Shared Services: In Search Of The Missing Benefits
There’s an intriguing backdrop to Deloitte’s 2013 Global Shared Services Survey report, just published. Why are so many business cases being missed in shared services?
The survey confirms that things are progressing as expected. There’s growth – in the breadth of services offered, and in the spread of locations – and more complexity and sophistication, with more multifunction SSCs, more hybrid delivery models and more stand-alone GBS organizations.
This year, Deloitte is not publishing the main survey findings, listing only the questions asked of the 270+ respondents. But one line in the executive summary hints at what is perhaps the most interesting story of all:
“A multifaceted approach to addressing the retained organization is required to realize the intended benefits.”
The word on the street is that few shared services programmes deliver their business case. They may do great things, they may employ very talented people, but often there seems to be a question mark over benefits realization. And although the 2013 Survey report doesn’t comment on this directly, a (separate) Deloitte webinar last week seemed to confirm that there’s no smoke without fire.
In Global HR Shared Services: Emerging Trends, Brett Walsh and colleagues from Deloitte shed light on Shared Services ‘optimisation’ challenges:
“Much has been said about the role of shared services in the transformation of the Human Resources function. Yet for many companies, the benefits expected from transformation are proving elusive.”
“Long after project go-live, when systems and delivery models are in place, organisations still struggle to release the full potential of their investment in HR Shared Services. In fact, many organisations report either failure or significant underperformance compared to their original business case.”
[It’s true that their focus in this webinar was HR Shared Services. But most SSCs are now multi-functional, and Deloitte claims to have worked on 900 shared services projects. So it’s a credible source.]
There’s no single solution. Every organization is different. But I’m going to stake a claim that one of the root causes for the ‘missing’ benefits – maybe the root cause – is a laid-back approach to process management.
It’s the attitude that defining process is simply an overhead and a non-value-add activity; that it’s a temporary project requirement, to be consigned afterwards to a dusty folder on the intranet; that it doesn’t matter if process is in duplicated and overlapping fragments, in different tools and formats, unconnected with real work, and ‘governed’ only by email.
Without the rigour and support of a process management platform, effective collaboration among the stakeholders on the design and implementation of change is, at the very least, in jeopardy. We see it mostly obviously, and dramatically, in the chasm that can appear between IT and the business, but it undermines effective collaboration between all the other stakeholders too.
As it happens, my colleague Angela Chamberlain and I are presenting a WTG webinar on this theme next week. To hear more on how Nimbus provides a platform for process excellence that can underpin sustainable success in HR Transformation, please register here and join us.
21 Feb 2013 When Process Standardization Backfires
15 Nov 2012 Outsourcing’s Secret Sauce
© Text Michael Gammage 2013