7 Key Findings from the 2019 Nordic Business Transformation Benchmarking Report
Every year, SSON’s industry surveys highlight enormous progression in Shared Services’ evolution.
The past couple of years have shown a clear move away from transactional, human-based work towards data-driven, knowledge-based activity – enabled by automation. Yet, and despite the anxiety unleashed by automation, this has not translated to obvious job losses. Instead, Shared Services Organisations (SSOs) are developing new competencies and taking on growth without adding headcount, frequently by leveraging new Centres of Expertise or Excellence and expanding into new services and geographies.
Recently, in the lead up to Nordic Business Transformation, SSON surveyed Shared Services organizations in the Nordics market to find out how shared service organisations in the Nordics are supporting successful transformation. Here are some of the key findings:
1. 3 out of 4 respondents describe their back-office transformation initiatives as successful and more than half of these respondents are tackling back-office transformation for the first time
Three-quarters of respondents confirmed that their back-office transformation initiatives have been successful, which is doubly impressive when we consider that more than half of these respondents are tackling back-office transformation for the first time. Indeed, when we drill down into the data, we find a high correlation between those embarking on transformation for the first time and automation success. Practice, in other words, does not make perfect.
2. Standardisation & Optimisation are considered the most important benefits of shared service organisations
3. 50% are at the planning or piloting stage of their automation journey
The largest segment of respondents to the Nordics survey are currently at the research and planning, or piloting, stage and have not, therefore, significantly rolled RPA or Intelligent Automation (IA) out across their Shared Services.
At the same time, however, four out of 10 respondents are already scaling up automation, or at the stage of leveraging cognitive and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. All Shared Services in this latter, more evolved, automation category confirm success in their transformation initiatives.
4. 65% have achieved a return on investment through the deployment of automation, while 15% have surpassed it
One of the challenges of RPA or IA solutions is that the wrong process selection or ineffective change management support can significantly sideline projects, and is responsible for a large segment of so-called “RPA failures” that we hear about. However, the majority of respondents to SSON’s Nordics survey confirmed that they had been successful in meeting their ROI expectations. In fact, all Shared Services at the Scaling or Cognitive stage of automation confirmed that they had not only met their intended ROI, but in some cases had even surpassed it
5. Identifying the right process is the greatest challenge in driving value from automation
45% of organisations use Lean Six Sigma methodologies for process improvement, while 10% use Agile operations and 5% use design thinking.
It’s interesting to note that Agile and Design Thinking, although currently still raking much lower, are beginning to be used across Shared Services. The flexibility implied by Agile methodologies, leveraging multi-functional stakeholders and real-time feedback, are highly effective in an environment where the ability to respond quickly to changing market requirements is valued. At the same time, the “customer-first” strategy of Design Thinking is proving highly effective in modern problem-solving approaches and Shared Services is no exception.
6. Change management is predicted to be the biggest challenge over the next 12 months
7. 75% of surveyed Nordic organisations are leveraging a centre of expertise and 35% doing so locally. The main competencies are financial expertise, RPA/IA and Continuous Improvement
Across the Nordics region, our survey reveals, Shared Services are predominantly leveraging COEs to provide locally-focused services (providing incountry services is the most common model across the Nordics, accounting for 50% of Nordics SSOs according to SSON’s survey). Many of these services support the needs of local customers through specific skill sets like automation or data analytics. Again, SSON’s global market survey lists the most popular COE competencies supported as RPA/intelligent automation, Continuous Improvement, and subject matter expertise in HR and Finance processing.