One of the most popular approaches to implementing Shared Services is to take processes as they exist today and transition them, largely unchanged, to a centralized location. While there is appeal to getting through a difficult transition quickly, one possible downside is that even with the best intentions to document current processes, they were likely imperfect to begin with. A dangerous result is when 20 or more “little messes” at separate locations suddenly becomes one big disaster for Shared Services.
The other option is to standardize and improve processes in place before transitioning them to Shared Services. This approach is full of challenges when requiring current staff to temporarily implement new processes, with the possible additional requirement for technology changes that will likely be obsolete once the transition to Shared Services takes place.
As a practical matter, for many some level of process change is required regardless, since these types of transitions are often closely coordinated with a major technology platform change. And even if the systems stay the same, while replicating very different processes in a central location may allow companies to achieve salary cost reductions, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve economies of scale.
The best approach is to thoroughly document current processes, including all interfaces with local departments, with an “as complete as possible” understanding of process exceptions. And then when shifting the work, implement as many quick-wins as you can with an emphasis on compliance within a common framework for how processes are performed. This approach is still “lift and shift”; however, without the likelihood of regret that is very common when a less-structured approach to the transition is followed.
A recent PeercastTM featured a Fortune 500 manufacturing company with 30,000 employees and operations in 50 countries. When transitioning local work activities to Shared Services, the company followed a highly disciplined “Lift and Shift” transition methodology that included five transition phases:
- Discovery – Completing a business case and risk analysis.
- Plan and Preparation – Resources from Shared Service and the impacted sites complete a series of workshops to plan and prepare for the transition.
- Knowledge Capture – A four to eight-week period of process mapping and updating desk procedures.
- Ramp Up – The onsite transition team trains the Shared Services team and volume is ramped up over a six-week period.
- Stabilization – Work out any issues, with process experts at the local sites to provide support as needed.
To complete the transition the following project roles were identified:
- Transition Manager
- Process Leads (both local and in Shared Services)
- Functional Process Owners and Stakeholders
- Knowledge Capture Team
- Delivery Team
- Local Subject Matter Experts
A key success factor identified was to keep adequate staff at the local site during each phase of the transition. In addition, in some instances local staff were temporarily deployed to the new Shared Services Center during transition.
Based on supporting iPolling1 questions, 80% of reporting companies used a “Lift and Shift” approach, with half of them satisfied with the outcome, and the other half believing that there might have been a better way to make the transition. The remaining 20% used another approach. Here are the details:
To the iPolling follow-up question, “What is the preferred timing to address standardization and process improvement when moving processes to a central location?”, 57% indicate that processes should be standardized and optimized after moving them to a central location, and the balance of 43% believe that processes should be standardized and running smoothly before moving them to a central location.
Comments from iPolling participants provide additional insight:
· Having processes documented prior to moving is critical. Optimizing can be done and is better suited after moving.
· While speed is important, we also placed a high priority on process improvement and incorporated Continuous Improvement as much as possible.
· Our approach is to transition sites into Shared Services when they are implemented on SAP. Therefore processes are standardized when implemented; however, the reality is that some improvements are implemented after the transition takes place.
· We standardized what we could during the transition (for example, implementing the use of a workflow tool). However, there are still location-specific differences, and trying to standardize all of these nuances before moving the work would add a lot of extra time to the transition project. Our approach is to move the work quickly, get it stabilized and running smoothly, and then look for opportunities for process improvement once the Shared Services team is familiar with the processes.
· The problem, of course, is that if you wait for a process to be fully standardized/optimized, you might never make the move.
· In APAC, we apply lift and shift. In all other regions, we transform the processes before or during the implementation of SSC.
· We used the lift and shift model, however, if we had more time we would have tried to change a few things before moving the operations.
The following comment does a good job at capturing the challenges with successfully deploying a “Lift and Shift” strategy:
· There is no one right answer. The circumstances you find yourself in and the time you have play a key role in determining what the best course of action is. Standardizing first is the most logical, but there are cultural, organizational, & ROI factors that may undermine that logic. The benefit of Lift and Shift revolves around creating a clean break between the people, process and system change. If you do it all at once and then it’s not working, it’s a little tougher to unscramble and get to the root cause. It also helps in that those that end up doing standardizing are not encumbered by “but this is the way we’ve always done it” headwinds of the legacy organization.
What approach is planned at your company as you continue to transition work activities to your Shared Services organization?
Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?
“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.
“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.