Sliced or unscliced?
Systematic implementation assures the success of the shared services center in practice
The popularity of the shared services center concept continues unabated. But its implementation frequently falls far short of success. A multi-dimensional business and control model assures “service” to all of the customer groups within the corporation according to their needs while maintaining a high level of efficiency.
SCs are service providers who perform industrial services for the corporation as a whole or for individual corporation units (the terms “service” and “product” are used synonymously in the following discussion). A product in this sense can be understood as a performance unit which is ordered by a customer (e.g., a single associate, manager, organizational unit) and delivered to a recipient. Classic crossover tasks are prepared, marketed, and distributed in this way “unsliced” and no longer handed out everywhere in the group.
Whether HR, IT, Finance, Legal, or Procurement – in theory, SSCs promise high gains in efficiency accompanied by simultaneous improvements in quality of the performed services and delivered products. Moreover, SSCs are an important instrument for making company headquarters leaner. The general principle reads: Standardize as much as possible, individualize as little as necessary! SSCs mark the transition from departmental thinking and acting to an integrated “high performance machine” during which the boundaries between services performed internally and those acquired externally become blurred.
As logical and plausible as this basic principal may be – practical implementation frequently fails abysmally owing to such varying factors as a lack of transparency concerning supply and demand for internal services, inadequate consideration of the overall picture, or pronounced fuzziness with regard to terminology.
For they know not what they do!
First and foremost, transparency as to what products are currently on offer or in demand must be achieved. This type of transparency cannot be taken for granted by any means; depending on the size of the corporation and the diversity of the variations, the number of products can easily climb into the hundreds. There is a definite risk that neither the people in charge nor the “customers” have a complete picture of the product range. A good recommendation is to take stock of the as-is portfolio of all of the products as a means of improving orientation. In the case of an HR SSC, for instance, this means putting the HR core processes, HR management processes, the infrastructure, and the service processes under the microscope for an exact examination. It will undoubtedly become clear very quickly that the identified products can be exceedingly heterogeneous because products and pre-products become intermingled or specific and more generic products exist side by side. A product “Training”, for example, is significantly more generic than a product entitled “Payroll Accounting”. However, a detailed breakdown of all of the types of training being offered would quickly lead to an overload in the portfolio. So what we need is to find the “golden mean”: on the one hand, the limitation of the number of products, while on the other hand simultaneously guaranteeing a certain degree of comparability.Next page