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In the quest to become strategic partners to the business, there are a number of levers Shared Service functions can use to demonstrate their capability and shift the perception from being seen as a cost centre to a business-critical strategic asset.

Before focusing on any single-point solutions to achieve this, It’s imperative that organisations have set the right foundation to enable this transition, through building an operating model focused around their customers, and then beginning to leverage scale and best practice by consolidating into multi-functional Shared Services.

Shared Service leaders that we work with are exploring different ways in which they can then accelerate the strategic value they add to the business, because being an efficient function who provide the ‘required’ service is no longer enough to meet their objectives. In fact, they’ve recognised that their breadth of delivery, insight and multi-layered relationships make Shared Service functions a natural fit as highly-effective innovation and transformation hubs.

More specifically, Digital Centres of Excellence within the Shared Service functions where they prototype, pilot and deploy disruptive technology and data-led initiatives that are aligned with the broader enterprise digital strategy is an attractive, attainable method to develop and deliver on the ambition of becoming a strategic asset.

If we take the overarching objective of providing professional and technical services, versus the traditional administrative and transactional offering that most Shared Services functions currently provide, we can start to explore some relatively ‘quick-win’ interventions that can be owned by these Centres of Excellence:

Employee Experience

Whilst most, if not all Customer Experience (CX) initiatives are customer-facing and focused, today’s workforce is starting to expect similar, effortless experiences within their workplaces. Therefore, Shared Services functions need to be looking at omni-channel and self-serve capabilities in order to enhance Employee service and reduce the level of non-value adding human interaction.

While delivering the expected efficiency gains as a result can positively impact in-flight CX programmes being delivered by the teams they serve, as a key strategic partner; key insight, data and technology from an internal perspective can now be leveraged to further inform and enhance future CX development.

Intelligent Automation

After reengineering processes to align with their operating model, most organisations will have initiated Robotic Process Automation (RPA) interventions to varying degrees to automate rule-based processes.

Whilst there is huge value within the Shared Services environment for this capability, further-reaching opportunity is available to become front-runners within the organisation, capitalising on bleeding-edge, disruptive Intelligent Automation technology that is being introduced to the market.

While enabling rapid piloting and deployment through low-code technology, this technology also enables the introduction of Machine Learning capabilities to improve exception handling – all of which will improve service levels and enable humans to focus on value-adding work.

Data and advanced analytics

Using disruptive technology and data science to consume and interpret data from disparate sources to provide proactive, actionable insights to the business significantly enhances the Shared Service value proposition.

Aside from the benefits of improved risk and compliance management, plus enhanced service and quality, we can see this will free up human capacity to focus on refining these capabilities and become strategic partners to the business.

What is the impact on the workforce?

Organisations we work with recognise the impact on skills required within Shared Services and are actively re-designing their Learning & Development and recruitment strategies to build high-performing teams fit for the future. Skills and capabilities such as critical thinking, problem-solving & continuous improvement, analysis, data science and innovation are all critical to execution, and the Centre of Excellence approach can serve as a powerful enabler.

Can Shared Service functions become an organisation’s digital incubator? Share your thoughts below

Shared Services - delivering strategic value through a customer lens


Dafyyd Hobbs

Dafydd Hobbs, Key Account Director - Enterprise Practice

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Faye Sadler-Clark, Principal Consultant


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