The 1980s saw the emergence of the concept of shared services centers (SSCs). The concept has matured over the years. A variety of factors, local and global, converged to give it a rapid momentum. Initially, mass transactions from finance & accounting, and IT used to be the most prioritized functions for SSC implementation.
However, with changing times, various other departments – sales operations, supply chain operations, and marketing departments have secured a safe space to stay healthy and viable in the shared services ecosystem.
Business leaders put their best foot forward to transform their SSCs into value creation centers. And, it is understandable. Afterall, SSC presents opportunities to maximize operational efficiencies, boost workforce productivity, eliminate redundancies – and do all of these while drastically minimizing costs. Said so, various factors can affect the success rate of SSC initiatives. Here are some critical factors that must be considered to transform SSCs:
Think Global From The Start
Business leaders often embark on their SSC journey by establishing a center in their native region. They embrace an iterative approach of starting small and building on ‘as they go’.
The key objective of this center is to minimize costs and drive workforce productivity. Post the implementation of native SSC, once decision-makers start witnessing the expected business benefits, this ideation takes a global view. The leaders then go on to establish policies as well as organizational structures, which are directed to transform the global model.
The count of physical locations is duly rationalized, resulting in setting up a single center, with a few regional centers. Thus, it is important to have concrete reasons to consolidate the business operations that are used by multiple departments of the same organization and establish a global service delivery model and identify the specific objectives as well as success criteria.
Identification Of The Right Processes
Yes, it is one of the most critical factors. Prima facie, large, self-contained, transactional-intensive activities that are common across the organization are the best-suited services. However, do not lose sight of specifics. The term ‘shared services’ is extremely elastic and is often used inappropriately. Functions start calling themselves a shared services organization (SSO) when all they are doing is centralizing their accounting function.
In such circumstances, the term SSO doesn’t reflect much apart from their willingness to join the league of a mature shared services organization. Thus, identify the right processes and place an SSC in its right placement.
Shared Services Automation (The Right Kind Is Important)
In order to meet the dynamic needs of various functional departments and regional business units, smart companies have begun harnessing the potential of technology. Global leaders in the SSC space automate their process ecosystem and leverage low code digital automation platform, powered by business process management, enterprise content management, customer communication management capabilities.
In addition to the capabilities, these new-age platforms have the icing of cutting-edge technologies that enable organizations to gain a competitive edge over their competitors. Using such platforms, users can perform a host of activities such as centralizing transactions spread across distributed operations, auto-route transactions to the right user for approval, manage exceptions efficiently, auto escalate idle transactions, measure business KPIs in real-time, and the list goes on.
Visibility To Facilitate Administration Of The Process
Managing a few transactions is easy without elaborate monitoring mechanisms. But, when scale increases (where the real benefits accrue), then robust and scalable monitoring become indispensable. Users must be able to monitor at the process level to track what’s happening in the system.
Such monitoring should include human activities, exceptions, queue monitoring, process level, and queue level alerts and overall process statistics.
Measurement And Simulation
The ability to measure the key process parameters is critical. There must be ability to measure the overall turnaround times, throughput, and task level attributes and how they would impact the business performance. Simultaneously, there must be an ability to simulate the process with all sorts of ‘what-if’ scenarios. And, assess if the proposed improvements from SSC would impact business performance to the levels predicted.
Investment In Personnel Training
As shared services professionals look to deliver intended business benefits, the most advanced organizations recognize that employee training is not a discretionary cost, which can be compromised in any way. They instead see the training and development as an investment.
For instance: technology training is an important consideration. Moving to an SSC model often requires technological transformation, giving business leaders a compelling reason to adequately train their users.
The bottom line is that these factors cannot be ignored if you are looking to drive process excellence in your SSC.