Innovation and Enhanced Performance Through Service Function Transformation
many people tend to associate innovation with the marketing of new
products or services, it can also bring about improvements in the efficiency
or effectiveness of many internal processes. Internal service functions, such as Human Resources, can typically be managed more effectively, and more
innovatively, by assessing current delivery models and making
adjustments where they're needed. Additionally, Human Resources functions can promote their services by employing some of
the principles of successful marketers. How does that work?
marketing professionals assess current customer needs and anticipated needs through various survey and feedback mechanisms. HR professionals can conduct internal customer surveys and focus groups, utilize employee opinion
survey data, and tap into the rich demographic information documented in human resource information systems databases. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Enhancement Through Process Redesign
Process redesign and cost reduction solutions provided by Innovative Outcomes are aimed at designing sustainable and scalable improvements to existing HR functions' cost structures. Most often this involves choosing the right business model; streamlining decision making; and ensuring that the function is properly structured. (For more information about this, see client case studies and testimonials and the Restructuring & Downsizing page.)
It is critically importance that internal service functions such as Human Resources devote effort to process redesign that can increase efficiency and effectiveness, in both the short term and long term. Typically many processes can be streamlined or centralized to avoid duplication or unnecessary handoffs. Additionally, shared services models and centers of excellence are good ways of ensuring efficiency and effectiveness, when individuals who possess certain skill sets can be utilized to the organization's best advantage, as specialists. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Credibility through Cost Reduction
Even during good economic times, organizations as a whole--and internal service functions in particular--need to ensure that they're operating in the most cost-efficient ways. In some situations, this means working diligently to maintain current cost structures and, in other situations, it means taking aggressive steps to reduce costs. Yet many organizations, and many internal service functions, narrowly define cost reduction as reductions in force (i.e., "headcount" reductions).
There are instances when reductions in force (RIFs) can bring about immediate benefits and substantial savings, and there are other instances where RIFs are the only viable option for short- or long-term survival (see Restructuring & Downsizing). However, in most situations, we believe these initiatives should be options of last resort, since they're not the most sustainable forms of cost reduction. Far preferable to restructuring and downsizing are cost reductions achieved through analysis of current delivery models; improvements to internal systems and processes; effective negotiation with suppliers; better use of technology; analysis of organizational structure and design; and continued enhancement of individual, team, and functional performance. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Marketing Strategies for Human Resources Functions
The value of internal service providers can be assessed and reinforced by periodically meeting with internal customers and clients to conduct gap analyses. These meetings should determine what an ideal function would look like and then compare that to the existing function--in the same ways that marketing professionals survey external customers and conduct focus groups about current and anticipated needs and desires.
Internal service provides, such as HR functions can, and need to, work jointly with internal customers/clients to establish service level standards and hold themselves accountable for consistently meeting or exceeding agreed-upon performance standards and levels of service. In the same way that effective marketers construct marketing plans to address customer needs, internal service functions need to construct strategic plans that address internal customer/client needs through effective programs and strategies. Strategic planning requires internal service functions and service providers to create brands, in much the same way as organizations create them. Branding is critical to successful internal service functions such as Human Resources. Equally critical is communicating, reinforcing, and modifying brands, when necessary. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Delivery Model Improvements
Our work with clients often involves eliminating, or at least minimizing, duplicative or labor-intensive internal processes. However, we also work with organizations to improve the delivery models of internal service functions such as HR.
Questions that we typically ask in connection with these engagements are: "What services deliver the most value to in external clients or customers?" "What services should be eliminated, modified, or outsourced?" "What, of these services, are currently being managed in the most effective and efficient ways?" and "How could these services be managed better?"
We typically evaluate which services are needed by assessing how current delivery models correspond with internal customer/client needs. For example, we might recommend expanded hours for service providers, to correspond with the needs of organizations that operate on a 24/7 schedule. In almost all situations, we make specific recommendations for optimal use of whatever technology is available; for enhancing internal consulting capability; for partnering effectively with internal clients/customers; for evaluating whether restructuring and downsizing is in order; and for service functions to view themselves as consulting resources, rather than simply service providers. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Enhanced Technology Utilization
Internal service providers such as HR functions can most often enhance their value with technology that frees them from labor-intensive tasks. This usually involves better use of information systems and web-based self-service, for leaders and associates.
All this said, not all organizations can afford sophisticated technology, and by necessity, need to rely on other methods of cost reduction such as effective planning and resource allocation that can identify duplication and stimulate ideas for more efficient and effective delivery methods. These activities also tend to identify individuals whose current roles aren't playing to their strengths, which leads to our next subject. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Performance Management and Team Development
experience that many internal service functions, but particularly HR functions, are focused on helping leaders deal
with the very issues that they, themselves, need to deal with.
Consequently, it's important for internal service providers to ensure that their functions are operating effectively when providing counsel to internal customers. In Human Resources, these areas would include, but not necessarily be limited to, career management, coaching,
leadership development, performance management, and team development.
Having the right people in the right jobs is key to success for internal service providers as it is to the organization as a whole. In that vein, we assist internal service providers in correcting problems with poor job fit and problem performance that can include restructuring and reorganizing. But poor job fit can also be
corrected through less "invasive" methods such as
cross-training, rotational assignments, and individual coaching or
mentoring. We also help to ensure that internal service providers "play to
their sweet spots," as well as simply performing in roles for which they possess requisite skill sets.
Although job fit is critical, a lack of
role clarity can also create significant problems for Human Resources functions, in the same way that it does for any other organizational functions. Rigid adherence to current roles can also be problematic--or limiting at best. Cross-training and rotational assignments prevent this to a
large degree, as do team development initiatives, but we also help internal service providers through individual coaching. To learn more about how we assist in service function transformation, see Coaching, Leadership Development, Performance Management, and Team Development. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Other Transformation Services
Although HR service providers deal with competition somewhat differently than
marketers would, they still need to be mindful of who they're competing against and how well they're competing. But internal service functions need not limit themselves to the use of marketing strategies to demonstrate value. They can also establish themselves as economic
and political advisers.
an economic perspective, internal service providers can advise internal customers of market conditions that affect their functions or the business as a whole. HR service providers can share what has been learned from compensation surveys and from current market information provided by recruiters. From a political perspective, HR professionals can
create value by keeping their organizations and internal
customers advised of precedent-setting litigation and of pending
legislation that could impact certain segments of their organizations or their organizations as a whole.
professionals, in particular, can be key in assisting internal clients/customers
introduce, lead, and manage change. In this respect, cost reductions
can represent opportunities for HR professionals to provide internal change management consulting services. There
are many ways to enhance internal service provider capability, but no matter what the scenario, internal service providers--particularly HR professionals--need to function as consultants, providing a full spectrum of
services that have perceived value. In addition, HR functions need to be models for cost reduction. That means these functions need
to be managed as any other business function, with constant focus on
meeting customer/client needs in the most cost effective and efficient
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ To read what clients say about our HR Functional Transformation services, click here. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Copyright 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 Marilyn J. Blocker. All rights reserved. Innovation Outcomes* is a trademark of Marilyn J. Blocker.