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Shared Services have a unique opportunity to reshape how they operate and the value they deliver. By shifting from a cost centre with a focus on pure service delivery to a disruptive, digitally-enabled front runner, greater strategic value can be delivered. In order to achieve this against a backdrop of rising expectations, we need to look at the function through a different lens.

Jump to:
Introducing a more human lens
What does this mean for Shared Services?
Transforming a Shared Service operation with a customer journey approach
Other considerations
How a customer journey lens delivers strategic value
Where to start on your transformation journey

Many businesses have started on the road to transformation, experiencing varying levels of success. We increasingly see organisations focused on initiating activities such as using disruptive technology and enhancing their analytics capability. Whilst these are valid and essential levers, we find that looking at single point solutions outside of a broader context can present risk by only delivering short-term benefits, potentially leading to increased cost or poorer service in the long run.

We asked a panel of global shared service leaders to share their views on some of the greatest benefits they expected to realise from a transformed Shared Service function:

benefits of new shared service models-1

When asked what the biggest barriers were, nearly 80% stated that practically implementing end-to-end ownership in a fragmented IT landscape was a significant concern.

barriers to new shared service models

Where there is a clear desire to reduce costs and take broad ownership, current approaches are so far failing to provide the necessary strategic perspective. 


Introducing a more human lens

Whilst colleagues each bring with them different experiences from businesses they have worked for throughout their careers, we are all also consumers who access services from a wide range of providers as part of our daily lives.

As a result, we all have examples of providers and products we like to use, and a core part of our reasoning for using those providers repeatedly is due to having a good experience when receiving the service or goods that they are providing to us.

There will be certain characteristics that are consistent with these good experiences, such as being easy or low effort, available when needed, and a high value, but efficient service. This fulfilment of service is what we call the customer journey.

While a customer-focused viewpoint has delivered significant benefits and change for our end customers, we believe that this customer-centric lens has the potential to improve service provided for internal customers too, thereby enhancing the value that can be delivered.


What does this mean for Shared Services?

It therefore makes sense for shared services operations to also focus on their internal customers’ experiences as they travel along their internal customer journeys to receive the services offered to them.

As Shared Services have evolved from a pure cost reduction focus through economies of scale and wage arbitration, the key challenge is how to enhance the value added to the business and become a strategic partner.


Transforming a Shared Service operation with a customer journey approach

To deliver a great customer experience, Shared Service providers firstly need to build their capability to understand the current experience and needs of their customers, through seeking, collecting and analysing the voice of their internal customers. This includes recognising that there will be different customer segments who may have different requirements that should be designed for.

To deliver the desired experiences, a customer journey approach must be used. It is important to design the journey from the customers’ perspective to ensure it is seamless, effortless, and appropriate to expectations.

Critically, the journey needs to be defined from the point the customer realises they have a need to ensure the activities they undertake before they engage with Shared Services are included in the design. This approach often uncovers areas where there are opportunities to add additional value to the business and improve performance.

To ensure a successful customer design there are several potential pitfalls which could cause the design to fail. These are:

  • Lack of understanding of the customer
  • Not taking into account the end to end journey
  • Not incorporating multiple channels
  • Approaches which aren’t holistic

Key to the journey designs, and the underlying processes that deliver the experience, will be the use of intelligent automation which can draw on technologies including robotic process automation and machine learning. These technologies will improve accuracy and speed, reduce the human effort required to deliver services, and significantly improve the organisation’s ability to collect data automatically.

Value can be achieved from investing in analytics to turn this data into actionable insight, allowing you to improve service and provide a more strategic ability to support wider business decision making.


Is there anything else that needs to be considered to deliver the journey?

The implications of a customer journey redesign can mean you need to challenge and change several parts of your operating model.

At Gobeyond Partners our holistic operating model definition is made up from central and surrounding elements.

Gobeyond Partners operating model

To ensure the operating model has considered how all the components work in harmony, we start with the business strategy and service proposition, before sequentially considering how each segment serves to realise this vision.

As the operating model informs how to best structure operations and align to customers, it supports more precise targeting in automation, opening up new alternatives to wage arbitration in order to reduce cost, without impacting on delivery of service.

To deliver a consistently high-performing function, there are multiple human factors that need to be managed carefully. As the Shared Service redefines the way it works with internal customers and shifts its role to one of greater value, there are many new capabilities it will need to develop, including:

  • Managing the customer experience by continually measuring customer satisfaction, as well as checking the services are meeting customers’ needs

  • Providing the skills and resources to design and deliver customer journey improvement and end to end process transformation and management, including skills in automation technologies

  • Supporting the shift to becoming a strategic partner by providing insight through an enhanced data collection and analytics capability

As intelligent automation is delivered and embedded alongside other processes, this further reduces human effort and shifts the mix of skills away from rules-based processing to higher order diagnostic skills.


How a customer journey lens delivers strategic value

The benefits from this approach are multifaceted, however the major areas delivered include:

An operating model designed around delivering great customer experience

A designed-in focus on the activity and processes that our internal customer most value. This provides the opportunity to enhance the level of human interaction in these value-add services, and provide focus for intelligent automation strategies, i.e. those activities that aren’t highly valued and are just expected to be ‘done’.

Technology deployed in appropriate settings

By delivering technology in a manner internal customers value, Shared Services can not only improve accuracy and create capacity, but collect better quality, real-time data. By combining this with analytics and data science, and integrating further data from different sources, you can produce actionable insights that support internal customers’ decision making, enhancing your value proposition.

A platform for Shared Services to become highly effective innovation and transformation hubs

An opportunity for Shared Services to function as digital centres for excellence, where they prototype, pilot and deploy disruptive technology and data-led initiatives that are aligned with broader digital strategies and customer requirements.


Where to start on your transformation journey

Build your case by starting with your internal customers; this will highlight areas of alignment and conflict within your current operating model and business strategy. Areas for improvement will be identified that move you towards an extended, more strategic, model, rather than attempting a grandiose full-scale transformation that’s unable to respond quickly to internal customer feedback. 

When working within legacy IT infrastructure, it’s always wise to start with a suitable proof of concept whilst working in partnership. By using analytics and automation to bring together multiple data sources, you can identify how to close current gaps and where to apply intelligent automation to best navigate between different systems. From this point, benefit can be defined early on, with key stakeholders engaged in scaling solutions.

These are some of the key ways many Shared Services functions are trying to transform. By looking from an inside-out perspective, asking what drives value in the business and reviewing their journey through the eyes of an internal customer, they are able to clearly define value and build a more prominent position in their organisations.


Simon Coulbeck, Managing Director | Enterprise

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Dafyyd Hobbs

Dafydd Hobbs, Key Account Director - Enterprise Practice


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