The HR Business Partner

The HR business partner is the most critical, yet frequently ignored role in the move to HR shared services. Much attention is given to new roles created by a shared services model while little attention is given to how the business partner role must change with the new model. This is the third session of a HR Shared Services learning series that ScottMadden is presenting in conjunction with Shared Services & Outsourcing Network (SSON). In this session, we discuss the important evolution of the business partner role and the skills and competencies needed to effectively support the business.

For more in this series, please see:

Building a Business Case for Shared Services

HR Shared Services Technologies

HR Shared Services Expansion

Shared Services Customer Satisfaction

Post-Launch Success Factors

Additional Contributing Author: Tina Krebs

View Accessible Version



HR Service Model.png

Customer Care.png

Customer Care.png

HR Service Model.png


The Evolution of the HR Business Partner

  • A Discussion of the Changing Role of the HR Business Partner in a Shared Services Model
  • June 2015


  • About ScottMadden The HR Business Partners Role Recognizing the Change Transforming the HR Business Partner Additional Considerations

About ScottMadden

Unique perspective built on 30 years of energy experience Solutions for clean and renewables sources of energy, smart energy management, and sustainability

  • Who We Are
  • ScottMadden is a management consulting firm with more than 30 years of deep, hands-on experience. We deliver a broad array of consulting servicesfrom strategic planning through implementationacross many industries, business units, and functions.

Our experienced team has been a pioneer in corporate and shared services since the practice began decades ago. We employ deep, cross-functional expertise to produce practical, measurable solutions.

  • Our corporate and shared services knowledge, expertise, and experience are unmatchedno other firm has helped more clients with more unique solutions.
  • Corporate & Shared Services: Unmatched Experience



  • Strategic planning Feasibility analysis Benchmarking Leading practice assessment Performance evaluation Project planning Leadership education and buy-in Staff evaluation Change readiness assessment Site visits
  • Project management Service and transaction center build Detailed organizational design Staffing Process redesign Technology design, selection, implementation, and support Education and training Facility design and setup Change management Sourcing implementation
  • Current state analysis Future state design Business case development Service delivery model design Work scope delineation Sourcing evaluation Organizational design Technology evaluation Transformation planning Implementation planning Change management
  • Analytics setup and deployment Operations improvement Governance Service expansion Cost reduction Process redesign Technology upgrade Merger and acquisition integration Field resource development Customer satisfaction measurement Metrics and performance management
  • Capabilities

What We Do Human Capital

  • HR is a core specialty at ScottMadden and has been since our inception in 1983. As such, we have a dedicated human capital practice that consults across geographies and across industries, including aerospace, consumer products, defense, education, energy, entertainment, healthcare, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, retail, technology, telecommunications, transportation, and others. Whether we are improving talent management programs, revamping processes to ensure effectiveness and regulatory compliance, designing and implementing new service delivery models, expanding existing operations, or evaluating outsourcing opportunities, we ensure our clients achieve the business value desired.
  • Talent management strategy Talent management Organization design and build Process redesign Competency development System requirements identification Implementation planning
  • Talent Transformation
  • HR Transformation
  • HR transformation strategy Service delivery model design Business case development Implementation planning Implementation support/project management Operations expansion
  • Organization Transformation
  • Strategic HR and business goal definition Work realignment Organization design Business case development Implementation planning
  • HR Analytics
  • Organization launch Model development Dashboard creation

The HR Business Partner Role

  • Leading Practice HR Service Delivery Model
  • The HR Business Partner Role
  • Vendors
  • Employees
  • Line Managers

Service Delivery Model Service Center

  • The service center generally handles a wide range of administrative and transactional activities, such as general employee inquiries and data updates The service center is staffed with customer care-oriented employees that may or may not have HR experience Employee inquiries and transactions may be handled via phone, chat, or online capabilities Service center staffing varies based on service scope, deployed technologies, geographies served, and other similar service delivery design elements The split between tier 1 and tier 2 staffing varies depending on service scope, but can approach 50 50 A continuous review of operations and data to identify and address issues proactively and expand scope based on business needs is the key to the service centers sustained success
  • The HR Business Partner Role
  • Tier 1 Administrative Support Data Entry Inquiry Management System Support Transaction Support
  • Tier 2 Employee Relations Leaves Management TA Administration Workforce Administration
  • Support from Third-Party Providers

Service Delivery Model Tier 3

  • Centers of Expertise (COE) own and direct the programmatic aspects of human resources, such as program design and deployment, policy development and interpretation, and enterprise-wide functional data collection and analysis COEs usually exist for Benefits, Compensation, Employee Relations, Labor Relations, Talent Acquisition, and/or Talent Management HRIS is frequently grouped with an HR Operations organization that includes the service center and continuous improvement Staffing levels vary greatly for individual COEs and are influenced by service scope, deployed technologies, geographies served, and other similar service delivery design elements For COEs to be most successful, it is important that they report centrally. However, we see a variety of staffing models with respect to where resources are located
  • The HR Business Partner Role
  • Tier 3 Employee/Labor Relations Global Mobility Talent Acquisition Talent Management Total Rewards
  • Functional Specialists

Service Delivery Model HR Business Partners

  • HR Business Partners work with leaders and managers to facilitate the success of human capital-related business goals Business partners are focused on advisement activities and strategic interventions This work often shifts based on business goals, strengths, and weaknesses If possible, business partners are deployed locally. In organizations with wide geographic footprints or a large number of locations (e.g., retail), business partners may be organized regionally or in pods Business partner staffing generally ranges between one HR professional per 250 to 500 employees. Regional deployment models frequently fit this range, but required travel needs to be considered as staffing levels are set A key to the success of a leading practice service delivery model is a complement of well skilled business partners. Critical skills include analytical, business acumen, communication, organization, problem solving, and self-directedness
  • The HR Business Partner Role

Recognizing the Change

Change in Roles and Responsibilities

  • Recognizing the Change
  • HRBPs remain focused on the business and human capital strategies.

Change in Roles and Responsibilities (Contd)

  • Unfortunately, the business often looks at the HRBP as an administrative support function versus a strategic partner, because typically the majority of the HRBPs time is spent supporting people movement and changes within the organization prior to implementing the new service delivery model.
  • Recognizing the Change
  • Knowing your current state activity breakdown for the HRBP and across the HR function will help you understand and quantify the degree of change required for the organization.
  • This example shows that the HR Generalist in this company spends a significant amount of time on transactional activities despite also having HR assistants on their staff.

Overlooking the Change Required

  • During an implementation of a new service delivery model, a lot is changing and the change management and training associated with new roles and responsibilities is critical.
  • Recognizing the Change
  • HRBPs are assumed to have the skills and competencies required to perform in their new roles without being trained appropriately.
  • Whats Missing??

Competency Shift

  • As a result of the HRBPs change in responsibilities from a role more administrative in nature to a role more strategic in nature, there is a change in the competencies required for the position.
  • Recognizing the Change
  • Knowledge of the Business Analytical Problem-solving Communication Systemic Thinking Ambiguity (ability to deal with) Adaptability Organization Teamwork Insightful
  • Knowledge of the Business Attention to Detail Time Management Process Management Customer Focus Communication Self-directedness Teamwork
  • New Competencies
  • Old Competencies
  • Strategic Shift

Transforming the HR Business Partner

Timing and Approach

  • Ideally, the role of the business partner is examined and transformed during the implementation of the shared services model. However, this process can also be done at a later point in time if it was not completed initially. Timing considerations include: Integration with shared services implementation plan Process redesign Staffing Training Integration with the organizations performance management cycle There are three main phases in transforming the role of the HR business partner:
  • Transforming the HR Business Partner


  • In the Define phase, it is important for the organization to clearly identify and communicate to the business what constitutes a successful HR business partner in the new organization.
  • Transforming the HR Business Partner


  • During the Assess phase, the organization will design and conduct the assessment of the HR business partners, which will result in a cross-company view of the strength of your HR business partner community and potential opportunities for improvement.
  • Transforming the HR Business Partner


  • The Develop phase involves analyzing the results of the assessment and determining how gaps will be closed in skill levels. By readily communicating training plans as a result of the assessment, a message is delivered to your HR business partners that you are willing to invest in them as well as the new service delivery model.
  • Transforming the HR Business Partner

Additional Considerations

View More

Welcome to ScottMadden!

Sussex Economic Advisors is now part of ScottMadden. We invite you to learn more about our expanded firm. Please use the Contact Us form to request additional information.