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Balancing HR Functional Expertise with Strategic Business Partnerships

By Mark Sullivan, VP-HR & Analytics, McGraw Hill Financial

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Mark Sullivan, VP-HR & Analytics, McGraw Hill Financial

The HR Leadership at McGraw Hill Financial has undergone an HR Transformation, which entails more than just changing structure, titles and accountabilities—HR must put many key pieces in place to realize the full potential of an HR strategic impact on an organization.

First, we needed to redesign the HR organization. This required a shift to a centralized Centers of Excellence (COE) model and a reallocation of accountabilities for the HR Business Partners (HRBP). The design is a fairly standard COE/HRBP model, which balances HR functional expertise with strategic business partnerships.

Next, we evaluated our existing HR systems and quickly determined that they could not provide the fact-based human capital insights and scenario analysis necessary to support our new HR organization. Consequently, we went about planning our infrastructure, technology and processes largely from scratch with the goal of building muscle to support a “step change” in how HR operates. We found external solutions that supported our vision of a data-driven HR operation that cleared the dual hurdles of data quality and accessibility that can be significant obstacles for many HR organizations.

To date, we have implemented a new HR Information System along with a complimentary suite of Talent/Compensation software, which integrates data from multiple platforms into a single analytic and workforce planning tool. In addition, we worked closely with our IT department to undertake a taxonomy project that supports a self-service reporting model. This will eventually allow us to cross functional boundaries and facilitate enterprise-wide collaboration through the use of a Data Dictionary and Master Data Management.

Of course, core systems and analytic tools were not enough to complete the conversion to a true strategic data-driven HR organization; we also created an HR Insights and Analytics COE to provide the necessary training, change management, project management, technology support and deepanalytic expertise that allows our talented HR organization to develop insights to support our business partners.

There has been a great deal of heavy lifting across all of McGraw Hill Financial to get us to this point, and there will continue to be focused efforts to keep the projects moving forward. But we are well on our way to re-engineering our HR function and re-writing the definition of HR Business Partners as data driven business leaders.

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