57 years ago ADP commoditized payroll. You have 100 earnings codes, a specific set of parameters each code can have, and if you want to go outside those parameters, you can’t. Many see this as a bad thing, but this is actually extremely liberating. Rather than taking each HR function and process and figuring out the best practice for your organization, they’ve done it for you. (Disclaimer: ADP is up to 64,000+ earnings codes, as many deduction codes, great configurability within the set-up, etc…) The world of payroll was commoditized long ago, and benefits followed recently. While not to the extreme point that payroll had gone to, any benefit vendor can basically tell any client how their generic life event process or EOI process should work (with some minor tweaks). Don’t even try telling me that benefit plan set-up is a highly personalized process!
Talent continues to be the hardest area to standardize. With great differentials in how organizations approach learning and workforce development, singular best practices simply have not emerged in a way that allows for rigidly structured standard implementations. Take recruiting for example. Here’s a function where your job postings onto a web job board can be pretty easily defined, but the broader recruiting process and strategy are highly customized.
Employee and manager services lays somewhere between payroll and talent. We’ve gotten pretty good at defining what a promotion process looks like, or how we treat employee pay increases. We’ve also gotten very good at service delivery with the help of call center tools like Authoria. However, each organization still implements workflow process differently, partly because of differing organizational hierarchies, and partly due to process philosophy. While the generic processes are probably 90% the same, each process requires organization specific set-up.
I believe that the future of HR lays in a place where tactical process is fairly homogenous. HR strategy and decision support become the main drivers of what HR does. It’s not going to be about employee processing, and getting to that point means that process configuration mimics ADP payroll. (have I made you sick yet?)