Building a Platform for Shared Services and BPO Success



by Dr. Stefan Meixner, Director, ISG

Although businesses have been quick to recognize potential benefits of Shared Services or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), it is still not uncommon that such projects are started and then stopped, resulting in companies going through several iterations of Shared Services or BPO assessments before serious efforts take place.

This Top 5 outlines key ingredients for a successful change programme and the order in which they should be provided.

1.  Establish a “burning platform.” Change programmes are much easier to initiate where there is a financial crisis in the company, the industry or the economy. Otherwise, it can be difficult to justify the approach, engage stakeholder support and articulate the desirable impacts.

2.  Create a coalition for change. The most important prerequisite for change programme success is the creation of a coalition for change. Key senior managers, including the chief executive officer, need to be convinced of the financial and business value of the initiative. This engagement should result in selecting a strong project leader and funding assessment programme(s); establishing communication between senior managers and stakeholders to share the vision for change and balance corporate benefit against local interest; and creating a decision-making steering committee.

3.  Align senior management rewards with the new approach. Change programmes are completed much faster and with greater focus when the delivery model objective — captive or outsourced —  is integrated into the reward system for senior managers.

4.  Familiarize leaders with the Shared Services concept and BPO market realities. Business leaders need to see with their own eyes that Shared Services facilities, especially those managed by external providers, are working at the same or increased service levels and lower cost. Discussions with early adopters of Shared Services or service providers can reveal helpful information about proven transition methods and managing challenges such as recruiting, language availability, cultural awareness, etc.

5.  Establish a strong project methodology. Taking a focused and professional approach to managing and reporting the project work effort, progress of deliverables, timelines and budget performance delivers a strong and clear message to all stakeholders that there is a serious commitment to — and management of — the effort needed to effect change. Additionally, opponents to the plans should be taken seriously, and risks and benefits must be evaluated objectively. To maximize the chances of success, all company functions must be involved early in the process.

A change programme is only as robust as the skills of the team managing the process. External expertise can be leveraged as appropriate to fill any skills gaps, provide proven methodology and bring more experience to the project team.

Contact Dr. Stefan Meixner, Director, ISG, for more detailed information about creating successful Shared Services or BPO programmes..