Serco is a FTSE 100 global services and outsourcing company with over 70,000 employees, delivering essential services to government and commercial clients in over 30 countries. With a turnover of approximately £4bn, the organisation runs over 700 separate contracts in the UK alone, ranging from managing hospitals and county councils to defence contracts, refuse and leisure services and the London cycle hire initiative. In 2010, the company embarked on an efficiency drive across its global HR function. Known as Empower, this change programme, developed by the senior HR team and underpinned by new HR technology (SAP), was designed to provide a more efficient, simple way for Serco to manage its extremely diverse people requirements, particularly regarding hiring and redeployment.
Historically, the Serco business model has allowed support functions to be carried out on a contract basis with many HR activities managed locally by contract. While this worked successfully to some degree, it also led to a huge duplication of effort and a loss of governance and efficiency. Through the Empower initiative, managers are now in a position to manage their HR issues by using central tools and have the ability to flex resource as needs fluctuate. However, one of the biggest challenges to ensuring Empower's success were the cultural and behavioural changes necessary among the management population for the initiative to be successful. To overcome this, Independent designed and implemented workshops to help educate and coach senior managers into new ways of working.
A core element of the Empower programme was building the business case to support the move to a new HR and resourcing model. This activity involved many detailed discussions with HR, Business and in particular Finance Directors, to ensure full buy-in to the new way of working. Much of the Empower investment business case was based on resourcing achieving 22% of the required cost savings within the first three years. Independent was instrumental in the successful design, acceptance and build of this business case.
All Serco business contracts are hugely reliant on having quick and efficient access to resource. Recruitment is seen as critical to this and to growing the business. While there has been some investment in Serco UK resourcing, it has not been sufficient to meet the demand of over 5,000 hires per year. As a result, inadequate resource and poor recruitment tools have significantly affected efficiency and quality of hire.
In 2011, Independent was engaged to spearhead the resourcing element of the Empower programme. Working as part of Serco's HR Directors' team, Independent built a resourcing change programme based on the three cornerstones of change: people, process and technology.
Working with Serco's management consultancy partner, Accenture, Independent helped design the new Target Operating Model for UK resourcing. This was based on the creation of a central shared service model, with a more proactive approach to redeployment. Given the diverse nature of Serco's work and the need to control and reduce external hiring costs, this was seen as business critical. Setting up an internal redeployment team created over £250k of direct savings in the first six months but also led to an improved perception of resourcing as people were redeployed into activities they would not have considered previously. For example, an Operations Manager was redeployed from a fire service contract to the London cycle hire scheme using his transferable skills.
In January 2012, as part of the new HR shared service centre, Serco launched a team of 29 resourcers based in new offices at Bourneville. Independent worked with Accenture on the design of the recruitment operating model including the structure of the team and individual roles and responsibilities. This involved modelling assumed recruitment activity volumes. Following this, Independent supported the implementation of the model including interviewing candidates for the resourcing team as well as the senior team in the HR shared service centre.
The implementation of SAP e-Recruitment required the building of new process maps and detailed role and responsibility mapping. Independent worked with the Accenture team to build global process maps incorporating all regions from Serco resourcing. This was followed by months of UK customisation. With a lack of historical process to build on, most of this activity was designed and created from scratch, involving significant engagement with the business, much of which was led by the Independent team.
Serco's new resourcing model with its single, consistent recruitment methodology was launched and rolled out in April 2012. A critical element of the launch, which Independent was instrumental in shaping, was in underpinning the service with the correct Key Performance Indicators and measures based on cost, time and quality.
A key element of Serco's technology drive was the improvement of its Talent Management System so that it encompassed senior executives across the entire business. Prior to this, Serco did not have clear visibility of its leadership capability. Independent worked closely with Serco's project team to create the company's first global system to very exacting requirements. To ensure it was fit for purpose, Independent trained Talent Managers and administrators across the UK, US, Middle East, India and Australia to use the talent and succession planning aspects of the system. The training was carried out through webinars, with Independent tailoring the exercises and training materials to the different divisions within each region. Centrally managed, the new system has been highly successful in highlighting opportunities for redeployment, progression, promotion and succession.
Serco's decision to roll out SAP e-Recruitment as part of its Empower initiative presented some significant challenges. The tool is not perceived as one of the leading resourcing tools and has many unproven areas of functionality. However, Independent worked with the non UK regions for the global roll out of the technology, visited SAP reference sites and worked with the Accenture and SAP development teams to customise the product within a restricted budget ready for launch in April 2012.
With the UK resourcing model now launched, Independent is working with Serco to develop a Global Resourcing Centre of Expertise, incorporating social media based recruitment. In addition, the team is helping Serco implement a new managed service partner for contractor and labour hiring. The focus of the partnership in 2012 will be establishing global policy, governance and strategy for resourcing across Serco.
Serco has worked with Independent now since 2011, when we engaged the team to support our Resourcing change plan. This was part of our wider Business & HR transformation programme (MyHR). During this time we have advanced the Resourcing approach at Serco by 'light years'. We have built a shared service centre now delivering over 4,000 hires per annum in the UK, which is successfully recruiting the full breadth of hiring across all of Serco’s UK & European divisions. This includes facilities management, health and transport contracts, all the way up to senior and highly specialised hiring e.g. defence and technology.
Thanks to the work from the Independent team, our own internal Serco Resourcing team and leaders have won both national and global company awards for high performance (our Pulse Awards).
The Resourcing workstream was a key element of our original HR Change business case, and after only 8 months the resourcing implementation has quadrupled our target 12 month business case savings, fundamentally helping to fund new investment in the next stages of the project. We are now working closely together to deliver a Global Resourcing Operating Model which will help Serco achieve its corporate plan over the next few years. The partnership with Independent has worked very successfully for Serco due to Independent’s expertise but also their flexibility. They have worked as a core, integral and embedded part of our Serco teams."
Geoff Lloyd, Serco's Group HR Director
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