For more than two decades, Shared Services focused on expanding control and reducing costs. Despite the relevance of these benefits, there has been intensified pressure for Business Services to provide increasingly relevant services in the value chain, absorbing the roles of Legal, Facilities Management, Sales and Marketing functions. This evolution, from purely transactional and silent services to a strategic model of multi-functional service delivery across multiple geographical areas and channels, has enabled Business Services to become more and more comprehensive, innovative, and challenging units, known as Global Business Services (GBS).
The GBS model is based on efficient, adaptable processes with an end-to-end vision, including competencies typically related to Finance, IT, and Human Resources. This model differs from the "Shared Services" approach as it has evolved to become more focused on creating value for the company.
In addition, there are more and more organisations considering investing in this transformation towards the next generation of Business Services. This journey allows the company to achieve significant reductions in operational costs and time-to-market, promotes the power of data analytics, mitigates business risk through improved compliance and amplifies benefits from mergers and acquisitions.
Organisations can initiate this transformation at different moments and stages of maturity. However, all of them should have in common a set of core competencies that allow them to achieve the benefits mentioned above.
Developing excellence processes with agile teams
One of the main reasons for creating GBS is the standardisation and integration of processes. This is only possible if the organisation develops the capacity to improve processes constantly and systematically by re-designing them. The vision of improving end-to-end processes means, for example, transforming the typical paradigm in which Finance manages the accounts payable process and Procurement department manages the purchase, to the paradigm in which a single integrated process is delivered from sourcing to payment of the supplier invoice (procurement-to-pay). By carrying out this optimisation, only one owner is effectively responsible for solving problems and continuously identifying improvement opportunities.
This process re-engineering goes hand in hand with the reorganisation of the structure and teams, which become agile and organised with end-to-end process managers, avoiding functional silos. Global process managers are better prepared to get the most out of automation by critically identifying where, how, and when to use these technologies, across the board.
The cornerstone of this competence is to have visibility and transparency in the processes, in terms of their performance and execution. Such a requirement is guaranteed by consistent and reliable data analytics that support decision-making. In a procurement-to-pay process, systematic data analysis can show which suppliers are having quality failures or not following payment standards. The use of data analytics makes it possible to identify control points and process interruptions and report them to the respective managers.
Making consistent and strategic insourcing and outsourcing decisions
The delivery of services by Business Services becomes more and more diversified as their maturity increases. Multi-channel delivery of services is expected to start, for example through the simultaneous use of outsourcing, insourcing and centres of excellence within the organisation. This variety of channels requires a more structured organisation and, above all, a methodology on which to base decision making regarding the best channel to execute each process or task. When deciding between insourcing or outsourcing, the approach should contemplate the analysis of the organisation's core competencies, the level of customer service to be delivered and the degree of task specialisation. Once the processes have been classified in this decision matrix, it is essential to re-organise teams and tasks to ensure maximum efficiency in managing various delivery channels.
Developing highly qualified and versatile teams
As Business Services evolve to provide higher value-added activities and shift away from traditional tasks, increasingly skilled resources are required, capable of producing and critically analysing business-relevant data. On the other hand, the end-to-end process vision requires collaborative and multidisciplinary teams.
Delivering consistent and positive customer experiences
Organisations operating at the highest level of GBS maturity have a strong commercial sense and customer focus. These characteristics are essential for Business Services to operate as independent units responsible for internal and external customers. To do this, they actively use customer satisfaction metrics, such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), to identify opportunities for improved service delivery. Only with this mindset, it will be possible to strive for a better customer experience.
For organisations that are looking for innovative ways to achieve true transformation of their Business Services, this is an essential framework to develop the right skills to meet this challenge. Only then will they be able to reach the next level in managing challenging Business Services.