Meet the expert that promises up to 30 percent savings to businesses that outsource their salary and HR processes.
From his office in Stavanger, Ole Jan Friestad leads a team of 100 specialists on salary and HR, across four continents. 30 of them are Norwegian and in the Norwegian office, the staffs’ experience averages 25 years.
The team’s most important clients are all the companies within the Aker group, many of the units within Equinor, bank and financing operators, media, and industry businesses to name a few. The commonalities are that they are all important to society, they are present in several countries and want to be brands that are seen as a solid, professional employer.
Compliance with rules in several countries
Friestad’s team is structured with dedicated specialists within all fields in HR. They have to comply with complex norms, guidelines, and rules in each country and across borders.
“Each client has a set team and knows we are only a quick phone call away. All agreements are specifically defined with deliverables where we make sure everything is done correctly, at the agreed-upon time, and in the right way.”
The account director manages the dialogue and gives advice. The set client teams are in charge of salary, government reporting, handling travel bills, and all HR processing. Besides, there are specialized experts with in-depth knowledge in their respective fields.
“Every country has its set of rules and regulations that we need to have a deep knowledge of. Also, there are always changes that need us to have a quick turnaround like tax regulations changing or an emergency. My team keeps an eye on all of this and makes sure we solve everything in the way needed,” Friestad says.
Outsourcing everything but the core competence
The norm is that large corporations already have outsourced part of their HR and salary work.
“HR and salary are not skills that are needed internally. These companies have made a conscious decision to not build that competence themselves.”
Employees will notice no difference when they work via the remaining HR specialists, directly with Cognizant’s team, and increasingly with self-service portals.
“Exactly how things are organized in a company is determined by what they had to start with, but the goal is always to make things easier and automate as much as possible. That’s what gives the largest value to each employee and the most savings for the company in the long run. The risk of human error is also less,” Friestad says.
When HR and salary are outsourced – who does what?
What tasks are to be done and by who is determined through dialogue between the client and Cognizant. In practice the service partner can take responsibility for:
- 90 percent of all processes tied to salary and time tracking among employees
- 80 percent of all processes tied to pension, insurance, and other financial benefits
- 80 percent of all processes tied to travel expenses
- All processes for generating reports and follow up of employees
- 90 percent of all administrative processes for on- and off-boarding
- 80 percent of processes tied to all employee HR needs throughout their working relationship
- 50 percent of the work with the HR strategy
“In short, we can deal with all the transactional and complicated work. The client is left with controlling and approving everything and of course working on evolving the company as the best employer in its industry,” says Friestad.
30 percent more efficient
Friestad has 20 years’ experience with HR and salary in addition to ten years’ experience within financial and project management. In the last five years, he has experienced the biggest changes so far.
“Automation and self-service have changed the profession. Our jobs are more strategic and more and more of my time is spent guiding and giving advice. That demands broader knowledge than previously.”
Friestad tells about a Norwegian company that, thanks to the partnership, has increased its efficiency with more than 30 percent in the last five years. And they have identified even more areas with the potential to further improve those numbers.
“Increasing efficiency gives both our clients and us benefits.”
Easier, improved processes
The most important improvement for the client’s employees is that they are left with easier processes and speedier time to answers.
“Customer satisfaction is about delivering on the client’s expectations or better. To make that happen, we have to know the internal culture of the company and the market they work in. Our goal is to be a constructive partner that challenges them with ideas and thoughts about how things can be done in a better way,” Friestad says.
Experience and a professional foundation make Friestad dare indicate what a collaboration with Cognizant can result in financially.
“It depends on how many countries are included, but outsourcing accounting and salary can quickly add up to about 30 percent savings. In the US, we’ve seen cases where it’s halved the client’s costs.”
Worried about the very transitioning of the HR processes? Then read this text on how to ensure a safe transition.