Learning with the Experts: Gary Bragar on the Value of Learning Business Process Outsourcing (Part 2)


In our third installment of Raytheon Professional Services’ Learning with the Experts series, we spoke with Gary Bragar, who is the HR outsourcing (HRO) research director at NelsonHall. Gary works with buy-side and vendor organizations in assessing HRO opportunities, ranging from learning and recruitment to payroll, benefits and multi-process HRO.

Read our first installment with Gary Bragar here.

RPS Q: What is the most common mistake made when managing an outsourced service for learning? What can leaders do to overcome challenges?

You can’t just outsource and hope everything is going to be fine. I served on the governance team at AT&T when we outsourced our HR services. We continuously met both the service provider managers and executives, responsible for daily work, along with the client service executives.

The client should always retain one or more client executives responsible for policy and strategy for each major function. They need to meet and define success with business leaders as well as develop tracking and reporting of metrics they can be proud of, and then meet back with business leaders to show the data that proves their business value. You can’t just outsource and hope the vendor will do everything. You have to jointly develop metrics, continuously review and evaluate performance, and report out the results to the business. Both sides need to do this together. The mistakes we see are usually, “Here is the signed contract, here are the preliminary services levels, now have the vendor go do it.” The relationship is a partnership that both sides have to contribute to.

RPS Q: What are the three things you should ask upfront before partnering with a vendor for outsourcing?

I will keep it simple:

1. Client references you can speak with.
2. Proof of client results that preferably are in your industry on things such as business results, improved compliance, reduced cost and reduced time to competence.
3. Meeting the team that will support you, from executives to trainers, to content developers. Be sure you know the people well before you sign the contract because to be successful you really need a strong partnership and to make sure you have a good cultural fit and the vendor is easy to do business with. This will define the success of the relationship.

RPS Q: How will the uptake in analytics, improve the value of the L&D and HR functions in terms of ROI?

Proving value with analytics. Data proves the results. With good results, the business will look to increase funding to HR instead of cost-cutting. The business will view HR as a more valued business partner only if HR and learning can prove their value with the data by showing increased business results. The most optimal thing learning departments can strive for is having the business coming to you for help instead of learning and HR having to go to the business.

RPS Q: When you look at global markets, what is the most common challenge faced across all geographic boundaries?

A common challenge is proving value. Clients are also looking for vendors with global capabilities, including resources on a more global scale, as in multi-country or multi-regional coverage, to deliver training in multiple languages while looking for the best cultural fit.

RPS Q: What one piece of advice would you give L&D professionals, today, to help improve efficiency/effectiveness of performance?

Talk to your business leaders and define success and how the learning organization can add value. Measure the business value, and then provide the results. Get learning on the leadership team agenda. In my service delivery governance role at AT&T, I would attend business leadership team meetings, and sometimes I would bring the vendor responsible for the function to the meeting. It sounds like a simple thing to do, but what I see now is that there is not enough done to report back to the business once they’ve got the company’s blessing to outsource. More needs to be done by going back to the business about what has been executed and accomplished.


Gary Bragar is the HR Outsourcing Research Director at NelsonHall where he has global responsibility for HRO. Gary joined NelsonHall in April 2007 after gaining extensive HR management experience at AT&T. In this key role, Gary assists both buy-side and vendor organizations in assessing the opportunities and supplier capability across HRO, including for learning, recruitment, payroll, benefits, and multi-process HRO. Gary recently completed an industry-leading analysis of opportunities and vendor capability in Learning BPO.

In his last job assignment at AT&T, Gary was a member of the AT&T governance team responsible for managing the service delivery of AT&T’s major Human Resources and Payroll services BPO contract with Aon Human Capital Services. Gary helped forge the strong partnership and as such AT&T and Aon were selected as “HRO Relationship of the Year.” Gary’s prior operational experience at AT&T included: Learning, Recruiting, Benefits Administration, Compensation, HR Transformation, HRIT and Employee Programs for AT&T International. In Learning Gary performed content development and delivery of AT&T Bell Laboratories quality curriculum. Gary is also an adjunct Professor having taught part-time in the Business Department at Bloomfield College, NJ for 17 years. Gary is certified as an online instructor and delivered courses using classroom, online and blended delivery.

Gary has published numerous articles, conducted numerous webcasts and presented at many conferences in the U.S. and Europe including co-presenting with Raytheon in Amsterdam on the benefits of Learning BPO, and in California at the 2014 Spring CLO Symposium on To Outsource or Not to Outsource Learning, a discussion from a left and right brain perspective.