Sizing up the Stakeholder

Congratulations! You’ve finally convinced your company, or maybe received the directive, to implement a Shared Services Organization (SSO) as an integral service delivery model in support of your company’s overall business strategy.  The formal approval, or directive, is a noteworthy milestone; yet it only marks the beginning of the journey ahead.  You now face the continuous challenges to provide value to your organization and justify your SSO's existence.

Your status as a supplier of choice, versus by default, entails significant responsibility.  The reality is that your SSO is only as good as your last success - and could be shut down, decentralized, or outsourced at any time.  You are responsible not only for achieving a significant ROI, but also for successfully marketing to your stakeholder group (see September ’08 issue of Shared Services News for more on building relationships, change management, and customer satisfaction).

So how do you justify your SSO?  Very simply, but herein lies the challenge; by managing stakeholder expectations and marketing your achievements.

The challenge lies in establishing who your stakeholders are, understanding their expectations, developing a support continuum, and then determining the best method of marketing your achievements to each stakeholder.

Step 1: Identify your SSO Stakeholders and Validate their Support Continuum

  • Create and validate a Stakeholder Mapping document [see Figure 1]

Your Stakeholder Mapping document provides a one-page visual of each stakeholder, their alignment, and others they may influence.  A stakeholder is anyone who has a vested interest in supporting, being neutral, or derailing your SSO.  Your role is to determine and manage, proactively and continually, who is in each group and why.


Figure 1
Note: neutral stakeholders, over time, normally move towards either a supporter or a derailer, based on their perception of your SSO performance, and as a result of your marketing activities.

  • Distribute and gain consensus for your Stakeholder Mapping document

You will need to present your Stakeholder Mapping document to others, obtain their feedback, and modify the document accordingly.  Your Stakeholder Mapping document will determine the strategies for your marketing roadmap—both for an individual stakeholder, as well as for a collective stakeholder group.

  • Consistently re-evaluate your Stakeholder Mapping document, particularly when business strategy, operations, or stakeholder groups change.

Step 2: Identify your SSO Marketing Roadmap and Message Differentiation Strategy

"Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."
Sun-tzu Chinese general & military strategist (~400 B.C.)

Tailor and communicate your SSO key performance metrics for each stakeholder group [see Figure 2].   I Recommend enlisting someone from your communication business function to be a member of your project team to ensure message consistency.  This also provides additional company-level endorsement and support for your SSO.

Stakeholder Marketing Roadmap &
Message Differentiation Strategy Matrix


(High Marketing)


(High Marketing)


(Low Marketing)


 Engaged Executive Sponsor One-on-One meeting SSO Stakeholder meetings

In Person


Supportive Stakeholder

Focus Groups

SSO Open House

Business Group meetings

 Brown Bag Sessions Conference Calls

SSO Performance Metric Dashboard

Customer Satisfaction Survey results



SSO Performance Metric Dashboard

SSO Newsletter



SSO Performance Metric Dashboard

SSO Intranet



Adapted from Leave the Office Earlier (Broadway Books, 2004)
By The Productivity Pro®, Laura Stack, MBA, CSP
[Figure 2]

Step 3: Continuously Repeat

The success of your SSO, and ultimately your success in providing strategic value to your company, depends on how you market your achievements and manage stakeholder expectations.  Ask, communicate, get feedback, and improve your SSO.  Then ask, communicate, get feedback, and improve your SSO—continuously.

About the Author
Suzie Pack is an HR Shared Services strategist with a passion for operational excellence infrastructure (people, process, and systems). She has helped establish, expand, and market, as well as manage, P&L and budget for HR shared services for Fortune 100, 200, and 500 U.S. and international companies in banking, manufacturing, wireless, retail and most recently, the online and console game publishing industry.