How will shared services ‘stay ahead’ in the face of this year’s [still] challenging environment?

We are at the end of the first quarter, but far from back to the 2019 version of “business as normal” again. Nevertheless, economies are cautiously optimistic and shared services/GBS even highly productive according to SSON’s latest survey.

What is the key to this productivity? And how are shared services models adapting to the need for “more virtual, more digital, and more data”? A number of trends were identified in SS0N’s annual “state of the industry” survey, conducted at the end of last year.

Two key priorities emerging are

  1. Adapting future of work principles (how, why, where, and by whom work is done); and
  2. Accelerating automation to reduce the vulnerability of humans and location.

So far so good – but how is this being implemented?

A marked shift in approach is that shared services leaders are focusing less on the “roles” that traditionally defined FTE requirements, and more on “skills” that deliver value. What does this mean? It means training staff to leverage digital assistants (a.k.a. robotics) to do the easy work so that employees can focus on delivering knowledge-based services.

This includes, to a large extent, understanding the underlying analytics and sharing these with business unit heads so that they can better understand the market they are competing in. At the same time, it means ensuring employees understand process design and continuous improvement so that they can design out inefficiencies in current process flows – and there are still far too many!

Given that we are now one year on from having shifted SSO work to home offices – literally overnight – it’s also a time for reflection.

Many offices are not yet open. Many staff, indeed, have expressed a preference for continuing to work from home. The big challenge will be how to balance a need for proximity, whether perceived or real, with the recognition that WFH has its advantages. Indeed, shared services leaders are currently trying to figure out how salaries have been impacted as a result of the pandemic, whether to shift work as a result, and what percentage of reduction in office space makes sense.

These are all critical questions, and we don’t yet have all the answers – yet! (Although we are currently running a survey that will provide them. Keep your eye on our newsletters!)

These are just some of the results from SSON’s annual “state of the industry.” The full results are published in a comprehensive Visual Analytics Workbook (VAW) that is
now available to subscribers of SSON Analytics or for purchase independently. For the first time, all of SSON’s key survey data is accessible and downloadable – including data not reflected in published reports.

See the full data here

Follow SSON Analytics on LinkedIn and Twitter for data updates. Subscribe now, to access more than 100 key benchmarks and metrics, as well as to compare your initiatives and achievements to the Top 20 Most Admired SSOs – all available via subscription here

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