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Generating Enthusiasm and Driving Change in a Mature Shared Services Operation

When we look at the lifecycle stage for our member companies, while 14% consider themselves “New & Emerging”, another 78% report they are either “Fully Operational” or “Mature”.  So if you’re like most of our members, there is every chance that it’s been years since your company’s Shared Services organization was first created, and there is now a solid operation in place delivering consistent value to the company.  While you may be satisfied with the progress up to this point in time, you know that Shared Services needs to continue to evolve and improve in order to remain viable and relevant. 

The scenario described above is an ongoing challenge that is very real for many leaders across the globe that oversee mature Shared Services operations.  Although stability is a great attribute as it relates to technology infrastructure, process design, and even the team members that are the foundation of the Shared Services organization, it can lead to a lack of both innovation and enthusiasm within the operation.  While the proper manner in which to address this issue can vary significantly between companies based upon the overall corporate culture, the sub-culture found within Shared Services, and the general attitude of senior leadership towards Shared Services, the common denominator is that this challenge definitely needs to be addressed.

A recent Peeriosity PeercastTM featured a major food products company based in North America with extensive operations across the globe.  With a mature Shared Services operation that is providing services in Finance, HR, Procurement, Administration, and Marketing, this cross-functional organization has a significant impact on the rest of the company.  As this Shared Services operation took a hard look at itself as the result of a change in leadership in 2015, it discovered several important things, including these factors related to its customer base:

  • More technology savvy
  • Agile work environment
  • Higher expectations of service
  • Heightened awareness of cost pressures
  • Requirement for flexibility
  • Seeking value, NOT just reduced cost

After some careful analysis, Shared Services determined that its customers wanted four things from its operation: expertise, accountability, consistency, and passion.  During the PeercastTM, the featured company then shared their approach to addressing those customer needs, along with motivating the Shared Services team in carrying out their responsibilities in a newly energized manner.  This included the following:

  • Involve your team & customers in service-offering decisions
  • Conduct listening tours
  • Infuse excitement with new talent
  • Leverage technology
  • Offer a competitive service at an outstanding cost proposition

As part of the PeercastTM, a poll consisting of two questions was conducted with the Peeriosity membership using the iPollingTM technology.  The first question addressed what the member companies consider to be their most important asset when it comes to generating enthusiasm within the ranks of Shared Services employees.  Looking at the results, the most prevalent response (37%) was having a clear and compelling vision for the future of the operation.  This is not surprising, since it is a critical success factor for any healthy organization, whether it is Shared Services or a corporation as a whole.

Looking at the rest of the results for this question, 30% of the respondents indicated that having work options that offer flexibility was their most important asset in generating enthusiasm among the employee base.  This was followed by 23% responding that having attractive career paths was the most critical, and just 10% saying that quality of management was most important.  Clearly, all these attributes are key to the long-term success of any Shared Services organization.

most important asset to generate enthusiasm within the ranks of shared services employees

Reviewing the results for the second poll question which addressed how Shared Services as a whole deal with change, the most prevalent response (55%) was that change is always challenging, but the operation is able to manage it well.  This was followed by 24% indicating that change can be stressful, but they are able to “smooth out the bumps” as they proceed through it.  Finally, 21% of the companies said that their Shared Services operation actually thrives on change, which is certainly an attribute that most service centers would like to have. 

description of how shared services at the company deal with change

Some of the member comments related to this poll include the following:

Media & Entertainment Member: Shared Services, along with the company as a whole, is going through a major ERP transition. The concept of change is being tested. All of these could have been selected during the transition, my answer stands or remains regardless of whether change is in place or not.

Consumer Products & Services Member: Sharing a compelling vision helps in the clear prioritization of business initiatives.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: We find that the HR Service Center tends to be the driver of the change. We have to check ourselves to make sure that we aren’t leaving the HR business partners behind or getting too far out in front of them. We need to ensure alignment with the business and the only way to do that is to work and include the business partners out in the field. But, the HRSC is pretty nimble and we can change quickly; however, the business is a little slower to bring along.

How enthusiastic is your Shared Services organization?  Is it time to consider some new approaches to motivating your team and creating a more dynamic culture within your operation?

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.


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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