3 Mistakes to Avoid when Implementing Shared Services

The 3 Mistakes described here have been selected from a lengthier catalogue of errors recently published by SSON News: Top 10 Mistakes When Implementing Shared Services.   I encourage you to download and read the complete document.

The 3 of the 10 described here are 3 that I’ve personally witnessed on multiple occasions, and therefore, feel compelled to shout about!  They include:

  1. Not measuring costs or service levels before moving to a shared services
  2. Not documenting processes and work streams pre-implementation
  3. Fighting the battles of yesterday instead the battles of tomorrow

Not measuring costs or service levels before moving to a shared services
Peter Drucker is famous for saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”  For a shared service center that’s up and running, and feeling pretty good about the results they’re producing, it’s difficult to prove those results through numbers if you don’t have existing benchmarks.  For example:

Here’s a sample conversation 3 months into the live implementation:

  • Bob, the call center manager: “We’re really processing a lot of employee requests every day, and we’re doing it quickly and efficiently.  Way more than before!”
  • Jane, Bob’s director: “How do you know?  What are you comparing it to, Bob?”
  • Bob: “That’s a good question Jane.  Unfortunately, we don’t have any statistics from before we moved to shared services.
  • Jane: “That’s too bad.  Comparative numbers would have made a great slide to demonstrate our value at next week’s executive team meeting.  The execs could have been impressed by our work.”


Not documenting processes and work streams pre-implementation
You’ve documented your mission, you’ve assembled your project team and assigned roles, and you’ve determined what processes and transactions will be managed within the shared service center.  And gosh darn it, you’ve even measured costs and service levels from the “current state.”

The technology implementation planning has begun – in fact, you’re defining the onboarding process as it will be configured into your case management solution.

  • Mary, the process lead: “The process begins with the hiring manager selecting the tools the new-hire will need for his or her job – cell phone, laptop, security pass, etc.”
  • Roberto, an HR Business Partner: “Don’t we want the process to start with HR sending a welcome letter to the employee, along with forms to fill out.  Then we move to the hiring manager.”
  • Mary: “Actually, we’re going direct the new-hire to the Portal, so they can complete the forms on line.”
  • Brenda, from IT: “We can’t give the new-hire access to the Portal until they’ve been set up in Active Directory.
  • Jason, the technology vendor project manager: “You’ll need to iron all this out, before we can spec the process for configuration. The problem is, if we have to do this with too many processes, it can push back our go-live date.”


Fighting the battles of yesterday, not those of tomorrow
“Too often, the design team works to deploy a common business process that is geared for the business profile of yesterday,” cautions Peter Allen, Group President, Strategy & Business Development at CSC.

The “business profile of today” in a shared service center often includes technologies that were not present during the “business profile of yesterday.”   New technologies offer new opportunities for improvement, especially when it comes to business processes.  Simply mapping the old processes into the new technologies is short sighted.  It will sell you short on the improvements that are possible through the new technologies.  In Boston, we like to call this “paving the cow paths.”

Before implementing a new technology, take time to understand the possibilities that the new technology offers for positive change.  Then go back, and think about how you can revamp existing process to take full advantage of what the new technologies have to offer.

So there you have it – 3 mistakes to avoid in your shared services implementation.  But remember, those aren’t the only gotcha’s to look about for; there are 7 more that you can learn about in SSON’s Top 10 Mistakes When Implementing Shared Services.

If you are wondering whether your shared service centre would benefit from HR technology, read about our HR software, or why not give us call?