Rising expectations

How the cloud is helping to elevate talent needs in HR Shared Services

How the cloud is helping to elevate talent needs in HR Shared Services

Posted by Gautam Shah on September 9, 2015.

Are you a leader in an HR Shared Services organization?
Are you a member of an HR Shared Services organization?
Are you evaluating or implementing a Cloud/SaaS solution for HR?
Are you transforming your HR function?
Are you setting up a new HR Shared Services organization?
Are you insourcing your HR service delivery?
Are you responsible for managing talent in your HR organization?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might find some useful nuggets here.

Over the past 5+ years, we’ve seen a tremendous surge in the number of organizations moving to the cloud. Cloud or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology has disrupted the HR function across multiple dimensions—organization, process, people, and technology—including the HR Shared Services (HRSS) organization and its people. This disruption, coupled with the changing perception of the shared services organization from a traditional back-office administrative function to a strategic value-added operational function, has resulted in the need for different talent and skills to support this elevated position.

Several factors are driving demand for these new or expanded HRSS skills.

  • Broader, more in-depth scope of services
    The intuitive nature of cloud solutions has enabled direct access and self-service among users, transferring many basic transactions from HRSS to employees and managers. This can help HRSS to move into higher value-added (and higher-skilled) services such as managing employee relations, global mobility, and talent management processes. In addition, advanced capabilities for generating standard reports via self-service has prompted a shift within HRSS from creating reports to performing analytics—analyzing the data available and providing insights to the stakeholders.
  • Higher complexity of calls handled
    The increased adoption of self-service has helped divert calls related to basic “how do I” questions away from the HR contact center. Many calls have now increased in complexity, prompting the need for upskilling the contact center HR representatives. The concurrent shift of HR technologies from “systems of record” to “systems of engagement” also requires HRSS staff to be able to manage customer relations for high-touch processes striving to help improve the overall customer experience. These include situations like coaching an employee going through a life event (marriage, death, etc.), requesting an extended leave of absence, or making a grievance call. These more complex requests often call for a changed job profile for the Tier 1 group that acts as the voice or first point of contact for the HR function. In turn, this can have a cascading impact on other groups within HRSS that are responsible for handling escalations.
  • Need for deeper transactional understanding
    Cloud technologies can provide organizations with an integrated solution set where data tends to flow automatically from one area to another, for example from time entry systems to payroll. This automation has changed the role of the transaction processing group, which now must handle more complex tasks, such as making data corrections or rescinding HR transactions, while being aware of how their actions may impact downstream HR modules and data.

    Upskilling the transaction processing group in HRSS can present a new opportunity for high performers to transition to other roles, such as HR Technology (HRT) specialists, based on their end-to-end knowledge of the process, system, and data.
  • Expanded technology responsibilities
    The traditional HRT specialist role was to act as a conduit between HR business users and IT by translating business needs to business requirements and then testing the solution developed by IT. With the cloud, this role has undergone a major transformation. In many cases, cloud technologies have shifted system accountabilities from IT to HR. HR is often now also responsible for managing business process configurations, workflow, maintenance, and upgrades. Given the frequent updates (two to three times a year) provided by most SaaS vendors, HRT specialists must stay current with the periodic releases, understand the changes, and then manage mini projects to accept the changes as well as conduct regression testing to confirm nothing is broken. This shift in competencies has contributed to a particular value proposition and demand for competent HRT specialists.
  • New governance considerations
    Cloud technologies can help an organization be more agile by enabling rapid deployment of enhancements and changes to business process configurations in HR systems. With great power comes great responsibility—the governance arm of the HR function may need to up its game to ensure that proposed changes are well thought-out, integrated across the multiple impacted constituents, and designed and tested well before deployment. As a result, the Project Management Office (PMO) and Continuous Improvement group have often become important components of the internal HRSS operations group.

    Many shared services organizations have also had to adjust their vendor management capabilities to accommodate cloud solution providers. The processes and service level agreements (SLAs) used to monitor and measure vendors are very different for cloud-based solutions vs. on-premises HR applications. This shift has direct implications for the Vendor Management Office (VMO) in the organization.
    The shift to the cloud has helped make upskilling and/or hiring the right talent for HRSS roles critical. Thinking more broadly, organizations should also consider how to leverage the elevation in shared services skills and talent to better brand and market the HRSS organization and expand its position within the enterprise. As HRSS takes on this elevated position, there is often great potential to expand the career paths of HRSS talent. In my next post, I’ll look at this opportunity more closely and explore the rise of HRSS as an incubator of talent and future HR leaders.

Until then, consider the following:

If you are a leader in an HR Shared Services organization…
–Recognize your talent and market your HRSS organization.
If you are a member of an HR Shared Services organization…
–Be proud of your role and value to the organization.
If you are evaluating or implementing a Cloud/SaaS solution for HR…
–Account for the people implications, it’s not just a technology project.
If you are transforming your HR function…
–Understand the talent implications.
If you are setting up a new HR Shared Services organization…
–Start with the right skills.
If you are insourcing your HR service delivery…
–Remember a lot has changed; account for the changes.
If you are responsible for managing Talent in your HR organization…
–Don’t overlook the talent in the HRSS organization!


Gautam Shah is a senior manager in the HR Transformation practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP. He has over 19 years of global management consulting experience with a focus in helping clients with their global HR transformation initiatives—business-led, technology-enabled. Over the past five years these transformations have been enabled by cloud technologies like Workday, Oracle Cloud, and Salesforce.com.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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