By Edward E. Lawler III, Dave Ulrich, Jac Fitz-enz, and James C. Madden V (Jossey-Bass, $45)
I guess it was coincidence. Not a week before I read Human Resources Business Process Outsourcing, my sister-in-law complained to me that her company's HR department had been outsourced to India. She recalled a situation in which an employee had to call three times before he could get someone on the phone he could understand, and then he was given incorrect information. "It's a nightmare," she said. I know it's anecdotal, but it was in the back of my mind.
I can see the business reasons for outsourcing the transactional side of HR. Having been in HR for most of my career, I can tell you that working in the transactional end is not a particularly enriching experience, nor is it a good use of the company's money for an HR professional's time. And as the book demonstrates from the statistics provided, business process outsourcing (BPO) can save a company some money.
But I'm still not sure whether this book is an examination of BPO, or just a big advertisement for Exult (now Hewitt Associates, as the result of a merger), a provider of HR business process outsourcing for Global 500 corporations. The first 75 pages discuss BPO and the issues surrounding it, and the next 174 pages laud Exult and its successful track record with four customers: Bank of America, International Paper, BP, and Prudential.
The authors say that this book "...should provide anyone who is considering adopting the HR BPO approach with invaluable information about the issues they need to consider and the potential advantages" of BPO. And to be fair, this book hits that target. The case studies offer practical examples of the many issues to be considered, including cost savings, employee satisfaction, contractual relationships, the changeover process, lessons learned, and more.
Tucked away in the very back of the book is a valuable section titled "Potential Outsourcing Problems." —J.L.