HR Business Process Transformation to create an HR shared services model

September 19, 2016

This is the second in a series of articles explaining the goals and key components of the Human Resources Business Process Transformation. The first in the series is available here.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – In 2013, Penn State's Human Resources (HR) community embarked on a multi-year initiative focused on creating a new HR service delivery model that provides more strategic HR support and increased customer service. This will be achieved by more efficiently and effectively aligning HR resources and leveraging redesigned policies and business processes with updated tools and technology.

After three years of steady progress, the Human Resources Business Process Transformation (HRBPT) is closing in on its goal to implement the organizational structure and processes to provide this higher level of service to the entire University.

Slated to be operational in June 2017, the HRBPT will create a more business-focused human resources organization that is accountable; adds value as a business unit; is aligned across the University; and maintains some flexibility in delivering services. The improvement of HR service delivery will be derived from refinement in four areas: HR organizational design, technology, policy and processes.

“In my view, the HR business process transformation is vitally important to the wellbeing of the entire institution, and to our ability to support all of the HR needs of the academic units and business units working to accomplish the mission of Penn State,” said Senior Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray.

Among the most recognizable and impactful for the University community will be the HR organizational design, which will realign personnel and redefine responsibilities to transform the human resources department into a more strategic organization.

In its future state, HR will be comprised of three distinct areas: HR strategic partners and HR consultants, HR Shared Services, and Centers of Expertise.

HR strategic partners and HR consultants

Replacing HR representatives, who were not always employees of the HR department, will be HR strategic partners and HR consultants, positions that will be directly aligned with each of the colleges, units and campuses. 

  • HR strategic partners will primarily serve as advisers to senior leadership, helping to implement the strategic priorities of their respective colleges, units and campuses.
  • The HR consultants will advise managers on issues such as performance management, salary planning and staffing, as well as supporting the HR strategic partner with data analysis. HR consultants will also coordinate work with the units in the Centers of Expertise that will be responsible for talent acquisition, talent management, labor and employee relations, as well as compensation and benefits.

Redefined from the dual-direct reporting relationship, the budget for these positions will be shifted to Human Resources, ensuring full accountability to the vice president, as well as increasing consistency and reducing risk for the University. This model is similar to the financial officer and development models currently used at Penn State. 

The concept of HR strategic partners and HR consultants was successfully piloted in the colleges of education, and arts and architecture in 2015. An important finding of the pilot was that the relationship with the senior leaders of those colleges remained unchanged, although the positions and budget moved to HR. 

HR Shared Services

There are three key areas within HR Shared Services: professional services, operational excellence, and HR operations. 

The Professional Services area will provide benefits, compensation, employee development, talent acquisition and employee and labor relations expertise, primarily as resources to management and the HR strategic partners and consultants.

The Operational Excellence area will provide analytics and project management expertise to ensure that HR is most effectively implementing and monitoring the HR services being provided.

The HR Operations area will provide customer service, benefits expertise, data input and onboarding, as well as coordination of part-time staff and academic staffing. 

Centers of Expertise

The Centers of Expertise (COE) -- tasked with designing core strategy, policy, programs and plans -- will be comprised of four HR specialty areas:

Labor and employee relations – overseeing policy management, academic and staff employee relations, and labor relations

Talent, diversity & inclusion – responsible for talent acquisition, diversity initiatives, workforce planning, and organizational effectiveness employee development and performance management programs

Compensation and benefits – overseeing executive, faculty, staff and technical service compensation; retirement and health and welfare benefits; and child care

HRIT strategy – creating information technology strategy design, development and implementation

“The functional experts in the Centers of Expertise will focus on implementation of HR best practices, vendor management, contract negotiations, and strategic HR initiatives,” said Susan Basso, vice president and chief human resources officer. 

Since January, the senior leadership of HR has been meeting in small groups, often one-on-one, with unit leaders, academic deans and campus chancellors to explain the HR organizational design and the staffing process that includes the HR strategic partners and HR consultants, HR Shared Services, and Centers of Expertise.   

Information on the new roles and responsibilities has been shared with the HR community; the goal is to have individuals identified for all positions by December 2016. The transition to new positions will be phased-in with training for each job, and the technology that will enable it, provided through program launch in June 2017.

“HR staff members within the colleges, units and campuses will be assigned based on consistent guidelines, and will have the ability to flexibly move to support large initiatives across multiple units,” Basso said.

Learn more about HRBPT in future issues of Penn State Today, and visit the effort’s website for more information. 

Last Updated September 19, 2016