Shared services can help streamline back-office administration, offering a centralized option for accounting, HR, customer service, and other functions. That said, companies still need to optimize their model so they aren’t held back by common operational issues.
The most successful shared service centers don’t operate as any other business unit. (PricewaterhouseCoopers confirms this.) Instead, top performers:
1. Fundamentally Change the Way That Services Are Delivered
In the earliest shared service models, processes were consolidated to help companies capture the efficiencies of scale. Today’s approach, however, focuses on optimizing processes in the first place, eliminating redundancies, and implementing the newest best practices.
2. Automate Redundant Tasks Wherever Possible
One real-life best practice? Using automation to make time-consuming processes simpler. When there’s something that has to be done – but isn’t an ideal use of a company’s resources – it can be helpful to turn to technology. For instance, back-office shared service centers can use software to process invoices and approvals, making these routine responsibilities less of a burden for their employees.
3. Consolidate Technologies
Before turning to shared services, many companies use multiple technologies across different departments. But, maintaining several legacy systems is incredibly inefficient – not to mention costly.
In KPMG’s global business services maturity model, one of the key milestones for an integrated organization is “coordinated processes [and] technology”.
This tends to come later in a shared service center’s development. KPMG recommends doing so after the delivery model is consolidated, but before a company’s services are synced end to end. This allows organizations to get a comprehensive plan in place and then choose the technologies that can support their goals – not the other way around.
4. Continually Test and Evaluate
As is the case with any business model, failing to adapt can cause any shared services organization to fall behind.
Today’s industry-standard may be completely outdated within five years. For instance, Accounts Payable used to involve extensive manual math, while SSCs now have the option of relying on software to run their calculations automatically. Even if a process is currently working well, it’s important to remain open to continued opportunities for improvement. Activities like manual 3-way matching, manual keying, and unit and measure conversions can be completely eliminated, allowing users to focus on errors and exceptions (which software can’t automate).
5. Drive Changes From a Senior Management Level
Transitioning back-office processes to a shared service model is no small undertaking – but the results more than justify the cost. Changing the status quo (and maintaining momentum throughout the process) requires CEO-level commitment, as it’s only after a change is fully implemented that the benefits start to add up.
Let IntelliChief Help You Optimize Your Back-Office Shared Services
Whether you’ve just started to consider a shared services model or are looking to improve upon an existing approach, IntelliChief can help. Thousands of transactions go through IntelliChief’s back-office automation tools every day, and we’re here any time you’re ready to start doing the same.