Top 10 Tips to Implement an Effective Change Management Strategy within the Global HR SSC

Tags: Global

When Implementing an HR shared service center on a global level, what are the key things to keep in mind?

Countless global organizations presume that they must have a global approach to HR management in order to be triumphant. In my experience, implementing an HR shared services center, global or otherwise is welcoming, as operationally, it cuts costs and increases efficiency. However it is advisable to stay away from the recently sweeping phenomenon—Outsourcing! This function might generate with it, problems like a tortoised response time and service without empathy. Primary reasons for that are:

  • The vendor and its staff will not be adequately knowledgeable.
  • The staff might not feel being part of the organization and understand its culture.
  • Partial attitude to the client whose contract holds a heftier amount.

Therefore, l believe these key points, if considered will smoothen the implementation process and depict productive results thereafter.

1. An Effective Change Management Strategy

Change is a nightmare for a working environment where training to accept and nurture change is absent. Culture and geographical importance have to be given their chairs to let the news be input in the right place in the right way. I like to see the result of any change management as a threesome synergy of people, culture and processes. John Kotters (Professor at Harvard) established an 8-step change process that involves all the vital elements and flavors required to implement change.

  • Establish Sense of Urgency: Necessity for change and significance of acting instantly
  • Build a powerful guiding coalition: Since the change process needs to be led, a change team who are leaders with expertise and can actively create awareness.
  • Develop a Vision and Strategy: 'Conception precedes Perception.' This is important to show the destination of the change journey and the benefits.
  • Communicate, communicate and communicate the change vision: Maximize employee’s attitude buy-in from the initial point, and generate willingness to invoke thoughts and discussions.
  • Empower broad-based action (Eliminate Obstacles): Eradicate all hindrances for vision-oriented people
  • Generate early wins: Celebrate some success early.
  • Consolidate change and produce more change: Change is not an overnight victory! The change processed should be relentlessly and rapidly followed till the Vision is realized.

2. Balancing Local Requirements and Global Consistency

This is devoid a doubt challenging yet manageable situation. Vladimar Pucik’s mantra to "Think Global and Act Local" approach would be the ideal solution in this case. Yes! 'Going Glocal!' A global company should spotlight on a blend of global assimilation and local adaptation, allowing its employees to think globally, act locally. The requirements need to be very well gathered and documented. This perhaps needs to be used as a framework for all the subsiding activities. Rigid rules and policies will only help in beating down the purpose of a large scale implementation. Because after all it is the sensitive human resources who have to implement, change, train and use the to-be-implemented systems. People are normally resistant to any kind of change. It is hence crucial to ensure that the local setup is not altered at one go.

Ethnocentric approach provides a prominent position to global integration, accentuating a global strategy for the concept of HR and smartly takes on non-localization of the leadership. Similarly maintaining the set of rules globally with system features to also meet the local requirements will be of help. A win-win situation like that of a double-edged strategy is also common. In that case, a global management system for senior team and a different system for others are used. This strategy however distances solidity amongst various branches and invited formation of sub-cultures. For multinationals, the issue is not the preference flanked by globalization and localization, but the most favorable equilibrium between the two.

3. Gaining the Necessary Buy-In From Key Business Stakeholders

This is another central aspect to be considered not only during an HR shared services center, but also for any major changes intended in the company. Because the set of stakeholders again are representations of people! Customers, employees, director-board, competitors and suppliers are all in the game of business. A complete Stakeholder Analysis would do the trick to analysis who and to what extent their power leads to and the needs to covered. Based on that results and from word-of-mouth views (complaints and suggestions), the best policy can be adopted. Informing everyone early on time is a vital factor. This also helps to commence the 'need to change' attitude in them, which will ensure optimum support and facilitate further ease to proceed to the next step. Stakeholder Analysis Matrix can serve as a document to know how well the efforts to change, can be directed in an effective manner. Once the risks and threats are identified, action items can be developed with the success factors against each to monitor the progress. Definitely, communicating the updating and changes in the plan needs to be discussed amongst the project management team on a regular basis.

4. Articulating a Value Proposition for Global Processes

In truly competitive market spaces, differentiation can be the key that unlocks vast potential. The role of HR is active in an effective organization, and they always pick up and apply best practice strategies to guide the firm to a successful-venture. (Derber, 2007) What sets an organization from its competitors is its Human Resources. This is when the organizational strategy and its dependency on HR prove indispensable.

What is Strategy? "Simply, it is a comprehensive plan of action that sets critical direction for an organisation and guides the allocation of its resources."

The strategic-plan must be conducted alongside the HR planning, as the strategic goals, vision, mission and objectives are the ones which drive the firm’s future HR-needs. What does a firm concentrate on to beat competition? Technology, finance, production, service or HR? To create competitive advantage, it is vital to assess the strategic objectives and the current HR practices and policies and verify if they link with each other in achievement of business goals and number out core competencies.

5. Identify the Potential Barriers to an Effective Global Roll-Out

Incremental improvement is a practical method to review and incorporate additional aspects as and when the project is rolled out. A sensible approach involves such features to allow flexibility during implementation. The obvious barriers would be:

  • Lack of technological standard
  • Various levels of IT-maturity among users
  • Resistance among users to leaving old ways
  • Lack of support from top management
  • Synchronization across geographical boundaries
  • Difference in language, culture and legal systems
  • Getting the users in the organisation to use the system

6. Get the Right Flesh in the Game

It is imperative to invest in the right people. To begin with, the leadership team drives the implementation processes, as superior leadership skills are essential for an effective teamwork, goal setting, morale-boosting, change facilitation, confidence creation, motivation building and team representation.

Reduced cost, improved quality of services is two chief benefits of shared services. But the most important one is the ability to reduce the HR specialists busy time. This allows the specialists time to focus on strategic endeavours that will yield the greatest benefit to their company's bottom line. If people involved are incapable, the purpose is defeated. Hence the foundation must be established very carefully.

Staff resistant to change must be trained to enable quicker embracement of reality and the need for change. If they are still reluctant, there is the last best way—depict the consequences of not changing!

7. Well-Defined HR Shared Services KPI’s and Benchmarks

What cannot be measured cannot be managed! A clear strategic vision is not sufficient in this scenario. Many organizations do not care to exert efforts to think about the way to create, test and plan implementing a strategy. Communicating the plan clearly across all levels of an entity is also necessary. An efficient company’s management team further transform their vision and mission statements to simpler SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound) targets within each business units to every individual. Such target values called KPI’s—Key Performance Indicators, assists companies to measure and manage areas that are of key importance for success. This gives a clearer picture to the workforce as to what is expected of them daily, and how its achievement contributes directly to the realization of the strategy in the team, department, and organization-wide basis. Benchmarking is a natural way to find the difference between the expected and the current. Setting smart targets lets the process effective, and brings out deficiencies to improve the levels of HR shared services center.

The Balanced Scorecard is a strategic planning and management system that helps in setting benchmarks
It also helps to:

  • Enhance internal and external communications
  • Examine organization performance against strategic goals
  • Align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization

8. Process Improvements and Implications for Service Level Agreements (SLA’s)

"An SLA is a negotiated agreement designed to create a common understanding about services, priorities and responsibilities." (Naomi Karten).

Even though outsourcing is a sweeping phenomenon across the globe, I do not agree with outsourcing the HR services. Human needs will be taken care of better when their own family looks after it. The care—yes, the service levels are to be really at the peak when it comes to servicing your employees, and only parents (organization) understand their children’s (employees) needs best.

However an SLA is an outstanding instrument for serving two parties to facilitate better communications, handle potential, elucidate tasks and assemble the basis for a mutual association. It takes time, efforts and finance to develop a brilliant SLA. Therefore a hurried approach will not find light. These would be the steps to follow:

  • Research on the service provider
  • Reach realistic agreement on its objectives
  • Define the nature, scope and responsibilities
  • Structure a draft of SLA
  • Meet to review the draft
  • Design implementation plan
  • Implementation

9. Status of Shared Services and Observed Trends in the Industry

The central purpose of shared services is the convergence and streamlining of an organization’s functions to ensure that they deliver to the organization the services required of them as effectively and efficiently as possible. I find it not very important to follow what the world follows in every aspect of the organization, because like every individual is different, so is an entity. Identify the organizational culture, values, vision, mission and objectives and implement what suits you best. Success stories should be seen only as a source of inspiration to generate new ideas and strengthen motivation. A firm can still remain competitive if it understands what are its unique needs and develop creative ideas to meet them and beat the competition.

10. Create Your Shared Service Community

  • Increase team spirit
  • Support system during the phase of change
  • Develop the feeling of one family and to pose questions, reply, brainstorm and learn from one another.


First published on Human Resources IQ