Understanding the ongoing (r)evolution in HR: it is TRANSFORMATION

Before I go deeper in (r)evolution and transformation, a small rant around the catch word “digital transformation”! There is only transformation enabled/support/made possible technology! In my daily interactions with customers, I usually challenge the definition and expectations. Why? Because of the following facts:

  • Mobile: WAP- based protocol have been available since late 90’s


  • Analytics: I personally configured my first BO universe in 2005 for monitoring headcount and attrition for a customer in India
  • In-memory: this has been conceptualized back in the 70’s.

Moreover, in French, “digital” is a false-friend, it means “do it with your hands”, very annoying!

So digital transformation should not be about:


Those attributes are just “enablers” of the transformation. Transformation is the transition from one business model to another. Check this video to get a good understanding:

So why is it a big deal?

Well it is the opportunity to review your existing process, to think about organization, to assess in-house versus outsourcing, etc. In short: it is time to reflect on the role of HR for today’s and tomorrow’s conditions.

Based on my reading and customer interactions, I have found two nice ways to prepare for transformation:

  • Starting with future state in mind, for more radical transformation: the 3A
  • Starting with the as-is, for a TCO/efficiency orientated transformation: the 3S

Let’s take a closer look to 3A and 3S approach:

  • 3A stands for Agility, Adaptability and Acceleration. They are the main expected characteristics after transformation.
  • 3S stands for Simplify, Standardize and Share. They are the operational approach to scalability and replicability.

From experience, both are valid approach, they will allow you to map your transformation journey. More importantly, it will reflect your priorities (ie pain points!), your capability to change and your capacity to deliver the transformation. Always keep in mind, that these are just framework for shaping your thinking, but each transformation is unique.

The 3A is more demanding from an “out-of-the-box” thinking perspective, because it obliges from a “right to left” reading of the company future: what are the outcomes you expect (ie face of HR of the future) and then figuring out the steps to get there.

The 3S is more demanding on mapping the “as-is” as it is your starting point for simplify. Additionally, you cannot define the Share before having defined the Standardize that itself can only be defined after the Simplify assessment. It is a « left to right » approach.

But those approach should not start without a GPS that will keep you on track when assessing future state. Typically, I would recommend at least the following two assessment grids:

  • Value drivers: what do you want HR process to deliver? They can include simplicity, reliability, transparency, etc.
  • Paradigm summary: what assumptions do you need to break? They can include “we don’t need to change a working process”, “local needs are so unique that we cannot standardize”, etc.

Using the compass and filters above and one of the framework will let you go beyond the hype of “best practices”: high performance is about differentiation! It is not about replicating the past. But this will be the object of another post! What is important – in my opinion – is that you will highlight existing pain points, culture, HR priorities and it will greatly help in the right technology selection (see here for some ideas)

When I look from outside to some recent SAP Successfactors customers and if I try to apply 3A/3S, here are some food for thoughts:

For 3S:

aluAlcatel-Lucent goes cloud, cuts HR costs 30% in 2 years!

bat BAT Selects SAP to Simplify HR Operating Model

For 3A:

tel Lessons learned from Telefonica’s SuccessFactors rollout

cona From Jurassic to Fantastic!

Of course, this is all based on my personal preferences and empiric data! I will be more than happy to be challenged J


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