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Barriers to Implementing an Integrated Business Services Model

The expansion of the Shared Services model continues to evolve, from single-process centers using captive resources, to multi-functional centers using captive and outsourced resources and expanding scope up and down the end-to-end process stream.  Once considered a final stretch objective, “Global Shared Services” expanded to “Global Business Services”, with a new model “Integrated Business Services” being discussed as the next frontier for superior performance.

A PeercastTM in the Shared Services Leadership research area featured a large global company discussing their transition from Multi-Functional Shared Services to Global Business Services (GBS), with a recent move towards Integrated Business Services (IBS), with each phase including extensive use of business process outsourcing.  With IBS, the emphasis is on an end-to-end service-based model that looks to simplify the customer experience, which is considered the next step beyond an end-to-end process-based model that stops at process efficiency and effectiveness, without carefully considering the end customer. 

For our feature company, implementing GBS was a 10-year process, starting with Finance and Accounting outsourcing in 1991, and transitioning through multiple phases to a mature GBS model, complete with global capabilities, defined global process ownership, and the elevation of GBS to be a group-level function that is independent of individual business units or geographies. 

Requirements cited for the new IBS include:

  1. A high level of integration with business partners
  2. One shared vision, strategy, goals, and performance objectives
  3. A focus on creating enterprise value and not only on cost efficiency
  4. Being viewed as business and process experts in core areas of service
  5. Thinking strategically about automation opportunities and change management

An iPollingTM question created to support the Peercast examined the obstacles companies are facing in the move towards an Integrated Business Services model.  For 40% of responding companies, the biggest obstacle cited is internal politics, where people want to retain control.  For 18% of the companies, having current operations that are developed enough to take the next step is the biggest obstacle, with securing senior management support, and coordinating end-to-end process design with global standards each cited by 12% as the biggest obstacle.   Here are the details:

biggest obstacle to move into Integrated Business Services ipolling peeriosity

Wherever a company finds itself along the journey to implement components of a “theoretical ideal” for Global Business Services or Integrated Business Services, the key is to keep focused on the fundamentals with strong processes and standards that increasingly capture end-to-end improvement opportunities.  Doing so ensures that the value proposition from Shared Services will continue to grow, resulting in sustainable benefits that will continue to increase.  

Below are a few of the poll comments added by Peeriosity members:

  • While the current operation is also not developed enough and the move will require much greater end-to-end process design with global standardization, neither of those factors would be barriers if senior management truly supported the direction.
  • This needs support from the CEO since basically the CFO, CIO, CHRO, and sometime CPO all need to support the move. Any one of them not on board is a challenge. Classic case of no one of them can say yes, but any one of them can say no.
  • CEO push and support are vital to kick-start an integrated GBS, though it does not necessarily need to report to the CEO.
  • While gaining senior management support can be a challenge, once gained, the political resistance encountered at lower levels, and even the senior levels once outside group meetings, poses a significant challenge to overcome. Continual and significant CEO engagement and support of the effort are critical to success.
  • We have strong processes and standards implemented. It is not really clear in a scale and automated environment whether integrated business services really drive value for a company. No company with whom we have talked really has this across all geographies and all possible service functions. Surely there’s a reason for that.  Maybe the construct is more consultant dream than corporate value.
  • I answered that our current operation isn’t developed enough, but frankly, all of the answer options have some merit.

How close is your company to implementing Global Business Services?  Are you planning to transition beyond GBS to Integrated Business Services?

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 of 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.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


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