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Updated by Charles Bystock on 05/09/2021

Shared services have been transforming the corporate delivery model since the 1980s. As an operating model, the philosophy is to centralize and standardize administrative functions. The idea is to go from multiple silos with many workflows, to one synchronized function that fully leverages the support feature. This effort is cost effective, particularly in light of today’s often dispersed teams. Shared services can reduce duplicate workflows or cut incompatible IT systems across locations. However, your shared services strategies should go beyond cost-cutting to drive value within a business. Making this move is a strategic consideration within the parameters of your overall business strategy; however, deploying a new service delivery model within shared services is complex, demanding, and full of risk. The following tips will guide you through deployment of your shared services process.


Tip 1: Is this transition feasible?


Enterprise organizations often use shared services models as a cost-cutting measure. While this makes sense, it is a one-sized approach that fails to allow for the innovation in volatile global markets. For example, service flexibility and process agility were vital for most companies to survive the COVID-19 black swan event. Shared services models typically produce rigidity in workflows that occasionally evolve in extraordinary circumstances. That’s why firms like Cognizant suggest, “The time has come to reinvent shared services as an engine of process efficiency and process innovation.”


This realization calls for the importance of a feasibility study before adopting the shared services model. Creating a baseline vision, then defining how these services will be delivered, is a critical part of this process. Your feasibility study should include the division of processes, technology, workflow changes, and more before the strategy is completed. The shared services model must cover cost/benefits as part of this evaluation — but only at the end of the feasibility study as it explores the organizational impact.


Stakeholder assessments


Tip 2: Have I completed my site and stakeholder assessments?


There is probably not a single enterprise organization that hasn’t made the mistake of implementing technology or a process without an evaluation of the full stakeholder impact. We’ve learned the hard way that success depends on putting stakeholders and end users at the front of the feasibility assessment well before implementation.


Given the nature of our dispersed teams today, it’s necessary to conduct a high-level stakeholder assessment by location. There will be an impact on labor, job creation, recruitment, and retention. Office space, or conversely, the need for no office space, and other infrastructure issues must be explored. Service delivery will shift with these processes, so consider investing in change management, particularly in divisions that are losing responsibilities to outsourcing. These procedures should also fix broken workflows before they enter the shared services model. In the same way that you clean data before it flows to a data warehouse, your stakeholder relationships and processes should be improved before passing them along.


avoiding tech issues


Tip 3: What technology issues could arise?


The benefits of shared services models have always been to consolidate headcount for the labor-intensive manual processes. But over the years, the technology has evolved into plug-and-play tools that make it easier for teams to use these tools. These cloud tools improve business models by automating processes within the framework of shared services. Technology thus becomes the driver of the change across the service delivery model. Existing technologies must be reevaluated within the shift to a shared services model by process, by business unit, and by region. Assessing these existing tools before the transition requires a look at:


  • What the new model will look like across each location?
  • How much standardization is necessary under the new structure?
  • Can the shared services model flow across any non-standard legacy systems that are deemed necessary to the business function?
  • Are there additional technology enablers needed to implement new types of service deliveries?
  • How will the enhancement or addition of new technologies impact the overarching business case?


The complexities of the shared services model demand the assessment and build-out of frameworks to support this transition well before implementation occurs. That is because the impact of these tools is part of the service delivery transformation that affects multiple touchpoints in an organization. Without proper assessment and implementation, the ripple effect of these errors could affect everything from the customer experience to individual stakeholder buy-in. Enterprise organizations must be extremely cautious in ensuring the ripple doesn’t become a tsunami. That’s where the Windsor Group can help. We are the change managers you need to implement new shared services models. Talk with our team today about your digital and process transformation.