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Relevant Shared Services Reporting – What Do Your Customers Want?

Assuming anyone is reading your monthly or quarterly Shared Services reports, what is the message you are sending? Is your message “Look at how much stuff we do for you – and we are meeting the SLA!” or is it concise information that leads to better business decisions and improved company results?

A recent Peeriosity PeercastTM in the Shared Services Leadership research area featured a company that has gone through a number of evolutions in its reporting philosophy over the years and it resulted in a very lively discussion attended by over 150 Shared Services leaders from around the world.

As with all Peeriosity PeercastsTM, participants answered iPolling® questions that helped frame the discussion:

satisfaction with current shared services reporting package ipolling

detail improvement in the shared services reporting package ipolling

The poll results revealed that almost 50% of respondents are either dissatisfied or neutral about their current reporting packages. More telling is the overwhelming number of Shared Service operations that are seeking better decision support or behavior influencing information within their reporting packages. It is clear that while the volume, cost, and quality may be fine for an SLA discussion, Shared Services customers desire information that will help them positively impact their business and are looking for Shared Services to be a trusted business partner. Shared Services leaders know this and are looking for ways to develop that valued business partner role.

The PeercastTM feature company is an example of a Shared Services organization that has moved beyond transactional reporting to that of business decision support. However, they, like many organizations, have struggled and experimented with how to report the most relevant information.

SLAs (Service Level Agreements) seem to take center stage at the startup of a typical Shared Services operation and this was the case with most of the organizations on the PeercastTM. Reports tend to track the SLA and communicate how well the Shared Services group met those goals and how they plan to do better. Reports include a level of detail and a few pages on operational improvement. Most agreed that, in the start-up phases, this is what is needed and appropriate. However, many times the reports remain stagnant, years go by, and the report becomes irrelevant. The simple, but ineffective, result is another task at month-end to check off as completed.

The discussion addressed moving beyond the standardized SLAs as a basis for reporting. The steps mentioned included:

  • Meeting with key stakeholders from each customer operating unit to better understand their critical objectives and how Shared Services can assist.
  • For each customer, understand their business at a higher level to identify which items in the service catalog are the most critical for them in servicing their customers.
  • Share with customers in each operating unit, a balanced scorecard on how their inputs in each process are performing. For those that are weak, agree on a collaborative action plan.
  • Identify services that may be candidates for Shared Services.

This is an iterative process resulting from ongoing dialogue. However, through these communications, the reporting package should be customized and fluid, and be tailored to the needs of each customer, including:

  • The customer’s critical business objectives and information prepared by Shared Services can assist them with business decision support.
  • Replace generic measures from the standard SLA with detailed measures on services most important to the customer’s service delivery chain. Indicate how and who is working on improving these. In effect, create a new customized SLA based on the operating unit’s most pressing needs, partner with them, and track progress.
  • A balanced scorecard that includes what the customer needs to improve, along with what actions are required to facilitate a better outcome.
  • Suggestions (and, when appropriate, a business case) on new services that Shared Services can perform for the operating unit. Look for opportunities to leverage over multiple operating units for greater scale.

Over time, the discussion and measures related to the standard SLAs may be deferred to quarterly or annually and possibly only to the governance committee.

It was discussed that, as Shared Services leaders, our measures and reporting cannot be static. They should provide relevant information for customers to act upon as either behavior changes within their organizations that leads to better results or better business decisions. Doing this will lead to the opportunity to expand the partnership between customers and Shared Services.

What are you doing to provide relevant reporting information to your customers?

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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