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Utilizing End-to-End Process Design in a Shared Services Environment

Implementing end-to-end process design can be a powerful way for your Shared Services operation to evolve to the next level of adding value to your company. Tremendous value can be realized when an entire process, such as Purchase-to-Pay or Order-to-Cash, has a coordinated enterprise effort under the oversight or direct influence of a single organization like Shared Services.

A recent collaborative webcast within the Peeriosity Shared Services Leadership research area featured a member company discussing their transformation to an end-to-end process design for their Shared Services organization that included alignment with the broader organization in regards to process definitions and ongoing innovation. As with all Peeriosity webcasts, an initial poll question was asked of the research area participants. The poll results indicated that the utilization of end-to-end process designs has been implemented in at least one process for 67% of the respondents (including 46% indicating multiple processes have been implemented). Another 29% are either evaluating or about to implement, with a mere 4% who have not considered.

ipolling results description of a company's end to end process design

The reason for the overwhelming acceptance of end-to-end process design as a best practice can be seen in the second poll question regarding the results of utilizing this type of design, with 69% indicating positive results from the transition. Possibly even more interesting is that not a single company indicated neutral or negative results.

effect of end to end process design on productivity and cost ipolling results

Our feature company shared its thoughts on key elements to transition from functional to end-to-end design. They noted that regardless of process, be it procure-to-pay, order-to-cash, hire-to-retire, and so on, the critical components for success remained the same:

  • Executive Support – Like any initiative that crosses functional and regional boundaries, there must be agreement, shared accountability, a governing body, and a methodology.
  • Organization Design – Process owners, leads, and formal structure put in place.
  • Process Definitions – Map sub-processes, activities, and roles.
  • Align Process Vision – Agree on current state, migration map, and expected results.
  • Quality/TQM Methodology – Principles to be followed to achieve the vision.
  • Alignment and Communication – Suggest RASCI method (Responsible, Accountable or Approver, Support, Consulted, Informed).

The discussion indicated many methods to achieve the benefits of a fully optimized end-to-end process design. Some of these options for leadership include:

  • Global Process Owners – Process specialists outside of any functional area
  • Functional department named as process owner – A function head leads (for example procurement may be assigned Procure-to-Pay).
  • Process Steering Teams – Representatives from functions and regions. Usually facilitated by a corporate process improvement expert, Shared Services, or strategy/planning group.

Regardless of the method chosen or assigned accountability, those organizations achieved the success that has made a concerted effort and followed a formalized plan that included the key elements discussed by our feature company. It was agreed that leaders of Shared Services are uniquely positioned to further the end-to-end discussion within their own organizations.

In most cases, process defects make their initial appearance in activities transacted in Shared Services. Analysis of the root cause of these defects can pinpoint where an issue within the end-to-end process exists. Additionally, what may not be as easily detected as a defect is non-value added or repetitive activities that add to cycle time and cost, but are distributed across functions. Only a disciplined, coordinated effort can identify these opportunities. Like defects, Shared Services organizations have unique access and visibility to identify inefficiencies within a process.

As noted in previous online collaboration within Peeriosity, some Shared Services leaders have taken the approach that every touch of a transaction is a defect. That is, if the technology, organization, and process are optimized, the work should flow seamlessly through the enterprise system. The objective should be to optimize the entire process and eliminate the work – becoming ever more efficient at activities that can be eliminated is admirable, but it is missing the forest for the trees.

The collaboration concluded with an agreement that Shared Services leaders need to be aggressive advocates and leaders in end-to-end process optimization efforts. The facts to support the opportunities are usually all within the boundaries of Shared Services, but the ability to affect the change lies within the matrix of the broader organization. This presents a great opportunity for Shared Services to lead or significantly influence the realization of the value ready to be unlocked. From the collaborations going on within the Peeriosity Shared Services research area, it looks like there are many ways to deliver that value.

How is your Shared Services organization leading and transforming your company’s end-to-end processes?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

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