Reframing Your Value Proposition: Reassessing the Stakes in Moving Markets

Mary G. Adams

Procter & Gamble’s Global Business Services group was introduced to readers of Shared Services News in the Dec./Jan. 2008 issue, where we profiled the operation’s launch and today’s management. Now we sit down with Mary Adams, Director, Global Business Services, who, after P&G decided to outsource its services provision, led the 2003 task force to establish GBS’ newly "reframed" operating model, which resulted in a number of planks, including the commitment to "run as a business." Here, Mary Adams explains how the stakes, in terms of value creation, are constantly being reassessed.

SSN: Mary, what drove the early change initiatives within P&G?

Mary Adams: Between 1985 and 1999, as a result of global expansion, P&G entered 55 new markets and increased its operations to 86 countries. Yet, at the same time, we still had duplicated services across regions that prevented us from capitalizing on the opportunities opening up. So, in 1999, we set out on the path to globalize our structure and transform our approach. Our vision was to bring services from the back office to the boardroom and to be the "go to" organization for "wicked problems". It was from this vision that GBS was born.

SSN: How and why has GBS’ focus and its value proposition changed since its launch in 1999?

Mary Adams: In the early days, GBS operated as a standard Shared Services organization, focusing on the consolidation of our infrastructure and basic cost-related issues. In 2003, having gone as far as we felt we could internally, we made the decision to strategically outsource. Delivering the outsourcing effectively then became a key challenge. Outsourcing marked a momentous change in our services delivery model, and necessitated redefining GBS’ role and its value proposition for P&G. We had to update and clarify for our leaders and people: why do we exist? And what is our unique, value-creating role going forward?

SSN: Given the lesser emphasis on transaction processing post-outsourcing, how did GBS redefine its role within P&G’s business?

Mary Adams: The period of transition, once we’d outsourced, became known as "reframing," complete with the tagline "A New Journey." To "reframe" GBS, we established a multifunctional task force. The task force developed the strategy that would define how GBS would operate within P&G, moving forward. The group was made up of roughly 15 people from all cross-sections of the organization and represented different functions, locations, levels of experience, perspectives (pro and con), etc.

The task force was guided by a sense of "urgency and agility". It was specifically named "task force" instead of "team", meaning we came together quickly, did our work quickly, and then disbanded. In fact, our project was completed in just three months. The results of our work included a new GBS mission statement and a face-to-face meeting for GBS leaders to internalize this mission and begin to engage on the new GBS Running As a Business model, and what it would mean for them and their teams.

SSN: What were the key planks that emerged from the task force’s work?

Mary Adams: In terms of structure, we focused on going global, thinking holistically and growing in partnership. In terms of strategy, "Running As A Business" became a major plank with which to move forward. Running our operations like a business also ensured us of the support we needed from top management.

SSN: What were the key deliverables that fed into GBS’ forward plan?

Mary Adams: The task force was intended to come up with a plan to move GBS forward and define its strategic role within P&G given the change in services delivery model. The key deliverables that emerged were, firstly, a GBS mission statement. We wanted to answer the question: What is our updated role in the company, now that many services are delivered to the businesses via outsourcing partners? What needs to be our strategic contribution to P&G over the next few years?

Additionally, we chose the tag "Running As A Business" to define how we would operate moving forward, and to apply P&G’s successful business practices to the running GBS services (for example, we re-applied P&G brand-management to GBS service management). We also began to outline a new set of commitments: the objectives, goals, strategies and measures (OGSM) for GBS, and placed a new stake in the ground regarding the value we would create for P&G — a commitment to double our business contribution over the next four years; to help the company grow in breakthrough ways; to deliver lower cost, better services and greater value. The aim was to allow P&G employees and the businesses to focus more on their core work.

A final, but crucial result was leadership engagement. We adopted a "deliver the leaders" approach and designed a multi-day, face-to-face meeting to help our most senior leaders embrace the new GBS, so that they could effectively engage and lead their teams, in various service centers and other GBS locations around the world.

SSN: How do you see GBS’ strategy evolving over the next years?

Mary Adams: Since its inception in 1998, GBS has gone through three major stages of reassessing our role within the business. The first, startup, stage ran from 1998 to 2002, and was termed standard Shared Services.

From 2003-2007 we ran according to a Progressive Business Model, which included strategic outsourcing, Running As A Business, and GBS + IT integration. As part of this we renamed our IT function "Information & Decision Solutions." This reinforced our shift to emphasize information and decision making, and as our key contribution to P&G.

We are just entered our third stage this year, which we are calling "GBS 3.0." Its key focus is on agility, flexibility and anticipation, embracing change as a core business strategy and characterized by dramatic IT-driven innovation. We are aiming for a three-fold increase in organizational capacity and workflow. It’s all about creating an ever stronger foundation for P&G’s growth.