Service Delivery Models—Aligning to the Business

Gary Booth


The Co-operative Group is a unique family of businesses ranging from convenience food retailing, to pharmacies, travel agents and funeral homes. It is run by over three million members, each of whom has a say in how we run the business. In 2008 we had an annual turnover of £10.4 billion, with 108,000 employees serving around 10 million customers a week in over 4,000 high street branches and through online shopping.Our values influence the products and services of each of these businesses, proving that good quality products and value don’t have to come at the expense of honesty and social responsibility. Ethical trading is what we are about.

People Services employs 120 colleagues and is the nerve center within the Group HR function, managing all elements of the employee lifecycle from candidates to leavers. Our service provision covers HR administration, payroll, recruitment, governance and Management Information as well as operational support and business change.

In order to grow the co-operative at a faster rate than the competition, we will continue to acquire other businesses and integrate them effectively into our existing brand and portfolios, diversifying the co-operative offering. Therefore, to remain flexible and portable enough to take on future activity, we will require a robust operating model that truly aligns to the business as opportunities continue:

  • Consolidation within the retail sector has led to a significant advantage through growth in value and enhanced profitably through merger and acquisition
  • Product portfolio offering for retail market leaders are key to continued growth
  • Change capability of competitors has improved. Those players with the capability to respond to these opportunities fastest and most effectively are likely to be the ultimate winners

To achieve all this we’ll need to clearly understand the wider operating model and how it operates in the business. The overriding issues in many organizations today concern boundary and service segmentation, which ultimately come down to a lack of communication throughout the organization on ‘who does what.’ Therefore, the building blocks we put in place are critical to our success.

A key dependency for People Services is to have a robust HR operating and service delivery model, which has the stability and flexibility to change with the needs of the organization, thereby ensuring that we:
Achieve our plans for growth in the future
Improve ways of working and effectiveness

The HR Operating Model highlights the key questions that need to be raised and the potential answers to what needs to be in place. This has already started, with clear accountability and responsibility being agreed within the model and a subsequent HR Change Board to manage the various activities and change. We now need to look at these projects more holistically, to identify future opportunities through:

  • Overall HR integrated plan
  • Delivery of the transformation
  • Service delivery of the end solution

So what does this translate to?

The HR operating model is a framework that summarizes how people will receive an HR service and what is required to best support that delivery within the context of the co-operative business priorities.

  • What will the operating model mean for our customers?
  • HR policies that apply across the co-operative (taking into account business requirements, where necessary)
  • HR policies devised collaboratively in direct response to business requirements
  • HR procedures and processes that are simplified, allowing line managers and our people to use them easily
  • Key focus on the development of people to achieve business results
  • Business focused & simple HR policies delivered though e-enabled ‘self-service,’ wherever possible

Once you’ve answered the first three questions below and understand the relationship between the operating model and the building blocks, the remaining fourth question is how the service delivery model will be delivered to our customers.

What will the Service Delivery Model mean for our Customers?

  • Replacement of inefficient paper based processes with direct on-line access to HR transactions and management information
  • Providing expert telephone based advice and guidance from the HR People Service center
  • HR Business Partners focused on working more strategically with operational managers in addressing the HR issues which are affecting business performance
  • Delivering learning and development in ways which will allow individuals to meet business as well as personal development needs
  • Ensuring that the HR Centers of Expertise access best practice in developing HR policies and approaches which enhance and support business delivery in the co-operative
  • Developing a more streamlined HR service, freeing up resources which can be switched to frontline delivery to our clients


We have created a Vision of "Liberating our business through exceptional people & service." Running alongside this we have clearly articulated what this vision will look like in 2011

  • Deliver innovative HR solutions with precision and pace
  • Exploit Process and Technology to deliver previously unimagined business benefits
  • Be pioneers in HR Shared Services, revered and followed by all
  • Become trusted partners, renowned for quality execution and value add
  • Passionately deliver exceptional service
  • Champion the co-operative values
  • Build a high performing team who are empowered, motivated and proud
  • Be a magnet for talent

Our vision is based on delivering the four building blocks of process, people, customer and technology. They, in turn, are supported by 12 key initiatives, which dictate how we will drive forward to liberate our business through exceptional people and service.