"The buzz about shared services has grown, as both public sector and commercial operations seek ways of reducing their costs in the downturn."
JONATHAN COOPER-BAGNALL, PA'S HEAD OF SHARED SERVICES AND OUTSOURCING
PA is quoted in an article in Computer Weekly.
At Computer Weekly’s 500 Club, a networking club for IT leaders, PA shares his views on shared services and how they are seen as a way of reducing costs and standardising IT infrastructures.
PA comments: “The buzz about shared services has grown, as both public sector and commercial operations seek ways of reducing their costs in the downturn.”
PA points out the benefits of shared services: “The theory for shared services is a really good one. There is some really good logic in combining everything and saving money. There is a great logic to standardising all the processes and the way we do things.”
By including all of a business’ functions, large savings can be made, explains PA: “You are looking at up to half of an organisation's costs being removed as a result of fully integrated services,”
PA goes on to explain that new opportunities for CIOs are being created with the acceleration of interest in shared services. “When organisations are thinking about moving HR, finance and other back-office functions into shared services, it is usually the CIO they turn to first for advice.”
Big changes to the internal departments and to the CIOs role have been made, explains PA: “One organisation we have been working with has moved everything – hosting, storage, maintenance and application works – out of the domain of the group IT director and to the head of shared services.”
PA explains that function leaders are rarely happy when they hear about shared services plans: “They are losing power and control, being denuded of their resources and people. There is quite a big challenge getting people to accept that this is a good idea and bringing people along on the journey.”
The article explains that PA is working with a major law firm that is planning to move its second-level support into a central service. PA says that some people in the firm don’t like the idea because they realise that they will lose some of the services they are used to. PA then goes on to explain the positive impact of the integration: “The flip side is that other services are going to be a lot better. For example, partners working late at night will have access to IT support options currently unavailable out of hours.”
On convincing stakeholders that shared services is a good idea, PA says: “There is a big question of how you are going to get out and brief folks, how you bring them with you, and how you start to get their hearts and minds into this.”
PA stresses the importance of the skills required when looking to integrate services: “The skills required are less to do with the ability to put together a strong business case, and more to do with understanding how the financial figures will affect people’s behaviour.”
PA explains that businesses will be asking the IT department to work in a more collaborative way with suppliers: “You have people in your retained organisation who don’t like to be challenged, who want to be directive, who don’t have a lot of experience of working with providers. We have to change that.”
PA concludes by saying that although there are huge benefits from shared services, implementing them is not easy and it is vital to keep up the momentum once you start: “It's not a one-hit thing, it’s a journey.”
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