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Cultivating a Continuous Improvement Mindset within Shared Services


Does your Shared Services organization have an embedded culture of personal and collective accountability to deliver increasing value to your customers that gives them a strategic advantage in their markets?  For a Shared Services organization to evolve and move up the proverbial value-chain, a common continuous process improvement (CPI) foundation is critical to shaping the organization and fostering a self-sustaining value creation culture. Most importantly, it creates a mindset of personal and collective accountability to deliver results. 

Company Experience

One attribute of many successful Shared Services operations is a well-established continuous improvement program that is ingrained into the culture of the operation.  On a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM, a global provider of consumer and industrial products to over 140 countries and territories shared their experiences in establishing and administering continuous improvement in their Global Business Services operation.  Focusing on what they call the “3 P’s”, which are People, Process, and Performance, they use these keys to success to align their continuous improvement message and to provide a clear vision statement, which results in one process improvement methodology and mindset throughout the organization.

Looking at each of the 3 P’s in more detail, for the People Key the overall goal is to increase and build engagement and awareness of process improvement, with leadership, managers, and teams all having very specific roles and responsibilities.  They also have a CPI Team that is used as a support to coach and guide, implement structure and drive process improvement initiatives, as well as provide facilitation, ideation, mapping, and documentation standards.

For the Process Key, it has been critical for this company to ensure that only one standard CPI approach is implemented in order to keep the process as simple as possible.  While a hybrid CPI methodology is being utilized, it has deep roots in Lean Six Sigma, including the frequent use of the RACI model. 

Finally, for the Performance Key the overall objective is to maintain a consistent method of communication, training, and measures of success.  This is accomplished by focusing on improving collaboration of the different work teams and eliminating any silos, recognizing all process improvements in team meetings and regional events, and ensuring that the appropriate metrics are maintained related to the success experienced by the employees with CPI.

Some of the lessons learned during their continuous improvement journey include the following:

1. Ensure that you have a leadership team that is committed to the program

2. Have a clear plan and how you want to deliver this

  • Governance
  • Charter
  • Timeline
  • Communication plan

3. Do not forget the change management effort throughout this process

  • Stakeholders, teams, and what is important to them
  • Find early adopters that can help others participate

4. Don’t let PI become a fad or flavor of the month

  • Embrace what you already know, and build on this
  • Make sure people know that all process improvement is good
  • Recognize all process improvements

5. Accept that you may have to makes changes to your original plan, not the goal

6. Make it fun and interactive!

iPollingTM Results Review

As part of the research conducted by Peeriosity in the area of continuous improvement was a poll created using the iPollingTM technology.  The first poll question focused on the approach used by companies to training employees within Shared Services in the continuous improvement philosophy, tools and techniques.  Reviewing the results, the most popular approach (42%) is to have all employees receive basic CPI training, with additional training available and encouraged.  At 19% of the companies, employees are encouraged to receive CPI training, but it is not a requirement.  Finally, for 23% of the companies, there is no formal CPI training offered at this time.

The second poll question then addressed at what levels in the Shared Services organization people are required to participate in continuous improvement activities.  Not surprisingly, since for most organizations CPI is considered as a “grass roots effort”, at 60% of the companies all employee levels are required to do so.  Just 8% draw the line at the manager level and above, and 4% require all exempt (salaried) employees to participate in CPI efforts.

Closing Summary

Continuous improvement can reap significant benefits when the appropriate focus is placed upon it by Shared Services leadership.  As was well demonstrated by our feature company, if there is a vision for how the program should operate and a concerted effort to make this an inherent part of the day-to-day operation of the Shared Services organization, great things can be achieved with a reasonable commitment of time and resources.

Have you implemented an effective continuous improvement program in your Shared Service operation?  If so, is it reaching its full potential or are adjustments necessary?

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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