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Shared Services Standardization – From Process to Practice

Process standardization has long been a goal of Shared Services organizations, but not as many focus on standardizing their practices across the globe. Process standards tend to focus on end-to-end work activities while practice standards focus on how the people involved in those activities are skilled, organized, and managed. Standardized practices can add an additional level of benefit to already efficient processes.

Typical transformation efforts include the standardization and migration of process activities to Shared (Business) Services. These transformations commonly involve phases of complexity generally described as:

  • Rules Based Migration – Low complexity, high volume, generally transactional (in mature Shared Services, these are, for the most part, already automated).
  • Process Expertise Migration – Process and regulatory knowledge required to handle defects and excursions.
  • Business Partnership Migration – Process design and control, regulatory expertise and control, high-level decision and analytical support, and oversight of captive and outsourced providers.

Within these transformation efforts, various models to execute the “rules”, “expertise”, and “partnership” services emerge depending on the selected service delivery structure and sourcing. On a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM within the Shared Services Leadership research area, the featured company, a global organization with regional Shared Services delivery locations and a hybrid-sourcing model, led a discussion regarding standardization beyond process to practice.

A poll of PeercastTM participants identified at what level within their organization Finance positions within Shared Services were standardized across geographies:

geographic scope of shared services standardization for finance related positions in the organization ipolling

The collaboration included identifying the key elements of both process and practice standardization:

Process Standardization Examples:

  • End-to-End Process Goals (e.g. objectives by stakeholders, etc.)
  • Input (e.g. source, mode format, etc.)
  • Tools (e.g. ERP, workflow, local, etc.)
  • Process (e.g. global mapping, local mapping, etc.)
  • Output (e.g. definition, format, mode, etc.)
  • Metrics (e.g. KPI’s, cost, quality, productivity, defects, cycle time, etc.)
  • Customer Satisfaction (e.g. KPI’s, excursions, escalations)

Practice Standardization Examples:

  • Team Organization (e.g. structure, alignment, a span of control, etc.)
  • Performance Management (e.g. process knowledge by role, productivity by team/person/role, etc.)
  • Workforce Management (e.g. calibration of performance, workload balancing, etc.)
  • Continuity Planning (common definitions by process, testing, etc.)

Some examples of applied practice standardization include:

  • Evaluation regarding benefits of “cluster” teams supporting a common internal customer (country, region, product line) versus “generalized” teams. Where is it optimal for cluster versus generalized and vice-versa? Our feature company shared a set of measurements to evaluate the optimum structure, which resulted in significant efficiencies for them.
  • Performance and Workforce Management calibration amongst teams and centers can be evaluated by an index of operator efficiency and overall efficiency including specific measures for process knowledge within key roles and how well that knowledge is being utilized.

All of the above is imperative to gain maximum efficiency and customer satisfaction regardless of the sourcing model; captive, outsourced, or hybrid. Additionally, part of the PeercastTM discussion indicated that many organizations find that embedding the process owners within the operating centers is most effective versus the alternatives of a central “corporate” location.

The feature company has realized significant benefits since adding additional focus to practice standardization, including gaining full visibility across all centers at very granular levels. Metrics include overall standardization scores (which may be good or bad depending upon the accepted levels of deviations from standards that have been identified for local country stakeholders). The ability to drill down into these metrics and identify variances has led to identifying new best practices, the ability to workload balance across centers, as well as the increased skill level of users where necessary to get significant productivity increases.

For Shared Services organizations that have made significant progress in process standardizations, practice standardization can yield the next level of benefits for their stakeholders.

What progress has your organization made in global Shared Services practice standardization?

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


1 “PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees.

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