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In Human Resources Work , February 24, 2020


Till recent past, HR Transformation was an idea which mostly focused on making the existing HR services more efficient, effective, and compliant. The prevailing conjecture was that the HR function was already doing all of the things that needed to be done; however, it just needed them to be more effective, efficient, faster and thrifty.

Figure 1- Truly Global HR

Now, we are amidst a paradigm shift; basic HR capabilities — such as efficient and effective service delivery, integrated HR systems, effective employee self-service, and access to timely, relevant & accurate workforce data — are nevertheless important, but, these are just basic building blocks that HR function should possess.

What we need looking ahead is, that businesses & organizations really need to consider HR capabilities that do not just augment the business strategy — but also empower it to ‘go global’ and ‘be global’. For example, HR can facilitate & empower business by developing standardized & repeatable systems, processes, and capabilities that make it fast and easy for the business to penetrate new geographic markets, and /or integrate new acquisitions and bolster their existing global presence.



One of our esteemed client, a strong player in the engineering domain in India and Asia Pacific, with over 2 decades of market presence sought to grow and sustain at a faster pace and expand their sales networks globally.


Business Challenge – They had always grown organically and leadership was extremely home-grown. Even most of the key resources did not have professional exposure outside this firm.


Solution Approach – Of the three-pronged solution of People, Process and Technology, our top priority was to make this entire transformation exercise People-Centric.


We recognized from the onset that the driver for this initiative was the need to increase the organization’s presence in critical emerging markets and, as a result, the primary goal was to focus on providing a global view of the organization’s talent base. To that end, HR prioritized and narrowed its definition to focus on three core elements: (1) implementing a standardized, global HR solution; (2) standardizing the talent-related processes that shall augment the organization’s ability to attract, identify, grow, and develop the talent base (with focus on lateral hires); and, (3) synchronizing only the core data elements that drive those identified processes. Without creating a completely standard HR organization or driving full, end-to-end HR process standardization, HR was able to support the globalization initiative while establishing the foundation for future globalization initiatives.

In my experience so far, working with firms across geographies and across industry verticals, my biggest learning is, businesses can ‘go and be global’ if their strategies are aligned to cater to the regional populations as well, while retaining its ‘global’ foot print. For example – I am not limiting myself to the thought process where a global player like KFC or McDonalds have embraced regional tastes in their standardized menu to survive & grow their business in the regional markets; but also towards the talent-force being enabled to be truly globally compliant and mobile.


In a nut shell – people-vision & people-strategies at the highest levels need to be formulated with a global mindset, but the leadership need to be aware of the fact that these strategies and visions have be agile to allow it to be aptly tailored to the regional population as well. This is when an organization and business is stated to have a truly & globally mobile workforce.




Recently, our client – a large, global & highly decentralized conglomerate decided to come out with a globalized HR Policy Framework and use this outsourcing initiative as a catalyst to manage change and sought to standardize its policies, procedures, processes and HR infrastructure across more than 10 countries. This standardization was at the heart of making this outsourcing solution work, as the company was planning to achieve a significant reduction in operating costs.

This firm’s HR leadership encountered a challenge in understanding where HR processes truly required to be standardized and where it had to be differentiated. The company’s all-in, global standardization approach, where they tried to impose over 80% of the HR Policy Framework across geographies. This quickly led to serious resistance from leadership, making the progress toward globalization under the chosen approach impossible.


Where did this client of ours go wrong? – They did not seem to understand the tolerance for globalization at the process level, this organization went too far and lost the support of the strategic business units to push ahead.


What did we do? – We clearly demarcated the policies and processes which shall fit their global vision /footprint vis-a-vis what needs to be a localized set of process and systems.

For developing and implementing new HR capabilities, one can adopt quite a number of useful design philosophies. These design philosophies can help to arrive at a best-fit HR Vision &
HR Transformation strategies and solutions for both the current and future needs of an organization.


Business-driven HR Capabilities – HR capabilities that align with the firm’s strategy and business needs are paramount. Focus should be on high-impact HR strategic activities that can generate significant value for the business, rather than mundane activities like HR transaction processing and administration.


Standardization – HR policies, systems, and processes that are as standardized as per the specific needs of an organization /business is the way forward. This approach shall improve calibration, efficiency, consistency, and collaboration across the global enterprise and help in making the human resources more mobile.


Repeatable (Re-usable) – HR capabilities that can be rapidly and efficiently deployed in new situations, with as such no changes or very few changes can have a major impact on the HR cost structure. This is especially important for business events that are likely to recur, such as entry into a new market, and M&A.


Good Practice to Best Practice – Every organization is extremely unique; identifying this uniqueness is very important to evolve the HR (Good) practices into
Best (HR) practices. These initiatives in fact, will help an organization to differentiate itself and stand-out in a given market place.


Scalable – Establish HR capabilities (i.e., systems, processes, initiatives & infrastructure) that are agile, so that they can easily and efficiently adjust to changes in business environment and demands; even if that means scaling down due to a global slowdown, scaling-up for growth, or being agile and be pro-active to the twists and turns of local markets.


People Centric – Finally, all this will work to its fullest potential, if there is a people centric approach to managing and leading human resources; aligning people goals to organizational and business goals, and not allowing data, technology or infrastructure to dictate the overall the HR workflow.


To conclude, having in place people vision & strategies, which caters to the global organizational and business goals, by not subjugating the regional HR needs, is the best way forward for ‘going’ and ‘being’ global!