The 50:50 gamble: winning with elite shared services

Over the past 20 years many organisations have adopted shared services with the aim of improving the performance of their business support functions. All embark on the significant changes required by shared services programmes with high expectations – yet the reality is that only 50% will achieve what they hope for. For the other 50%, the benefits realised from shared services will fall short of expectations.

So what do businesses that succeed in developing high-performing shared services do differently to those that don’t? And what does your business need to do to maximise its chances of joining this elite group?

These questions are the focus of important new shared services research from PA Consulting Group. We talked to 135 major organisations worldwide to identify the key strategies businesses are using to make sure that the benefits they realise from shared services meet and exceed expectations. Our report points the way forward for any business aiming to develop elite shared services.

What impact do service scope and reach have?

Over the past five years, organisations have been adding more scope to shared services, with Data Analytics and Procurement increasingly joining the shared services family. The geographic footprint of shared services is expanding too, strengthening the capacity of the shared services organisation to make an impact on the business’s strategic objectives.

Our report reveals whether extending service scope and geographic reach in this way helps businesses achieve targeted benefits from shared services.

How does the source of service delivery affect performance?

For shared services organisations, there are three options in terms of sources of service delivery: mostly in house, mostly outsourced or a mix of both. Which approach they choose will dramatically affect their chances of winning the 50:50 gamble. 10% of organisations that choose a particular one of these approaches see the benefits they realise through shared services exceed expectations. For the other two approaches, the figures are just 6% and 0%.

Our report identifies the approach to sourcing services that gives organisations the best chance of developing elite shared services.

Does more integration across functional silos deliver results?

Organisations with shared services are increasingly breaking down traditional functional barriers and integrating services operations, including adopting end-to-end processes. But what are the benefits of doing this and, more importantly, how achievable are these benefits?

Our report looks at whether there is a link between service delivery integration and the degree to which organisations can expect to realise targeted benefits from shared services.

What should businesses do to implement shared services successfully?

Implementing shared services, whether a functional or a more integrated model, has always required organisations to undergo transformational change. But what are the secrets of implementing and embedding transformation successfully to achieve targeted benefits?

Our report highlights the four areas of focus that will have the biggest impact on organisations’ ability to implement shared services successfully and get the results they want. We also reveal how choice of implementation approach (‘shift & fix’, ‘fix & shift’ or ‘lift & shift’) affects the likelihood of organisations realising targeting benefits.

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