A key tenet in the Shared Services business model is that supported partners have the freedom to more fully focus on their core mission. In exchange, a shared service provider will deliver to these mission partners more effective, more efficient and significantly enhanced support services.
As with any significant change effort, the successful adoption of a Shared Services Business Model rests on culture, where the interaction between people, process and technology become visible.
Moving to a shared service operating environment has a significant impact on employees. According to a Partnership for Public Service study on HR shared services, “Moving to shared services invariably means change for the human resources community and its customers—new workflow processes to learn and understand; new training requirements; potential loss of autonomy or responsibility; and possible loss of jobs or assignment into new roles. The effect of those changes may require a significant shift in a federal agency’s culture.”
In our experience, well meaning leaders make decisions to integrate a shared service business model as a solution to the very real financial constraints across the public sector, but then are faced with people, processes, and technologies that need to be addressed simultaneously in order for the financial strategy to work.
The return on investment that often drives the decision to move to a shared service model will be inhibited unless leaders purposefully create the conditions for successful implementation.
- What a leader pays attention to first matters.
- How the services are procured matters.
- The metrics that define success along the way matter.
And all must be held as a shared perspective across key leaders in the organization.
A clear point of view on each part, coupled with the opportunity for leaders to shape how people, processes, and technology influence each other to make a ‘whole’, enables leaders to generate system solutions and understand how a decision in one part of the organization can have ripple effects across the other parts.
To maximize the benefits of a shared services business model, careful attention must be given to employees – especially those impacted.The transition to a shared services business model is a unique opportunity to more fully leverage the talent in an organization. Workforce reshaping, to include the creation of new skill sets and the transformation of workplace designs enable mission partners to realign resources more directly to the core mission.
Conversely, the loss of direct access to support capabilities and assets can be unsettling. It is critical to understand the importance of the human impact of decisions. Communications and forums for engagement, when intentionally designed, reduce the resistance leaders can experience and actually create the space for innovation and possibility to take hold as a result of the change and organizational dynamics associated with the transition to a shared services business model.
A few key questions to ask, is whether your organization is culturally ready for the transition to shared services and how you can affect the culture to support the change you see possible. If you lead an intelligence focused organization, how likely is your staff to share information with trusted partners in a day to day operation? Do you currently rely on outside support for core agency functions? What is that experience like?
One benefit of shared services is a laser-like focus on process efficiency by the service provider. Shared services providers drive the standardization of processes and performance measures in order to gain greater reliability of outcomes and ultimately, greater cost efficiency as a result of economies of scale.
As providers determine process efficiency goals, they must take into account the impact on the customer’s experience. Process design void of customer perspective results in incomplete, over budget, and poor quality initiatives that pollute a leader’s brand and legacy.
For partners, this process efficiency enables substantial flexibility, scalability of service and access to reliable and actionable data streams. These data streams are needed to feed decision support systems.
The explosive growth in shared services has highlighted a significant need to transition from legacy information technology that lacks both inter-connectivity and the necessary security enhancements to operate in an increasingly dangerous cybersecurity landscape.
The consolidation and integration of systems made possible by cloud-based architectures deliver secure, reliable exchanges of data that would be cost prohibitive and difficult to support outside a shared services framework. The ability to rapidly shift work among geographic locations through cloud-based networks and the use of common technology platforms has facilitated the transformation of front, middle and back-office functions and enabled supported partners to more fully focus on their core mission functions.
The user experience is of equal importance to the technical specs. Leaders have the platform to direct a user experience that ensures the system matches with the real world, the user has the right controls and freedoms to achieve the desired customer experience and the consistency and standards exist to enable scaling and useful data analytics. The point is to take a human-centered approach to driving efficiency not driving efficiency for efficiency’s sake.
A Successful Shared Services Business Model
Implementing a successful shared services business model in the federal government requires that leaders have a clear vision of the current state of their agency and its core mission. Any activities that are not related to the core mission should be moved to a trusted shared services partner leaving the agency free to accomplish its mission unencumbered.