Motorola Solutions, Inc. and Aon Hewitt
“You can sign a contract and that holds both parties to certain standards. But, in a true partnership, there is also an unwritten contract; a commitment to continuous improvement and a shared philosophy of excellence that goes beyond the basic requirements.”
Vice President, Global Human Resources Shared Services
Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Motorola Solutions, a leading provider of mission-critical communication solutions and services for enterprise and government customers, has always been a company of innovative “firsts.” It was a communications pioneer, introducing one of the first commercially successful car radios way back in 1930. It developed the radio transponder that carried the astronaut’s first words from the moon to Earth in 1969. In 2011, it created the United States’ first statewide broadband public safety network in the state of Mississippi. That legacy of “boldly going where no company has gone before” has continued ever since, changing the way we all work, live and communicate.
With this culture of “firsts” and a constant quest to find a better way, it comes as no surprise that Motorola Solutions is also a pioneer in HR transformation and achieved another innovative first: this time by providing a better experience for its 21,000 employees across 65 countries. By combining an unprecedented, self-managed global Software as a Service (SaaS) environment with BPO services from Aon Hewitt, they became the industry’s first large-market client to go live on Workday, a Software as a Service (SaaS) HR system.
“As a company, our purpose is to help people be their best in the moments that matter,” said Norman Ross, vice president of Global Human Resources Shared Services at Motorola Solutions. “We help firefighters see around buildings and police officers see around street corners. We make supply chains visible to retailers and for our employees, we recognized that to help them be their best in the moments that matter, we needed to completely transform our approach to HR solution delivery.”
Like many innovations, this award-winning outsourcing relationship began in response to a monumental change.
A New Company. A New Approach to HR Solution Delivery.
Prior to 2011, the former Motorola, Inc. was a corporate conglomerate with multiple lines of business and more than 60,000 employees in over 100 countries. In 2011, the consumer mobile business (Motorola Mobility) was spun off in order to focus the company’s long-term vision on its government and enterprise customers. The HR leadership of the now more focused and nimble Motorola Solutions recognized an ideal opportunity to support the new business with a transformative service delivery model.
“Prior to the separation, we had been using the same human resources outsourcing provider for system administration and back-end processing since 2003, and that contract was coming to an end,” explained Ross. “Although we could have split the contract and renewed what we had, we saw this as an ideal time to realign our HR service delivery. Technology had changed over the past 10 years, and we were changing too. We needed a service delivery model that matched our new, more nimble organization.”
The HR leadership team spent one year thoughtfully and intentionally exploring its options.
“Ultimately, we decided to migrate to Workday’s cloud-based HR software and manage it internally to give ourselves more flexibility. That way, if technology changed, we could shift to a new solution much easier than if that was tied to our outsourcing service provider,” Ross said. “Then we set out to find a BPO partner who could not only support our global footprint but share our vision. We weren’t looking for a vendor but a true partner who could help us drive a more globally consistent approach to our back office administration as well as the frontline services we offer our employees.”
Although the Motorola Solutions shared services team looked at every global provider who could meet the company’s specifications, only one stood out: Aon Hewitt.
“Partnership is one of our core values at Motorola Solutions. The people at Aon Hewitt seemed to instinctively know what we were looking for and helped us understand what we needed to look for as we went through the RFP process,” Ross said. “They were also keen to take on the challenge. They shared our vision and wanted to be a part of our success.”
Motorola Solutions contracted with Aon Hewitt to provide BPO for global workforce administration, global staffing administration, international benefits, U.S. health and welfare, U.S. benefits accounting and North American absence management. In addition, Aon Hewitt would handle employee questions online or by phone in seven languages through four, strategically placed global service centers.
When Motorola Solutions went live with Workday and Aon Hewitt in 2012, it became the first large market HR SaaS customer with a multi-process HR BPO solution in the industry.
Overcoming the Challenges of Innovative “Firsts”
Any undertaking of this scope is bound to have some challenges. Although go-live happened on target and the majority of the operation worked well from the onset, one significant miscalculation tested the partnership early on.
“When we entered the contract, Aon thought they could provide international benefits support in all countries. Prior to implementation, we found that we had underestimated the complexity of setting this up in more than 60 different countries,” Ross said.
Every country has different programs and different insurers. Getting data integrated across all of those vendor systems, Motorola Solutions Workday and Aon Hewitt’s employee-facing portal was far more difficult than anyone anticipated.
“Working together to fix the problem over six-to-nine months tested our commitment to partnering and excellence, and it wasn’t always easy. But Aon responded to us like we hoped they would. They really came through,” Ross said.
According to Ross, a true outsourcing partnership is very much like a marriage.
“You will inevitably go through some tough times, but your relationship will be strengthened because of it. That’s exactly what happened here,” Ross said. “It’s been more than a year since go-live and I can honestly say that we made the right choice with Aon Hewitt. We found the right partners for us.”
Recognizing that Partnership Takes Work
The reality is strong outsourcing partnerships take more than just cultural fit and contracts.
“You have to be respectful of each other and each other’s objectives, which aren’t always the same. You also have to be very honest. We’ve given Aon very direct feedback and they’ve been honest with us on what we can do to make things better,” Ross said.
The companies don’t limit interaction to once a month or once a quarter but have created a variety of forums for interaction; involving top leadership in some; operations personnel in others. Ross also talks regularly with his Aon Hewitt account manager, both formally in these forums and informally.
It’s important to note that the majority of these discussions go well beyond fixing problems. This collective team is continually focused on innovation, continuous improvement and increasing Motorola Solutions employee satisfaction.
“You can sign a contract and that holds both parties to certain standards. But, in a true partnership, there is also an unwritten contract; a commitment to continuous improvement and a shared philosophy of excellence goes beyond the basic requirements,” Ross said. “I think part of our success is due to the fact that we’re never satisfied. We’re constantly asking ‘how can we get better?'”
To this end, these partner companies are constantly measuring their collective success. Ross’ team recently completed the first annual employee satisfaction survey. Aon Hewitt also produced a survey around service center performance.
“We’ve created a sea of activity to improve service based on this feedback, including a mobile app and screen sharing with our service center,” Ross said. “We’re also re-engineering our organization and position management process to make that easier for managers.”
And that bleeding edge SaaS technology? It’s definitely changed things for the better.
“We have revolutionized performance management and are now deploying tools in support of talent management that enables managers to streamline succession planning; mapping employee development programs to his or her future position,” Ross said. “We are changing the way HR works, so we can focus on how to add more value to the business.”
The next step? Big data analytics.
“With Cloud, we now have access to Big Data. We’re working with Aon Hewitt and Workday on how to use this information to enhance our HR function,” Ross said.
With a partnership like Motorola Solutions and Aon Hewitt, there’s always another “first” in the making.