HR transformation can seem like a daunting challenge for organisations that see the need for the function to improve and evolve, but are concerned about potential disruption. In Asia specifically, many companies are looking to expand their operations into new and dynamic markets. This presents additional complexities regarding regional HR practices that need to be addressed if the company is to make the leap successfully.
To discuss the challenges pertaining to HR transformation in Asia, SSON talks withJignesh Ramji, Regional HR Business Partner, Financial Products at Bloomberg. Based on his experience working as a HR transformation consultant at Deloitte, Jignesh explains how to successfully approach HR transformation while avoiding some of the pitfalls commonly encountered during the process.
In your experience, what prompts companies to initiate HR transformation?
Each company will have its own particular priorities but often the key driver is to reduce operating costs. While HR transformation usually involves a significant outlay in time and resources, it can translate into vast savings easily totalling millions of dollars if effectively implemented.
Another consideration that often prompts the HR transformation process is the desire to upskill key HR staff from a purely transactional position to a more strategic role. Streamlining poor operational infrastructure in this way frees up HR staff to focus on key business drivers.
Also, some international companies suffer from the inefficiency of having various regional HR practises and want to turn HR into a global provider where all processes (salary, transfers, etc) are standardised.
What benefits does HR transformation give?
The process provides different benefits depending on the priorities of the organisation implementing it. The principal benefit of HR transformation is that it allows you to redesign the HR function to truly align with the company’s business needs. Whether that means securing significant savings in operational costs, putting the best people in the right roles or standardising HR practices for international companies, the process allows you to achieve those goals.
Do companies have to invest in new technologies to support their transformation?
Every HR transformation process I have worked on has required investment in new systems or technologies. In particular, large, international companies with varied regional HR practises often benefit the most from this kind of investment as it provides them with a much more streamlined operational setup where all HR processes are standardised. This allows managers to do many of the transactional processes themselves, which in turn relieves the burden of HR staff, freeing them up for their strategic roles.
What is the trickiest part of the HR transformation process?
Some companies may experience teething problems with technological implementation, others will find it difficult to make the move from HR being a business aligned function to a geographically aligned function. It’s different for every company. However, perhaps the most severe obstacle is a lack of endorsement from key executive members.
Without effective executive sponsorship, the transformation process can suffer pushback from company leadership who aren’t convinced that the HR function needs to change. If they are used to having HR work sufficiently well for them in a bespoke manner then it can be difficult to get them to change their minds. However, it’s vital for any successful HR transformation to have adequate time allocated to ensuring that the company’s executives understand how and why the HR function needs to evolve, so that they can give their full and unwavering support to the process.
What advice would you give you other organisations looking introduce HR transformation?
- Ensure you have the right executive sponsorship.
- Put your best people on the project team and give it the proper time and resources needed.
- Project management, project management, project management!
- Do not see the process as a disruption; see it as a necessary continuing improvement of HR and the company as a whole.
- Set a realistic timeline and take no shortcuts.
After completing a HR Transformation project, what comes next?
One thing that companies who successful implement HR Transformation realise is that it should always be an evolving process. While it is vital to have clear and achievable goals set to a realistic timeline, the reality is that companies should always be looking for ways to continually improve the HR function.
If you stop looking to improve HR and assume that it’s as effective and supportive as it’s going to get, then it’s only a matter of time before you have to start the process again from the beginning.