, having a digital TA process clearly has its advantages. Whether the client forges ahead with hiring or reluctantly admits defeat for this year, it will be interesting to see if the digital TA set-up has changed their outlook on future recruitment for the better. 

A digital TA transformation approach helps organizations embrace the future of work

Embracing a digitally-enabled hiring process does not mean sacrificing the high-touch approach. It is about achieving the right balance between technology and human interaction. Some digitalization of the TA process enables automation of mundane tasks and speeds up the hiring process, clearly giving competitive advantage to organizations. Driven by events in the first half of 2020, the technology deployed by these clients has enabled them to adapt to new circumstances when they least expected it. These case studies show how a digital approach to TA can take organizations to a new level of business agility that can help them to adapt to unforeseen circumstances at the flick of a switch. A digital TA transformation approach is highly recommended, especially when the future holds so many unknowns. Failure to embrace digital TA processes in 2020 will put those organizations at increasing disadvantage, making it more difficult for them to catch up with those organizations who have embraced digital transformation and are enjoying the benefits of being business agile.

<![CDATA[Ceridian Fuels International Growth Plans with Acquisition of Excelity Global]]>


Since its IPO in early 2018, Ceridian has remained focused on reaching its goal of achieving $1bn in revenues. A key pillar of its growth strategy toward achieving that goal is the continued adoption of its Dayforce HCM platform by large multi-national buyers across key verticals, and expanding its adoption globally by enabling and offering integrated core HR, workforce management, payroll, and talent management to targeted countries, particularly the U.K. and Australia (which both helped it achieve 150% y/y growth outside of North America in FY’19).

To that end, Ceridian set out to expand its native global payroll capability, targeting ~20 countries over the next few years, and has quickly enabled Dayforce to support seven countries: U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Mauritius. Today, it supports nearly 4m users across >60 countries and this is growing rapidly. 

Ceridian’s global payroll capability received a huge boost last month when it announced it would acquire Singapore-based Excelity Global, a leading APJ-focused HCM technology and managed services provider producing ~1.2m pay-slips monthly. The move now positions Ceridian as one of the largest and most capable HCM technology and services providers in the APJ region.

Further, with its September 2019 acquisition of APJ-based workforce management solution provider RITEQ, Ceridian now has a highly competitive, combined core HR, WFM, payroll, and talent offering, specifically localized for the APJ region. 

Excelity’s impact on Ceridian’s capability

Not only does Excelity bring with it a proprietary cloud technology localized across 13 major countries in APJ, but it also brings a strong managed service offering, expertise, and delivery presence in the region supported by six primary centers, a key differentiator over other firms Ceridian evaluated. 

From a technology perspective, Excelity has cultivated a strong proprietary native payroll capability and recently launched an HCM technology offering in 2019, including:

  • EPay: PaaS payroll solution targeted to employers with >500 employees and configured for gross-to-net calculation in 13 countries (Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Taiwan)
  • Ezpayroll: SaaS payroll solution targeted to employers with <500 employees and configured for gross-to-net calculation in 12 APJ countries (Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam). As well as an integrated third-party digital wallet through its GCash partnership in the Philippines
  • Excelity HCM: cloud-based integrated HCM platform technology.

It also brings a well-adopted managed payroll services offering that currently supports >300 clients with operations in multiple countries across the APJ region, including several notable brands such as Forbes, Volvo, Uber, and Mondelez, enabled by an in-region delivery footprint and capability that spans five countries (India, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines), a key factor in supporting Dayforce’s continued adoption in the APJ region, and boosting Ceridian’s global presence.

The combined organization’s global footprint significantly enhances Ceridian’s “follow the sun” capability in support of service delivery, as well as its further development and innovation of future HCM technology.

Ceridian’s outlook

With the Excelity deal now closed, Ceridian has begun the process of merging and integrating the two organizations and capabilities, which is always the top challenge to any acquisition, particularly with two organizations at opposite ends of the globe.

While Ceridian doesn’t have a deep history of acquiring its capabilities, the complementary nature of the Dayforce HCM platform, combined with the strength of Excelity’s APJ experience and capability, should fit nicely, boosting its product offering, targeting, and adoption by firms in the region, as well as among North American and European based multi-national firms with operations in the APJ region.

A key decision for Ceridian will be deciding how to best leverage the additional technology Excelity brings. Will it be necessary to keep both Epay and Ezpayroll? And what becomes of Excelity HCM now that Dayforce is the parent flagship HCM platform (particularly as it seeks to shift Excelity’s client base to Dayforce)?

Ceridian plans to immediately leverage its global connectors to bring the Dayforce HCM platform and Excelity’s payroll technology together, en route to an eventual full integration. It further intends to enable Dayforce with localizations aligning to the set of countries covered by Excelity, with more expected to come longer-term through its roadmap.

While APJ is well in focus and adoption increasing, Ceridian has its sights set on deepening its global presence and capability. Late in June, it launched localization for Mauritius, with its first client, (IBL Group, a large multi-national firm with ~27k employees in 22 countries), as well as Germany, and Mexico planned by the end of 2021. It further supplements local payroll through its partner network to support broader EMEA and LATAM, and provide payroll coverage for 157 countries.

With Dayforce maturing steadily through its roadmap, including recent capabilities like Dayforce Wallet (U.S. only, with Canada set to launch in 2021), Dayforce Intelligence, Dayforce Safety Monitor, and deeper talent management capability (e.g. AI-driven recruiting), Ceridian is well positioned to gain continued adoption, particularly from strategic-minded, multi-national firms seeking next-generation HCM capabilities.

<![CDATA[Leading in a Pandemic Recovery World: How ADP is Supporting its Clients]]>


Earlier in the month on the NelsonHall HR Quarterly Buyer Market Round-Up session, many buyers agreed that compliance is going to be a bigger issue in 2020 and beyond than it was before.  Before it was just table stakes, now it is about survival, and with the new WFH (Work from Home) structures, the risks are higher.

I had this in mind when I joined ADP’s Analyst Day last week. ADP shared how HR priorities are changing and how, as one of the largest HR and payroll providers, they have responded to the many shifting priorities and also staying close to clients to support their changing needs. Here are a few takeaways from the ADP Analyst event, through the lens of Liz Rennie.  I consider these to be the most significant as they relate to HR in the pandemic recovery world:

  • HR has been focusing on employee safety as the number one priority like never before – this we all recognize and is not news
  • 10 years of job growth in the U.S. got wiped out in one single month – and an impact is job insecurity is heightened. HR teams know employee health and wellness, as a result, can indirectly affect productivity
  • Employees working on the front line in COVID-19 crisis response industries do not need the extra stress of not being paid on time
  • Compliance is now more than table stakes – navigating the relief opportunities offered by the governments in a timely way has meant the difference between a small business surviving or folding.

And just in case you didn’t appreciate your payroll provider enough, this is a glimpse of how ADP responded over the last months and how they are planning to help clients in the near term:

  • ADP saw a 50% increase in clients reaching out to ADP the first few weeks of the pandemic compared to normal call volumes
  • Implemented 1.4k feature changes from 2k legislative articles across 60 countries
  • Responded within three days of the CARES Act passing to support small businesses with the implementation of its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
  • Enabled 400k clients to run 2m SBA loan application reports, representing a value of $115bn
  • Over $600m tax credits processed for 473k employees across 38k clients
  • Partnered with Volunteer Surge. ADP’s Workmarket product helped onboard 1k volunteer health workers across 45 states within two weeks
  • Offered free trial access of Employee Assistance Programs to clients through LifeCare to support workplace stress - 550 clients signed up in the last two months.

Three clients joined the ADP Analyst Day session to share their experiences of living through the pandemic using ADP services. All were very complimentary of how they had full confidence in the service. They also shared that ADP offered extended support, to the extent that if the client struggled to run a payroll internally, ADP offered to step in and run the payrolls on the client's behalf in the short term if that was needed.

Finally, it is great to see many wider initiatives to help the industry. ADP is assisting the industry through the following methods, which, if you’re not an ADP client, you can also benefit from:

  • ADP Research Institute Labor Market Summit 2020:  you can still register here
  • COVID-19 microsite with employer tools launched 19 June 2020:
  • Collaborated in key research such as The U.S. Labor Market during the Beginning of the Pandemic Recession see:
  • Creating thought leadership through the Marcus Buckingham Company with The Feedback Fallacy, Harvard Business Review’s most downloaded article in 2019
  • ADP research Institute headed up by Dr. Ahu Yildirmaz produces some powerful insights, my favorite is this one: ADP Workforce Vitality Report – subscribe here

So what’s next for ADP? Don Weinstein, CVP Global Product and Technology, shared the ADP Workplace toolkit to help get employees back to office spaces. So what is good about this?

  • Employees that state they are ready to go back can register as such through a survey
  • HR organizations can accordingly plan, communicate and prepare the offices for specific workplace returns–  allocating employees to different days of the week to enable staggered and rotational returns of different employee groupings
  • COVID-19 health surveys regularly sent before returns to support attestation and screenings
  • Touchless ADP mobile apps supporting entry on site
  • ADP DataCloud  to enable reporting and analytics and if needed, contact tracing based on attendance on site

With regulations regarding workplace safety around the world changing all the time, compliance now has a whole new meaning. Corporate manslaughter is an area that no clients want to have to face, but staying out of touch and out of the offices for long periods is also likely to bring its own compliance issues. 

One caution, otherwise I wouldn’t be an analyst. The much anticipated new ADP product Next-Gen HCM developments might be somewhat delayed given all of the above, but I won’t hold this against ADP.

As independent analysts, we need to keep things factual. However, in the spirit of showing empathy in these unprecedented times, I want to extend a big thank you to ADP and all the other payroll and HR providers for helping clients, ensuring the livelihood of many employees during the crisis (which fundamentally includes paying people on time and assisting many businesses to get the relief they needed to survive) and also for supporting the wider industry in providing valuable insights into the impact COVID-19 has had on people, which has helped shape relief efforts and responses.

<![CDATA[Allegis Global Solutions: Leveraging Technology for Recruitment in a COVID-19 World]]>


My initial research into Impact of COVID-19 on Recruitment Services: Vendor Perspective (March 2020) highlighted several stand-out dilemmas that client organizations face. Notably, some organizations need to continue hiring and the only way to do so is by embracing technology (sometimes reluctantly), enabling them to carry out recruitment steps remotely. Also, some sectors were ramping up hiring (in an already-tight labor market), while other industries had ceased all hiring activity for the immediate term. Without the appropriate technology in place, how would organizations needing to furlough workers, and end contingent worker contracts in the short-term, be able to rehire them later?

I recently spoke to Cory Hansen, VP of MSP Operations at Allegis Global Solutions, to establish how they have been helping organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. I was keen to focus on their expanded (via acquisition) healthcare vertical (representing 20% of their MSP clients), the cyclical nature of demand for hiring support of contingent workers in the sector, and their use of technology to track those workers.     

Allegis Global Solutions’ initial approach

Following initial focus on preserving employee health and safety, enabling its employees to work from home, then supporting its clients to do so too (by setting up its MSP COVID-19 taskforce), there was a wave of MSP clients that needed to either ramp-up or reduce their workers with immediate effect.

Within 12 hours, Allegis Global Solutions had set up a COVID-19 Operational Demand Center (with a Leader, a Recruitment Manager, a Supplier Manager, and three specialist recruiters) to control all the different client demands centrally. Being able to holistically see all recruiters and manage their movement, from program teams seeing declining recruitment to program teams seeing recruitment surges, was essential. More importantly, Allegis Global Solutions needed a grip on the movement of all contingent workers (whether those of their existing clients or new organizations reaching out for the first time for COVID-19 support).

Healthcare sector focus

The Healthcare vertical, with three clusters of clients with hiring needs at different times throughout the pandemic, would add another layer of complexity. Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals, etc.) were ramping up hiring from the get-go. One client, manufacturing items to combat COVID-19, required an additional 250 resources, which Allegis Global Solutions delivered within three weeks, leveraging their existing supply chain. Another client needed to reach a target of delivering 100,000 medical devices to hospitals, requiring 100s of extra staff to manufacture those devices.  Also, clinical clients were ramping up, but with the complexity of worker reassignment. Allegis Global Solutions uses its proprietary platform to keep track of the workers. Information stored comprises key details of the worker; the supplier representing them; the manager they report/reported to; the client they are/were deployed with; and the original requisition number. This enables Allegis Global Solutions to successfully reassign workers to new jobs and track their location so they can be hired for a new assignment or rehired in their original position, should circumstances allow.

One client, providing occupational health services, was adapting its services to support the COVID-19 pandemic (temperature screening, nurse provision, etc.), requiring tracking of their redeployments.  Similarly, hospital network workers were being redeployed from areas (such as elective surgery, where demand has slumped) to ICU, which was desperate for additional resources.

Allegis Global Solutions’ proprietary technology proved its worth when it was asked by a State Governor’s office to stand up a hiring solution within 24 hours. The solution required 1000s of clinicians to be on the front line to save lives at existing and temporary hospital sites, as well as to skill nursing facilities throughout the State. Twelve hours later there was a verbal agreement in place to deliver MSP-type services for them (normally a 12-month engagement cycle) and deploy technology (a four-to-six-week process, usually). The project was to supply talent and create an outreach web portal for talent (possessing medical skillsets). The program could potentially have needed 12-15K extra hires as a worst-case scenario. Further complexity has come from the need to interface with and source talent from several existing hospital networks, which would normally be competing with each other. To date, there have been over 1000 clinicians hired and dozens of individuals reassigned from other jobs.

Allegis Global Solutions has been leveraging its ACUMEN Business Intelligence technology, too, where at the presentation layer, it can get access to as much data as it needs to see what is happening in real-time. It keeps track of all clients, what jobs are open, and what jobs have been cancelled. Also, it identifies where there is a surplus of workers who can be redeployed to another client with a spike in demand. It has been a useful repository of pay data, too. The already severe clinical staffing shortage has been exacerbated with COVID-19, as clinical workers have demanded a 30%-100% pandemic/ quarantine premium in addition to their basic pay to consider a temporary role. This data set from the pandemic will be invaluable for the future if similar events happen again.

Looking ahead

As per the NelsonHall March 2020 research, Allegis Global Solutions is one vendor advising its healthcare clients (especially frontline clinical workers) on the quickest way to leverage technology to aid remote hiring, especially for virtual interviewing (where face-to-face interviewing has been the norm), timely background screening/credentialing (including drug testing), and the virtual onboarding of workers. Allegis Global Solutions has helped clients to prioritize the components, from the most important to the least important, making concessions allowing contingent workers to start work, with checks following on later than would otherwise be permitted.

Into Q3 and beyond, essentially a lag of several months, the healthcare payer providers will see an uptick in work, resulting in a surge in demand for extra staff from Allegis Global Solutions, as end customers will make claims, require preventative testing, and the window for open enrollment looms (with expectations of enrollments being higher than ever before). This activity may be post-clinical ramp-up or sit alongside (depending on how long the COVID-19 pandemic remains at a “requiring social distancing” level). It will, however, add further data/tracking insights into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic via its proprietary platform and ACUMEN. When the pandemic is over, it will be interesting to see the patterns of reassignment and rehire of workers throughout the period. 


For me, what the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted is that organizations have left themselves exposed through their slow uptake of digital transformation (especially in the recruitment space). On a positive note, it has made everyone aware of the importance of technology in their daily lives (and how it has enabled organizations to have some level of business continuity). It has forced organizations to embrace digital transformation at an initial break-neck speed, such that there is now no turning back. The Allegis Global Solutions case study highlights that organizations cannot embrace digital transformation/ recruitment transformation single-handedly. Organizations must seek out a suitable partner who can guide them on their transformation journey.

<![CDATA[Payroll Services a Gateway to Broader HCM Tech & Service Adoption by U.S. Small Businesses]]>


NelsonHall recently published a new U.S. SMB Payroll Services marketing analysis specifically focused on how HR service and technology providers are meeting the increasing demand for technology-based payroll and HR solutions from emerging small-mid sized businesses (<250 employees).

The SMB picture

Payroll services adoption remains steady amongst buyers of all sizes and still primarily driven by the need to improve the tactical elements of payroll execution (timely, accurate, compliant). And like larger middle-market and enterprise buyers, small businesses are commonly seeking out advanced, modern cloud platforms and services that can deliver the digital HR capabilities necessary to compete for top talent, address the ‘future of work', and enable compliant, scalable HR operations to support future growth.

The demand amongst small businesses for modern technology and digital enablers that can mature the organization's HR practices and enhance the employee experience is rapidly increasing; and the increasing demand for digital HR capability has shaped the vendor landscape, such that competition in the payroll services space is no longer limited to traditional payroll service providers alone. Technology providers have more recently pushed into the market; for example, Namely adding payroll services to its offering in the fall of 2017 and Kronos acquiring Louisville-based Advanced Payroll Systems in 2018. 

Small market buyers in the U.S. now have more options, with payroll services commonly offered through three core vendor types, including traditional managed payroll services providers, HCM technology providers with payroll services capability, as well as full HRO engagements through co-employment models offered by PEO providers.

Payroll as a gateway to broader services

Historically, payroll services were positioned as 'bureau-style processing services,' focused mostly on simple processing and compliance, which has mostly been replaced in favor of 'technology-enabled managed services' and extended by complementary HCM solutions. Managed service providers are increasingly positioning payroll service offerings as a core component in broader human capital management platform-based solutions, seeking to enable a 'one-stop shopping' ecosystem for end-to-end HCM capabilities that go well beyond payroll.

As a result, all major payroll providers are now heavily emphasizing their technology investments, capability, and digital HR/payroll innovation when positioning their offerings (up and down market). A good example is ADP’s recent 'Always Designing for People' rebranding effort, to emphasize its HCM innovation focus and investments. Additionally, payroll providers are expanding their offerings well beyond traditional managed payroll-only services to offer comprehensive HCM solutions.

With this HCM focus, payroll is more commonly being positioned with SMBs as a single, but core, component to broader HCM technology and services; buyers are most often seeking and buying a bundle of core HR, payroll, time, and benefits together as an entry point, and increasingly adding talent management capabilities next, most commonly onboarding, recruiting, performance management, and learning.

A growing trend in SMB service offerings is the addition of HR compliance support capability, to provide clients with access to live HR experts for day-to-day compliance advisory and guidance. Offerings include on-demand HR advisory and support through dedicated SMEs, handbook creation, HR knowledgebase and tools, employee surveys, analytics, and benchmarking capability across company size, region, and sector. Examples include Paycor’s HR COE, Namely’s Comply, Advice, Action offering enabled through partner integration with ThinkHR, and Zenefits’ HR Advisory offering.

Integrated partner solutions

Vendors are also rapidly expanding their HCM offerings through the development of formal and informal 'marketplaces' to offer integrated partner solutions (enabled through advanced APIs), which address white spaces in vendor offerings and allow buyers to enable custom HR solutions to fit their unique needs. Larger, more mature payroll providers and HCM technology providers are gradually working their offerings toward 'open platform' approaches, which will enable clients and third parties to develop integrated solutions for connecting to vendor platform technology, aiming to further enable clients to derive 'custom' HCM solutions leveraging modern technology with bidirectional integrations.

The top five focus areas for integration partner additions by SMB payroll providers are:

  • On-demand payroll capability (e.g. DailyPay, PayActive, Rapid!)
  • Global payroll partners (e.g. CloudPay, Safeguard Global, activpayroll)
  • Time and attendance (generally for more advanced capabilities beyond basic time and attendance tracking, e.g. advanced scheduling)
  • Talent management capability, most commonly at the SMB level (onboarding, recruiting, compensation, performance, and learning)
  • Analytic reporting capability.

In speaking to vendors, a key trend is the growing demand for multi-country payroll by SMBs (key countries in focus include the U.K., France, Germany, and ANZ). While native multi-country payroll capability is limited amongst most SMB payroll providers, many are now commonly partnering with providers that can offer integrated multi-country payroll capability.

SMB investments and roadmap

Much like upmarket solutions, SMB payroll-enabling technology is being differentiated through features focused on enhancing the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) to be more personalized and guided, expanding digital enablers to offer modern capabilities like a mobile-first design, embedded AI/ML/NLP, deep workflow and process automation, IoT connectivity, geofencing capability, biometric and facial recognition, and visual dashboards with real-time analytic reporting.

Top investment and roadmap focus areas across SMB payroll providers for the coming 12 to 18 months include:

  • Enhancing the UX/UI to provide a consumer-grade experience that is engaging, simplified, intuitive, personal, and guided  
  • Advancing toward a mobile-first/only capability to enable full platform functionality on mobile devices for both administrators and employees
  • Enabling on-demand payroll and digital payment solutions
  • Expanding offerings beyond payroll with new product offerings; top focus areas: HR advisory and compliance support, analytic reporting, talent management (most adopted: recruiting, performance, learning)
  • Infusing AI, ML, and NLP across the platform to drive 'extreme' personalization, guided experiences, and enable predictive and prescriptive insights in context
  • Opening platforms and developing formal/informal marketplaces for third-party integrations and extended HCM solutions
  • Expanding partnerships and integrations with global payroll providers to support multi-country payroll requirements.

The outlook for the SMB payroll services market

The outlook for small business payroll services in 2020 and beyond is both exciting and concerning. While the market is healthy, thriving, and growing, the recent challenges of COVID-19 have wreaked havoc on small businesses in the U.S. and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Payroll vendors have done a tremendous job supporting and sustaining 'business as usual' for their clients, providing an overwhelming amount of support, tools, training, guidance, and advisory in helping clients navigate the challenge, assess options and interpret government directives for workforce impacts. With providers increasingly positioning themselves as 'trusted business partners' and differentiating through the user and client experience, service providers have an opportunity to truly prove their value and solidify their partnership commitment, which will drive client retention long-term. 

There is no doubt SMB payrolls will shrink across hard-hit sectors (hospitality, travel, retail), which will reduce or slow overall vendor revenue growth for 2020, particularly if the economy shifts into a deep recession and buyers pull back on decision making or shopping for services. Vendors with sizable SMB populations will take the biggest hit from headcount and payroll shrinkage.

However, with payroll a critical process all businesses must execute flawlessly regardless of global concerns, combined with the learnings from COVID-19's impact, this should support net positive growth with payroll services adoption in 2020 as buyers of all sizes seek to de-risk and futureproof payroll operations, particularly those lacking a modern cloud infrastructure and sound BCP/DR capability to operate in unpredictable times.

<![CDATA[Benefitfocus Sets Out its Benefits Vision]]>  


The recent OnePlace2020 digital conference was an opportunity for Benefitfocus to launch its 2020 strategy and to increase awareness of the benefits marketplace. Its vision is to improve lives with benefits, timely in light of the current global pandemic.

Ray August, President and CEO, shed light on the fact that health care costs per employee have grown faster than wages. Benefitfocus’ mission of shaping the benefits industry through understanding people’s needs and analysis of data shows Benefitfocus taking the role of industry thought leader and benefit curator. It recognizes through working with all stakeholders in the industry that it is in the mutual interest of employers, employees, and suppliers to ensure high participant satisfaction, effective services, and value for money. The ongoing challenge seems to be educating employees and HR advisors to understand the benefits offerings, with ML tailoring packages to individual needs to participate at the right time.

Benefitfocus achieved impressive growth in 2019, with 25m people on its platform, up 25% from 2018. Ray August suggests growth has been primarily driven from having a strong focus on understanding and researching consumer needs. From 2020 onwards, it aims to broaden its approach, engaging more with the wider community, including employers, brokers, health plans, and suppliers. It looks to drive closer engagements with all players in the industry to bring a wide range of innovation and new offerings to participants. These could be very specific solutions to help with particular needs: bringing consumers an extensive suite of offerings enables greater tailoring of benefits to suit many more individual needs. The key to success is the ability to leverage AI and data.

As part of its broadening objective, Benefitfocus developed Benefitplace, a digital marketplace where all interactions with participants can be managed from a single place. Benefitplace has approximately 150k employer users, with over 80 products and services from 50 partners. Throughout 2020 it will extend Benefitplace, as well as InnovationPlace, bringing on new startups into the program. Innovative companies introduced include:

  • Family and fertility planning firm Natalist
  • Home ‘over the counter’ medicine kit provider Cabinet Health
  • Milk Stork, a company helping mothers with breastmilk shipping and breastfeeding options
  • Mymedicalimages, a HIPPA-compliant platform for consumers to view, manage and share medical images, speeding up treatments and assisting with referrals
  • FutureFuel and Edmit, companies helping with college decisions and managing debt.

With its digital marketplace, Benefitfocus will be able to offer more creative benefits offerings, leveraging fresh start-up innovators in the industry.

It is worth saying that at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, at short notice, Benefitfocus moved the OnePlace2020 conference to a digital platform. It should be applauded for the quick decision-making and the technical enablement at a time of world crisis. The conference delivered key messages on how the benefits industry can help employees, providers, and companies all reach the common goal of supporting health and wellness, at a time of heightened urgency.


I am researching Next Generation Benefits Platforms for my next market analysis project this summer, delving deeper into adoption challenges and the opportunities these technologies provide to consumers.


<![CDATA[Ultimate Software: Growth Accelerated by Merger With Kronos]]>


Ultimate Software recently held its annual Ultimate Connections client event in Las Vegas, drawing over 4.5k client and partner attendees from across the UltiPro HCM ecosystem. Attendees’ interest had been piqued by the announcement a few days before that Hellman & Friedman-owned Ultimate Software and Kronos plan to merge, forming one of the largest global cloud technology providers with a combined enterprise value of $22bn. Kronos CEO Aron Ain will be CEO and Chairman of the new company. The merger is expected to close in late March.

In his keynote speech, Ain highlighted the strong alignment between the two award-winning “culture obsessed” technology firms, also their complementary HCM and WFM technology capability. Ain assured Ultimate’s employees of his commitment to sustaining and building on the legacy of Ultimate’s People First culture and approach, and emphasized to clients the new entity is “here to stay, here to improve, and here to grow” with the UltiPro HCM platform at the foundation of that future growth.

And the new organization has ambitious growth plans, starting by doubling its revenues to $6bn within five years. In support of this, it intends to add around 3,000 jobs over the next three years across all segments of the business.

What’s new for UltiPro HCM?

From a roadmap perspective, 2019 was a productive year for Ultimate, which delivered >700 new platform features derived from >410 client ideas. 

In 2020, Ultimate launches multiple new HCM features, each aligning to the various stages of the ‘life-work journey' which for most is often in flux and continually evolving throughout their careers. Notable features announced at Connections include:

  • On-demand pay, through integration with Rapid!: provides workers access and control to earned wages prior to the pay-cycle end. We noted that Rapid!’s booth was crowded throughout the event, a reflection of the interest by employers in offering employees broader digital financial wellness solutions to help ease or avoid hardships
  • Privacy Manager: a dashboard enabling employees to manage personal data, which can be erased, or downloaded for portability through the new data management tool
  • Ulti-Giving: (from end March 2020) facilitates philanthropic donations through payroll deductions, including on mobile
  • Continuous Performance (Q3 2020): AI-infused performance development tool which gives real-time coaching to leaders to provide ongoing, meaningful feedback to their employees in order to drive performance improvements; also includes interactive meeting and goal-setting capabilities

While the future roadmap for UltiPro is mostly under NDA, it will center on three pillars, all leveraging AI, ML, and NLP:

  • Mindful AI, bringing together the capability of ‘Xander’ (sentiment, emotion, and intent insights) and ‘Aimee’ (business insights) to drive improved HR outcomes and address key use cases
  • Expansive Accessibility, enhancing the suite to be more nimble, inclusive and adaptive,  partnering with digital accessibility company Level Access (an UltiPro client since 2017)
  • Culture Inspired UX, improving personalization and in-context support. 

What’s next for the new organization?

Although Kronos has made significant strides in recent years with its HCM offering (Workforce Ready and Workforce Dimensions), the more mature UltiPro HCM will become the flagship HCM platform for the new company, with Kronos Workforce Dimensions being the flagship standalone WFM especially for enterprises.  The two offerings will be tightly integrated and will fill the advanced scheduling gap in UltiPro’s functionality. This HCM+WFM combined offering will play more toward the middle market and enterprise buyer. It further plans to retain and position Kronos Workforce Ready for small and mid-sized firms with less complex talent management and workforce management needs. Work on integrating the technology is already underway, with the plan for the combined Ultimate HCM + Kronos WFM offering to go live as soon as the merger completes in late March. 

The two companies have differed historically in their go to market, with Kronos taking a highly verticalized approach, an approach that Ultimate can benefit from. While Kronos has often targeted the operations side of the business with WFM, being particularly experienced with large complex manufacturing, retail, public sector, and healthcare firms, Ultimate has typically sold directly to the HR function without a vertical slant.  A vertical GTM approach for UltiPro HCM should help expand opportunities with new buyers. 

The joint client base has >23k organizations, with few shared clients: potentially, there are significant cross-selling opportunities.

Growth plans for the new organization also include international expansion. UltiPro HCM currently supports users in 175 countries. The integration of Kronos WFM with the PeopleDoc HR service delivery platform offers a gateway to multi-country clients.

Bringing two very strong brands and technologies together in what is essentially a merger of equals obviously has its challenges. Both are well-respected brands in HR technology; both have rich and admired cultures. The merger will take careful navigation, execution, and strong leadership. 

Clients with whom I spoke at the event expressed cautious optimism about the merger. UltiPro users are keen to tap into the WFM capabilities and innovation offered by Kronos, and of course they are interested in future innovations coming from the marriage. But naturally, clients are waiting to see how the merger will impact their engagement with Ultimate. Notably, all expressed confidence in Aron Ain's ability to lead the new organization to the next chapter. 

The new Ultimate/Kronos entity comes at a time when both firms are experiencing strong adoption and steady recurring revenue growth. Together, Ultimate and Kronos offer a very formidable combined HCM and advanced WFM offering and capability that will increasingly compete for larger, more mature global clients. We expect to see rapid innovation coming out of the new company, innovation that will help fuel continuing growth.

<![CDATA[Change Your Workplace Culture or Struggle for Existence in the 2020s]]>


As a “Gen-Xer” I look back over my career and can identify four out of ten organizations that had an incredibly positive influence on my life. What made that 40% stand out was that, despite economic market forces, technological change, evolving customer/consumer habits, and skills shortages (as new technical jobs evolved), they successfully adapted to change. They also evolved their workplace cultures to keep workers (typically a mix of three generations) engaged and motivated to perform at their best. The workers could look holistically at the challenges faced and work creatively (often thinking outside the box) and collaboratively to overcome them through the good times and the bad. 

Only the fittest will survive

As we begin the 2020s, I believe that the challenges faced by organizations are essentially the same. What is different is the pace of change (or transformation), the complexity/interrelatedness of the factors (through globalization/internationalization, the need to be data-driven, etc.), and the number of organizations now facing those challenges. What worries me is that many organizations are still not driving the cultural/mindset changes needed to thrive in the 2020s workplace of the future (a five-generation workforce enabled by technology), adding further complexity to the mix.

NelsonHall’s recent RPO, MSP, and Learning research projects each identified that one of the main barriers to organizations transforming their talent acquisition or learning strategies continues to be their unwillingness to collaborate on business-critical issues, choosing to operate in (and protect) their functional silos.

The harsh reality is those organizations will not secure/retain the talent they need and are unlikely to survive the decade!

Looking at the small details such as flexible working can make a big impact

With unemployment levels in many advanced nations set to remain below 5%, the nearer to zero unemployment rate that may present itself as the U.K. leaves the EU, along with the 2020s workforce having many demands, organizations will have to work extra hard to keep existing workers/attract new talent, if they are to remain competitive. They must nurture their workforce and evolve their workplace cultures to meet their needs.  

An aging population and five generations of workers (35% of them being over 50 by 2022 according to the CIPD) bring complex issues and demands. A higher proportion of older people living with medical conditions means that more Baby Boomers, Gen X, and older Millennials face carer duties, as they must look after elderly parents. This could require workers to break up their working day into two or three parts to fit around caring duties. Similarly, advances in medicine mean that workers with acute/chronic conditions can work around their treatment regimen. With much emphasis on employee/worker physical and mental well-being, more workers (irrespective of generation) want to break up their working day by attending an exercise class or mindfulness session, at a time when they are least productive (when their concentration levels dip). Gen Zs like face-to-face social interaction, security, and hold values around diversity and inclusion.

Organizations must examine how they can change the way work gets done (to be efficient, cost-effective, productive, etc.), by embracing blended work, using non-employed workers (to benefit Millennials’ preferences) as well as employed workers, so it is a win-win situation for all parties.

My 2019/2020 NelsonHall research showed that many RPO and MSP vendors have stepped up to an enhanced service excellence model, with the aim of providing unrivaled customer experience to their client organizations so as to give them a competitive edge. One vendor hired a “Manager of Small Things” whose remit was to make incremental improvements in service delivery that make a big difference. On a smaller scale, some RPO/MSP vendors are using AI and data-driven insights to look at the optimum window when workers are at their most productive. With positive client feedback, looking at the small details can make a big impact on the workplace. It is a shame that so many organizations fail to recognize this and are determined to stick to the old ways of doing things.

According to the IWG Global Workspace Survey 2019, 80% of respondents said when faced with two similar employment offers, they would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible working. 85% of companies confirmed that productivity has increased in their business as a result of greater flexibility. Organizations be warned!

Big issues such as remote working also need to be considered

Millennials thrive on technology (from workplace apps that increase mobility to virtual workstations and cloud-based collaboration tools), so organizations must offer flexibility that gives them the option to work remotely, attend meetings virtually, and collaborate online rather than in face-to-face meetings. With the ongoing global skills shortage, candidates with in-demand skills are leveraging gig platforms more to seek out their next opportunity (enabled by global interconnectivity). In the 2020s, candidates will choose their work based on the value it will bring to their careers and will do it remotely from anywhere in the world. Organizations need to embrace the idea that if the work gets done, it doesn’t matter where it is carried out. RPO, MSP, and Learning vendors are adding new tech/tools to their ecosystems that enable a much more flexible approach to working (anywhere, anytime, and any device), paying attention to multigenerational needs. Recruitment vendors are adding gig platforms/Direct Sourcing platforms to their tech stacks.     

With several news-dominating incidents over 2019/2020 (Amazon fires, Australia fires, the melting Antarctic icecap, Coronavirus, etc.), these concerns are at the forefront for all generations of workers. The 2020s will require organizations to significantly step up their CSR focus on these issues. Introducing more remote working, enabled by technology, will help reduce organizations’ and individuals’ carbon footprint. Reducing the need to commute/travel to an office (the knock-on positives of reducing traffic/air congestion and emissions, alleviating a creaking and unreliable transport infrastructure, and avoiding highly crowded environments, etc.) would support increased worker well-being, productivity, and engagement. Longer-term, climate change and natural disasters may force populations to relocate, so organizations embracing remote working as a workplace cultural norm could be less impacted by such an event. 

Digital resources will play a growing part, but not at the expense of humans

All generations of workers have embraced technological change to some degree, especially in their personal lives. According to Apple, the 2018 average daily smartphone screen time was 136 minutes for Baby Boomers, 169 minutes for Gen X, and 205 minutes for Millennials. The consumerized and personalized use of apps as part of everyday life has touched everyone (thanks to Uber, etc.). The convenience of using any device, anytime, and anywhere is the new norm. Gen Zs are known as the first fully digital generation, with 40% of them self-identifying as digital device addicts. Gen Zs can quickly and efficiently switch between work and play, working on multiple tasks with various distractions going on in the background (the multi-multi-tasking generation).

Organizations must evolve their digital journey aligned to the tech expectations and tech-savviness of their existing and future multigenerational workforce (from initial talent attraction through to exit from the organization). This requires more effort than operating in tech silos. It is about creating a joined-up strategy that will keep the workforce engaged, motivated to perform well, and retained through the future challenges those organizations will face.

As a starting point, organizations need to leverage their existing platforms better. Firstly, this means ensuring features and functionality are “switched on”. NelsonHall’s research into RPO, MSP, and Learning services highlights that a lack of visibility of data causes organizations to make poor business decisions, the stumbling block being getting access to the data, not the lack of it. Secondly, it means plugging and playing appropriate new tools to enhance the user experience of those legacy platforms (maximizing opportunities to automate and speed up processes).

Fall at any of these hurdles, and the Gen Zs will be off to another organization. In many cases, organizations may need to explore new ways of using technology. For talent attraction, that may involve campaigns across different social media platforms, “a day in the life” video footage for a specific job, and one-click apply through an app. For onboarding/induction and ongoing skills training, it may involve bite-sized sessions (to fit around busy lives), accessible 24/7 on any device, using engaging modalities (gamification, virtual reality, etc.). With 60% of Gen Zs preferring to learn through YouTube tutorials and videos, enabling the workforce to undertake self-paced, pull learning is a must.

So, will your organization struggle for existence in the 2020s, or embrace a workplace cultural change?

The struggle for existence will intensify for organizations in the 2020s. Their ultimate survival will be determined by how those organizations nurture the highly demanding workforce of the future. It is doubtful that organizations can embrace this change single-handedly. They might need to seek expertise from MSP, RPO, or Learning vendors. What is clear, though, from NelsonHall’s research, is that there are lots of opportunities for the vendor community to enhance/develop new services around the culture of work for the 2020s workplace of the future. Both vendors and organizations can race to the top. Those who get there first will be the winners.

While only some workplace cultural issues have been the focus of this blog, there are other areas where organizations need to work hard to be future-fit. Rest assured, if the multigenerational workforce feels neglected in any way, or feels that the workplace culture is misaligned in terms of their values, it will seek refuge elsewhere. As I look back at the 60% of organizations I have worked for that didn’t make a positive impact on my life, I know that some will no longer exist at the end of the decade! Where do you want to be? Make your choice!   

<![CDATA[Renewed Talent & Technology Focus Changing the Shape of the HR Ecosystem]]>


Having stepped back into an HR analyst role at NelsonHall, it’s clear to me that we can’t emphasise enough the increasing importance of talent and the need to leverage more technology in the HR function to be competitive. These two themes are unlikely to surprise. Over the last six months, I’ve heard how big companies such as large IT firms are experimenting with shrinking recruitment sourcing teams and building talent intelligence teams instead. How is this changing the shape of the HR ecosystem? And what’s next?

NelsonHall recognises four key components of the HR ecosystem. These relate to Talent Services, Talent Technology, HR Operational Technology, and HR Operational Services, with talent being at the core as the primary driver of organizational growth and competitiveness.



As we enter the new decade, the two most significant changes to the shape of the HR ecosystem are:  

  • The growing importance of Talent Services: Talent shortages mean that talent-related services are becoming more important to drive organizational competitiveness and growth. As a result, the services supporting talent have seen more focus on employer branding and building strong cultures
  • Technology’s focus on experience: As the labor market tightens, employee experience becomes more relevant and employees become true consumers. All activities that impact the employee experience can have an impact on the bottom line.  Onboarding, benefits, engagement, recognition, and even payroll, can play a part.

The technology-experience focus needs to be tempered with an acknowledgment that employee experience is also as much about human engagement and rapport building in a company. However, HR undoubtedly has an active part to play in ensuring smooth employee onboarding and ensuring employees feel appreciated through effective practices and leadership development.

As a result of the increasing importance that talent vendors and buy-side organizations are putting on building the best experience, new partnerships with employee engagement companies such as Qualtrics (example here) are forming. Further, we are seeing candidate experience and employee experience now firmly at the heart of many HR technology roadmaps. Leveraging social platforms that provide on-demand learning for employees and recruitment marketing and social media listening tools such as TalkWalker and Crystal Knows are also ways that companies are innovating to stay ahead of the competition for talent. As mobile-first and omni-channel processes are adopted through the latest HR technology releases, the HR operational function will accordingly also need to adapt. The HR functions themselves are at risk of being the weakest link.

What’s next? The convergence of marketplaces

Challenged to keep up with technology innovation in the marketplace, traditional HR service providers have placed greater emphasis over the last five years on technology innovation than service innovation. Technology and service providers are beginning to build stronger technology partnerships supported through API connectors and developing marketplaces for additional services. The market has also seen a significant number of senior CTO appointments announced as well as the set-up of technology innovation hubs by providers.

Buyers are similarly challenged to keep up with technology innovation to the extent that they are relying on their providers to deliver greater technology guidance across the wide array of solutions, demanding stronger technology consulting and integration services than before.

Further, traditional outsourcing providers are beginning to focus on digital outsourcing solutions that look at end-to-end processes and process efficiency to help clients knit together the different technologies and plug the technology gaps and work-arounds, clouding the distinction between BPaaS and traditional outsourcing.

Alongside these technical developments, it is worth noting that, as the employee value to an organization grows, the demand for high-quality service and, in some cases, a white glove HR service, for employees still lives on and is not expected to disappear. The challenge will be which service providers are adequately able to fulfill both the technology challenges and service innovation in a joined-up way? How many vendors still give attention to end-to-end service and not just the technology?

<![CDATA[Kronos Doubles Down on HCM Platform Development]]>


Earlier this month, Kronos held its annual client event, KronosWorks, in Las Vegas, drawing >3k attendees from around the globe. 

Much of the attention at KronosWorks centered on the launch of InTouch DX, an intelligent time clock offering that incorporates advanced digital capabilities including an LCD with touch-enabled access, facial recognition, and integration with Kronos Workforce Dimensions for workforce management insights. However, many attendees were there to learn what Kronos has planned for its HCM platform offering.

If you are familiar with Kronos, you likely know their long history and body of work as a workforce management software provider. It offers an extensive time & attendance and scheduling capability that is not only leveraged by thousands of clients of all sizes and industries globally to address complex workforce management requirements, but the solution is also leveraged or resold by several leading HR services and technology providers as their "go-to" integrated, advanced WFM solution (e.g. SAP/SuccessFactors, ADP, etc.)  

However, over the past three years, Kronos has also been quietly developing two cloud-based, next-generation HCM platform solutions that are now serving nearly 4k clients globally and have experienced a sizeable adoption increase of >30% in 2019 (a growth rate comparable to its HCM technology peers in the space, many of which focus exclusively on HCM and launched solutions several years prior).

Kronos HCM offering at a glance

Kronos' HCM offering includes two cloud-based platforms, both localized and targeted to organizations headquartered in nine countries: U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. Together, the platforms now support >3m HCM users and an additional >35m users on its WFM solutions. The Kronos HCM platform offerings are:

  • Workforce Ready: generally targeted to organizations with <5k employees, but with the capability to support organizations >5k
  • Workforce Dimensions HCM: targeted to organizations with >5k employees; generally, those operating in industries with high populations of hourly workers or having a complex workforce management requirement (e.g. unions, global presence, etc. – which may also include organizations below 5k).

The two HCMs have aligning infrastructure and are built on the Kronos D5 cloud platform enabled by Google Cloud technology. Therefore, both platforms share essential functionality and capabilities (currently >90%) across their HCM modules.  

A key element to the Workforce Dimensions platform, and where its capability differentiates from that of the Workforce Ready platform, is its complex workforce management and planning capabilities. Kronos also offers this as a standalone solution and is often adopted by users of both Kronos' HCM platforms, as well as integrated with other leading HCM solutions. Workforce Dimensions (WFM) is currently configured to support 17 languages. Additionally, the platform offers deeper functionality to support key requirements inherent to operating in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, retail, staffing, distribution, government, banking, and education.

What’s new and next

Kronos continues to push hard on the advancement of its HCM offering, directing a sizable portion of its annual R&D spend toward its HCM platform development. In addition to advancing its HCM capability, Kronos is also investing in a significant marketing blitz aimed at shifting its brand awareness from that of a WFM technology provider to a provider of comprehensive, platform-based WFM and HCM technology solutions.

Central to the Kronos HCM roadmap and platforms’ future is the infusion of AIMEE, an artificial intelligence and machine learning engine that provides predictive and prescriptive guidance for employees and managers. AIMEE supports tasks and insights such as predicting employee "flight risk", identifying employee success potential, measuring employee fatigue, and supporting succession planning by analyzing employee trends. 

At the event, Kronos launched a new Advanced People Analytics offering powered by AIMEE. The offering, which is available now for Kronos Workforce Ready and due in 2020 for Kronos Workforce Dimensions clients, provides access to three data science tools for decision-based actions:

  • Insights Powered by AIMEE: enables strategic data views in planned areas such as absence management, flight risk, leaves, onboarding, performance, and recruiting 
  • Insights Explorer: a data exploration tool that simplifies the dissection of data from across the employee lifecycle, leveraging a descriptive analytics engine to “connect the dots” between engagement, performance, and productivity with multiple datasets 
  • Insights Dashboard: provides visualizations through Insights Explorer to provide leaders with a single view of critical people insights.

Moving ahead, Kronos is focused on enabling deeper user personalization and insights across both platforms’ suite of modules and will do this by expanding the use of AIMEE AI to address additional use cases and tasks with predictive and prescriptive guidance – as well as leveraging NLP technology and chatbot capability to address a wide set of everyday HR tasks.

Kronos plans the continued expansion and development of its vertical solutions to address use cases unique to buyers of key industries such as retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. It also plans to expand its native payroll capability beyond the U.S. and Australia (integrated through Payroll Metrics Australia) to include Canada in 2020.

Further, Kronos is committed to rapidly expanding its network of integrated partner solutions to address white spaces and extend the value of their platforms beyond HCM. Recent examples include PayActiv for on-demand payroll capability, Unum Group for leave management administration, and integrations with Cornerstone OnDemand's talent management solutions.

The outlook for Kronos’ HCM offering

With its HCM platforms currently supporting employees in ~85 countries (and quickly expanding), the company is looking to the U.K. and Australia (Australian Payroll is now available through a partnership with Payroll Metrics) as part of its international expansion plans to drive further HCM adoption, where it has a sizable WFM client presence and is already seeing strong HCM adoption in line with its U.S. growth trajectory. To support its international growth plans and help it scale, Kronos continues to rapidly expand its network of global implementation partners that can deploy its HCM platforms on its behalf.

The challenge for Kronos will be increasing its cloud HCM technology "at-bats" with potential buyers seeking to modernize their HR operating models. Kronos is betting on its media blitz to help address this issue, including targeted TV and radio ads, sponsoring professional golfers from the PGA and LPGA (some of which were at KronosWorks), and conducting field events and tradeshows, while also building out its advisory and broker alliances. Further, Kronos will also look to its base of >8k Workforce Central and other legacy WFM clients globally as potential converts to its broader HCM platform offering.

As Kronos heads into 2020, it brings with it strong momentum for its HCM platforms, which remain distinctly positioned in the space against competing HCM-centric peers, offering one of the only fully-integrated, vertically-enabled HCM and WFM solutions available from a single technology provider.  

<![CDATA[Engaging with Benefits: Spotlight on Benefitfocus]]>


Last week I attended the Benefitfocus Seller Place 2020 conference. Benefitfocus has repositioned itself from a software company to a benefits platform provider with solutions focused on engaging and improving the user experience while helping employers and employees make more informed decisions and reduce cost.

Benefitfocus has 25m consumers, serving 150k employers with 15.5m employees, partners with 700 brokers, 144 medical carriers, 50 voluntary suppliers, and has 1,700 associates. The BenefitSAIGE platform processes 42m transactions per week, worth $18bn between BenefitFocus and its ~100 payroll partners with a 99.9% first pass yield. 100% of data is delivered on time during open enrollment and 100% of payroll and enrollment files/data transmitted is encrypted.

Why Benefits Engagement Matters

The importance of engaging employees with benefits for attraction and retention of talent cannot be underestimated. Benefitfocus presented data showing that there is a 19.3% employee turnover rate in the U.S. Employees are spending more on benefits than all other expenses except for home mortgages and car payments, yet they are getting less value. Since 2009, medical costs are up 54%, deductibles up 162%, while worker earnings are up just 20%, and 74% of employees are confused by their benefits options. In 2018, $3.65 trillion was spent in the U.S. on annual health costs, 20% of the GDP. Family costs have increased 2x faster than wages in the last decade, and 64% have delayed receiving care due to the costs involved.

BenefitSAIGE Platform Notifications

Benefitfocus has made significant investments in its BenefitsSAIGE platform, including the use of AI. BenefitSAIGE is event-driven: instead of benefits being an annual event, you can enroll and change benefits when you need to. BenefitSAIGE engages with participants throughout the year, including participants receiving a proactive notification when something changes. Every person who comes to the BenefitSAIGE platform receives push messages on a weekly basis that will help them to make informed decisions and save cost. A dedicated content manager helps to ensure compelling content is delivered throughout the year. A few examples of notifications are:

  • If an employee gets married, they will receive a message (email or text) on the top 5 things newly married couples needs to do regarding benefits
  • If an employee moves, their auto insurance may change, so BenefitSAIGE will notify the employee to review insurance products that the platform recommends
  • Personal reminders such as ‘today is your core strength training day’ or ‘it’s time for your doctor’s appointment today’
  • Cost-saving notifications such as ‘the prescription you just filled can be $3 cheaper at the CVS pharmacy near you’.

Examples of Benefits Achieved

The following are examples of the type of benefits that can be achieved using the BenefitSAIGE platform:

  • Ability to make a company HR admin a super-hero! For example, in looking at medical claims and trying to get a handle on costs, with one click you can get the top 10 categories driving cost and the dollar amount spent on (say) cardiovascular, with the number of claims
  • ER costs have risen dramatically in the last 10 years. As such, you can identify the types of claims and diagnosis appropriate for alternative care. An example was given of a Benefitfocus client with high ER costs that implemented telemedicine communication and realized a $50k saving with a potential of $400k over 2 years
  • Ability to run a report on zero cost claimants that are never going to the doctor (even for preventative physicals) and deliver messages to inform them they are covered for no cost for preventative annual visits and/or incentivize them to open a Health Savings Account and then see the impact it has
  • A midsize employer with a lot of non-compliant prescription diabetics created member populations to track strategy effectiveness and realized a 24% increase in medication compliance, getting employees the right medication, and increasing employee engagement
  • A large employer who was seeing double-digit pharma cost increases y/y, analyzed data and found improper billing/fraud and was able to reduce y/y spend by ~10%
  • Open enrollment daily insights to HR admins including number of log-ins, elections, comparison of plans selected vs. last year, number and types of questions asked; allowing HR admins to proactively communicate anything that needs to be clarified
  • Individuals enrolling in benefits are given insights; for example, ‘We recommend 2019 HDHP Premier as your medical plan, which can save you $3,822 on premiums compared to the PPO standard plan’. It will then provide further information on Total Risk and Savings Opportunity.

2020 Roadmap

Benefitfocus’ planned enhancements for 2020 include:

  • Integrated case management capability to allow employees and employers to have full access to case history
  • Email notifications will incorporate employer branding, including client logo and email styles
  • In Q1 2020, in addition to email, text notifications will be made on mobile devices
  • Increasing the number of broker partners from 700 to 1,000.


Benefitfocus’ emphasis on using its BenefitSAIGE platform to provide proactive communication throughout the year gives it a unique position as a benefits partner in helping employers, employees, brokers and carriers to make more informed decisions, reduce company and employee costs, and improve engagement.

In terms of challenges, Benefitfocus needs to ensure that its notifications continue to add value and not lead to communication overload. But that can be overcome if the messages are short and succinct and help to make better decisions while saving money. Also, while there is merit in being a premier platform provider, Benefitfocus should let it be known that they are still a service provider with a Benefits Center and specialists able to answer questions on the phone when needed.

NelsonHall expects to see double-digit growth in Benefitfocus products bought and revenue generated in 2020.

<![CDATA[Cielo: Reimagining & Redefining RPO]]>


The pace of change in RPO and contingent worker outsourcing has been unprecedented in recent years due to technological advancements and the range of services expected by buyside organizations. Cielo recently organized a customer and analyst day to explore what talent acquisition (TA) might look like in the next five years.

Speaking with several of Cielo’s clients, they comment on Cielo’s enthusiasm to question the status quo and ask how things can be done better, and on its keenness to continuously improve and be future-fit while maintaining its core values.

Automation must complement high-touch service

Clients cite Cielo’s “WE BECOME YOU” mantra as a feature of its RPO service. They value the Candidate Impression Center and Bridge pre-employment service, established in 2010 to address pain points in the recruitment process (such as a lack of contact with candidates once they have applied for a job, and post-job offer before the employment start date). Given the current focus on candidate experience, remaining high-touch is key. With Cielo’s Candidate Impression Center, a chatbot now provides a response to the top 100 FAQs to save agents’ time, with humans doing more meaningful and highly personalized candidate-care work.

The RPO journey is becoming a Total Talent expedition

Cielo aims to adopt a partnership approach with clients, taking them on a journey of improving both efficiency and effectiveness in their recruitment processes. Enhancements to the service have included SkyRecruit, reporting and analytics (SkyAnalytics), Employer Branding (EB), and most recently consultancy services in areas such as TA strategy, tech advisory, marketing, and diversity and inclusion. The shortage of talent in many skills areas has spurred Cielo to look at alternative sources of talent such as contingent workers and developing existing employees to plug supply gaps, taking more of a total talent acquisition (TTA) approach.

Cielo is now taking the partnership approach to the next level with its Client Success Program.  Using Cielo’s Talent Acquisition Maturity Model, clients are presented with a scorecard to determine their position on the RPO/Total Talent journey at various points through the relationship. Using design thinking, Cielo undertakes a more strategic workforce planning (SWP) approach to better plan its clients’ hiring needs to help them improve their talent acquisition maturity.

Next-generation delivery – “Certified to Serve”

Cielo posits that delivery excellence requires more than expertise in sourcing talent and industry sector knowledge. In its “Certified to Serve” initiative, Cielo’s talent advisers are required to be knowledgeable in hiring process definitions, operating principles, talent options, payrolling/invoicing, plus information specific to the client. Those with more advanced skills can advise on SWP.

Enabled by technology or driven by technology… a matter of preference

Cielo has seen early traction with its more automated High Volume RPO (HVRPO) platform launched in 2018. Several clients are using HVRPO in conjunction with Cielo’s SkyRecruit platform, typically hiring in high volume for niche/specialized roles. Examples include:

  • A pharma that has made 4,000 hires through the HVRPO platform and has seen an 11% decrease in time to accept an offer
  • A food service company that has made 5,000 hires and saved 1.5 hours of hiring manager’s recruitment time per hire through tech-enabled screening.

While at present Cielo’s clients mainly leverage recruitment technology as an enabler with limited automation (confined to processes that are already successfully automated in the wider market, such as website apply, interview scheduling, etc.), Cielo anticipates that in future more of its clients will leverage Cielo’s HVRPO platform (with programmatic advertising, mobile apply and assessments, automated matching, interview scheduling, and offers/onboarding) to drive the hiring process.

The “Experience Marketing” experience

Successful hiring requires a talent attraction strategy (making use of EB services) along with candidate sourcing. Cielo’s clients have embraced what Cielo calls Talent Magnetism (recognizing the importance of websites, campaigns, social media, and EVP in the TA process). The next phase is Experience Marketing (focused on EB and communications), which tailors marketing and communications to the stakeholder (the client, hiring manager, candidate, and employee team member). 

What’s next?

Cielo has reimagined and redefined its RPO offering, but what will be next? With the global skills shortage worsening, the blurring of the lines between permanent and contingent hiring to secure talent to deliver a business outcome may no longer be enough. It is already apparent, with the accelerating sophistication of technology/tools, that the current workforce is not sufficiently digitally capable to embrace the tech-driven workplace of the future.

If the required talent cannot be bought or borrowed, then it will need to be built. Organizations have the choice to seek expert help from both recruitment and learning outsourcing vendors, but as seen with TTA, why would you leverage multiple providers to source talent when one provider could be more efficient, effective and cheaper (especially when the available talent plays in both pools)? Savvy RPO, MSP and TTA vendors could become Talent Management experts, blurring the lines between talent acquisition and talent development. Cielo aims to become a “Talent Outcomes and Talent Experience” company. Does that mean it will further reimagine and redefine its portfolio and become a Talent Management vendor? 

<![CDATA[Machine Learning at the Heart of Workday’s Next Wave of Innovation]]>


This past week Workday held its 13th Workday Rising client event in Orlando, Florida. The platform’s annual event continues to grow substantially, with more than 13k in attendance this year, up from ~10k attendees in Las Vegas at the 2018 event.

The growth in attendance points squarely to the continued steady adoption of the Workday platform, which is now supporting >2.8k HCM and >700 Finance adopters, and 40m users globally across a client base represented by 40% of the Fortune 500 and 50% of the Fortune 50, with 70% of its clients live and operating at a 97% CSAT rating. Recent newly live client examples include Lowes, Quicken Loans, and Renault.

This year, Workday extended its innovation keynote to 120 minutes to accommodate the depth of new features being launched across HCM, Finance, and Planning. Workday introduced multiple new HCM features, each geared toward supporting businesses and their workers in navigating the changing shape of HR and supporting the future of work. Central to Workday’s roadmap and future is the infusion of machine learning (ML) across the platform to augment users, personalize their experience, automate tasks, and deliver deeper insights in context and in the flow of work.

New HCM key features

Workday People Experience (March 2020): a new user interface which leverages ML to enable highly personalized support for the user’s unique journey, designed to enable employees to conduct day-to-day HR activities without needing to know exactly where to go in the platform to complete a specific task.

The new Workday People Experience includes the Workday Assistant, an NLP-enabled personal assistant, and is integrated with leading collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams to support employees “where they work”.  Additionally, Workday introduced a new case management and knowledge management tool, enabled with a case solver capability to support timely case management, resolution, and issue prevention.

Workday People Analytics (available for subscription in 2020): an AI and ML-enabled augmented HCM analytic offering designed with predefined business metrics and KPIs set around key workforce trends and topics delivered through a story view (a capability enabled by which Workday acquired in 2018). Additionally, Workday has also enabled Discovery Boards, its drag-and-drop data discovery capability for all HCM clients as part of their standard subscription.

Skills Insights & Talent Marketplace: leveraging its previously launched ML-enabled Skills Cloud (>200 client adopters and taxonomy of >200k skills), Workday introduced two key talent management capabilities. First, Skills Insights, which enables HR to assess existing skills and identify skill gaps within the organization through real-time insights; plus a new Talent Marketplace, which provides a platform for talent mobility, enabling workers to match their skills to roles, projects, and gigs, as well as being identified for opportunities where their skills are a fit.

Workday Credentials: a blockchain-enabled credentialing technology that is designed to address the historically manual and time-consuming process associated with verifying employee credentials (e.g. work experience, education, certifications, etc.). Further, Workday introduced the WayTo mobile application, which empowers users with capability to manage and share their verified professional credentials as and when desired throughout the application and screening process.

WFM & Payroll Updates

Although much of the product news centered on UX, talent management, and analytics, Workday highlighted multiple key features shaping its next generation workforce management (WFM) capabilities, all designed to drive greater user efficiency and effectiveness by leveraging automation, AI, and ML.  

Most notable was Workday’s demonstration of the progress it has made towards its “zero touch” payroll capability, which was met with highly positive approval from the payroll practitioners in attendance. The solution pairs a continuous gross-to-net calculation engine (which processes payroll results 24x7) with Smart Payroll and Smart Retro processing capability which automatically processes retroactive actions and only processes payroll for workers with payroll impacting changes. Smart Audit rounds out the capability to compare payroll results and surface exceptions for review automatically.

Workday expects to expand on its payroll capability with Instant Pay (2020) which provides an on-demand payroll capability allowing workers to request payment incrementally for hours worked and approved. Additionally, Workday demonstrated a new RPA capability (2020) enabled through partner integration with Automation Anywhere, which is aimed at reducing the historically manual efforts for key payroll inputs; initial use cases including payroll input automation and stock administration automation are both due in 2020.

Looking ahead

Clients I spoke to throughout the week (varying sizes and industries, many of which have been operating on the platform for a few years) indicated high satisfaction and value realization overall. I noticed this year there were many more full-suite adopters with both HCM and Finance in place, some of which were deploying, or at least considering adding, Planning to the mix in the near term. Those without full-suite adoption expected to expand their use to include more HCM, most commonly on the talent management side, but also some considering adding payroll where it has been left to an outsourcing provider and not yet on the platform.

Not surprising was the fact that many Workday clients I spoke to still haven’t solved (or even begun addressing) global payroll yet, a clear opportunity for Workday’s global payroll partners which I noticed maintained highly active booths all week, as this issue is clearly front of mind for many cloud HCM adopters.

However, maintaining its rapid platform adoption and historically strong revenue growth ($2.82b, +31.7% y/y for FY’19) is now the challenge for Workday which is driving towards a target of $3.59b in total revenues in FY’20. To maintain its strong adoption and growth results, Workday continues to invest heavily in platform features and innovations, dedicating ~30% of revenues annually to R&D compared to ~15% on average by its legacy and peer cloud competitors.

Workday leadership emphasized its commitment to “doubling down” on ML as the game changing technology it expects to drive its platform innovation, client value, and platform adoption in the future, innovation that will enable value for users by addressing the key HCM and business challenges organizations face today. While Workday and its peers are pushing out advanced capabilities faster than ever, the challenge now will be in helping clients keep pace with the level of change, digesting and adopting practices that put these advanced capabilities to use.

<![CDATA[ADP’s Next-Generation Platforms Have Arrived]]>


This past week ADP held its annual analyst day event at its innovation lab in Chelsea, NY, where its executive leadership provided updates on the progress of its latest portfolio of next-generation HR and payroll solutions. The event was noticeably more crowded than in previous years, not only from a strong analyst community turnout but also from the growing ADP product leadership team, which is indicative of its focus and commitment to developing next-generation technology products.

Commitment to HR technology & innovation

If you weren’t already aware, ADP is serious about becoming an HR technology company, and to that end has quietly made significant investments in advancing its cloud HR and payroll platform capabilities in recent years.  According to their FY 2018 annual report, it allocated $1bn (up from $863m in FY17) toward systems development, maintenance, and purchases of new software and software licenses.

Its commitment to technology and innovation was further emphasized earlier this year when ADP launched a new branding campaign, introducing a new tagline and mantra of “always designing for people”, underscoring its focus on designing solutions that enable a “better way of working” to support organizations and their human capital to reach their full potential.

Recent investments aside, ADP has a legacy of innovation in the HR space, from inventing payroll outsourcing, and delivering the first payroll automation, to the introduction of the first mobile HCM app (ADP Mobile), and the first app marketplace (ADP Marketplace). Looking toward the future, CEO Carlos Rodriquez emphasized that ADP is "all-in on HCM, and on becoming a technology company".

Over the past three years, ADP has been developing two new "next-generation" cloud platforms: a highly extensible, AI/ML and predictive analytic embedded HCM platform called ADP Next Gen HCM which has been purpose-built for the dynamic team structures rapidly evolving in workplace today, and  a new policy-based, event-driven payroll engine which is capable of supporting both traditional employees and freelance gig workers.

ADP has made substantial progress bringing both platforms to life and has been piloting each over the past year, and is now live with a select group of early adopters like Golds Gym which just went live on ADP Next Gen HCM this past month. ADP reached its goal of 15-25 North American-based clients live on Lifion by the end of FY’19 (July), with plans to reach as many as 75 in FY’20. Further, it expects its next-generation payroll engine to be supporting a “few hundred” clients by the end of FY'20. 

Driving adoption

With its next-generation platforms now in place and ready for primetime, ADP’s challenge will be driving adoption for its new HCM technology. Its first challenge will be targeting and convincing new clients to consider ADP Next Gen HCM over other well-known HCM platforms in the marketplace. Further, it has the mammoth task of convincing its  ~810k existing clients to consider migrating to ADP Next Gen HCM as well.

However, as it continues to add early adopters and enable transformational outcomes that drive referenceable clients, adoption should follow; at the event, ADP announced it had already signed a new ADP Next Gen HCM client (its largest to date) for a North American transportation company with ~65k employees.

ADP is also leaning on the design of ADP Next Gen HCM to differentiate the platform and drive adoption; first, with what ADP calls “extreme personalization” enabled through an “AI anywhere” approach leveraging AI/ML and NLP, and underpinned by the depth of the ADP Data Cloud, for a prescriptive and predictive user experience throughout the platform. Next, ADP plans to enable clients to comingle external business data with HCM data for deriving holistic workforce analytic insights.

To personalize the experience further, ADP is betting on "mini-apps" enabled through its flexible, low-code architecture and design. ADP has empowered clients to build apps and tools to expand their capabilities to fit their unique needs and HR environment.  ADP demonstrated the ease of configuration for its mini-apps, which incorporates a drag-and-drop style experience. ADP currently has ~115 mini-apps in production and growing rapidly, with plans to expand this to third-parties longer term.

While ADP has been keenly focused on advancing its platform technology in recent years, its HR and payroll services remain at the heart of its offering and brand, and will need to play a significant role in driving adoption for its new platforms. I expect adoption for ADP Next Gen HCM to initially be driven from new HR services clients seeking both modern next-generation technology as well as a managed services engagement. 

With a comprehensive HR services portfolio that spans the entire employee lifecycle and can support clients through a single vendor solution, enabled by next-generation platforms and paired with one of the deepest and most robust sets of human capital management data in the world, ADP is poised to gain momentum with HCM technology buyers, and I expect will likely exceed its adoption goals in FY’20.

<![CDATA[OneSource Virtual’s RPaaS: Progress & Future Plans]]>


Last October at Workday Rising in Las Vegas, OneSource Virtual (OSV) introduced RPaaS, a Robotic Process as a Service offering, and the first HR-focused robotic process automation as a service solution targeted toward the mid-market buyer.

RPaaS is a 'turnkey RPA solution’ that eliminates the need for adopters to make substantial investments in developing advanced automation capabilities, making the emerging capability more affordable and accessible to midsized organizations seeking to leverage the technology to enable digital HR transformation. (For more background on RPaaS, see my blog dated November 2018: 'OneSource Virtual Delivers Turnkey RPA with

With Workday Rising 2019 weeks away, and marking the first anniversary of RPaaS' introduction, I checked in with OneSource Virtual’s executive leadership to see how the offering has progressed so far, and its roadmap and future plans moving ahead.

RPaaS progress

In June, OSV announced it had finalized its selection of an automation platform for RPaaS, engaging Automation Anywhere as its go-to-market partner for RPaaS. 

Since its launch last year, OSV has been quietly piloting the RPaaS original library of bots to support HR use cases for payroll data validation, timekeeping, life event monitoring, and 1099 data scrubbing. Over a multi-week timeframe, four early RPaaS adopters from OSV’s client advisory board piloted the bot capabilities.

With the success of the initial pilot and increasing demand from both its existing client base and prospective buyers, OSV released a soft launch of RPaaS for general availability beginning September 1st, with a more formal launch to occur by the end of September. 

The initial launch will include five clients for RPaaS, all Workday adopters, derived from a mix of middle and large market organizations, and all new client labels for OSV. The initial five clients will begin working with OSV later in September to roll out the bot library against select use cases for operation by their internal HR team.

The future for RPaaS

OSV is also planning to roll out the RPaaS capability for use within its own delivery model, in support of its existing clients. It will work with clients to opt-in (requires security access for bots to client Workday instances, similar to that of a traditional back-office resource), and begin rolling out the capability by the end of October to client adopters.

OSV will also begin rolling out bots in support of its managed garnishment services offering, an inherently high-touch, complex, and compliance-impacting process. The bots, combined with optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning, will scan and extract garnishment order details for processing. OSV will begin using the capability with ~10 clients by October, with plans to roll out the capability against all managed garnishments clients’ longer term. 

From a roadmap perspective, OSV will continue to develop its RPaaS capability, aiming to address key repetitive HR and payroll tasks and inquiries through automation. OSV plans to expand its bot library, with the target of delivering ~100 bots and use cases by the end of 2020.

RPaaS’ next wave of use cases will center on automating repeatable HR and payroll audits to eliminate rework, drive compliance, and allow practitioners more time to focus on value-added tasks.

OSV envisions enabling RPaaS with 'digital workers', which leverage a group of 5 to 8 task bots that can be aligned to a specific set of activities commonly managed by humans. Examples include a 'payroll digital worker’, focused on automating repeatable activities throughout the payroll process, including pre-processing, gross to net processing, and post-processing reports, audits, and validations. OSV is also targeting enabling a 'HR compliance auditor' to automate auditing the full employee lifecycle of activities that can trigger compliance-related risk. Longer-term, OSV sees an opportunity to enable deeper automation for repetitive activities associated with benefits and recruiting administration.  

Looking ahead, the success of RPaaS not only can provide OSV with a new revenue stream; it also has the potential to enable a pipeline of potential managed services buyers. By engaging an organization with a standalone offering such as RPaaS, OSV can expand the relationship longer term to include a range of managed HR, finance, and Workday support services, as the client grows, or its needs shift.

Longer term, OSV  may have an opportunity to further its RPaaS reach and brand recognition by enabling the solution for potential consumption through the application marketplaces of its key partners such as Workday and Automation Anywhere.  

The challenge for OSV lies in navigating the inherent difficulties associated with launching and commoditizing next-generation solutions like RPaaS as an early entrant.  However, given OSV's history of disruption in the HR services space, I expect RPaaS will be a success and should provide OSV with deep expertise it could leverage longer term to establish a consulting practice and offering aimed at helping organizations navigate and establish digital HR centers of expertise.

OSV is already seeing increasing interest in the offering from both existing clients and external Workday buyers seeking to leverage intelligent automation within their HR delivery models.  I expect OSV will see its RPaaS adoption steadily escalate in the coming 12-18 months, driven by organizations continuing to invest in digital transformation enablers.

<![CDATA[Alight Solutions Boosts Global Presence & Cloud HR Capability with Acquisition of NGA HR]]>


This past week the payroll services market experienced yet another consolidation of major vendors, with Alight Solutions (‘Alight’) announcing its intent to acquire multi-country payroll specialist NGA HR.

Although the deal terms were not disclosed, once approved (expected by Q4, possibly Q1 2020 at the latest), the acquisition will bring together two leading HR BPaaS providers with highly complementary capabilities and footprints. Once combined, the new Alight organization will have around 14.5k employees, and provide a range of health, wealth, and HR services to >3k clients and ~50m lives globally.

NGA’s impact on Alight’s HR services offering

Currently, Alight has a comprehensive HR services capability, supporting clients with consulting, deployment, and ongoing support for HR platforms and services, including a managed payroll services offering which processes >24m checks annually.

Alight's payroll services experience dates back to 2004 when it entered the multi-process HR outsourcing space through its acquisition of Exult. Since then, Alight has developed deep expertise in delivering payroll administration services to large, complex organizations leveraging leading HCM platforms, including Workday, SAP, and PeopleSoft. But its payroll capability has geographically focused on North America and the U.K. and it has lacked multi-country payroll capability.  

With NGA HR, Alight will gain major multi-country capability, expanding its presence and delivery capability, particularly in Europe and Asia Pacific, and notably in Latin America where Alight lacks a local delivery center. Additionally, NGA HR brings its euHReka and hrX platform technology.

While the crown jewel from the NGA HR acquisition is certainly its global payroll capability, it also brings to Alight a very complementary HR BPaaS offering, with an aligning consult-to-operate model designed around major cloud HCM platforms including Workday and SuccessFactors. 

While both organizations currently maintain partnerships and support clients on these cloud platforms, Alight’s expertise and client base has slanted heavily toward Workday. Alight has a partnership with SAP SuccessFactors, but has historically not taken on deployments of the HCM platform, choosing to focus only on post-deployment services instead.

Conversely, NGA HR brings to Alight experience in deploying and operating on the SuccessFactors platform. NGA HR is also a partner with Workday and supports several clients on the platform, but does not currently take on Workday deployments.  

A win-win for both organizations

In NGA HR, Alight fills some key capability gaps, gaining very extensive multi-county payroll capability, expanding its global footprint and presence, and further enhancing its cloud HCM consulting and deployment practice.

With the addition of NGA HR’s SuccessFactors practice, Alight will be able to target and support a much wider set of cloud HCM buyers seeking broader HR transformation, and offer multi-national organizations a truly end-to-end HR BPaaS solution that can support a multi-country payroll spanning 188 countries.

The acquisition likely helps the case for Alight’s eventual IPO, which its owner Blackstone announced it would pursue in late 2018, but placed on hold in March of this year. Although the timeline for revisiting an IPO has not been disclosed, we expect the addition of NGA HR will only serve to boost Alight’s long-term value, particularly once the organizations have fully integrated and are leveraging their combined capabilities.

While Alight is gaining a solid capability boost, NGA HR may be the bigger winner in the deal.  As part of Alight, NGA HR will be finally breaking away from over ten years of private equity ownership, gaining a parent company that operates in and understands the HR technology and services industry, and that will invest in and cultivate its capabilities for the long term.

Once the deal is confirmed, the challenge of integrating the two organizations will begin. Both sides are M&A veterans in this space, having navigated mergers and acquisitions multiple times throughout their histories. This, combined with the highly complementary nature of each provider’s portfolio of services and existing footprints, should enable a successful transition.

While the two organizations will operate as separate brands for the foreseeable future, re-branding for NGA HR is likely in the longer term, though with a strong brand recognition in key regions such as Europe, it’s more likely we will see a co-branded offering longer term.

Overall, this is a win-win acquisition for both organizations, and combined, Alight and NGA HR create a very competitive, globally capable HR BPaaS offering for companies seeking digital HR transformation through a single vendor solution.

<![CDATA[Korn Ferry’s Spotlight on Talent Advisory]]>


I recently attended Korn Ferry’s RPO Client Advisory Forum, which was all about talent management. The theme was ‘unplugged’ and featured frank discussions about the RPO industry, including the challenges faced by the clients and service providers who attended from every region.

Beyond RPO, Korn Ferry offers many complementary talent management services, including those from its Organizational Consulting practice. One of the emerging talent trends of 2019 presented by Byrne Mulrooney, CEO, Korn Ferry RPO, Professional Search and Products, is rethinking performance management, and here, discussion topics included: engaging talent to create solutions that transform, helping people to see brilliantly, and building value through people.

Korn Ferry’s goal is to be the preeminent organizational consultancy, specifically regarding talent and the importance of articulating the right relationships.

Partnering with Qualtrics

As a step towards its goal, Korn Ferry and Qualtrics partnered earlier this year to build a global delivery and advisory service to improve employee experience. The partnership combines Korn Ferry’s Organizational Consulting services with Qualtrics’ Experience Management (XM) platform, to be applied throughout the employee lifecycle.

By joining the Qualtrics Partner Network (QPN), Korn Ferry is going to market by combining its organizational methodologies and expertise with Qualtrics’ XM platform to provide organizations with the expertise and technology they need to achieve breakthrough results at every stage of the employee lifecycle.

Korn Ferry has standardized on Qualtrics as its technology platform and will become a global strategic consulting partner for Qualtrics, providing end-to-end delivery and advisory services for clients globally. Through the QPN, Korn Ferry will also offer consulting and advisory services to Qualtrics EmployeeXM customers in more than 50 countries globally.

The partnership will enable Korn Ferry to go to market with offerings that include its platform, employee engagement and culture surveys, 360-degree reviews, and social listening tools, to enable employers to better manage talent and the associated talent management systems.

Impact for RPO buyers

Per NelsonHall’s recent RPO market analysis, including interviews with end-user buyside clients, one of the top drivers for outsourcing recruitment today is to gain better access to expertise, insights, technologies and tools. This is an area Korn Ferry has excelled in according to client satisfaction data. Recent interviews with Korn Ferry clients conducted by NelsonHall revealed high client satisfaction scores for their partnership capabilities in particular. And, having now attended three events with Korn Ferry RPO providers and buyers, my observation is that Korn Ferry does have a very strong relationship with its clients.

In terms of what will be driving buyers to outsource recruitment in the future, the research indicates that this will include requirements for talent management services that are complementary to RPO, such as internal development of existing employees through upskilling and reskilling.

<![CDATA[PeopleScout: Improving Employer Branding, Driving Global Growth]]>


Last week I attended PeopleScout’s annual client NEXT Talent Summit 2019. In the keynote address, President Taryn Owen noted that this event marked one year since its acquisition of TMP to strengthen its global RPO and talent advisory capabilities. TMP, which operated in the U.K. under the brand name TMP Worldwide, provides employer branding, recruitment marketing, and RPO services through its Yocto brand. The acquisition expanded PeopleScout’s global RPO capabilities and EMEA client base, and its London office became PeopleScout’s EMEA headquarters. TMP expanded PeopleScout’s talent advisory offering by adding services such as employer branding, recruitment marketing, assessment services and talent acquisition strategy.

PeopleScout has also been growing organically, adding over 45 RPO contracts in 2018, and now has over 215 RPO clients with over 300k annual hires. In addition, there were around two dozen contract extensions. PeopleScout continues to be the largest RPO provider in terms of revenues in North America and they have continued to grow globally, across EMEA, APAC and LATAM. Half of PeopleScout’s employees are now based outside of the U.S.

Taryn Owen stated that a major priority for PeopleScout is its Affinix technology to enable a better user experience for candidates. Affinix is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure, integrates with all ATS and VMS systems, and has a single sign-on. Its capabilities include:

  • Digital and social recruiting, including the creation of job ads, job descriptions and career portals
  • Artificial intelligence, including for immediate sourcing of passive and active candidates when a job requisition is opened
  • ‘Mobile first’ platform for both the candidate and the hiring manager throughout the application, scheduling and screening process
  • Video interviews and digital assessments to reduce time to hire using data analytics and machine learning to identify and rank the best candidates to communicate with hiring managers faster
  • Predictive analytics and machine learning throughout the hiring process to better understand top talent behaviors and predict factors such as cultural fit, willingness to change companies, and future tenure potential.

One of the presentations by Andrew Wilkinson, PeopleScout’s Group Managing Director of Europe and APAC, was on creating a compelling brand experience across the employer lifecycle. Per NelsonHall’s RPO Market Analysis published last week, employer branding has elevated in importance as the global talent shortage has worsened. And in recent interviews with PeopleScout RPO clients, this was seen as an area where PeopleScout is excelling, as these two examples indicate:

  • For a U.K. grocery chain, PeopleScout created a campaign featuring videos of a diverse group of people sharing stories about managers who inspired them. The video was viewed 484k times with positive feedback, resulting in exceeding the client’s goal of hiring 3k people for a new type of role
  • For Virgin Media, PeopleScout focused on increasing employee referrals, updating its referrals website to elevate employer branding, and helped to communicate the Employee Value Proposition to current employees so they could identify the kind of people Virgin Media wants to hire. Within one year, referrals increased external hiring by 10% to 25%, employee participation increased to 40%, quality of hires increased, and Virgin Media saved $9k per hire on average.

Having attended these events four years in a row, I’ve observed that PeopleScout has a very strong and collaborative relationship with its clients, reinforced by achieving high customer satisfaction marks for quality of partnership in our most recent RPO NEAT vendor evaluation.

<![CDATA[Safeguard Global Fuels its Future with Acquisition of Workfor]]>


This past week I had the opportunity to attend a private event hosted by Safeguard Global at Crewe Hall in the U.K., where the company celebrated its continued success in the global payroll space and made a major announcement that aims to fuel the company’s continued growth and support its vision for enabling simplified, compliant global expansion for multinational businesses.  

Safeguard announced it has secured funding from private equity partners Accel-KKR (AKKR) which invests and manages a portfolio of innovative mid-market software and tech-enabled services companies. The investment is for a minority stake in Safeguard Global and will provide Safeguard with the funding and support needed to fuel investments in its platform and expanding capability to drive future growth.

With this new funding, Safeguard has acquired Workfor, a Pan-European based provider of technology-enabled human capital management services, including employer of record solutions (EOR) and managed payroll capability.  

Background to the acquisition

The two companies are no strangers to each other, having partnered since 2013, with Workfor supporting Safeguard as an in-country partner for its Global Employment Outsourcing (GEO) offering through Workfor’s EOR solution.

Workfor brings a portfolio of technology enabled HR services that is specifically designed around country domain experience for both local payroll and the employer of record model. Their regional footprint enables them to provide pay and expansion solutions, including managing registration, payment, and compliance in eight European countries where it has a local presence.

It also brings to the table a proprietary platform technology called AdminMe. The AdminMe platform is a SaaS solution capable of supporting payroll, employer of record, and time for all of the regions they support. A key capability for the platform is native gross to net payroll engine functionally for five of the eight countries it operates in, with plans to expand this to more countries in the coming 12-24 months, with France due later this year. Additionally, through the AdminMe platform, Safeguard also gains time and attendance functionality – a capability that other global employer of record providers currently lack as part of their payroll technology solutions.

Last, and possibly most impactful in the short term, Workfor brings with it valuable in-country presence, with ten offices in eight major EMEA countries: Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, Moldova, Greece, Italy, and Romania.

What this means for Safeguard

The investment by AKKR is a vote of confidence for Safeguard, its leadership, and the solution it has brought to market. During his speech to the Safeguard team, CEO and founder Bjorn Reynolds cited Safeguard’s legacy of innovation and disruption in the global payroll space, stating “…the next phase of Safeguard Global is going to be ambitious…”. The investment gives Safeguard the resources to double down on advancing its technology and building out its highly successful GEO capabilities and delivery model.

The AKKR investment also comes with leadership and guidance (including board representation) from a PE firm that is no stranger to the HR services and technology market, with a history of investing and owning similar firms. This brings both an outside advisory perspective on the industry, but also the potential opportunity to partner with these providers in the longer term.

While Workfor’s EOR installed client base is similar in size to Safeguard’s (with some overlap due to the partnership), the acquisition is by no means a simple ‘fold-in’ to boost client numbers or market share. The addition of Workfor’s EOR capabilities immediately compliments and expands Safeguard’s existing GEO offering to include candidate sourcing and time and attendance to provide a holistic, turnkey compliance model for enabling agile global expansion.  

The addition of AdminMe to the portfolio is possibly the big win here for Safeguard, which gains platform capability that compliments its own Unity platform, adding gross to net payroll capability in select countries, but also a strong time and attendance capability that Safeguard can now incorporate into its offering. While the platforms are currently connected, the first challenge will be fully integrating these two solutions to maximize their capability.  Safeguard also plans to build out the AdminMe capabilities through continued investments.

The expanded in-country presence and resources in several major EMEA countries is also a nice add for Safeguard.  By gaining these in-country resources, Safeguard can reduce its dependence on third-party ICPs within its payroll delivery model, increasing its control over its payroll processing in these countries, which can increase its speed of delivery, reduce its operating costs, and improve its margins as a result.

Lastly, Safeguard gains the ability to create more flexibility in its offering, and engage a wider range of buyers, by being able to engage them with point services and solutions vs. an all-in managed services arrangement. This could include standalone services, and the potential to license its platform for use by clients in-house.

Overall, I like this move by Safeguard, as I think it complements them well and creates plenty of new opportunities to grow and build on the momentum of its GEO offering. It also comes at a perfect time – NelsonHall’s recently published Next Generation Payroll Services report finds that a key trend driving global payroll outsourcing adoption is that managing payroll compliance is more complex than ever, and more commonly organizations of all sizes are being pulled in to new international markets, creating significant risk if not executed properly and within compliance. The ability to tap into a turnkey HR solution for global expansion is very compelling when you consider the alternatives.

Safeguard has enjoyed rapid growth and adoption for GEO to date. However, the solution and even the concept is still somewhat overlooked by uninformed buyers. While I expect this strong adoption to continue given the current state of the market and the results GEO is delivering, Safeguard could benefit from more aggressive marketing of the GEO solution to inform the market of its successes and potential.  As one of only a handful of vendors offering this capability, and solid investments to support its roadmap, Safeguard is well positioned for growth.


(For a deeper dive on Safeguard’s GEO model see: SGWI’s GEO Employment Model: Enabling Agile Global Expansion (May, 2018).


<![CDATA[CloudPay: Changing the Performance Mindset with Payroll Efficiency Index]]>


This past month, NelsonHall published its annual Next Generation Payroll Services report, which found that buyers and clients of managed payroll services are keenly focused on engaging ‘next generation’ technologies that can enable payroll operating model transformation. Thus, organizations are increasingly seeking out managed payroll services providers that can provide access to these modern technologies and optimized operating models.

New technologies are making a real impact on payroll. Modern cloud platforms, seamlessly connected by advanced APIs enabled with AI, and robust analytic reporting capabilities are collectively transforming the way payroll operates from kickoff to close. And more importantly, they are providing deep insights into some of the richest yet underutilized data sets in the organization. This data is where the real story lies and where the real impact can be made for payroll transformation, assuming the data is reliable and interpreted appropriately.

While managed service providers and the payroll practitioners they support are gaining access to powerful reporting tools and robust data sets, many continue to take a very legacy approach to how they measure payroll, often focusing mostly on timeliness, accuracy, and various other ‘surface level’ metrics alone. 

However, CloudPay, a leading provider of payroll services globally, is aiming to disrupt the way practitioners, and the industry at large, view payroll performance by launching a new Payroll Efficiency Index (PEI).

CloudPay’s Payroll Efficiency Index (PEI)

With the PEI, CloudPay is seeking to help practitioners push much deeper into payroll performance analysis, to truly understand how payroll is performing globally – overall, but more importantly at the macro level, to identify the core failures and opportunities at the source.

The PEI is based on five core Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  1. First Time Approvals: % of gross-to-net calculations approved upon initial review
  2. Data Input Issues: % of data errors caused by incorrect or incomplete input of employee data
  3. Issues per 1k Pay-slips: Number of data issues identified for every 1k pay-slips processed
  4. Calendar Length: Number of days required to complete payroll processing (lock to approval)
  5. Supplemental Impact: % of payroll runs completed as supplemental runs.

CloudPay has enabled the PEI benchmarking capability by way of its unified data model and standardized workflows and leverages a rich global payroll data set derived from across ~2.5k global entities and >1m pay-slips processed on the CloudPay platform (all anonymized, of course). The PEI provides benchmarking data against the five KPIs, including country-level performance details for over 130 countries where CloudPay operates and supports its client base. Most importantly, clients can make an “apples to apples” comparison to benchmark within their industry, size, and global footprint to truly benchmark their performance.

CloudPay plans to launch the first iteration of the PEI report as part of global payroll week (week of April 29th) which will provide data derived from calendar year 2018. Moving ahead, the complimentary report will be published each year in Q1 for the prior year. Additionally, CloudPay plans to launch quarterly versions of the report throughout the year, which will focus on deeper dives and analysis into specific geographies and regions.

Clients of CloudPay are already benefiting from the PEI as an embedded methodology within their managed services programs. Every CloudPay client has access to a full suite of analytics tools that help them understand their payroll data – including predictive, descriptive, and diagnostic data combined with the same benchmarking capabilities leveraged to derive the PEI. 

Clients can customize their payroll diagnostic dashboard to include the five KPIs and other metrics, including the ability to drill deeper into each one for valuable insights into the process performance globally. Further, CloudPay is incorporating these same five KPIs into every client contract and engages each client (monthly) to address key opportunities based on the KPIs – a practice CloudPay has seen high client adoption for since the launch of its benchmarking capability in Q1 2019.

Putting CloudPay’s PEI into Context

Historically speaking, payroll has struggled to truly leverage and engage the totality of the data it produces, and at no fault to the practitioners that operate in the space. Too many legacy solutions have been derived from disparate systems that lacked integration, automation, and the advanced reporting capabilities we see today. 

However, despite the payroll services market making massive leaps forward, not all solutions are delivering the transformation desired. NelsonHall’s Payroll Services Client Perspective Report (publishing soon) finds that a leading area of dissatisfaction for payroll services buyers is the lack of overall innovation to drive process improvements from their providers.

CloudPay has addressed this issue by developing a next-generation payroll technology ecosystem (one that incorporates a modern cloud platform, with seamless APIs that move data in and out of payroll), and paired that with standardized workflows, embedded analytics, and processes augmented by RPA, to enable reliable global payroll reporting and KPIs on demand. This technology ecosystem, purpose-built for global payroll, is CloudPay’s differentiator, and its benchmarking capability and the PEI output is a direct derivative of that ecosystem.

CloudPay’s transparency around the PEI report is certainly unusual. While the initial data points are mostly slanted toward client-derived issues, I can’t recall a payroll vendor that has ever released this level of insight into its operations, which I believe demonstrates the confidence CloudPay has in its solution and further validates its effectiveness in delivering payroll transformation to its clients.

Further, I believe the PEI is a step in the right direction to helping the industry begin to think differently about how payroll effectiveness is measured and viewed – helping shift the mindset away from surface level metrics and SLAs and starting to leverage modern technology to question and analyze a deeper set of KPIs that digs further into why payroll performs the way it does, and supplies practitioners with the insights they need to take transformative action. 

<![CDATA[ADP’s Latest Workplace Innovations]]>


ADP held its 26th annual Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) client conference recently, celebrating its 70 years in business. ADP is helping change the way employees work by continuously introducing new and enhanced products and services, and here I focus on three key areas: mobile, how pay is accessed, and recruiting.

ADP Mobile: growth & new developments

ADP has 20 million registered mobile users, with an average growth rate of 500,000 new users per month. Users use the mobile app on average ~10 times per month. There are 413,000 clients globally, with 20m notifications pushed to the mobile app per month, and in Google Pay it has a satisfaction rating of 88% (4.4 out of 5) with 500k 5-star ratings. ADP Mobile is available in 46 countries, in 27 languages.

ADP Mobile usage includes the ability to view and print pay and W2 statements and categorized pay reports, set up direct deposit of checks, view balances, and clock in and out (which is the most widely used feature).

Recently released features include:

  • ADP Watch was released in November 2018, and has had 688k app sessions. Notifications can be received on a smart watch, and soon workers will have the ability to punch in and out with their watch
  • Siri shortcuts, including ‘show me my pay and benefits’
  • Managing notifications by grouping them however you would like
  • Mobile federated single sign-on for users to use their own company credentials, so they don’t have to remember new login information
  • Employees and manager dashboards to access lists of responsibilities of all the things they need to do. 95k policy approvals were made within 2 weeks of release
  • Direct deposit check image capture – the ability to take a picture of your check to make a deposit so you don’t have to go to a bank
  • Profile updating, including view/edit business title, preferred name, pay information
  • Ability to do group texting to your team
  • Wage garnishments and receipt of email notifications, reducing call center calls by 50%
  • Viewing benefits, opening enrollment, updating life events, and uploading documents pertaining to your benefits
  • Paycard self-enrollment and the ability to transfer money between cards
  • Employee scheduling and the ability to swap work shifts via the requestor to the receiver and approval by the manager
  • Via ADP DataCloud managers can obtain absence rate information, pin-point where problems are, and act right away by sending an email with a visual depicting data to be discussed.

Future enhancements will include:

  • Notification where OT is highest
  • Pay on ADP Watch
  • Notifications sent to workers forgetting to clock in
  • Chat feature, beginning with wage garnishments and benefits
  • Learning, including courses you need to take
  • Electronic signatures.

In sum, mobile is a game changer as it improves employee satisfaction via ease of use. As evidence, I sat in on several client presentations of ADP products, e.g. Vantage, and three clients specifically stated that adoption of mobile was much easier than deployment of equivalent desktop applications. The clients said that initial adoption was ~70%, 87% and 90% respectively.

New mobile features are released every three weeks by ADP.

Accessing pay

How workers want to get paid is changing, including lower income workers who may require more immediate access to pay. Thus, ADP is offering quicker access and more flexible choices to receive wages.

In May 2018, ADP Launched Wisely Pay following its acquisition of Global Cash Card. Wisely Pay provides individuals with multiple ways to receive, spend and manage money, including fully electronic options such as peer-to-peer transfers, instant pay, and mobile digital wallets by Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay.

In addition to Wisely Pay, employees can receive pay via options including direct deposit, Venmo digital wallet, Amazon, and Walmart money card. Employees can watch a short video to view the different options and benefits of each. Employees can split their choices of how they want to be paid across all options available with any percentage split. Employees can also track spending patterns and receive alerts on how much they spend and save. Employees can also have early access to pay for the current pay period. If they are short on available money to pay a bill, they can click on the amount needed from their current pay period and deposit into their account. Emergency funds can also be set up.

ADP recruiting (RPO)

This will be a big growth area for both standalone RPO clients and multi-process HR clients, as currently ~10% of its newest clients are existing ADP clients and there are thousands of current clients that can be targeted. A couple of immediate areas that will benefit clients are:

  • Use of ADP DataCloud, including via mobile, to obtain insights on flight risks to retain talent
  • Candidate chat. Since I have been involved in recruiting for ~25 years, candidates consistently complain about the time and difficulty to submit for jobs and then not hearing back on status, with a historic ~70% dissatisfaction rate across all companies/industries. Candidate chat will allow candidates to answer a few basic questions via chat that contain knockout questions; and if the candidate is qualified, they will receive immediate feedback and be able to continue job submission.

As I wrote this blog, I happened to see ADP’s latest TV ad, with a voiceover that says ‘At ADP, we’re designing a better way to work so you can achieve what you’re working for’, which is a neat summary of the ADP approach. Competitors will be sure to follow suit with similar initiatives, but by continuously innovating and improving its products and services, ADP is laying the groundwork for its next 70 years in business.

<![CDATA[Excelity Global’s Digital HR Plans for 2019]]>


With the digital economy pushing businesses to pivot and reimagine the way they operate, HR is under considerable pressure to support new business models and shifts in strategic direction.  Further, the workplace and the way we work is rapidly evolving, adding to the complexities and challenges HR must navigate to compete for today's top talent. As a result, organizations of all sizes are embarking on HR transformation journeys that will ‘futureproof’ their operating models, enabled by emerging digital tools and technologies.

The growing need for HR transformation has created a significant opportunity for HR service providers to deliver the innovation required to help organizations address critical challenges in human capital management today. Thus, HR service providers are investing heavily in digital capabilities that will provide the next wave of innovation and enablers to support the future workplace.

One such example is Singapore-based Excelity Global, a leading APAC-focused HR services and technology provider. While Excelity’s heritage is deeply rooted in multi-country payroll delivery for the APAC region, it has gradually built itself into a multi-process HR services and technology provider, supporting a range of HR processes including payroll, workforce administration, benefits administration, and extended talent management.

Excelity has cultivated its entire portfolio of HR solutions to be ‘digital by design', steadily investing (~20% of revenues in 2018) in bringing to market HR capabilities that can enable the digital transformation organizations are seeking and require to remain competitive. Below I highlight some of the digital solutions Excelity plans to launch in 2019.

Excelity HCM

Central to Excelity’s offering is its proprietary technology which it leverages exclusively in the delivery of its managed services. In May 2018, it expanded its technology offering by launching Excelity HCM, a cloud-based HCM platform (also available as a PaaS offering) targeted to small and middle market APAC buyers. Since launching Excelity HCM, the platform is now capable of supporting core HR, compensation, benefits, recruiting, onboarding, performance management, and learning administration, as well as integration to Excelity’s workforce management (WFM) platforms for time and attendance, leaves, and payroll.

While Excelity HCM has over 20 clients live on its HCM platform, (most with <1k employees), it is already seeing those volumes steadily increase. Its largest client user has ~5k employees operating on the platform (which it expects to scale to ~20k longer term), and it is in progress with an implementation for a large organization which will support ~12k employees once live later in 2019.

To support its steady adoption, and differentiate the solution, Excelity has enabled a rapid deployment approach, cutting deployment times down to weeks vs. months, allowing buyers to capture ROI much sooner. By leveraging its investments in RPA, Excelity can bring its HCM platform live for a client with ~20k employees in under four weeks compared to more traditional platforms and methods which can typically bring ~1k employees live in about six months.

Over the next 12 months, Excelity expects to continue expanding its HCM capability, with its roadmap focused on further enhancing its existing modules, deepening its mobile capability, embedding AI, ML, and NLP into the platform and expanding its analytic reporting capability, including a report builder tool. Additionally, it plans to launch (Q1 2019) a workflow-as-a-service option, whereby clients can configure (drag and drop) the HCM workflow rules and functionality specifically for their organizations, including access to workflow design tools and chatbot capability. 

Excelity also plans to launch an HCM marketplace offering in 2019, to provide clients with a range of add-on, connected solutions through APIs. Through its HCM marketplace, Excelity expects to enable the expansions of its service offerings through integrations with key partners and providers.

Excelity’s Digital Marketplace: PaySure & Payroll to PayOut (P2P) Platform

Building on its managed payroll and benefits service capability and offering, Excelity will launch a new digital benefits marketplace branded PaySure in Q2 2019. The PaySure offering provides clients and their employees a centralized marketplace for purchasing both insured and non-insured voluntary benefit and wellness products (including the ability to view and manage policy documents, submit and track claims, etc.). The digital marketplace provides prebuilt APIs for integration to benefit carriers and providers and can be configured for clients’ unique requirements within about two weeks.

Further, in collaboration with leading digital wallet providers across the APAC region, Excelity will also introduce a ‘digital wallet’ solution called Payroll to Payout (P2P), offering its clients and their employees alternative mobile payment capability for receiving payroll disbursements. The P2P solution leverages the combined technology of Excelity and that of its digital wallet partners to enable a seamlessly integrated UX for employees to manage their compensation and spending through the digital wallet marketplace, while providing employers with greater flexibility in supporting the growing demand for digital payment solutions.  

PaySure is currently being piloted with clients in Singapore and the Philippines, with plans to expand availability across its APAC country scope in the coming 12 to 18 months.  

Daily Pay

To round out its digital marketplace offering offering, Excelity will introduce (Q2 2019) an on-demand payroll functionality branded as Daily Pay. The Daily Pay solution, which is integrated into Excelity's payroll platform, provides clients with the ability to support and offer on-demand payroll capability. In particular, the capability aims to support the growing gig worker populations in APAC, allowing for payment requests to be submitted, processed, and paid as and when work occurs.


With a well-established workforce management (WFM) capability which includes technology and services to support payroll, time, and benefits, coupled with the launch of an integrated HCM platform offering, Excelity is now able to provide a holistic, cloud-based HR solution to the emerging small and middle market APAC buyer. While I expect Excelity to continue to drive new business by leaning on its strength and brand awareness in the payroll space, the ability to now engage buyers with both enabling technology and services creates an attractive option for emerging APAC businesses seeking to advance their HR capability. 

Since its launch in 2018, Excelity HCM adoption has been primarily by small market buyers; however, Excelity is already seeing its client sizes gradually increase with middle market buyers.  The addition of new digital solutions like PaySure, P2P, and Daily Pay, creates further opportunity for Excelity to engage larger, more sophisticated buyers, particularly those seeking to enable more ‘future of work’ capabilities. 

Excelity remains focused on advancing its offering to deliver more digital HR solutions and capability to its clients in the coming year, with a roadmap that places heavy emphasis on maturing its HCM functionality, advancing its platform integrations, and further enhancing and supporting new digital HR offerings. 

<![CDATA[Global Payroll Steals the Show at ADP rethink 2019]]>


This past week I had the opportunity to attend ADP rethink, its global HCM client event in Berlin, where the theme was "Transforming the Way the World Works." With many organizations undergoing massive change and transformation brought on by digitalization, the selection of Berlin as the backdrop seemed fitting given the deep history and massive change the city has experienced in past decades.

Celergo acquisition highlighted

For the past two years, ADP’s rethink event has highlighted key acquisitions: first in 2017 with its acquisition of The Marcus Buckingham Company (ADP Standout employee engagement solution), and then in 2018 with the addition of WorkMarket (Freelance Management Systems, FMS). Both of these are now integrated into ADP’s HCM solutions and are beginning to make an impact on clients adopting the solutions in concert with ADP’s wider HR services offering.

This year’s rethink wasn’t without its own acquisition buzz, as Celergo, which ADP acquired this past August, took center stage. Its founder, Michele Honomichl, gave an enthusiastic presentation on the company's history and path to ADP, but more importantly, conveyed their commitment to continued innovation in global payroll by combining its capability with the scale of ADP to deliver a unified global solution.

Both offer very different payroll delivery models. Celergo operates more as a consolidator and payroll manager globally, where ADP Streamline is more of a traditional payroll outsourcing solution supported partly by ADP in concert with in-country providers where it doesn’t operate or have capability. What Celergo brings to ADP is a single cloud solution that can integrate and consolidate payroll for over 140 countries. 

The key here is integration capability (a fundamentally critical element to global payroll transformation and data movement), something ADP was slow out of the gate with. The last few years we saw presentations (and success stories) on Global Cloud Connect (GCC) – but with the Celergo addition, ADP gains a leading cloud payroll aggregator platform, and more importantly, critical integration capability needed to grow its global payroll service adoption. Plus, it also gains a global mobility/EXPAT capability it doesn’t offer today, a service which is increasingly in demand.

While ADP hasn’t communicated specifically how Celergo and ADP Streamline will coexist and become a truly unified solution, it is certain that, once combined, it will represent one of the most capable, scalable (140 countries) global payroll solutions on the market, complemented and supported by one of the most comprehensive HR offerings and recognizable HCM brands globally.

The marriage between ADP and Celergo is already producing success stories (likely originated separately before the acquisition) that shows what is possible with their combined capabilities. Examples showcased included:

  • Microsoft: ~116k employee in 109 countries; consolidating >50 vendors to two and maturing its payroll operating model and performance, with plans to expand into deeper digital transformation next (e.g. RPA, AI, etc.)
  • FirstData: ~24k employees in 118 countries; consolidating 53 systems for time and payroll to a single solution, drastically transforming its delivery model to improve on key KPIs (e.g. 30% reduction in payroll discrepancies, ~57% decrease in manual checks), and saving ~$7.5m in payroll operating costs, ranging from accuracy, labor, and PTO leakage efficiency gains. Most critically, FirstData gained global visibility into its payroll and the ability to derive analytic reports, a process that took a month to complete manually before conversion.

Global payroll the real star

But the buzz wasn't just for the shiny new toy at ADP. Instead, there was a deliberate and genuine focus this year on global payroll, and more importantly, global payroll transformation. I spent much of my time observing the various demo booths, which covered global time, HCM, talent management, payroll, and more, all showcasing ADP’s “next-generation” global HCM offering. What stood out to me is how many clients swarmed the global payroll booths – both Celergo and Globalview (ADP’s global payroll solution) for demos.

Throughout the event, I spoke to senior HR leaders from multiple multinational organizations who are among the most recognizable brands in the world, and all of them seemed challenged by what do to about their global payroll operating models. Most are on, or have completed, a cloud HR journey and are now targeting payroll next, seeking to transform the operating model and landscape in the near term. What is surprising is how many have yet to make a decision, and for some, it is a significant concern. With the leading ERP platform providers expiring support for legacy on-premise solutions in the coming years, the clock is most certainly ticking, and these organizations are likely feeling the pressure to find a future proof payroll solution.

While payroll took center stage, ADP certainly showcased its next-generation HCM capabilities and new features designed to support the evolution of work, including:

  • Supporting agile team structures, complemented by TMBC insights
  • Integration with WorkMarket for total workforce visibility to eliminate what it calls “HR shadows” (lost visibility to non-employee workers due to transitional gaps in HCM capability)
  • Real-time pay capability, driven by its new next-generation payroll engine and complemented by Wisely/Global Cash Card
  • ADP data cloud for analytic insights and benchmarking (also complemented by TMBC engagement data).


Looking ahead, the challenge for ADP will be integrating two highly capable, well-established global payroll solutions into one unified, integrated offering – a challenge it will need to carefully execute to make the Celergo addition a success – and determining a brand for its new addition (history tells me it will likely be something including both names).

ADP will begin steadily rolling out its next-generation payroll engine in 2019. It has one client live on the new engine already, which is being rolled out to Workforce Now clients in the U.S. Its rollout plan for the payroll engine includes supporting ~100 clients by the end of 2019. The solution will be rolled out to pilot clients in Australia and Canada in 2020, with future expansion countries likely to come from Europe, APAC and LATAM.

ADP also remains committed to HCM platform technology innovation, advancing its solutions to compete with and rival the leading HCM platforms in the space, and engage clients with the next-generation tools needed to navigate the rapidly evolving workplace. Complemented by its growing ADP Marketplace (now with >280 third-party applications and supporting 4.6m API calls weekly), and breadth of HRO services, ADP can offer a genuinely comprehensive HR transformation solution that can support clients of any size, complexity, or location.

ADP's innovation investments in its next-generation solutions over the past three years (~$450m in innovation-oriented R&D spend in FY 2017 alone), combined with its strategic acquisitions in TMBC, WorkMarket, and Celergo are steadily paying off. ADP buyers and clients I speak to are seeing and experiencing the deeper HR transformation capability and options ADP can deliver, well beyond its traditionally payroll-centric heritage, and now more globally capable than ever. 

<![CDATA[OneSource Virtual Delivers Turnkey RPA with]]>


Organizations of all sizes continue to pursue digital HR transformation to achieve an optimized HR delivery model – one that enables their leaders to focus their efforts on strategic activities associated with attracting, developing, and retaining top talent for the business rather than spending valuable time on repetitive administrative tasks. To a large extent, this is being acheived through advances in self-service, mobile HR apps, and a fundamental shift in workers taking more ownership in managing their data and careers. 

However, despite the significant strides brought about by today’s HR technology, there is still a great deal of opportunity for process optimization within HR, payroll, and finance delivery models, where teams working in these areas have traditionally operated in a manual, labour-intensive, and inefficient process environment.  

Advancements in RPA and AI are having a major impact on the efficiency of HR organizations, and the progression of automation in HR is being driven by outsourcing firms who seek to offer clients “next generation” HR technology, solutions, and digital transformation enablers.  

RPA as a Service

NelsonHall’s research finds that while demand for intelligent technology capabilities is steadily increasing across organizations of all sizes, many are still uninformed of the possibilities and capabilities of RPA and AI and their potential impact on HR. Further, unless an organization is fairly large, with deep sets of data, pools of FTEs, and with the capability and funding to support internal RPA programs, deriving a business case for investing in automation for unique HR use cases is unlikely to happen.

However, last month at the Workday Rising event in Las Vegas, OneSource Virtual (OSV) introduced Robotic Process as a Service (RPaaS), which aims to solve this issue by delivering a turnkey RPA solution. The offering eliminates the need for buyers to make large investments in developing automation capability or sustaining deep data sets to support AI progression. This makes RPA more affordable and accessible to the middle market buyer.

With RPaaS, OSV will develop robots to support a library of processes that address common, high-volume tasks for HR and finance. OSV clients (all of which operate on the Workday system) can license the bots through a SaaS model directly from OSV, immediately benefiting from the automation capability integrated within Workday, as well as OSV’s patented service-enabling technology, Atmosphere.

The bot library, which OSV is building and leveraging internally, begins with use cases derived from OSV’s experience delivering payroll and tax services for its clients. Items such as data validation, invalid address formatting, invalid SSNs, negative wages, or invalid characters present in HR data are all targets for RPA robots in the early days. Further, at Workday Rising, OSV conducted the first of a series of brainstorm sessions through, where its clients can weigh in and vote on future use cases and shape OSV’s bot development – a process which mirrors that of Workday’s engagement with its customer community for future platform enhancements.

The roadmap & outlook for RPaaS

By January 2019, OSV plans to have ten use cases in its library when the offering becomes generally available to its client base for subscription. Looking further ahead, in addition to ongoing development of its bot library and use cases, OSV will seek to engage its existing client base with the solution, with plans to expand this to non-clients as a standalone offering in the next 18 months. While the solution is currently purpose-built for Workday, OSV sees the potential of expanding this to include integration with additional leading cloud HCM platforms in the longer term.

Over the past ten years, OSV has established itself as a disrupter in the HR services space, becoming the first HRO provider to anchor its services entirely to a major cloud platform in Workday. And OSV is again disrupting the space with RPaaS – the first HR-specific Robotic Process-as-a-Service solution targeted toward the middle market buyer. With a deep set of tech savvy Workday customers willing to leverage next generation technology in their HR delivery models, OSV should see solid demand for the new solution. 

Further, with the rise in demand for open platforms and marketplaces for apps and extended solutions through APIs, OSV’s RPaaS is well-timed. With the ability to offer the solution via the partner marketplaces of technologies such as Workday, the range of customers it will have exposure to can greatly increase its brand awareness and connect OSV to a deep pool of customers seeking to enable digital HR transformation through RPA and AI.

<![CDATA[Ceridian Dayforce: Client Results, Opportunities & Challenges]]>


by Gary Bragar & Pete Tiliakos

This past week at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Ceridian held its 31st annual client event, Ceridian INSIGHTS. The event attracted ~3k attendees and consisted of 150 sessions, many presented by clients highlighting the capabilities of the Dayforce HCM platform and the outcomes achieved following its adoption. In this blog, we highlight a few of the HCM modules showcased along with results reported by clients, as well as considering the outlook, opportunities and challenges for Ceridian and Dayforce.

2018 so far

Dayforce, which Ceridian acquired in 2012, now has ~3.3k customers live, with hundreds more going live every quarter. Ceridian serves clients of all sizes ranging from ~50 employees up to its largest customer with 186k employees in 20 countries in the U.S. and Europe. However, its sweet spot remains the middle to lower end of the mid-market, with the majority of its clients falling in the range of 500 to 5k employees.

2018 has been a big year for Ceridian and Dayforce so far. In April, the company went public on both the NYSE and TSX stock exchanges and indicated that its Dayforce Q2 18 revenues were up ~40% YoY. With a growing North America presence, and the platform now capable of supporting WFM in 50 countries and 21 languages, Ceridian now has its sights on international expansion (see Dayforce new developments & priorities below).


Client cases include a Denver-based yoga company with 185 studios and 11k employees who implemented Dayforce recruiting, saving $224k annually in system costs while reducing turnover. In another case, a global high-tech company headquartered in Portland, Oregon who implemented several Dayforce modules including recruitment, went paperless “overnight” (including generation of offer letters), saving recruiters ~2 hours’ per candidate offer.

Employee engagement

A high-growth global logistics company already operating on Dayforce added a performance management module, including the ability to measure employee competencies related to corporate values and culture. They also added “Conversations” in the module to enable employee feedback and adopted Ceridian’s TeamRelate solution to help managers better communicate with team members. One team in the organization reduced turnover from 72% to 5%. Other teams had at least a 5% reduction in turnover just from using the performance module. In addition, internal promotions increased 110%.

In terms of its own employee engagement, Ceridian uses Dayforce as its HCM solution, leveraging the platform to continuously survey its ~4.5k employee population – and has achieved a 92% rating for employees willing to recommend Ceridian as an employer. Further, its awards include being certified by Great Places to Work, it was recently ranked in the Working Mothers 100 Best Companies list, and its Chief People and Culture Officer, Lisa Sterling, was also named a Working Mother of the Year.


Onboarding features include online access to forms to be completed prior to start date, learning company culture, and meeting fellow team members and other key colleagues, all of which aim to improve employee engagement and productivity. A wide range of client benefits were reported, including reducing employee turnover by up to 33% YTD in one case. Another client making 50 hires per week saved 800 hours’ administration time on new hires each year with Dayforce Recruiting and Onboarding.

Other client cases

Across modules, a North American hospitality company with ~5.5k team members, mostly unionized, was fully automated with Dayforce. It realized better data quality for improved decision-making, reduced turnover from 78% to 47%, reduced compliance issues by 50%, and labor expenses (including OT) were down 19% due to better time scheduling.

An office/workspace solutions provider was directed by its new parent company to implement nine Dayforce modules, including payroll and recruitment, in 90 days, with Ceridian delivering in 59 days. Recruitment was a new Dayforce offering at the time and the client was able to conduct hires in 30 days. First year savings were >$200k in efficiencies.

Dayforce new developments & priorities

A key focus for Ceridian is to expand its global footprint and presence, with a recent addition including native payroll for the U.K. Next, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland are on the roadmap for 2019. Other priorities include increasing client adoption of Dayforce by adding new modules to existing client subscriptions, and targeting the upper mid-market and enterprise level customers.

New product developments include:

  • On-demand payroll live in January 2019
  • Succession planning, including a talent matrix to show which future leaders can succeed based on flight risk and performance history, linking to performance management and goal setting
  • Advanced analytics, including drill-downs of sales data by location combined with people data to depict turnover, and analyzing total 2018 labor costs by region
  • Decision support, including helping employees make better decisions about benefit choices
  • Additional work on engagement surveys, compensation and benchmarking.

Opportunities & challenges

Ceridian Dayforce customers were broadly positive, though some said they were not utilizing all modules they had purchased – due either to time spent learning other modules and/or certain modules not being a priority for the business. This could be an opportunity for Ceridian client account managers to determine utilization of all modules bought and offer implementation assistance and/or change management consultation where needed.

One customer pointed out that, with Dayforce Onboarding, some forms can be completed using mobile, but the entire onboarding process is not yet mobile. The response was that this will happen, but no timeframe was given. Perhaps the plan for that could be communicated.

Finally, with Dayforce on a strong growth trajectory in North America, with a strategic focus now on EMEA and APAC, and with the goal of targeting larger enterprise clients (with sophisticated process expectations), Ceridian’s ability to scale to support demand will be tested. While Dayforce has a growing partner network of consultancies which can implement the platform, it will need to rely heavily on these partners to help support that growth and scale, particularly as its demand increases in new international markets. Ceridian and Dayforce could benefit from partnering with a larger global consultancy practice (e.g. one of the Big Four) or a major IT consulting firm, both from the perspective of pipeline building and of supporting its growth trajectory.

<![CDATA[AGS Takes QUANTUM Leap in the Workforce Acquisition Framework Space]]>


Earlier this month, Allegis Global Solutions (AGS) launched the QUANTUM Platform™ to the U.S. market.  QUANTUM is a workforce acquisition (WA) framework comprising a total talent strategy, a sourcing methodology, and a technology platform all in one. 18 months in the making, the idea was initiated about a decade ago, as discussions began around the roadblocks associated with having separate RPO and MSP programs and data/information stored in disparate systems. While WA programs and tech/tools ecosystems have evolved significantly since 2008, throw in the worsening global skills shortage and it becomes blatantly clear that a new approach to acquiring talent was badly needed…. hence QUANTUM, which consists of:

  • QUANTUM Strategy: to help clients fill jobs and get work completed in the most efficient/effective way
  • QUANTUM Methodology: AGS’ proprietary workforce acquisition methodology, providing clients with a single-entry point to all types of workers (permanent, temps, contractors, freelancers/gig workers, and consultants) via the QUANTUM Platform, with advisory support from AGS in how to best go about leveraging those workers to get work done
  • QUANTUM Platform: sits across all other technology platforms and uses AI/ML, underpinned by its analytics, to bring together all types of talent from other sources into one place.

Here, I take a pragmatic view of QUANTUM based on what is generally happening in the marketplace around WA frameworks and my recent demo of the QUANTUM platform. The strategy of “getting work done” is one of the hottest talking points for vendors at contingent workforce events at present, with a few of the key vendors established in the MSP and RPO space currently developing a WA framework to address the issues described above.

The associated methodologies applied to help clients get work done are unique to each vendor: a reflection of the vendors’ history, their strengths/expertise, and the challenges faced by/needs of their clients from a geographic, industry, size, skills, and outsourcing maturity perspective. The methodologies aim to give clients a number of options for how to get the work done based on insights from the vendors’ unique data, associated analytics (via a platform), and the vendors’ internal experts (consulting).

QUANTUM Platform

Talent platforms like QUANTUM Platform enable a hiring manager (HM) view, a supplier view, and the program office view. When each new talent platform emerges, though, there is an expectation that it will leverage some of the latest technology features/functionality available. QUANTUM Platform does not disappoint from that perspective. Features include:

  • Ability for a HM to search for talent by carrying out a people search (like window shopping) or load in a job description
  • Elastic search (enhanced AI matching and stack ranking) by matching candidate skills with those skills necessary to perform the open positions. Elastic search also allows HMs to view stack ranked candidates based on skills and experiences. Candidates are sourced from different talent clouds:
    • Supplier contractor talent cloud
    • Redeployed contractors (who have come out of an assignment ready to go elsewhere)
    • Client-sourced talent cloud (retirees, alumni, veterans, interns, etc.)
    • Freelancer talent cloud
    • Service provider consultants (SOW and service procurement)
    • Full-time candidates (from an ATS, silver/bronze candidates)
    • Existing employees (full-time employees who can assist on project work, who are searching for a new internal career opportunity)
  • Ability for AGS to save time at the face-to-face intake meeting (with automated search results enabling a slate of talent to be in front of the HM the same day, at least a 50% reduction over the standard process)
  • Ability to fill jobs more quickly (trials to date showing a 65% reduction in time to fill on average). 50% of roles have been filled with talent sourced from the QUANTUM Platform, 50% have eventually gone out to competitive bid
  • Underpinned by sophisticated data/analytics:  
    • For example, QUANTUM’s data might show that a local software developer has an average time to fill of 34 days, but there is a qualified freelancer in another market who has just become available and can start immediately. AGS can leverage that freelancer and alert the HM to engage the person immediately (the freelancer being a resource that the HM would never even have considered previously)
    • QUANTUM’s market data (comprising supply and demand data, predictive analytics about location, job market, competitor intelligence) is used to provide a hiring scale to indicate hiring difficulty: focusing on potential candidates, positions currently posted and average post duration. If a particular market has a higher score (more difficult to fill), then AGS consults with the HM to see if they can adjust the skills (to make it easier to get more candidates), or choose a different recruitment channel (use a retiree rather than a traditional temporary worker, etc.) or a different location/relocation
  • Ratings for candidates (given by HMs for work done):
    • Creating better matched quality opportunities for candidates
    • Building up a database of good/better performing candidates for HMs to leverage
    • Enabling suppliers to review HMs’ selection and buying behavior:  seeing which of their candidates are showing up most in searches, and which are more successfully placed in certain clients over others
  • Automatic Alerts:
    • Notifications for HMs to alert them when new relevant talent enters the talent clouds, omitting supplier spam, as only the top candidates are presented (based on ratings given)
    • Suppliers receive frequent updates on the status of their candidates submitted (in the hiring process, or if a candidate has become inactive due to a lack of activity on their profile) as well as general alerts (when the rights to represent candidates is close to expiring or an assignment is ending).

AGS’ Support in QUANTUM Methodology/Strategy

All vendors operating in the outsourced TA space are improving their internal expertise/capability to some extent in a bid to gain competitive edge in the race to find talent.  The initiatives embraced to do this vary from vendor to vendor, aligned to their strengths and the desire to exceed their clients’ expectations. AGS’ recruiters bring a more proactive consultative approach, based on their experience/skills learned, which includes:

  • Approximately ten years’ recruitment experience and seven years in professional recruiting roles managing all aspects of the hiring cycle
  • Expertise in sourcing, experience with consultancy advice
  • Analytical skills to understand the business intelligence data/search for market data to advise the hiring manager (HM) accordingly
  • Strong consultative/communication skills to work well with the HMs and the suppliers (ensuring their recruiters are sourcing and pipelining the right types of talent), working to hiring plans and having the confidence to advise on adjusting hiring plans/sources of talent according to the market situation
  • A partnership approach: moving away from a siloed approach to filling roles (permanent or contractor)/going on gut feeling, to finding the best route forward (any sourcing channel mix to reduce time to fill/increase quality/tenure) to get work successfully completed
  • Initiative to drive their clients to increase the current U.S. national redeployment rates (7%) to save time/money for their clients, (including moving resources between permanent and temporary forms of work.

Future rollout outside the U.S. will be determined by client demand (although AGS perceives the most likely locations next in line will be Europe and APAC). AGS ensures they will meet all the compliance needs in the specific markets first (GDPR, etc.).


More vendors in the outsourced TA space are adopting a WA framework approach, and this pattern will continue into 2019. Some frameworks are total talent focused, others are permanent or contingent worker focused. Vendors with established frameworks include: Agile One, Alexander Mann Solutions, Cielo, HudsonRPO, KellyOCG, PeopleScout, Resource Solutions, and TAPFIN. Other vendors are currently developing/refining such frameworks. There is no “one-size fits all” WA framework solution. Buyside organizations, cognizant that vendors are taking this WA framework approach to sourcing talent seriously in the best interest of their clients, must still go through a due diligence process to ensure they choose the vendor that is right for them. 

<![CDATA[HCM & Payroll Integration: A Look at CloudPay Connect 2.0]]>


As organizations of all sizes continue to re-evaluate and address legacy HR and payroll systems and processes en route to enhanced digital operating models, cloud-based applications are increasingly being selected as the vehicle for HR transformation. With the introduction and increasing prevalence of advanced APIs, buyers are being afforded the ability to leverage a “best of class” mix of platforms and solutions that meet their unique technology needs, while offering a tightly integrated, unified cloud landscape.

Regardless of the HR technology selected, a critical factor and component in successful global payroll transformation today is the ability of HR and payroll applications to integrate and exchange data seamlessly, in real-time. However, NelsonHall’s recent Payroll Services Client Expectation Analysis report found that while payroll buyers are most often operating on newer cloud systems, only about 40% of those surveyed currently have an integrated HR and payroll solution in place. The absence of this deep integration commonly results in a poor user experience, an inability to derive complete HR/payroll data and, more importantly, reliable analytic insights globally. As a result, this leaves payroll continuing to manage data manually and in an outdated way.

However, this is where APIs with dynamic integration paired with automation are truly transforming global payroll delivery – by fundamentally changing the way payroll data is gathered, processed, and handled by payroll operations. Thus, payroll providers are investing in and building these dynamic integrations to connect their solutions to leading cloud platforms and the various systems leveraged by HR today. An example of this is CloudPay’s Connect 2.0.

Legacy file-based payroll integration

Historically, payroll has been a very file-based operation, with legacy client HR technology ecosystems leveraging multiple file types, shuttled by SFTP servers with limited automation capability – requiring payroll teams to constantly manage multiple inbound and outbound interfaces to move critical data to and from the payroll system with each pay cycle.

More specifically, payroll has long relied on various Excel file types as the preferred vehicle for delivering the critical data required for payroll processing, with inbound payroll files often containing thousands of lines of data for processing (depending on the organization’s size and complexity). 

In the past, legacy methods processed and treated these files as if they were a single data point, meaning regardless of the number of lines of accurate data present amongst the thousands, any anomaly or failure meant the payroll team had to correct the data, reproduce the file, load, and process until no errors were detected. This manual process often adds days to payroll processing cycle times and magnifies the risk to on-time and accurate results.  

Next generation payroll integration with Connect 2.0

Last year, CloudPay introduced Connect 2.0, dynamic integration enabled with asynchronous syncing and intelligent automation, that leaves legacy file-based processing behind in favor of a record-based processing approach and provides clients with greater flexibility, visibility, and control over how their payroll data is processed.

Connect 2.0 offers an advanced integration that acts like a database for moving payroll data to and from CloudPay’s global payroll platform. As data files are submitted for processing, the data points are extracted from each source and housed in integration stores, where they are validated automatically.  Employee-level errors are isolated for resolution, allowing all other correct data to process while payroll resolves the invalid data on an exception basis, vs. reproducing and reprocessing full files.

Clients can customize their validation parameters to suit their unique needs, and leverage custom validations at the business, country, and individual payroll level. More importantly, it allows them to send data to CloudPay in the format of their choosing, e.g. API, XML, CSV, XLS, etc. With payroll historically leveraging Excel file formats in their daily operations (which have forced legacy file-based data movement), Connect 2.0 overcomes this by converting legacy files to enable record-based processing capability. In turn, this enables future improvement opportunities through payroll automation.

CloudPay is focused on reducing the payroll cycle times and improving data validation results for its clients and continues to roll out the capability to its client base with strong results. In one example, Connect 2.0 enabled a Fortune 500 global financial services firm to automate its payroll data input and validation processes, reducing its payroll cycle time by 20% while reducing post-processing (gross to net) errors by 90%.

The outlook for Connect 2.0

Connect 2.0 has become standard for new payrolls onboarded to CloudPay’s payroll solution and will continue to be rolled out for existing clients when they are ready to make the switch based on their unique technology landscapes and needs.

Connect 2.0 strengthens CloudPay’s value proposition, particularly against traditional payroll vendor aggregator models which often rely on legacy middleware and connectors to stitch together a global payroll landscape. By offering a dynamically integrated, unified, cloud-based payroll solution enabled to cover over 100 countries, including certified APIs to leading cloud HCM platforms such as Workday and SuccessFactors (with others in progress), CloudPay is well positioned for growth, particularly with multinational corporations seeking next generation global payroll capability and solutions.

<![CDATA[Highlights from Workday Rising 2018 (vlog)]]>


Pete Tiliakos presents a round-up of the latest developments from Workday and the key discussion points from the Workday Rising annual user conference held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

<![CDATA[Cielo: Latest Developments & RPO Growth in Latin America]]>


Last week, I attended Cielo’s annual analyst event, held at its service center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here I round up the latest high-level developments at the RPO vendor, then take a closer look at its Latin American business.

Latest developments & 2020 roadmap

Cielo performs ~157k hires for ~154 clients in ~92 countries in 36 languages. Clients are served by ~2k employees in 34 countries and 9 service centers in every major geographical region.

Judging by 2018 activity YTD, Cielo is well-positioned to continue double-digit revenue growth. So far this year there are 44 new clients (including in healthcare, hi-tech/engineering, life sciences, financial & professional services), 24 significant scope expansions with current clients, and ~90% reoccurring revenue via multi-year contracts.

Key areas of investment in 2017-2018 have included:

  • Chatbots/live chat to qualify candidates in 6 questions
  • High-volume hiring. This is a mobile-first platform for hourly positions where candidates can apply for jobs in under 7 minutes, be notified immediately if they qualify, and schedule interviews right away. This could be a game changer for clients with high-volume hourly hiring; results for one client include triple-digit improvement in the volume of offers accepted, double-digit increased offer rate, double-digit reduced overtime, reduced time to offer, and lower cost per offer accepted.

Cielo’s 2020 roadmap includes:

  • Global footprint, including adding employees in 6 new countries, taking its total country count to 40 by 2019
  • Building total talent acquisition capabilities to hire both permanent and temporary talent for its clients. To date, Cielo has total talent clients in financial services, including banking, managed services, and with a multi-national tobacco company. Per NelsonHall’s Q3 Total Talent Market Analysis, growth is expected to be ~24% globally.

Cielo in Latin America

Cielo began serving clients in LATAM from Buenos Aires to support the hiring needs of a large U.S. multi-national corporation (MNC) in the region. Today, Cielo supports the hiring needs of both MNCs and LATAM-only companies in a variety of industries including medical, pharma, consumer products, manufacturing, transportation, and energy. Over 150 recruiting staff, including ~60 in Buenos Aires, support ~24 clients with hiring needs in fifteen different LATAM countries. Cielo has hired talent from across LATAM, as well as from the U.S. and the U.K. Languages supported include Spanish, English, Portuguese, Swedish, French, Russian, Armenian, and German. Recruiters outside of the Buenos Aires center are located at client sites.

Buenos Aires was chosen as the prime location for supporting clients in the region for reasons including:

  • It represents ~23% of Argentina’s GDP, has a population of ~14m within the metropolitan area, and ~3.5m in the city
  • Prime cultural location, and strongly English-speaking
  • A reputation for talent competitiveness (Global Talent Competitiveness Index)
  • 400 technology centers, 41 universities, 574k college students and ~50k foreign students. ~70% of BA students study careers/take courses in BPO, equating to ~60K graduates each year educated in BPO disciplines
  • It is ranked #10 globally as an outsourcing destination. In 2017, total BPO exports were $4.25bn, second in LATAM after Brazil.

Mexico, served in-county, has the biggest need for RPO services in LATAM, followed by Brazil in Rio and Sao Paulo (also served in-country). In South America, Buenos Aires, Rio and Sao Paulo are the largest RPO markets. Growth in LATAM is strong, with Cielo planning to double the size of its Buenos Aires service center by next year.

RPO contracts in LATAM are typically:

  • In the region of $0.5m in contract value, with between 300-700 annual hires (though for one large client in the region, Cielo performs 2k-4k annual hires)
  • 8-9 countries in scope, and this usually includes Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Chile
  • With MNCs (90%) that are familiar with the RPO model in other regions, and want to replicate it in LATAM.
<![CDATA[Advances in HR Tech: The View from The Strip]]>


This past week, I attended two HR events at opposite ends of the Las Vegas strip: HR Technology conference and SuccessFactors’ SuccessConnect client event. Together, they attracted ~14k HR leaders, practitioners, vendors, analysts, thought leaders, and clients, and had the common theme and purpose of showcasing the latest HR technologies and innovations that are enabling employers to compete for, engage with, and maximize the impact of today’s top talent – in a vastly different workplace than we knew just five years ago. 

Here are my key takeaways on the HR technology trends showcased during the past week.

Advances in employee UI/UX

Not only is the employment market starving for skilled workers and top talent, there is a sharp focus on bringing about innovations that fundamentally reshape the way HR manages its human capital and engages with employees. HR applications are being developed with a ‘user first’ focus, whereby the employee experience is heavily influencing and shaping roadmaps for future enhancements.

At both events, the drive toward more consumer grade HR applications came through consistently. Each vendor I spoke with is laser focused on delivering robust HR capability, but also a world class UI/UX that will provide employees with experiences that match their personal life experiences and offer preferred channels of connection to the organization (particularly mobile).

HR tech vendors remain steadfast in their efforts to create a simplified, guided, and prescriptive user experience. AI, machine learning, NLP, and prescriptive analytics have become table stakes in today’s HR tech, and are driving advancements in UX design and performance.


SAP introduced a new digital assistant for SuccessFactors. Leveraging the SAP CoPilot Web application bot framework and SAP Leonardo machine learning, the digital assistant learns and comprehends user needs and acts accordingly. The digital assistant is further enabled to support conversational interaction with the HCM platform by leveraging NLP, allowing users to engage the platform through verbal commands. Further, the assistant integrates with popular collaboration apps Slack and Microsoft Teams and is mobile-enabled through Apple and Android apps.

Talent management technology

Without doubt, the key priority for many organizations today is competing for, acquiring, developing, and retaining top talent, in what has become a highly competitive marketplace. Thus, organizations are focused on boosting their talent management technology, with an emphasis on talent acquisition, performance management, and learning management. Providers are bringing to market broader, more capable talent management solutions and insights into their platforms and offerings.


  • Paychex launched a new LMS (Learning Management System) module, further deepening the talent suite of their Flex HCM platform. In addition to hundreds of pre-loaded learning modules, clients can upload their own learning content, create new content, and import content or materials from external sources (e.g. YouTube). Further, the learning application is available in full native form by mobile
  • Infor introduced an update to its Talent Science solution and Predictive Talent Analytics, which supports recruiters and managers in sourcing top candidates by leveraging machine learning and predictive analytics. By leveraging behavioral and performance data, the application uses a data-driven process to identify success drivers within the business and identifies internal and external candidates who share those success drivers.

App marketplaces are rapidly expanding

While all modern HCM platforms currently offer robust APIs (integrations) which connect critical business applications to the HCM platform and extend its capability, the demand for more robust options for connecting solutions, services, and applications is in high demand. 

Open platform approaches are becoming standard with HCM providers, allowing for clients, partners, and third parities to connect APIs for consumption through a marketplace/app store-style delivery system. This open approach is allowing for integrations to a deep pool of external solutions that extend the power of the HCM platform, allowing clients to connect the apps that make the most sense for their unique business needs and user population.


  • SuccessFactors announced that it intends to triple its marketplace apps in the near term. Additionally, it launched a new HR community which builds on its existing SAP App Center and offers connected partner solutions around six key areas: well-being, pay equity, real-time feedback, unbiased recruiting, predictive performance, and internal mobility 
  • Namely launched the Namely Connect Marketplace, which offers its clients access to partner solutions for recruiting, learning management, employee feedback, identity management, etc. and includes vendors such as Okta (identity management), Greenhouse (applicant tracking), CultureAmp (employee feedback platform), and Vestwell (401k).

Not everyone is sprinting to the cloud

Throughout the week, I spoke to companies of different sizes and complexities, and from various industries. Most were either in the process of moving their HR to the cloud or were planning the move in the next 12 months.  

However, what stood out is just how many companies still haven’t made a move to a cloud-based HR solution or are doing so with a modular approach (but are not starting with core HR). For example, I spoke with a handful of mid- and large-sized enterprise employers who said they had deployed a mix of cloud-based modules across their landscape, most commonly talent-focused modules. When asked what they use for core HR, the response was often “a leading on-premise platform”. When I asked why they hadn’t done so for core HR or payroll, the response was often “I’m not sure” or “We plan to get there… eventually.” 

This is consistent with findings in NelsonHall’s recently published market analysis, Cloud & Multi-Process HR Services: Journey to the Cloud and Beyond, which reveals that only ~40% of the multi-process HR services market is operating in a cloud environment. This could be attributed to client apprehension, but also to vendor solutions being geared to incremental moves to the cloud rather than a single shift. For example, SuccessFactors’ Upgrade2Sucess targets its on-premise customer base, enabling a move to the cloud, but as and when it makes sense for the business. This modular approach allows the client to reduce risk and realize ROI incrementally along their transformation journey.

HR innovation is no longer just for “HR companies”

Human capital management has become a very profitable market in the past several years, and only seems poised to continue its growth as organizations become more talent-focused. Historically, innovation in the HR space was left up to the HR vendors and tech providers themselves (e.g. ADP, Ceridian, Kronos, etc.) – i.e. those directly serving the HR practitioners with services and solutions.

However, this has changed as the largest, richest, and most capable software companies in the world (e.g. Google, Facebook, Microsoft) are targeting, developing, and selling human capital management solutions and stepping up the competition across the industry. 


  • Google Hire: an AI-enabled talent acquisition platform for G-Suite
  • Workplace by Facebook: Mobile-enabled tool for workplace communication, collaboration, including groups, chat, and video call capability. With integration to HR platforms including, ADP, Kronos, and Paychex Flex
  • Microsoft Teams: Workplace collaboration tool which combines chat, meetings, notes, and attachments with integration to Office 365 and leading HCMs (e.g. SuccessFactors)
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: cloud-based ERP and CRM solution with HCM capabilities, including Core HR, talent acquisition, and onboarding.
<![CDATA[Capgemini Strengthens Digital HR Portfolio with Just-In-Time Launch of Digital Learning Operations]]>


Capgemini has launched a new offering in its digital HR portfolio, Digital Learning Operations (DLO). A key feature of DLO is platform flexibility, important because next-gen platforms are better at delivering just-in-time training personalized for the learner. DLO is also important because its Digital Content Factory focuses on providing content via digital modalities, which are in high demand by organizations.   

DLO is the third offering in Capgemini’s digital HR portfolio, which also includes the use of RPA (DLO currently has eight bots around learning BPaaS and vendor management). It follows Capgemini’s launch last year of Digital Employee Helpdesk (DHD) and Digital Employee Operations (DEO).

Prior to the launch of these digital HR offerings, Capgemini’s HR business was focused on providing transactional support to organizations. Its HR ambitions are focused on supporting clients in the digital transformation of their HR function and driving business outcomes beyond the efficiency play.

DLO components

The modular DLO offering has four components:

  • Content design, development, and curation services via its Digital Content Factory for a variety of modalities including traditional classrooms, virtual classrooms, e-learning, web learning, blended learning, gamification, mobile learning, podcasts, videos, interactive videos, virtual reality, and augmented reality
  • Learning BPaaS, including course catalog management, learner administration, learner resource management, and LMS administration
  • Vendor/supply chain management, including invoice processing and payments
  • Learning platforms including Microsoft’s LMS365, SumTotal’s SME and Enterprise systems, and Skillsoft’s Percipio.

Expanding on the last point, offering a variety of next-gen learning platforms is a key feature of DLO, enabling it to meet different types of organizational requirements:

  • Microsoft LMS365 is aimed at organizations seeking a quick solution (implementation averages four weeks)
  • SumTotal SME is targeted at companies with 0.5k to 3k employees seeking a scalable out-of-the-box LMS with pre-configured workflows
  • SumTotal Enterprise is targeted at organizations with > 1.5k employees seeking a modular product, which can be customized to deliver training to the extended enterprise, including contingent workers (modules include learning, talent management, and HR)
  • Skillsoft Percipio is for organizations seeking cognitive content curation, multi-device support, and personalized support by bringing more control over the content and user experience across multiple modalities.

Next-gen learning platforms are becoming increasingly important as organizations migrate to cloud-based HCM systems and realize a specialized learning platform is needed to supplement the HCM to deliver personalized and just-in-time training to the workforce (the concept of just-in-time training goes back to the early 2000s, and since then it has evolved from delivering training at the point of need to include the most effective delivery method for the individual learner).

The learning modules in HCM platforms provide the basics of an LMS. But next-gen learning platforms are dynamic and intelligent, making them suitable and ideal for the multi-generational workforce.

DLO clients, benefits & demand

Capgemini already has four large enterprise clients for DLO, including:

  • An aeronautical and space manufacturer that has a presence across the U.S., Europe and Asia, looking to migrate from a 90% classroom-based training environment to a ~50% digital learning environment over the next three years  
  • A North American retailer seeking to transform delivery of learning content to employees and vendors while controlling costs and increasing transparency and compliance for reporting. Capgemini implemented a cloud-based LMS in three weeks and in 22 weeks developed 36 hours of web-based content including interactive content and games. This has resulted in $2m in cost savings to date and a 40% reduction in training duration.

Benefits of DLO to early adopter clients include:

  • 25% - 40% reduction in total cost of service
  • 20% - 45% reduction in vendor spend
  • 40% - 50% productivity savings.

Demand for DLO is strong, with bookings growth of 35% and a forecast revenue growth of ~15% over a base revenue from ad hoc learning services it has been quietly providing to some clients. 

In line with NelsonHall research on buy-side requirements, which shows a clear preference for the flexibility of modularity, demand so far for DLO is following a pattern of:

  • Large enterprises: content services and vendor management services
  • Small and mid-sized enterprises: learning platform and content services.

Wider market perspective

While Capgemini’s offering covers multiple learning services, there is a clear emphasis with the Digital Content Factory.  

Per NelsonHall’s 2018 Next Generation Learning BPS market analysis, delivery modalities continue to favor digital learning methods, and these will continue to increase in importance. Nearly 65% of buy-side organizations surveyed state that the use of digital modalities is very important, and ~80% say this will be the top priority by 2021. 

So, vendors with content capability skewed in favor of delivering digital training (including interactive videos, VR, and AR) will be in high demand, making the delivery of Capgemini's DLO just-in-time.

<![CDATA[Payroll Services Clients’ Transformation & Innovation Expectations Not Being Met]]>


As part of NelsonHall’s recent Next Generation Payroll Services market analysis, in addition to interviewing 20 of the leading payroll services providers globally, our research extended to a survey of the vendors’ clients. We met clients of different sizes, from a variety of geographies and industries, and covering a range of services in-scope and levels of payroll sourcing maturity. The interviews enabled us to gain a comprehensive understanding of the attitudes, perspectives, and satisfaction levels of current payroll services clients. Here I present an overview of some of the findings.

Overall client satisfaction with current payroll processing services is positive (with an average vendor rating of 4.1 out of 5), due to simplified, compliant, and reliable service delivery results. And clients show similar confidence in their vendors’ ability to meet their future needs, and are highly likely to recommend them, resulting in an overall average vendor NPS of +24.   

However, clients cite concerns in three key areas that are central to driving payroll transformation: 

  • Technology integration
  • Process improvement
  • Overall vendor innovation.

Technology integration gap

Clients’ critical future requirements center on technology improvements: they desire a simpler HR/payroll infrastructure landscape as they drive standardization and improvements to UX, integration, reporting, overall ease of use, stakeholder engagement, and the ability to scale to support the business (e.g. by M&A, organic growth).

Technology and platform features are the top vendor selection criteria, as clients are focused on enablers to payroll transformation. Clients indicate that technology is the leading priority for their payroll operations, while many are seeking more robust capabilities (e.g. mobile, self-service, additional HR modules). However, while ~95% of clients leverage cloud platforms with positive satisfaction ratings, clients are less satisfied with the level of integration achieved to date.

Clients point to a lack of integration across the HR/payroll landscape, which negatively impacts reporting and the user experience. Less than half of participants have an integrated HR and payroll solution, and of those that do, most feel that integration is adequate (or did not know enough about it to comment). Those recording lower scores indicated that integration was in place but was not ideal; e.g. employees may be unaware, but behind the scenes connections are lacking, or integration was seen as positive initially, but ongoing vendor support for the integration is poor.  

Clients expressed the need to gain access to their entire workforce, across all regions and countries. However, overall benefit delivery is lacking, as vendors are not delivering the consolidated reporting promised. This can be partly attributed to the integration inconsistencies which clients cited, plus vendor capabilities not aligning to expectations set in the contracting phase (overselling and underdelivering).

Process improvements are not progressing fast enough

Clients indicate that process change management and overall digitalization of the payroll process are critical in terms of future importance. However, most feel that while their vendor supported these initiatives strongly at the start of the relationship, during implementation, they are not always keeping up momentum in delivering process improvements.

Another area where vendors are falling short of client expectations is collaboration. Clients want to see vendors more engaged and collaborative when it comes to maintaining service levels, but more importantly, in improving the process going forward. Clients are seeking vendor guidance on how to help them move closer to an optimized delivery model, through consultation and best practice sharing. They also want to see more “next generation” features rolled out more quickly.

Clients are seeking automation to drive out manual processes and improve efficiency overall. However, they still feel there is a higher than expected level of manual effort in the vendor process, limiting transformation progress. Nearly all clients see automation as an opportunity to improve processes, but most have no idea of vendor automation programs or how they are being used now or planned to be used in the future. On the up-side, the clients who do have visibility of vendor automation programs, though in the minority, feel optimistic that they will be deployed and will deliver process benefits.

Mechanisms for innovation are seen as reactive

Clients feel that vendors are mostly reactive in this area, and that innovation approaches are largely informal. Clients want vendors to be more proactive in bringing innovation initiatives to the table, and feel that vendors are not keeping them abreast of market changes, including how they are handling new solutions, and how the client could benefit from them.

Clients find vendors’ mechanisms for delivering innovation to be primarily centered on regular monthly/quarterly/yearly strategic meetings with account leadership. However, clients indicate that these calls are generally not focused on innovation. Few clients cite the existence of customer advisory boards, vendor conferences, and portals for feedback. Clients often indicate that their suggestions are not acted upon or documented. Approximately 12% are unaware if any innovation mechanisms are in place.

Example vendor initiatives

With buyers keenly focused on innovative managed services and no longer accepting of a simple bureau-style offering, payroll providers clearly have some work to do in delivering on the promise of global payroll transformation. That said, I speak to and track the leading global payroll and HRO providers on a regular basis and I see them investing heavily to deliver innovation that will execute on that promise. In closing, below are examples of innovations that are making an impact, addressing some of the concerns identified in the client survey:

  • “Dynamic” integrations with payroll that allow open formatting or “data your way”, and automatically validate results, identify errors, isolate them for resolution (communicated through a chatbot), and continue processing (e.g. CloudPay’s Cloud Connect 2.0)
  • Advanced analytic payroll reporting that provides global payroll insights; benchmarking across a wide variety of industries, sizes, and complexity; executive- and manager-level insights and drill-downs; alerts based on thresholds being exceeded, with push notifications; historical and trend information with graphical views; AI and ML to deliver prescriptive guidance to users (e.g. ADP DataCloud)
  • In terms of process improvement, HRO vendors, including payroll providers, are investing in and pioneering the use of RPA and AI in HR. They are looking to improve HR and payroll outcomes and drive the innovation buyers seek in the process model. And payroll providers are focused on automating what has historically been a complex and manually intensive process, to the largest extent possible – with vendors like NGA HR seeking to achieve a fully autonomous payroll process in the near future.


Subscribers can access the report ‘Payroll Services – Client Expectations Analysis’ here. To find out more, contact Guy Saunders.

In September, NelsonHall will begin research on the next annual ‘Next Generation Payroll’ market analysis, which will be published in Q1 2019.

<![CDATA[HR Services Contract Activity Review, H1 2018]]>


NelsonHall’s recently published global BPS market forecast reveals that the overall HR services market will grow at 5.8% in 2018. Here I look at how each of the key HRS sub-service lines have performed in H1 2018. In order of number of contracts announced (highest to lowest), this covers Benefits Administration, Multi-Process HRS, Learning, Payroll, and Recruitment. I also provide a brief analysis of HCM software contract activity in H1.

Benefits Administration

Defined Contribution (DC) benefits contracts make up the majority of benefits contracts announced. Employer DC plans such as 401k are increasingly important as many companies have eliminated their Defined Benefit (DB) pension plans. DC plans have become the way employees save for retirement and are now more important than ever as a means of attracting employees. H1 2018 contracts include:

  • Prudential Retirement: a 3-year DC administration contract renewal by State of Hawaii to manage the State’s 457(b) plan, which has ~28k members and ~$2.4bn in assets. Prudential was also awarded a DC administration contract by IberiaBank to be the provider for its 401(k) and non-qualified deferred compensation plans which has ~2.8k participants, and ~$135m in assets
  • TIAA was awarded a DC administration contract by Nichols College to be the sole recordkeeper of the school’s 403(b) plan, which has ~$35m in assets
  • VOYA Financial won a DC administration contract renewal by Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) to provide a 403(b) plan to all employees of KBOR and the State Universities; the plan has ~8k participants and ~$770m in assets. Voya was also awarded a DC administration contract renewal by the State of Oregon to continue administering the state’s 457 plan, which has ~$2.1bn in assets and ~31k participants. The contract is for three years, with an option for eight additional years, effective January 2018.

Multi-Process HR Services (MPHRS)

Though MPHRS contracts and revenue are in decline, being replaced by cloud-based HR services contracts, they are still important to buyers seeking the benefits of having one vendor, one contract, and one governance structure for the provision of multiple services. MPHRS contracts still make sense where vendors have specialist capability and proven results for each of the services in-scope. On average, MPHRS contracts today include three service lines. H1 2018 contracts include:

  • IBM: a 7-year MPHRS contract by a financial services organization headquartered in Europe to provide the following services to ~53k employees in ~42 countries:
    • RPO: candidate sourcing, management and selection, and employment brand execution (~7-8k hires per annum)
    • Learning services: design and development and learning administration
    • Compensation and benefits administration
    • HR administration, including employee data management and contact center services
  • Zalaris’ cloud MPHRS contracts include:
    • Expansion with Circle K to Ireland. Zalaris will now support an additional 2.2k employees in Ireland from its office in Dublin, providing transactional BPO support including: HR, Payroll, travel and expense processing
    • By Aker BP in Norway. Services include: Payroll, Time, Absence, Travel expenses.


The majority of buy-side organizations currently seek learning services to improve standardization and efficiency of the training function. The government sector accounts for the largest proportion of learning BPS revenues due to high contract values. In the private sector, manufacturing leads the way, followed by high tech and financial services. H1 2018 contracts include:

  • Capita’s 12-year, £400m contract to run the Defence Fire and Rescue Services on behalf of the MoD. Capita will deliver improvements in the equipment and training available to military and civilian firefighter personnel. Capita already provides specialist operational fire and rescue training courses as part of its £200m, 10-year contract awarded in 2013 to run the Fire Service College
  • SAIC’s contract to provide training and development services for the U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Eustis. The contract, which has 33 awardees, has a ceiling value of $554m
  • NIIT Ltd. Won a 5-year learning BPS contract with Pitney Bowes, including the following managed training services: learning consulting, demand management, design and development, learning delivery, learning administration, technology support and Vendor management.


The mid-market (500-15k employees) is the largest segment of the payroll market with 47% market share, and is fastest growing at 6.2% CAAGR, primarily due to the demand for increased control of payroll operations and implementation of cloud software solutions. The sweet spot in terms of client size for several vendors is ~4k-5k employees, as evidenced by these H1 2018 contracts:

  • SD Worx won a payroll services contract with cosmetics retailer Lush to support Lush's ~4.5k employees across 102 U.K. stores, its manufacturing site in Germany (~300 employees), and its support and digital teams
  • Ramco was awarded a Fortune top 5 company contract for HCM and managed payroll services to support 4.5k employees across 21 cities.


RPO is the fastest growing HR service line. Growth is coming from large, mid-size, and SMB markets, with smaller size companies seeking the same benefits as their larger counterparts. Buyers are seeking vendor expertise for candidate attraction, cost savings, scalability, access to tools and technology, and improving quality of hire. Multi-country contracts make up ~31% of all RPO contracts, made up of: contracts with two or more countries in a single region (16%), multiregional contracts (7%), and global RPO contracts (8%).

An example of a multi-region contract win in H1 2018 is IBM’s 5-year RPO contract with a large global pharma company headquartered in North America. Services include RPO, IBM Talent Insights, Watson Recruitment, Employment Branding and Design Thinking. Services will be provided in the U.S., Canada and LATAM in support of hiring ~4,000 professionals per year, up through Associate Director Level.

HCM software contracts

HCM technology growth is split equally across all segment sizes, led marginally by the mid-market seeking HR technology to support growth and compete for top talent. Cloud HR services typically include advisory and/or implementation services at the onset.

More than doubling the number of HR services contracts are HCM software contracts, led by Success Factors, Ramco, Infor, Kronos, and Ultimate Software. Other vendors announcing HCM contracts in H1 2018 included ADP, Cornerstone OnDemand, SD Worx, and Ceridian. The top HCM modules purchased are core HR and payroll.

Vendors announcing HCM implementation contracts include Zalaris and Neeyamo. For a comprehensive look at modules purchased, including the top talent modules, please see NelsonHall’s recently published Next Generation HCM Technology Market Analysis by my colleague Pete Tiliakos.

What can we expect in H2 2018?

In terms of announced contracts, I believe we will see the same pattern continue. However, expect revenue growth to be led by RPO and HCM technology, followed by payroll, learning, benefits, and MPHRS.

<![CDATA[The Growth of AMS’ Cleveland Global Client Service Center]]>


Last week, I visited the recruitment and talent management vendor Alexander Mann Solutions’ Global Client Service Center (GCSC) in Cleveland. Here I take a quick look at the growth of the operation and at recent initiatives.

Cleveland as a location

Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) has seven GCSCs, the fourth of which opened in Cleveland in September 2012 to support AMS’ vision of providing global capability with in-country/region presence. AMS’ other GCSCs are in Bracknell (U.K.), Belfast (N. Ireland), Krakow and Gdansk (Poland), Manila, and Shanghai.

AMS was attracted to Cleveland for several reasons, including being a lower cost area than other major U.S. cities. Cleveland also has a stable workforce and effective partnerships with colleges and universities for hiring new graduates. The average age of recruits is 27, and there is an attrition rate of 18% (12% voluntary), lower than the average millennial attrition.

AMS does hiring for its clients in all major regions globally, and ~40% of its RPO clients are headquartered in the U.S. However, it was a European automobile manufacturer with hiring needs in the U.S. that led to the creation of the Cleveland GCSC to support clients in-country. This was followed by a need to support a long-standing U.S.-headquartered investment bank, a client of AMS since 2006 for whom AMS performs thousands of RPO hires annually. 

The Cleveland GCSC started with just 14 employees supporting four clients. Today, over 200 employees support 14 clients in four languages across Eastern and Pacific time zones with services including recruitment, sourcing, administration, business intelligence, branding/marketing and internal operations. The GCSC’s clients are from the banking and financial services, insurance, retail, hospitality, and sales sectors.

Automation initiatives

AMS has nine bots that automate and streamline processes for repetitive manual activities. Three of the bots it uses are:

  • DORIS: used to automate document administration. Implemented in 2015, what used to take 10 weeks’ worth of work can now be done in 36 hours
  • ISAAC: automates interview scheduling, using robotics to automate processes and interface with candidates. ISSAC automates 90% of interview scheduling; the other 10% is done by employees when last minute changes need to be made to interviews scheduled and candidates need to be contacted via phone
  • HANA: automates help currently provided via text chat (though voice capability can be activated where needed).

Talent development initiatives

Recent talent development initiatives include:

  • Defined career paths and internal mobility programs for employees (in 2017, ~10% of the Cleveland GCSC was promoted)
  • A global internal mentoring program (after nine months on the job, any employee can volunteer to be a mentor)
  • Ability for employees to become virtual trainers after nine months
  • Use of Yammer social networking to share best practices
  • Pulse-point surveys.

In 2017, AMS was recognized by NorthCoast 99 as a ‘Best Place to Work in North East Ohio’ for the fifth consecutive year. The Cleveland GCSC is also certified as ISO 9001 Quality Management and ISO 27001 Information Security.

Looking ahead, though Cleveland supports all of the Americas, anticipated growth in Latin America (currently supported by ~50 people working in-country) means that AMS is likely to open a GCSC in Latin America within the next three years.

<![CDATA[Neeyamo: Easing the Move to the Cloud with UnBox HR for SuccessFactors]]>


I recently attended Neeyamo’s analyst event in Atlanta, where I discussed the company’s cloud transformation practice with its leaders, and specifically the announcement of UnBox HR for SuccessFactors.

Over the past 10 years, Neeyamo has developed its HR offering with the goal of “addressing the white spaces” in HR technology and services and focusing on supporting clients through their global HR transformation journey. With this focus, Neeyamo offers a consult-to-operate model capable of providing front-end consulting (including change management), application deployment, and post-deployment services for both cloud applications (including SuccessFactors and Oracle HCM) and HR and payroll service delivery.

Neeyamo’s SuccessFactors practice

Neeyamo is a longstanding SAP/SuccessFactors partner, and itself an early adopter of SuccessFactors, which it deploys to manage HR for its own employees. Key facts about the practice include:

  • A SuccessFactors COE in India has ~100 consultants with a mix of certifications across all modules
  • There are >50 clients to date, with 60 cloud projects completed
  • The practice deployed Employee Central + Performance Management for payments firm Ezetap in <21 days
  • It provides several levels of SuccessFactors application support, including pre-deployment consulting, deployment, post-deployment optimization, and post-deployment AMS
  • It deploys the payroll cloud platform PayNComp, with the ability to provide native payroll to ~30 countries (and growing) with certified integration to SuccessFactors.

While a key challenge for organizations is overcoming and successfully navigating the impact of change to operations from a cloud-based HR transformation initiative, the lack of a successful business case that shows ROI is often a roadblock that many such initiatives do not easily overcome.

An additional ROI-related roadblock to cloud conversion is that, with subscription-based cloud platforms, the client is paying for the software from day one of the contract. This means that until the client is live on the application, the ROI is unrealized. However, UnBox HR takes an alternative approach, enabling incremental change, phased transformation, and quicker ROI realization.

How UnBox HR works

With a traditional system implementation, requirements are gathered, configured, tested, and then go live, meaning all the modules being deployed need to be ready prior to go live (depending on the scope and roll-out approach). By contrast, UnBox leverages Sprint iterations (Agile development methodology) to break the platform modules into portions, virtually unpacking the platform to make the move incremental rather than all at once.

This incremental approach is much easier to digest from a change perspective, enabling a ramp-up based on the client’s specific needs and tolerance to change. Further, by making a business case for incremental installments, ROI achievement is less challenging and realized in line with each installment. 

The UnBox HR offering includes four core packages which progressively ramp up the SuccessFactors modules and capability in scope, as shown here:

Looking ahead

Neeyamo will continue to build on both its SuccessFactors capability but also its extended payroll and multi-process HR services offering. It is investing in more SuccessFactors certified consultants to support demand and expects to reach ~140 this year. Additionally, it will expand its set of tools and enablers to reduce deployment times, as well as extending its global payroll capability and integration to include more countries (it is targeting ~70 native in PayNComp over the next 3 years).

Neeyamo recently announced it had completed a cloud deployment for Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. Ltd. (SPN), including Employee Central, plus the Performance and Goal Management modules of SuccessFactors for Sony’s 2k employees across five APAC countries. And Neeyamo and SPN are inflight with the deployment of recruiting and onboarding, and will add benefits administration in the longer term.

Neeyamo is already seeing strong interest in its SuccessFactors offering, and I expect UnBox HR to be an attractive option for prospective clients struggling to make the move to the cloud.


For further insight into Neeyamo’s broader HR services capability, see Neeyamo Addressing the White Spaces in HR by Gary Bragar.

<![CDATA[PeopleScout Continues Global Expansion with Acquisition of TMP Holdings]]>


At its recent Talent Summit, PeopleScout announced the expansion of its service centers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia Pacific, plus the acquisition of TMP Holdings, a provider of employer branding and RPO services operating in the U.K. via Yocto, the RPO division of TMP Worldwide.

Already the largest RPO provider in terms of number of hires (~300k annually) and the largest RPO provider in terms of revenue in N. America, this acquisition makes PeopleScout one of the major RPO contenders in the U.K., moving from ~20th largest in terms of revenue to ~5th.

This acquisition expands PeopleScout’s EMEA client base and strengthens its global RPO capabilities. TMP’s London headquarters will become PeopleScout’s EMEA headquarters, and its Bristol delivery center also joins PeopleScout’s global delivery center network, which supports clients in ~70 countries. Bristol and London will continue to support TMP’s current clients.

In addition to expanding PeopleScout’s EMEA and global RPO capabilities, the acquisition adds a talent advisory offering which includes employer branding, recruitment marketing, assessment services, and talent acquisition strategy. Andrew Wilkinson, TMP CEO, will join the PeopleScout executive leadership team and report to President Taryn Owen as Group Managing Director of EMEA.

This latest acquisition continues PeopleScout’s global expansion, with Owen stating that just under half of all their clients have been involved in an acquisition. Previous significant acquisition activity on its expansion path includes:

  • U.S.-based RPO and MSP provider SeatonCorp in 2014, which also expanded its presence in APAC
  • RPO provider HRX in 2015 to expand its presence in Australia and New Zealand as part of the One Global PeopleScout initiative to increase its global footprint
  • Aon Hewitt's RPO division in 2016, another One Global PeopleScout initiative, bringing 650 employees based in the U.S., Canada, Poland, and India
  • The addition of MSP services transitioned from Staff Management|SMX, another TrueBlue company. With this addition, PeopleScout expanded its ability to provide total workforce services, with RPO and MSP services being blended into one overall service under one brand, while still offering RPO and MSP as stand-alone programs. This move enhanced its global capability (global MSP contracts account for ~19% of the market, with another 28% of the market represented by multi-region or multi-country contracts).

Putting PeopleScout’s continued geographic expansion into context, NelsonHall’s RPO market analysis shows that ~31% of RPO contracts are in two or more countries, with 16% in two or more countries in a single region, 7% in two or more regions, and 8% global (in three or more regions).

Approximately 34% of PeopleScout’s contracts encompass two or more countries, which is 3% more than the industry average. In 2018 and beyond, NelsonHall expects the proportion of single-country contracts to decrease and all other multi-country categories to increase to ~35% by 2021, and PeopleScout’s share to increase to ~40%.

<![CDATA[Talent Disruption: What’s Next?]]>


Last week, I attended and presented at Futurestep’s second annual client event, themed Talent Disruption: What’s Next? with clients attending from Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. Below is a round-up of the event’s main talking points.

Key talent acquisition & retention challenges

The following summarizes some of the key challenges presented by Futurestep’s clients, which align with what NelsonHall is seeing across vendor clients globally:

  • Talent shortage will only increase. Per Korn Ferry’s Global Talent Crunch study, there will be a possible talent deficit of 85.2million workers by 2030, with India being the only country to have a talent surplus
  • Having the right talent, including the right cultural fit. To achieve this, you first have to determine the best talent more quickly, including being able to demystify resumes and match candidates faster
  • Creation of talent banks, talent pipelining and talent communities are more important than ever before
  • More automation will be needed. However, there is a false expectation that all technology means better and that it will eliminate manpower, and this is not always the case as businesses always want to do more with less
  • Once you determine the candidates you want, they need to be given a standout experience.

Another challenge that featured strongly was that companies need to have an effective employer brand. Consumers and candidates have evolved. Twenty years ago, it took three impressions for candidates to decide on which employer they wanted to work for; today that number is 7-10 brand exposures. See also Employer Branding: An Essential Talent Management Strategy.

And the subject of cultural challenge was also covered, with one presentation on the world’s most admired companies citing the following challenges: the importance of culture supporting your strategy, the need to measure the impact of culture, and also to reward desired behaviors.

Perhaps the biggest challenge, however, is that leaders do not spend enough time on people-related aspects of the business, and would do well to follow the example of the most admired companies (whose leaders spend an average of 30% of their time on talent management, including talent acquisition and talent development).

So what is next for talent disruption?

NelsonHall research based on interviews conducted with end-user RPO clients in 2017 showed that candidate communication ranked highest in terms of future client importance at 96%, yet client satisfaction with candidate communication was only 82%, a big delta. Chatbots/virtual assistants were, not surprisingly, one of the most talked-about disrupters at the event. And, importantly, they are able to address the big issue of candidates not hearing back from potential employers.

Chatbots can complete up to 80% of candidate communications, e.g. understanding and evaluating candidates’ responses to job descriptions, sending job postings to candidates, scheduling interviews, answering questions, and providing updates (e.g. when a position is filled). They use NLP and machine learning to chat with candidates in their preferred language, and they also increase the speed of applicants to interview and the ratio of applicant to hire. In the case of Mya from Mya Systems, there is a 4:1 applicant to hire ratio vs. the industry average of 10:1, and it takes less than 72 hours to get candidates to the interview stage.

You can read more about talent acquisition virtual agents in a recent blog by my colleague Nikki Edwards.

<![CDATA[Cornerstone Convergence 2018 Highlights]]>


Pete Tiliakos reports from Cornerstone Convergence 2018 on topics including the talent management company’s strategy, latest product developments, and extreme focus on CX.

<![CDATA[Meet Ari & Mya, the Talent Acquisition Virtual Assistants]]>

With increasing pressure on organizations to find the best hires, talent acquisition (TA) teams are continuing to grow. And as more Gen Zs are joining the workforce for the first time, so too are the latest generation of virtual assistants or chatbots. Here I look at the early careers and future prospects of Ari and Mya, two virtual assistants currently being used by TA vendors and corporate TA teams.


Ari from TextRecruit, now a wholly owned subsidiary of iCIMS Inc., is a customizable recruiting chatbot that uses natural language processing and machine learning. Ari has shown potential from the start, has taken on more responsibility over time, and looks set to advance in 2018 and beyond. Ari supports TA teams by interacting/chatting with candidates on their preferred technology (mostly smartphone) by text, live chat and Facebook messenger (via JobChat and TextApply).

The chatbot completes administrative tasks (up to 80% of candidate communications) using the TextRecruit candidate engagement platform for keeping records, which enables robust analytics on hiring patterns or metrics, ensuring latest compliance with data protection. Ari’s expanded responsibilities include working with TextHR (onboarding candidates and improving internal employee engagement) and TextReach (communicating with project resources).

Ari initially supported candidates in ‘deskless’ environments (e.g. healthcare and retail jobs) but has developed knowledge across other jobs and sectors. Ari’s day-to-day tasks include sending job postings to candidates, screening, scheduling candidate interviews, and answering organization-specific questions.

The chatbot also undertakes regular training such as learning organizational information specific to each customer (industry, business unit, location, functions, skill levels, etc.), including any updates to that information. Building on an earlier (2015) integration of TextRecruit with iCIMS via UNIFi, the new 2018 relationship with iCIMS will enable Ari (and TextRecruit) to be a core component of the iCIMS Recruit, Connect and Onboard products, bringing improved candidate engagement and automation capabilities to the market.


Mya from Mya Systems originally started her career in 2016 by addressing a big issue identified in the recruitment space: candidates not hearing back from potential employers. Mya’s remit from the start was focused on delivering candidate care through quality conversation via text, chat, Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook.

Mya converses with candidates and uses natural language understanding to pick up on details in the conversation. Utilizing AI technology including a deep learning-based multiple intent classifier, named entity extraction (such as company, role, duration, etc.) and sentence semantic analysis, Mya ingests, understands and evaluates a candidate’s responses to a job position's requirements, and can then determine how to proceed, suggest jobs, or schedule an interview.

The chatbot uses Dialog Management to lead the direction of the conversation. As natural conversations are non-linear, Mya can manage multiple states of a conversation and gently guide candidates through an evaluation while continuously processing the current state, action and result. This allows Mya to find meaningful information from the candidate's responses. Mya uses a realization engine to generate text from a syntactic representation, dynamically shift her conversation based on responses, and complete the conversation. Once the conversation is complete, she will send an updated status, updated profile,  and transcript to the client’s applicant tracking system.

Mya is constantly learning from these candidate interactions and can interpret open-ended dialogue via intent recognition – e.g. questions such as ‘Where are you in your career?’ Mya’s linguistic skills have developed rapidly – she can now adapt language to regional/country nuances (such as English/ U.S. English) and to customer preference for tone (formal or more casual language style). If a candidate responds with ‘No problem!’, Mya interprets that as a positive response, not a negative one. While Mya can already support multiple languages (such as Spanish, German, Italian, etc.), she continues to learn nuances about each language to develop her capabilities further.

Mya is also proactive, in that clients can have her reach out to passive candidates in their databases to initiate a conversation about possible interest in a job opportunity rather than waiting for candidates to apply for a role. This has a 90% conversation completion rate.

Initially, Mya supported candidates in the retail, warehousing, food and hospitality industries, but has now expanded to engineering and healthcare. Originally, the emphasis was on screening and scheduling of candidates, but Mya has taken on more responsibility, covering the entire hiring process – pre-application questioning, sourcing, responding to FAQs, delivering application progress updates, giving tips and guidance to candidates, scheduling interviews, providing reminders, alerting candidates when a position has been filled, and even re-deployment. Mya has achieved a 4:1 ratio of applicant to hire, compared to the 10:1 industry average, taking less than 72 hours to get applicants to the interview stage in the process. 

Mya’s future is looking good. Further investment in her training/mentoring will focus on deep learning for her more recently acquired onboarding skills. Mya will continue to work with larger clients, as the demand from larger organizations continues to accelerate.


The potential for the more well-known digital assistants in the TA space is positive, with both Ari and Mya showing good career progression to date, and their individual development plans look promising.

And the trend for TA virtual assistants looks set to continue. Another example is Olivia from, who delivers screening, scheduling and FAQ support to candidates through the web, mobile platforms, and social channels. She also intelligently provides next steps and routes ‘green light’ candidates to recruiters.

TA virtual assistants are also being developed in-house by recruitment organizations, both by investing in/acquiring third-party technology companies with their own AI expertise, and by hiring AI experts into their own innovation teams to develop digital assistants using a third-party AI platform.

We will see more digital assistants emerging from third-party tech/tools providers and recruitment service providers. But, just as some of the Gen Zs starting their careers in the recruitment space will not make it and drop out, so too will some of their virtual colleagues!

<![CDATA[SGWI’s GEO Employment Model: Enabling Agile Global Expansion]]>


As businesses today are increasingly operating at a global level, they face inherent complexity and compliance hurdles. Indeed, a recurring finding in NelsonHall’s annual payroll market analysis is that compliance is a key driver for organizations outsourcing payroll. And new regulatory directives such as GDPR are placing yet more compliance pressure on the HR and payroll leaders of multinational organizations.

While traditional payroll outsourcing arrangements have enabled businesses to plug in to a compliant global delivery model, what they do not provide is the front-end due diligence and legal structuring required to establish a business presence in a new country. Yet this is a critical first step to compliant global expansion, one that is often ignored by new entrants, and is commonly a cause for deterring new market entry altogether.

SafeGuard World International (SGWI) has developed an offering called GEO (Global Employment Outsourcing) in recognition of the needs of growing multinational organizations. The aim is to provide compliant payroll solutions that can scale and pivot as the business expands, to support non-traditional employment arrangements, and to reduce barriers to entry.

How GEO works

Similar to a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) co-employment model in the U.S., businesses can use GEO to tap into a near turnkey HR delivery offering which combines elements of a co-employment model with global payroll outsourcing services and a traditional staffing arrangement. Leveraging its extensive global payroll infrastructure, SGWI is able to provide GEO clients with end-to-end HR support for workers in over 175 countries. 

Take the example of a U.S.-headquartered organization that wants to expand operations to Europe by establishing a small team of workers in France.  Once the client has sourced its talent in France, SGWI assigns a local delivery team and a dedicated HR expert to the client to begin supporting its in-country HR and payroll needs. This begins with SGWI preparing an employment contract between client and worker, which ensures compliance with local employment laws, and also transfers the worker (legally speaking) to SGWI’s business entity within that country.

From there, SGWI will process all payroll, taxes, and the subsequent payment remittance for the client and provide regular check-ins with both client and employee throughout the life of the contract. Additionally, SGWI provides HR management services for the workers, up to and including separation should that become necessary.  

Key benefits of GEO

Through the GEO model, employers are able to become agile in their global expansion efforts and do so with lower employment-related risk than might be the case otherwise. Some of the key benefits of GEO include:

  • Flexibility: it provides employers with a mechanism for compliant global expansion (both short and long term), that can be engaged across 175 countries
  • Low barrier to entry: clients can enter, test, and expand to new markets as and when ready without needing to establish a legal presence in the targeted country
  • Rapid start-up: clients can be live in as short as two weeks (once talent has been sourced)
  • Reduced risk: it ensures proper classification of workers (e.g. employee vs. contractor), a common pitfall that often results in penalties during global expansion efforts, and provides for compliant handling of workers throughout the relationship to ensure ongoing compliance with local labor laws.

Looking ahead

SGWI has seen steady uptake for its GEO offering, with demand in line with its traditional outsourcing model, and quickly increasing. To date, it has more than 400 GEO clients with employees operating in over 120 countries. Going forward, SGWI will focus GEO investments on enhancing its technology to support more capability for contingent workers, including expanded HR and payroll analytics, and incorporating complementary HR capabilities (e.g. recruiting board, etc.) to support mixed talent pools. 

The GEO model is well-timed, with only a few other vendors playing in this specific space currently. With organizations continuing to expand globally, coupled with increasing contingent labor use, SGWI is in a strong position to grow its GEO adoption in the coming year.

<![CDATA[Neeyamo Addressing the White Spaces in HR]]>


Now in its tenth year, Neeyamo is hitting its stride as a niche global HR services provider. I recently caught up with the company at its first U.S. analyst and advisor event for an update on its HR service lines.

Strategic focus

Neeyamo aims to ‘address the white spaces in HR technology and services’, including underserved markets and geographies. It positions itself as a specialist long-tail country provider, targeting global organizations which have ~70% of their employee base across five countries, with the remaining 30% distributed in small numbers across multiple locations. In these multiple locations, clients typically have numerous payroll technologies, including legacy technology, often with payroll distributed across several platforms – resulting in poor overall data management, limited helpdesk and language support, and high fixed cost. Neeyamo’s goal is to be able to provide a single-point HR solution for all tail-country needs.

Starting with 50 employees and 30 clients in 2009, today Neeyamo has:

  • 1.6k employees globally, serving ~250 customers
  • 6 global delivery centers (California, Mexico and three in India) and 17 proximity delivery centers
  • 4 lines of businesses: global payroll, multi-process HRO, pre-employment and other screening services, and cloud transformation services.

Global payroll

Neeyamo has~75 global payroll customers in 153 countries, and processes 7 million payslips per year, served by 500 payroll specialists. Its technology, PayNComp, is currently configured in ~30 countries. Neeyamo plans to bring this to ~70 countries within the next three years to handle most tail countries, and will use in-country partners elsewhere.

Neeyamo’s roadmap for PayNComp is focused on delivering real-time payroll results, and is currently capable of processing ~10k employees (gross to net) in ~90 seconds. Neeyamo is striving for three primary experiences from PayNComp:

  • Executive experience: A single view of global payroll at a glance with the ability to view all relevant payroll reports for every country and business unit per pay period
  • Payroll team experience: Country/BU level view of payroll, a maker/checker process to ensure validation at every level. Includes input validation to catch errors early, variance analysis, dashboards, and a compliance view
  • Employee experience: Easy view/interface of payslips, tax documents and other payroll related information, supported in multiple languages.


Though not a separate line of business, Helpdesk support is a strong area of focus for Neeyamo. Out of its 250 customers, 100 clients utilize helpdesk, supported in 25 languages and used by all payroll clients.

Helpdesk support and ticket creation is built into the process, so users don’t have to log out and log in to a separate system. Users also have the option to take a screen shot to attach to a ticket, add a category. Users can see the most common questions and answers, and can access the helpdesk via phone, email or chat. The following is a breakdown of how inquiries are handled, with two-thirds of inquiries answered via self-service (ESS, MSS), and only 5% requiring specialist support:

  • Tier 0: 66% (ESS, MSS)
  • Tier 1: 28% (HR Helpdesk)
  • Tier 2: 5% (Specialist Helpdesk)
  • Tier 3: 1% (Escalated Support).

Global multi-process HRO (MPHRO)

Neeyamo provides MPHRO in 100 countries for ~150k employees and ~24 processes, supported in 25 languages.

One of Neeyamo’s global clients spoke about MPHRO support including payroll, absence management, and leave management. The client runs a ‘topic of the week’ with the Neeyamo Service Center to provide continuous education, therefore minimizing the number of helpdesk calls. The client chose to leave the U.S. running on Workday payroll, with Neeyamo taking over payroll processing in another ~20 countries, serving ~4,200 employees. Implementation of Neeyamo replaced 8-10 other vendors.  

Other recent Neeyamo MPHRO contracts include a global CPG company headquartered in the U.K. with delivery in ~60 countries across six continents.

Global screening services

Neeyamo provides screening services in 190 countries, for 200 customers, providing 21 different kinds of checks (e.g. employment, background, criminal, education, reference, address, identity, drug testing), verifying 5 million elements. Of its clients, 125 U.S.-based companies use Neeyamo for all international checks. Neeyamo claims that they are the largest international verification company, and with a performance level of 80% of all checks achieved within five days.


In just 10 years, Neeyamo has scaled its geographic presence and its services and technology capability. Earlier this year, Neeyamo partnered with a French-based provider of HR and finance enterprise software, Talentia, to strengthen its global presence. Talentia supports clients directly in France, the U.K., Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Canada. Expect to see even more in 2018 and beyond as Neeyamo is opening offices in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, China, Germany, Poland, South Korea, and Taiwan.


Neeyamo also covered its cloud transformation services, which my colleague Pete Tiliakos will cover in a separate blog, coming shortly.

<![CDATA[Next Generation HCM Technology: Report Overview]]>


Pete Tiliakos, Principal HR Technology & Services Analyst, talks about his recently completed global research project on ‘Next Generation HCM Technology’, which features analysis of 18 cloud-based HCM platforms from 16 leading vendors.

<![CDATA[Why Digital Onboarding is Essential]]>


Is your organization already struggling to find the best talent? If so, put yourself in the shoes of a candidate for a moment. Take a look at your organization’s employer branding on your website and social media pages. Do you think candidates would be impressed? Hopefully yes, but many organizations’ employer branding leaves a lot to be desired.

Appealing to all possible candidate personas across all touch points, and ensuring the hiring process is timely, are both critical. Candidate drop-out increases 25% for each week of delay in the recruitment process. And because candidates (for both permanent and contingent work) often have multiple job opportunities in process, they will quickly drop out or decline job offers where hiring processes frustrate them.

However, employer branding is not only about attracting candidates, but about keeping them once they become employees. Here, a digital onboarding process is something that organizations of all sizes can leverage to make a big impression on new hires. Yet 25% of organizations still do not have any formal onboarding process, and this can have serious implications, including:

  • Up to 20% employee turnover in the first 45 days
  • Employees being 10 times more likely to leave within the first year of employment.

However, where organizations have a structured onboarding process, 65% of new hires are likely to still be employed by the company three years later.

Onboarding for the SMB

Surprisingly, not all the well-known enterprise HCM providers have an onboarding module, but there are plenty of providers that can offer onboarding technology/tools, a snapshot of which I discovered at the UNLEASH HR industry event in London last month.

Sage, focusing on the SMB market, has onboarding as part of a unified approach to attracting and managing talent through its Sage Business Cloud People technology, built on Salesforce app cloud. The platform allows seamless transition from candidate through to employee via a branded onboarding portal. Other features include automated forms, custom workflow management, and new hire onboarding surveys.

The platform is mobile-enabled and accessible from any device, and enables a positive user experience, including clean lines, vibrant colors, dashboard personalization, and swipe-right functionality. A taster of what Sage is offering can be seen by looking at their own onboarding site, covering pre-boarding and the first three months of employment: a good example of a vendor walking the talk with their own product.

Appification enables easy access to onboarding tools

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 for Talent: Onboard also brings onboarding to organizations via an app which can be integrated into the organization’s existing HR architecture, negating the need for replacement of legacy HCM technology. Once candidates accept a job offer, they can access the Onboard platform and use step-by-step checklists (e.g. for background checks, form-filling), see organizational information in a central repository (e.g. training resources, organisation charts, and tips to navigate different departments), and link to cross-functional teams with detailed contact information. Templates for documents can be created, replicated, and modified. Other content, such as location maps, local attraction guides, and public transport timetables can be added.

Meanwhile, hiring managers and recruiters can monitor progress on which tasks have been completed by new hires.

Digital onboarding case study

At the UNLEASH event, a practical case study of embracing digital onboarding was provided by a global information services organization. The organization had a traditional paper-based onboarding program, but its new hires felt disconnected because line managers were not prepared for the new joiners, often with essentials like IT equipment not in place on the first day – a problem identified across all geographical regions.

As part of a wider talent transformation initiative, the organization prioritized the candidate experience. And, in early 2017, it transitioned from paper-based onboarding to using the Oracle Taleo Onboarding Cloud Service. The main features include a new hire portal, electronic forms, validated electronic signatures, automated workflows, a correspondence library, and reporting & analytics.

The organization used online publishing tool Page Tiger to create engaging and interactive content, including videos, infographics, pop-up boxes, and weblinks. Initially, the onboarding program was rolled out in the U.S., the U.K. soon followed, and global roll-out is set to be completed in the first half of 2018.

Lessons learned from the adoption of digital onboarding include:

  • Thinking about the big picture and identifying what a great onboarding experience looks like globally
  • Embedding onboarding best practice as part of a core set of standards
  • Ensuring data compliance
  • Giving localized teams more scope to develop specific content for their region/country
  • Scaling up any successful localized content to a wider audience in the organization. 

The results so far have been impressive:

  • 4,500 onboarding packs automated
  • 96% new hire onboarding satisfaction level achieved
  • 25% process efficiencies gained by using a single global technology
  • 60% improvement in the ‘time to offer acceptance’ metric.

More improvements are planned from H2 2018 onwards. In addition to onboarding, Oracle Taleo Onboarding Cloud Service can be used for internal mobility, cross-boarding and offboarding, and linked to learning plans (by integrating with Oracle Taleo Learn).  It can also be integrated with other enterprise back-office systems.


The global talent shortage for both permanent and contingent workers is worsening, candidates increasingly have multiple job opportunities in the pipeline at any one time, and onboarding tools and technologies are more accessible and easier to integrate into existing systems than ever. Given this, there’s no excuse for organizations not to embrace digital onboarding. And if they don’t, there’s a very good chance they’ll be left behind in the war for talent.

<![CDATA[Zalaris: Transforming into a One-Stop-HR-Shop for European Organizations]]>


Over the last year, Zalaris has markedly stepped up its geographic and service expansion journey –  first fuelled by the acquisition of Germany-based Sumarum AG and then with the acquisition of U.K.-based ROC Global Solution Consulting.

It’s important to note that Zalaris’ success in the wider Nordic market was also a result of two acquisitions soon after its formation (while its subsequent geographic expansion into Finland, Poland, and the Baltics were all a result of contract expansions with existing clients). These acquisitions provided Zalaris with the foundation and resources it needed to win subsequent business in these countries, including with Teliasonera, SAS, and a Swedish multinational networking and telecommunications company, and increase its turnover from ~$1.5m in 2001 to ~$21m in 2017, a CAAGR of ~18%.

Here I take a quick look at the geographic and service impacts of the two most recent acquisitions.

Geographic impact

The two acquisitions have clearly had a major impact on Zalaris’ European footprint, and Zalaris places an emphasis on establishing a physical presence in each country in which it serves clients. Prior to the acquisitions, Zalaris’ footprint was exclusively concentrated in the Nordics and Baltics, including the following eight countries: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, with Norway alone accounting for nearly 45% of its revenues. Post-merger, the combined companies will still generate half of its revenues from both Norway and Sweden, but approximately a quarter of its revenues will come from DACH and the U.K.

Both acquisitions add resources across Central and Western Europe, as well as the U.K., to support multinational organizations. ~ 40% of Zalaris’ legacy HR outsourcing clients are served in multiple countries, including Nordea (which is also Zalaris’ largest implementation of SAP SuccessFactors to date), Statoil, and Telenor, and Zalaris is keen to expand its European footprint to enhance its ability to target and serve multi-country European organizations.

Impact on service mix

However, while geographic expansion is important to Zalaris, and these acquisitions have had a major impact in expanding Zalaris’ European footprint, their contribution to enhancing Zalaris’ service mix is equally important. These acquisitions help to facilitate Zalaris’ transformation into a one-stop-HR-shop for large and midmarket European-headquartered organizations by diversifying its service line offerings.

While Zalaris’ legacy business provided HR outsourcing, consulting and cloud services, ~90% of its total revenues were from payroll and transactional HR outsourcing, and the majority of these revenues were generated from a small number of clients. Both the ROC and Sumarum acquisitions support Zalaris’ ambitions to help its clients transform their HR operations by assisting them with SAP SuccessFactors deployment, and cloud conversion by boosting Zalaris’ consulting and advisory capabilities. In particular, the consulting group will be a key catalyst driving increased adoption of Zalaris’ cloud services.

Ultimately, following integration in mid-2018, the combined entities will operate as more of a cohesive and balanced unit, paving the way for Zalaris to be a prominent HR outsourcing and consulting contender in Europe, supporting organizations in a cloud HCM environment leveraging SAP SuccessFactors.

Sumarum & ROC in brief

For the reasons outlined above, both Sumarum and ROC are natural fits with Zalaris, enhancing both its service portfolio and its geographic coverage.

Sumarum, founded in 2001, is a provider of HR consulting and outsourcing services, with revenues of €19.6m (~$24m). Sumarum is a certified SAP partner and is a specialist in implementing and operating SAP HCM systems, with ~60% of its revenues related to consulting services, which extends to both public and private sector entities across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Like Zalaris, Sumarum provides cloud-based payroll and HR solutions exclusively on SAP platforms, with the remaining ~40% of its revenues from AMO and HR outsourcing services (serving ~45k employees per month). It has nearly 180 employees throughout five service centers in Germany, and primarily serves organizations with ~3k – 5k employees. The main sectors served include education, government, non-profits, and energy; clients include Germanwings, Goethe Institut, and Nintendo Europe.

ROC, founded in 1998, is a HCM specialist consultancy, with ~100 employees across five locations in the U.K., Germany and Poland, and revenues of NOK 100m (~$12m). Its areas of expertise include time and pay, talent management, shared services, analytics, business transformation, portal solutions, and global support. Key technologies leveraged by ROC include SAP HANA, SAP HCM, and SAP SuccessFactors. ROC is also a SAP silver partner and a verified SuccessFactors partner in the SAP PartnerEdge program. ROC’s clients include Britvic, Hampshire County Council, and Montblanc.

<![CDATA[The Impact of VR & Gamification on Candidate Assessment]]>


One of the things that was very clear from my visit to the UNLEASH HR industry event in London last week was that virtual reality and other interactive tech has arrived in the talent acquisition space in a big way. Here I look specifically at examples of how VR and gamification are having an impact on the candidate assessment process.

Candidate assessment is one of the hot talent acquisition topics for 2018. With the estimated cost of a bad hire being between $25k and $50k, organizations are increasingly looking at assessing candidates for cultural fit to minimize churn, and are turning to VR and other sophisticated assessment tools (incorporating performance analytics) to provide a unique, and often more enjoyable, approach to candidate assessment.

VR tech example: Assense from Actiview

Tech start-up Actiview has created Assense, a ‘fit prediction’ assessment platform, which is tailored for each customer. Customers can choose exactly what they want to assess, including:

  • Personality traits
  • Cognitive skills such as spatial awareness
  • Work-related situations such as problem-solving, coping with change, outside the box thinking
  • Integrity (credibility, loyalty, morality)
  • Motivation.

Understanding the traits and skills of an organization’s top performing employees can be used as a benchmark to measure against, as well as wider market data from such assessments. For the candidate, it combines a VR tour of the organization they will potentially join (including the people they will meet), followed by a set of tasks/real-life simulations which are presented to the candidate.

Each move the candidate makes (based on what they see, point out, and say) is captured and analysed through deep learning and advanced sensory technology. The candidate is scored against correlations derived from organizational data; algorithms specific to the job, team or organization; and market adjustments. Whilst Assense is currently available as a standalone solution, the roadmap is for it to be integrated with an organization’s core HCM platform.

VR case study: pharmaceutical sector

The advantages that VR can bring to the workplace are illustrated by a case study from the pharmaceutical sector, where it is being used to initially train and later assess employees who are candidates for working on the manufacturing production line.

‘Line clearance’ in pharmaceutical manufacturing requires all traces of a previous production run to be removed before a new production run can begin. Traditionally, training involved the deliberate placement of wrong colour tablets, tablet debris, excess tablet foils, insufficient numbers of vials, etc. onto/under the production line in the hope that the trainee would correctly identify all faults/problems. This meant costly down-time (often 2-5 hours for training with line clearances either end of the training run) and was subject to biases by the trainer (e.g. setting up faults in similar positions on the production line).

The introduction of training using VR requires no down-time, enables three levels of training to be created (problem-spotting becoming getting progressively more difficult with each level), and enables ROI within four months. Lessons learned include:

  • With initial reluctance by the workforce to try something new, the organization had to promote the advantages of moving to such technology
  • Quality of VR headsets – a delay in playback caused nausea amongst participants, so top-quality headsets had to be sought to eliminate this effect
  • The importance of optimizing realism (i.e. likeness to real production line conditions) to guarantee desired learning outcomes
  • Striking the right balance between serious learning and fun.

Gamified candidate assessments

Gamified assessments are also now more common, using proven psychometric tools enhanced with game-style elements to make them more engaging. An example is cut-e’s smartPredict and chatAssess pre-hire assessment tools, which predict likely performance in job roles.

cut-e asked candidates to use and provide feedback on their mobile-enabled tests in order to understand what they liked and disliked. Likes included completing challenges, unlocking levels, receiving instant feedback, interactivity, fun assessments, and being taken seriously as a candidate. Dislikes included assessments being ‘too gamey’ (e.g. unprofessional/inappropriate and poor sound effects/visual effects).

smartPredict includes assessments for logical reasoning (switchChallenge), numeracy (digitChallenge), complex planning (motionChallenge) and executive attention (gridChallenge). The assessments are typically six minutes in length and measure different levels of capability.

chatAssess tests a candidate’s situational judgment, and has a 98% completion rate based on 35k assessments to date. Candidates receive incoming instant messages from different ‘colleagues’, with specific questions or requests for advice. In real-time, they select a text message response from predefined replies. chatAssess reacts to this and sends back another message from that colleague. Different colleagues will usually be facing different issues or challenges, and the candidate has to prioritize the various tasks and manage their commitments. chatAssess is used by cut-e’s customers to support early screening for graduate and apprentice recruitment.


During 2017, many talent acquisition professionals were sceptical about the value that VR and gamification could bring to the talent acquisition assessment space, and wanted to see how the market would evolve before committing to using the associated tools/tech.

With more providers having already launched VR and gamified candidate assessment platforms backed up with sophisticated psychometric analytics, talent acquisition professionals need to start embracing such tools/tech in 2018 to avoid being left behind.

<![CDATA[ADP’s Spotlight on Engagement & Retention]]>


At ADP’s annual Meeting of the Minds client event this past week, what caught my attention most were the initiatives geared towards improving employee engagement/satisfaction and retention. Clearly, ADP has identified these areas as key, with its own research institute finding that ~2/3 of all turnover is voluntary – i.e. employees are leaving because they have not been given a reason to stay. Here I look at some of ADP’s engagement and retention initiatives currently in play.

Improving the user experience in benefits administration

ADP manages benefits for 15 million employees – that’s 1 in 8 employees where employer benefits are provided. Not only is providing employee benefits important for the attraction of talent, but also in providing a positive employee experience and for retention of talent.

NelsonHall’s most recent Next Generation Benefits Administration market analysis report reveals that one of the top client drivers for outsourcing benefits is improving overall support around the employee/participant experience, including increasing employee participation via self-service and improving communications. A critical success factor here is incorporating convenience features into the user experience to reduce user frustration. Vendors need to add convenience features for participants, such as the following features offered by ADP Benefits Administration:

  • Ability to receive continuous client feedback, including from annual enrollment
  • Of ADP’s 160 Participant Service Center (PSC) annual enrollment clients, 91.5% of callers receive an answer to their inquiry in less than 45 seconds from the point at which they elect to speak to an agent. This has resulted in 95.9% customer satisfaction
  • Option to receive a scheduled call-back
  • Saturday call center hours
  • Spanish call center (the center in Guadalajara, Mexico is also a top performing center)
  • 24/7 email query capability and 24/7 live chat (live chat to be fully implemented by end of year)
  • Concierge service option, with a dedicated support team
  • Where clients use more than one of ADP's services, client executives are assigned to own the entire relationship across all services. The client executives add value in many ways, including hosting internal calls to discuss how to best facilitate client delivery across all services.

Addressing employee retention: client case

Employee attrition has been increasing. Per the bureau of labor statistics, median employee tenure was 4.2 years in January 2016, down from 4.6 two years earlier. An example of an ADP client facing a significant challenge with retention was Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), who had a turnover rate of 36% for several entry-level positions, with 41% of staff terminating within the first year of hire. Key initiatives deployed to address the situation were:

  • Focus groups with employees who have stayed longer than a year to talk about why they remained. Output from this was then added to the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) on the employee portal
  • A custom 3-day classroom training course for all frontline managers on how to better engage employees
  • Monthly program for new managers to come together and learn strategies and techniques from one another
  • A better and faster onboarding experience, ensuring new employees are fully connected to all company resources and communications on day one
  • Based on employee feedback, introducing events like holiday parties and picnics for associates and their families.

Results of these initiatives included:

  • Reducing new hire time by 45%, from 51 days to 28
  • Increasing exit interview participation by 20%
  • Reducing turnover in 2017 by ~42%.


Success in initially attracting talent is not much of an achievement if an organization fails to retain that talent. Hence, initiatives for providing an enhanced employee experience, such as the ones implemented by ADP, are essential to avoid unwanted attrition.

However, it’s also essential to analyze and measure the effectiveness of those initiatives. NelsonHall’s most recent interviews with the clients of benefits administration vendors reveal that use of analytics for process improvement and employee insight was one of the highest rated vendor attributes sought, with a future importance score of 90%. And yet client satisfaction in this area, across all vendor clients interviewed, was just 62%, which should provide food for thought for HR services vendors.