2010 - A Year in Review

Tags: review

SSON reached out to some well-known online and event contributors asking for their thoughts on what characterized 2010 in shared services and outsourcing. The result? SSON's Year in Review special. See how far you agree with what our experts have to say about the last year...

Glenn P. Remoreras, Information Technology, CEMEX USA Shared Services

The main theme for 2010 for me is technology and how it is changing the way we work, collaborate and run our businesses.

Here are some of the things that I can think of that represented technology this year: smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, and enterprise 2.0. The combined capabilities of these technologies changed business dynamics as organizations started to use them to their advantage. I wrote an article in SSON about "Social Shared Services" where I outlined how Shared Services Organizations can leverage social media in its service function. That is one example. Another success story is Peeriosity's use of innovative platforms to enable collaborative communities and facilitate the sharing of experiences and best practices. This type of collaboration brings together a broad number of individuals with different areas and levels of expertise. Organizations can construct and enrich innovative ideas by leveraging the diverse and expansive expertise of the collaborative network.

Organizations and people that stood out and defined 2010

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is the person who represented various organizations that have helped shape the world using social media and technology affecting how we work, collaborate and live. CEMEX is an example of a company who has embraced the use of state-of-the-art collaborative tools and practices to spur innovation in the company. CEMEX won the Forrester Groundswell Awards for innovation in social media this year, which is a great achievement for the company.

Simon Brown,
Managing Consultant at Simon Brown Associates, and former HR Transformation Deployment Director at Coca-Cola

For me the year was one of turbulence and real highs and lows.

Highs included the successful handover of a fully functioning and effective HR European Shared Services organization at Coca-Cola, which I grew from a blank sheet of paper two and a half years ago to a fresh bright and highly, energized HR Director for the integrated Global Business Services. Added to that, leading a transformation project to extend the Shared Services Model to Africa and Eurasia, covering 120 countries. For this we recruited a new HR triangle model team of 46 people in 3 months, and helped to enable GBS Shared Services Go-Live for half the globe at Coca-Cola in July.

Personal highlights included chairing the HR Transformation SSON conference in London last October and presenting on "Virtual Working HR shared services teams", which included participating in lively discussions about the future of Shared Services and Outsourcing.

In the current economic context we saw a trend where buyers in large organizations held back from new long-term total HRO deals, moving towards a slow growth of partnerships for certain specialist processes within HR Shared Services, such as Payroll and Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). So it was a year of the "blended solution": the captive and outsourced mix.

Personal lows for me were my mother dying of cancer in March after a long and painful illness, and then being stuck in India soon after the funeral with Delhi belly for 10 days in the period of the volcanic ash storms. After flights across 3 continents into 5 different country airports I eventually made it home.

I have been inspired to regenerate and start my own consulting business from these life experiences, and the year has ended on a positive as my network of contacts has grown, and I have met some great and interesting people in the Shared Services and Outsourcing space, where clients across several sectors have now asked me to partner with them on their various HR transformation journeys

Gary Critchley
Head of Business Services and Information, Marks & Spencer Business Services

2010 can not already be over – where did it go?

From my side 2010 has been an incredibly busy year and one that has broken a lot of economic fundamentals. Low long-term interest rates in the UK teamed with concerns over consumer demand and unemployment means that 2010 has been a game-changer in terms of perceptions of economic performance. This has forced companies to focus hard on effective business processes and disciplines which result in improved customer experiences, pricing and quality.

This environment has also opened up opportunities for shared service practitioners who can see the opportunities and are set up to help their businesses and business partners maximise the benefits - a silver lining for shared service practitioners who can make real progress in implementing best practice to improve business performance at pace. Uncertainty is likely to be the only certainty during 2011, which like 2010, will be a year that will favour the brave.

John B Douglas, Vice President, PMP

The pace of business in the second half of 2010 was more vibrant than it was during the first half of the year. The singular focus on cost cutting faded and we saw a resurgence of efforts to improve business processes (cycle times, accuracy, quality, etc...). We also experienced a more thoughtful approach to BPO. The assessments and debates were more rigorous than a simple "take out costs" approach. There were real debates about options, sustainability and solutions for service delivery: standardize, centralize, simplify, automate and eliminate...

Deborah Kops
Sourcing Change
Resources for Outsourcing and Shared Services Change Management

As a professional Cassandra, I’d say that 2010 was a transition year for shared services and outsourcing. Coming out of the recession, corporations took the time to evaluate the implications of market and economic forces, and emerging technologies on their businesses, all the while stockpiling cash. Whether this year, clients will focus on inorganic growth, putting off tweaking their business models, or modify their delivery networks with brio is yet to be seen. Will we have another watch and wait year, or will shared services and outsourcing be near the top of the corporate agenda?

Tim Cummins, IACCM

For IACCM, 2010 was a year of rapid growth, with membership and revenues up by more than 30%.

Why was that? In large part, because the importance of SUCCESSFUL outsourcing and shared services has also grown in importance - and management has grasped that success depends on improved contracting and relationship management.

2010 has confirmed our long-held belief that today's complex, volatile and interconnected relationships need new forms of definition and governance. That means greater emphasis on commercial skills and capabilities and the development of contract and pricing models that encourage transparency and cooperation.

So the approach to shared services is transforming and the way external relationships are being negotiated, defined and managed has shifted from a legal-driven to an economics-driven model.

Continuous improvement, innovation, positive business outcomes - this is the agenda for both private and public sector and IACCM finds itself at the heart of these issues because of the relevance of our community, our research and our agenda.

We would sing, we would shout - but mostly, we are too busy listening and speaking to our fast growing community that seeks practical advice and guidance rather than sound-bites!

Phillip Price, CEO Europe, Reader’s Digest

If we look around us, the talk of this recession being the worst since the 1930s is clearly total nonsense and the economy is merely coming back from an overshoot

If the headlines in the news media were to be believed we should all be considering one way trips to Switzerland.. The growth that we became used to was unsustainable and financed by government spending our money on our behalf. The economy is now growing at a steadier rate and we need to get used to this as the new norm.

Thanks to Gordon Brown spending our money rather than salting it away for a rainy day and the concept of the government providing a safety net was been replaced by expectations that it will provide a safety blanket. The painful adjustment that is needed is now happening but there is no evidence of real pain on the streets or in the shops.

Globally, the corporate sector looks well with profits and cash balances generally in good shape. The total mismanagement of the entire Euro situation by the European politicians is a concern, but what can one expect from politicians. They continue to insist on putting ever more job-limiting restrictions on business in Europe rather than, as they do in the US, making it easier for the private sector to create the jobs that ultimately fuel growth in the economy for the benefit of all.

On the personal front, 2010 saw the hugely successful completion of one Finance Transformation program comprising an 8 country F&A outsourcing project and the start of a new permanent role which will include another Finance Transformation program; this time with a focus on streamlining the Commercial Finance operation.

Going forward my recommendation would be to get used to working hard, stop listening to the doom and gloom in the news media and get on and enjoy life.

Chris Gunning, VP Global Finance Shared Services, Unisys

The last year has been a very exciting year for Unisys Shared Services.

We formally finalized and released our Global Finance Operating Model framework, which we will build further on in 2011. This should provide additional opportunities to move additional work, including value-add type more complex activity, into our Shared Services and our offshore sourcing footprint.

We continue to really leverage our lower cost operating models, including our large Bangalore SSC footprint, where we now have the vast majority of all our SSC employees and functions. Indeed now over 85% of our total SSC headcount is in what we would consider a lower cost/ cost competitive location, which is really helping our bottom line, and adding value to the business.

We have just come out of an interesting Employee Engagement survey and Customer Satisfaction Survey cycle for Unisys Shared Services, and I am very pleased to say we scored very well on both counts!

And of course from a personal perspective, I had the opportunity to get stuck into my new global role, and have really enjoyed working with the North American and Latin regions. I expect 2011 to be even more exciting. We must never rest on our laurels in Shared Services! We have some very exciting projects soon to be kicked off….

Have we really climbed out of the recession - were there any silver linings?

I don’t think the global economies are fully out of deep water yet. I think that in the emerging markets in Latin America and Asia, growth will certainly occur in 2011, but in mature markets like Europe and the US, I think we are going to see a slower, more cautious recovery. Times will continue to be tough, and people will continue to feel the pinch, through increased taxes, inflation and rising costs of living and the impact on public spending etc.

I believe that from a Corporate perspective, many lessons have been learned. I think for those companies that were not already there pre the Credit Crunch, and have had to tighten up their belts in terms of expense spending and cost levels since, than there will certainly not be return to the heady days of the 90’s and noughties and there will be tighter control on reducing costs and expenditure. This should obviously give more room for scope of ITO, FAO and Shared Services!

Check out SSON Predictions or 2011