Centralising functions in a shared service centre (SSC) is about more than simply cost cutting – although this can be a significant driver. Standardised and easily trackable processes are important, but the SSC must also be scalable and able to flex when the business grows. Done well it can improve efficiency, reduce mistakes and disputes and improve cashflow forecasting.
It is important to take a step back from the processes that will be undertaken by the SSC and to consider wider changes that could improve efficiency. For example, accounts payable and procurement may not have close links in many businesses, but establishing a process that encompasses all stages from procurement to payment could increase your cost savings.
Work out what is important. Who needs access to dashboards and information? Do you need a hundred reports or half a dozen? What are key metrics for KPIs? Make sure these are measured at the beginning – before the SSC is established - so you can accurately track and measure improvements.
Secure buy-in and collaboration
Ensure the SSC has strong leadership and that ownership of processes is established early on and in as positive a manner as possible. Some may find the switch to an SSC easier than others, but open and effective communication will help. Centralising functions in a shared service centre (SSC) is about more than simply cost cutting – although this can be a significant driver.
Good or noticeably good?
Decide whether you want your SSC to carry out functions such as accounts payable and receivable, finance and HR brilliantly, yet almost invisibly, or whether you want your customers and stakeholders to notice how efficient processes are. Soliciting feedback, conducting surveys and requesting testimonials can help you highlight what you already do well and where you can improve. It can also provide material for your own marketing.
Adapt and improve
Make sure you don’t become locked into a particular process and be prepared to adapt and look for improvements. A bad – or even less than perfect – process only becomes costly if it cannot be changed.
The Birmingham and Midlands shared Service forum regularly holds events onsite at best practice shared service centres in the region to encourage knowledge sharing. If you would be interested in attending one of these events please register by email firstname.lastname@example.org.