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Process Improvement Methods and Tools in Shared Services


While many companies realize significant savings when first transitioning to Shared Services, uncovering additional savings opportunities can be a challenge without the proper focus. One attribute of many successful Shared Services operations is a well-established Process Improvement program that is ingrained into the culture of the operation. The topic of process improvement remains one of the most popular in the world of Shared Services, and for good reason.  The strong performance results companies have experienced have been impressive and, for many, having an active Process Improvement program has been a significant factor in achieving superior results.

iPollingTM Results Review

Peeriosity’s iPollingTM was used recently to provide insights into how Peeriosity member companies were using performance improvement methodologies in Shared Services, with a drill down to the specific tools that are most commonly used.  The results indicate that 65% of Peeriosity member companies are using a combination of Lean and Six Sigma, with an additional 19% primarily using the Lean methodology only, with the balance of 19% using either a range of formal or less formal methods.

process improvement methods & tools that is being utilized within shared services

Regarding the specific tools used, 53% of Peeriosity member companies indicate that value stream mapping is the most helpful.  For 27% of member companies, developing and reporting on specific KPIs has created the greatest impact, with 13% selecting brainstorming as the most helpful specific tool.  Here are the details:

what tool is the most helpful in improving performance within shared services

A few of the comments from members include:

  • We have a formal Continuous Improvement program that utilizes a combination of principles and tools, including all of the options in the survey (Lean, Six Sigma, Pareto, Value Chain Analysis, Focused Action Workshops, etc.).
  • We have a culture of continuous improvement and have leveraged the appropriate method to drive the changes. We have been leveraging more Value Stream Mapping recently, but the other approaches can be valid depending on the area being improved.
  • The methodologies used are really determined by the needs of the project. We also use PMBOK quite often. As for tools used to improve performance, we are very strong in developing KPIs. We also use Pareto often. Most importantly though, measuring the KPIs is pointless if you do not have a clearly defined process to address risk areas when they surface within the KPIs.

Closing Summary

Creating a culture in Shared Services that embraces process improvement at every level of the organization continues to be a key success factor for leading companies with over $5B in annual revenue, even though leveraging advanced technologies and process scale is often achievable, and within budget.  Because effective change begins with measurement, having defined methodologies and tools is critical to identifying opportunities and driving meaningful change, with outcomes that are measured and understood.

What process improvement methods and tools does your company use in Shared Services?  Are you satisfied with the results or is it time to take another look at this important aspect of your Shared Services operation?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“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.

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