Successful Innovation in Shared Services: Know Thyself

Live from the Strip: Colleagues and compatriots - and maybe you, too - are attending the 11th annual IQPC Shared Services Summit in Las Vegas. I'm asking some of them to guest blog to bring you a variety of news and views from the summit. Up first: Bill Frech, partner and practice leader for multi-function services advisory at TPI.
The dictionary definition of innovation is "the act of introducing something new".

That we can all agree on. But what constitutes "new" is going to be different - sometimes radically so - from organization to organization. That's certainly true for shared services, too, which is why the topic of innovation is getting such a workout here at the IQPC Shared Services Summit.

Each company's circumstances are different, and it's up to that organization, its service providers and its advisors to define innovation. It may be the moon
- or something much closer to earth.

For example, I have a client who has non-standard business processes in place and allows each to operate independently. When innovation goals came up in conversation, the client said, "Where we are in our evolution, I cannot imagine anything more innovative and far-reaching than getting standard processes and shared services implemented across our organization".

So for this company, things like using RFID chips for inventory tracking and moving to e-invoicing are actually beyond innovation. Just executing on these improvements would allow the client to have more control over information and costs.

We have found that combining shared services along with selective outsourcing is one of the best ways to innovate. Shared services can provide you a platform with direction, control, clear goals and the mandate to make the changes needed. Through outsourcing you get the skills of a service provider to help you standardize and streamline your processes.

How do you tackle innovation, whatever it means to you?