Shared services planning

Different business models and management styles require different types of planning and output needs. If you find yourself newly managing a shared services company, recognize that this requires something different that you have done in the past.

Shared services models have some inherent opportunities that don’t exist with many other business models, but only if they’re implemented and managed correctly. The issues I’m going to address today are directed at new management of shared services divisions /companies that have been transitioned TO shared services, through the conversion of internal back-office teams. (as opposed to closing divisions and going with a new external provider)

Chances are that one of the greatest challenges you’ll have is transitioning to your new role. Along with the promise of the shared services value proposition, are some significant transition risks. Keep you eyes on these fries:

Client expectations change immediately

When someone is responsible for the quality of what you deliver, they defend and protect it. When this person is suddenly transitioned to what essentially feels like an external client, their expectations change. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s an opportunity to make things better, provided that you are expecting it. Change your thinking early and allow this change to impact your planning.

Communication is critical

Internal management and performance processes are often sufficient for organizations where a traditional business model is used. Outsourced services requires additional rigor to ensure that expectations on both sides of the table are clear. From day 1, treat your client as though you were an external consultant – service them with the level of detail and communication they should expect from a higher priced external vendor.

Take control of your own destiny

The tendency is to try to keep things the same as they were before. People prefer to try to maintain continuity and want to feel like they’re still part of the old structure. Give them some direction and show them where they’re moving – it will make the transition easier.

Most importantly: You need to have an operational delivery plan/proposal that is built from mutual engagement and is linked strongly to budget. Expectations will be more difficult to manage if you don’t have an agreement of what will be delivered, how often and the resources it will take to deliver on it. This is a significant undertaking in the first year but the work to maintain it will decrease after the initial implementation.

How does it integrate with strategic planning

You need to have a plan outside of your client plans. You need to have an identity and direction that your people engage with – piggybacking off your client direction too closely becomes more of a mistake the further you go out from implementation. Conduct your strategic planning earlier in the year to create the high level direction for your company and then drill down to the granular levels through the year. Connect your planning with your client plans to maintain relevance.