What have shared services learned?


There are already a number of highly successful shared services in the Midlands. We review some of the lessons learned and how to avoid some costly mistakes.

Executive support and authority 

Successful shared services leaders that have proven their worth and have buy-in from the executive team are now being given the authority to lead on change in the organisation. Having a strong leadership team helps to ensure plans and strategies don’t get undermined and projects are not delayed waiting for authorisation. Making decisions can prove difficult with lots of stakeholders involved, therefore it’s important to assign a key decision maker to ensure there are no costly time delays


With the economic climate tough, many organisations can be nervous around the initial investment even if the shared service delivers long-term benefits. To counter this some shared service implementations have taken a phased approach so there is less of an upfront cost and can lead to a smoother transition. Companies can underestimate how complex, time/resource consuming an implementation can be and therefore careful planning and budgeting is essential. 

Competition for talent

Depending on your choice of location, will depend on your level of competition for high-calibre shared served professionals. It’s important to reward your employees and have career planning career development. Though a brand name can help attract candidates, competition from existing businesses or new entrants to the market can mean ambitious staff may leave if not fully appreciated. Having a strong leadership team helps to ensure plans and strategies don’t get undermined and projects are not delayed waiting for authorisation.

Technology challenges

Technology can have a huge impact on improving costs, service quality and the way a business works but can be a challenge to implement. The leading shared services clearly define the technology specification and requirements and test the systems to enabled a smooth role out process. Effective training and testing for the users is also highly recommended. 


Standardisation, processes and automation can help a shared service successfully scale when the time is right and also ensure effective cost management and efficiency. However, processes need to be carefully planned and thought through, and when they are implemented is critical they are adhered to by the business so that their full benefits are realised.

Change management

Best practice shared services created a detailed change management strategy. The planning needs to take into account timescales, budgets, common issues and lesson learnt from other changes implemented and the support and expertise required. The aim is to create a shared service that goes beyond just focusing on saving costs but it is seen as a specialist business that add significant value and improves services.

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 email habiba.khatoon@robertwalters.com.

Birmingham & Midlands
Shared Service Forum

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