Q&A: Roy Cartwright, Caterpillar

Roy Cartwright

SSON: Roy, tell us a bit about Caterpillar shared services: how long has the organisation been going, where are your centres and what functions are included?

Roy Cartwright: Caterpillar HR Shared Services was originally set up in the UK in 2000 to support the 17 Caterpillar Business Units in the UK. Now we have a Global HR Shared Services organisation with three service centers in our main theatres in the world:

  • Panama supporting the Americas
  • India supporting Asia Pacific
  • Peterborough in the UK which supports Cat’s businesses in the UK and - increasingly - in Continental Europe

We have some variation in services provided from each service center dependent on the needs of the Business Units and also the BU structure within a region, but in the UK for example from Peterborough we provide the following services:

  • Service Centre
  • Learning & Development Support
  • Payroll
  • Pensions Admin
  • Compensation & Benefits Administration
  • Succession Planning
  • Business Travel

SSON: You head up the HR Shared Services division: to whom does your team provide support?

RC: We support 17 Caterpillar Business Units in the UK plus 4 in Continental Europe. I head up the UK shared services team. Keith Butterfield based in Peoria heads up the Global HR SSO.

SSON: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced during your time in Shared Services?

RC: Managing 13 UK payrolls – working with Facilities to ensure that we pay people on time, correctly, every week!

SSON: At SSON's recent HR Transformation: Shared Services & Outsourcing event you spoke about "Technology versus the Human Touch". In an age of such advanced automation why do you think the human touch is still important? And do you think this will always be the case?

RC: Yes I do. People are more flexible than technology: people can fix things technology can’t. Also personal relationships are critical to success. Our customers and partners need to know that we will deliver on commitments that we have made. One very important point though: I do not see this as a technology VERSUS human touch issue. Rather we have to harness technology, people & processes together in order to be both effective & efficient...

SSON: How can shared services leaders, and companies looking to implement shared services, ensure they keep the right balance between technology and the human factor?

RC: Use sound judgement. Understand the culture of your organisation and what processes and technology are appropriate for your organisation at a particular point in time. Culture - commitment to self-serve for example - will evolve over time.

SSON: What are the key elements of the training which shared services staff should receive to ensure the organisation maintains this balance?

RC: I guess I could write a book on this. You must have a very thorough, documented induction/training structure involving familiarisation with processes, technology & organisation structure. What I really do like to focus on though is the customer-business unit relationship. We encourage – wherever possible - service center staff to visit the facilities/businesses they support. There is a cost in this – but I look upon it as a very worthwhile investment. Service center staff need to ‘feel their customers pain’...

SSON: What in particular do you see as being problematic with self-service technology and how have you overcome these issues?

RC: We are not as far down the self-service road in the UK and Europe as we want to be, but in order for self-service to be successful I think you need a number of steps in place:

  • clear , simple, standard processes
  • user-friendly technology
  • a cultural commitment within the organisation to make self- service
  • a recognition that HR admin is part of a manager’s role

SSON: What do you think will be the biggest factors affecting HR shared services generally in the next few years?

RC: Cost challenges, organisation changes, and the drive for standard work.

SSON: Finally, what advice would you give anyone looking to set out on an HR shared services journey?

RC: The key to success with any project is good well-planned preparation. Develop the business case for shared services not in a vacuum but working with your BU partners. Don’t push shared services - get the ‘pull’ from your partners. And……… have realistic expectations - and a great change plan. Things very rarely initially work exactly the way you expect them to.