If I Could Do It All Again... (9: Clare Blatchford-Hanna)
If I could do it all again… I would ensure that we had all our processes mapped out fully and precisely before the transition to shared services and to an outsourcing provider.
When the global team first carried out its assessment of all the different regions to see which would be capable of being moved into the shared service centre, there were approximately 36 people in HR in the UK and this was seen as a prime candidate for consolidation and efficiency. But everything changed a great deal since the initial due diligence was done three years prior to the move: what we didn’t realise was that there was a multitude of people covering up really quite bad processes – and when we decreased headcount before we outsourced we lost a lot of the internalised knowledge which some of the people who left had kept to themselves, and a lot of people who were apparently used to running/ringing round the building clarifying queries.
When we carried out our knowledge transfer to our outsourcing partner we realised how bad some of the processes were: things certainly weren’t in quite as good a state as we’d anticipated. An example is the number of times a piece of paper was touched: often it was going backwards and forwards between parties about three or four times (often just for politeness’ sake: obviously when you’re streamlining you do need courtesy but you also need efficiency – you don’t need to be passing documents back saying "thank you", "no, thank you", "why, thank you"…) and while we hadn’t noticed when we had the people in place to cope with that, when we cut down to just one person at each end handling each transaction, we had to go back and redesign.
We realised quite rapidly that what we’d given to our outsource provider really wasn’t up to scratch (although we’d tried to cover things up it was obvious that on a day-to-day basis a lot of it wasn’t right) and as we’d never had any real SLAs or benchmarks, when it came to working with a very time-and-delivery- and solution-focused outsourcing partner things got pretty bumpy - although this hasn’t been a totally bad thing as it’s forced us to look at new processes a great deal closer when it comes to designing them.
Having an accurate and thorough process-map in place some time before the transition would have made for a much smoother ride ever since, and if I could do it all again, I’d make sure we took the time to do that – and do it properly – before we started handing over our processes to our partner.
(If there's something you'd do differently if you could do it all again, why not let us know? Email the editor with your thoughts - anonymity will be respected upon request!)