Shared Services: “Run it Like a Business”

When choosing a shared services leader it is important to pick someone who really knows what it means to “run it like a business”.  Not everyone is well equipped or prepared to do this.  Often times, organizations make the mistake of choosing a leader who is very technically proficient within a particular function(s) but lacking in general manager type skills.  A good shared services leader understands the need to satisfy and sometimes even attract customers, monitor and improve results, motivate diverse teams and continuously do so in an efficient manner.

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Shared Services works, but we’re different!

How many times as either a practitioner or consultant have you heard, we’re different?  Or perhaps, I  know shared services has worked in this industry before, but we are not like everyone else.  We are unique.  If you’ve been working in shared services for any length of time, you have absolutely heard these exact statements or something very similar.

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Shared Services – Are We Having Fun Yet?

People, process and technology.  How many times have we heard, “it’s really about people, process and technology”?  Too many to count, I’m sure.  Often times, these three components are given equal weight when considering a strategy to optimize a function and while I agree all three are important, it’s vital to remember that people create and use or not use processes and technology.  Since that is a fact, it is crucial we always consider people first when devising solutions.  So what does this have to do with fun you might be asking?  Plenty.

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Shared Services Models

There are numerous models to consider when evaluating your shared services strategy. Essentially models are a combination of sourcing and location. The different sourcing options include captive (company employees), outsourced or a hybrid of those two options. Location options include on-shore, near shore and off-shore. On-shore means the location of the center is in the same country as the business operations. So, if a company is headquartered and conducts most business in the U.S. the center is in the U.S. Similarly, if a company is headquartered and does most business in China, the center is in China. The near shore option simply means the location of the center is near, the country where most business is conducted. In the U.S. example, a center in Mexico or Canada would be considered near-shore. Offshore locations are defined as a center that is located in another part of the world as in a U.S. company having a shared services in India or the Philippines. See the chart below for the different combinations that these options can create.

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