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Readout: Shared Services Senior Executive Forum Hosted by Deere & Company – May 23, 2013


On May 23, 2013, Deere & Company hosted a Peeriosity Senior Executive Forum at their corporate offices in Moline, Illinois with attendance restricted to the senior-most leaders of Shared Services at Peeriosity member companies.   (Note: Membership is required to attend, with three Forums per year provided at no cost to members.  The Sherwin-Williams Company will host the next Forum on September 19th in Cleveland, Ohio.)

Twenty-four executives representing leading Shared (Business) Services organizations attended the forum. Deere & Company chose the forum theme, with specific topics selected by, and featuring, attending member company representatives.  Similar to all Peeriosity interactions, vendors and consultants were prohibited from attending or having access to attendee details or discussion content.

Meeting Theme: “Foundations of a Value-Driven and Scalable Shared Services Organization”

Topic 1

Deere & Company – Overview of their Shared Services Model

Topic 2

Building, Communicating, and Maintaining the Shared Services Foundation:

·         Your Sponsors – Governance model, reporting, decision-making process on services, scope, sourcing

·         Your Team – Organization structure, leadership team model, support structures (HR, IT, etc.) internal communications, reporting and measures, collaboration and best practice tools

·         Your Customers – Communication, reporting, measures, feedback loop

The Role of Service Level Agreements

Topic 3

Branding, Promoting and Selling Shared Services Internally

Topic 4

Built for Scale – Lessons Learned in Going Global and / or Expanding Scope (Examples):

·         Functional (to Regional) to Global

·         Regional to Global

·         Global Centers of Excellence

·         Scope Expansion

The format used for the Forum encouraged a highly interactive discussion.  For each agenda topic, members provided case studies of their experience as a catalyst for

an interactive discussion among attending Senior Executives.

These led to a lively and passionate exchange on the following issues:

·         The impact and consideration of a global footprint in low cost labor countries on determining sourcing as a captive offshore or outsourcing.

·         What do “global standards” really mean – how much variation can be managed to insure customer service doesn’t become a victim of standardization.

·         Some third party technology has really evolved (specific discussion on global reconciliations). Worth sharing with each which vendors are really delivering.

·         Governance Models – From corporate mandates for Shared Services to “let’s see how it goes”. How does your governance model influence how you operate?

·         What is the best organizational structure and decision rights model for global process owners? Who, what, where – reporting to whom?

·         People Pipeline – Implications of global models and fewer development positions.

·         The Role of Service Level Agreements – From formal documents to “I’ll let you know if there’s a problem”.

·         Transparency, timing and communication to impacted employees when changes will affect their employment.

·         Methods to enlighten senior leadership on the possibilities for expanding Shared Services.

·         Branding and Marketing Shared Services – What is the right balance?

·         Who in Shared Services is qualified to work on marketing and branding and what resources are being used?

·         Different phases of maturity require different thinking on how and what services to deliver,  including whom and from where. What made sense a few years ago may have changed as processes and technology have evolved and company objectives for Shared Services may have changed.

Some representative insights from the day’s discussions:

·         Outsourcing what on paper looks like “rules based processing” may have a whole lot of judgment that does not translate into acceptable customer service. Really understand the level of service that is expected and required for each market – service requirements are not necessarily the same globally.

·         There will always be some exceptions to the standards. Tribal knowledge needs to be acknowledged, accepted, and managed for efficiency. It may not (or cannot) always be documented, but it needs to be embedded in service delivery.

·         Even if there is not a mandate to go to global centers and countries or regions/functions can choose not to ignore certain initiatives, it’s critical that they remain status quo and not invest in process/technologies that further divert from the center standards/initiatives.

·         We need to keep the discussion on global and not by country, region or function. The challenge is that very few people have global accountability. We need to find ways to change that conversation from silo to global.

·         Language has never been a barrier in getting greater scale and scope. Knowledge has been. We learned it’s best to dip your toe-in and not jump all-in when making sourcing changes. Some institutional knowledge will get lost, but best to lose it gradually.

·         SLA’s are a two-way street and should be a guideline for conversations. Over time, they become less critical and may evolve into an internal Shared Services tool only.

·         When things are going to change, open and honest communication has worked best. As soon as we know we were changing our model, we communicate to impacted employees (in some cases 18 months in advance). We actively helped people find other positions locally and back-filled with temps. It has built trust since there is always speculation on “what’s next” but our people know that we will let them know if and when and more importantly, support them and treat them with respect.

·         We take every opportunity to show senior executives our Shared Services operations. We hold workshops for the executives once a year where we lay out our current state and vision – much of that supported with what other companies have accomplished and how it is relevant to our vision. We summarize our results for credibility, justify our vision through our learnings from peers, and explain why and how we need their support.

·         If you don’t brand your Shared Services, someone else will – and you may not like what they come up with.

·         We hired marketing interns from a local university to come up with our marketing and branding approach. They did a fantastic job and really energized our whole team with their ideas. It has been a huge success and didn’t cost a whole lot.

·         It’s simple to start with a consistent brand name – what is on all of your e-mail footers? What do your customers know you by? What do you call yourself? How do your people view themselves in relation to their customers?

·         Our customers perceived us as “compliance police” when we viewed ourselves as “problem solvers”. We knew we had some work to do on training our people before we went to work on our marketing image.

·         The move from a few regional centers to a global center of excellence is being done initially by service,based on how mature that service is. In some cases, we will continue with the current sourcing model and in others we will change it. We are trending to bring more of the outsourced services back in-house to a Global Center.

·         Many of the transactions that were outsourced were done so based on labor arbitrage. Now that many of those transactions are automated, we are moving the non-transactional work to global captive centers. They will be better equipped to move to more knowledge based analytics and decision support than an outside party.

The conversation continues in the Senior Executive research area within the Peeriosity website which features a section for the documents associated with in-person Forums, as well as iPolling, Peercasts, and shared documents exclusive for executives.

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