Common HR Functions and Units

The organizational structure is the basic framework for decision making functions within Human Resources. The modern HR Management is usually based on the model drafted by David Ulrich. Most HR Functions are divided into three main groups: HR Front Office, HR Back Office and HR Centers of Excellence. The model defines the basic principles for the communication with internal clients, responsibility for the external market monitoring, keeping HR data up to date and the responsibility for HR Processes.

The HR Team can use the market best practice in designing the HR Organizational Structure. Many researches have been done and most modern HR functions follow the market best practice.

The most common HR Organization consists from:

  • HR Front Office
  • HR Back Office (or HR Operations)
  • HR Centers of Excellence

The HR Front Office is responsible for the management of the relationship with internal clients. The modern HR Management is based on the idea of the single point of contact for internal clients. It is the advantage for clients to remember just one name from HR, which will make everything happen. On the other hand, it creates a job profile in the HR Front Office extremely demanding.

The larger organizations differentiate the front office into several groups of job profiles. They create the HR Business Partner profile for the top management and the line management. The create the profile of the HR Consultant for employees and team leaders in the organization.

The job profiles of the HR Business Partner and the HR Consultant are different. The HR Business Partner is focused on the strategic HR agenda. The consultant is focused on the operational HR agenda.

The HR Back Office centralizes traditional HR agenda – HR Administration and Payroll. These processes are usually invisible for internal clients, but they are extremely important. The back office is responsible for the compliance of HR Processes with the legal and regulatory framework. The back office processes all required changes and keeps the personnel files up to date. The back office is responsible for the HR data. The back office employees enter all data into HRIS. They update the data about employees.

The HR Centers of Excellence are responsible for the design and development of HR Processes and Procedures. The centers have to cooperate closely with the HR Front Office and HR Back Office.

Most common HR Centers of Excellence are:

  • Recruitment and Talent Acquisition
  • Training and Development
  • Career Development
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Organizational Design
  • HR Controlling

The proper definition of responsibilities of Centers of Excellence is a difficult task. Many HR Processes are cross functional and just one Center of Excellence can act as a process owner with the full accountability. The full agreement among managers responsible for centers is essential for the successful set up of the HR Organizational Structure.

The roles of Centers of Excellence are defined in the HR Model. The organizational structure should never be adjusted without the adjustment of the HR Model. The changes should be always derived from the model. Otherwise, the stronger manager will define the structure of HR.

HR Organization Structure Section Content


HR Front Office