BP Elite: How to Drive Competitive Advantage Through Your Shared Services

SSON recently interviewed Ken Jefferd, General Manager at BP Elite. Ken’s focus was clear: "Elite’s purpose in life is to enable BP and Castrol to win and grow in the market with customers, so that's how we orient ourselves." With successes reliant on winning with customers, we wanted Ken’s insight on exactly what it takes to create a business framework that keeps you ahead.

Q. How important is a ‘multi-connected tower’?

It all starts with the customer for us, and the goal of being ‘easy to do business with’. We need to get the basics right first-time, every-time, and try to delight our customer during their experience. I’m looking for a connected and efficient organisation all the way along what we call the ‘contract-to-cash’ process tower from customer set-up, through order-taking, fulfilment, invoicing and ultimately cash collection…and traditionally these activities are organised in different teams – they are for us.

I see the magic happening when the teams deeply connect with a common purpose. We've recently implemented SAP, which requires real end-to-end process discipline. We ended up, literally, getting people from different teams in the same room for extended periods, to develop real understanding and ongoing connectivity. As soon as we did that, our processes got more efficient, effective, and we were better able to service our customers.

Q. What do you think are the key challenges when trying to develop your full end-to-end processes?

We've learnt the value of really understanding the upstream and downstream impacts of a role within the process – a conceptual understanding of the whole end-to-end process. Unintended consequences can be significant, and we found we couldn’t rely on things getting sorted out by a few experts.

That can be hard, because it involves change – both in the shared service organisation as well as the business. We needed strong leadership, time together, aligned values and behaviours and development of the right roles, capabilities and performance metrics focused on the customer.

Q. How do you ensure you’re able to continually progress?

A competitive market is a compelling driver! Focusing on our customer, good leaders, strong relationships and investing in the right capability to further standardise and simplify our processes have helped us continually progress. Success breeds on success, so we try hard to recognise great work – especially when our people take the initiative themselves.

Q. What does the theme of SSOW 2013 in Australasia, "Creating the intelligent enterprise", mean to you?

Good question! On reflection, for me it’s about improving a company’s performance by innovation. In a practical sense for a shared services organisation, three areas might be providing new higher-value services in more efficient ways than the business operates today, totally new approaches to executing current processes or generating value-add commercial insights to the business by mining the vast amounts of data we typically have access to.

You can hear more from Ken Jefferd during the Australasian SSO Week on 20-22 May 2013. Ken will be delivering a presentation around the topic ‘Making the Move to a Connected Multi- Tower Centre to Boost Core Competencies.’ Visit www.sharedservicesweek.com.au and download the agenda: http://bit.ly/Ssu0jz. We will also be arranging a site tour of the BP Elite offices.