HR outsourcing remains a topic on everyone's agenda. I should know because I've recently been outsourced. And you know what - it's great.
Myths abound about outsourcing - it is bad for the individual, outsourcers are only interested in cost cutting, everyone will be overworked, underpaid and life will never be the same.
I only agree with the last point. HR has been criticised for decades by line management as a reactive and second-rate administrative function offering no added value. This has led to minimal investment and discouraged high-flyers from joining the function. In many organisations the most important strategic event HR is allowed to get involved in is the Christmas party.
Then along comes the HR business process outsourcing companies. They are interested in making money, of course, so what are their priorities? Well, it is not in creating a reactive team, and investing the bare minimum.
The BPO players are making HR their core business. It is no longer something reserved for the back office of large industrialists, but for the front office of companies who have to invest to survive.
What does that mean for the HR professional about to be outsourced to an organisation he doesn't even know? For me, it means investment in the tools of the job to make the HR professional's life easier, and it means that HR is no longer a cost or an overhead but rather a revenue generator, core to the business.
It is not easy. HR professionals will have to work harder than ever, but at least they will be doing it with the support of the business. But make no mistake, if you have been hiding for years in the comfort zone of a large organisation you will be found out, which I don't think is such a bad thing.
If it is all good news, why aren't the line managers at BP Amoco and BT singing its praises (News, 24 September)? It is all about the change curve. The problem is many of the retained HR business partners have forgotten to mention to the line managers that things are going to change. The welfare job that HR has been doing for years - those Christmas parties and disciplinary meetings - is now their responsibility.
In an outsourced world, HR will get the basics right - such as data integrity and administration - will offer policies and practices that will attract, retain and develop employees, and will act as a strategic partner. This will mean shared services through