If I Could Do It All Again... (8: Robert Simon)

If I could do it all again… I would insist that several of the organizations in which I have worked to implement and develop shared services dedicate staff and other resources to people- and business-unit-relationship management.

I have experience in six different shared services in multiple industries and each had different approaches for the start-up activities. However, I would like to focus on one activity and one structure that made a difference in two of my operations. The first thing is to ensure you have sufficient psychological consulting available as shared services requires patience and dedication focused on people and relationships. I suggest forcefully presenting a case to management that shared services requires a dedicated staff to concentrate on business unit relationships as well as the migration activities and business analytics. While many shared services do metrics and migration activities, they generally fall short on the people aspects of managing the business. Many simply require the line managers to fill this role in addition to their "regular" job.  This is a formula for less efficiency and slightly more frustrated managers.

I would work very hard to encourage companies to dedicate one, two or three individuals to the people side of the business. This number of staff depends on the size and scope of your operation. From personal experience, the two that had this component had better implementations, fewer customer complaints and improved acceptance of the role of shared services within the company than those that did not.

Now that said, these individuals had other duties but generally they were assigned a business unit(s) as their main point of contact for significant issues or just in order to understand that business unit’s hot buttons. This simple structure with dedicated people will make your life much easier.

Robert Simon has an extensive background in shared services and has been a director of an SSO in companies that range from one to seven billion dollars in annual revenue.  His primary responsibilities were to manage, lead and establish the vision for the entire shared services operations as well as market and promote the business functions by adding or expanding services. This was accomplished by structuring a migration and project team focused on business growth. He has more than 25 years of experience in finance, systems development, implementations, and operations management as well as experience in six different shared-services-related industries. Most recently, Robert consulted with a large food distribution company that engaged his services to perform a site selection for a new shared services operation. 


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