A Look Into The Future Of The Shared Services Industry

By: Geena Monaco

In order to prepare for tomorrow, it is important to understand where the industry sits today. Many members of our community are using this time to reflect on their organization’s current situation in order to know what their next move should, and will, be.

The Shared Services team collected information from practitioners in our network to identify their tops needs at the moment and learn where they see the industry moving forward. This data will be instrumental for our partners to have so that they can share and tailor their solutions to help practitioners meet their goals.

To fully understand an organization’s potential needs it’s key to look at what is currently limiting their ability to deliver. After surveying shared services executives we learned that 49% of respondents said that, “Challenges managing remote teams,” was their biggest hindrance in their ability to deliver. While 39% (the next highest group) answered that “Inadequate infrastructure / hardware,” is what was slowing them down. The question showed us that while shared services have historically led the way in managing future of work strategies, today’s challenge sits with remaining agile for the organization while still ensuring a positive employee experience.

After understanding what the top limitations were, we then wanted to identify what is the most important benefit they believe shared services brings to their enterprise so that we can understand what benefit is most important to improve and expand on. With most respondents (27%) saying that “Control/standardization/optimization,’ is the leading benefit of shared services, it is becoming clear that the ability to optimize their organizations and make things more effective and efficient is key during these turbulent times.

After identifying what organizations perceive as the top benefits that SSOs bring to their organization, it was key to learn what their strategic priorities are moving forward. After seeing that optimization was the most important benefit, it was no surprise that the top priority moving forward is to optimize more processes and functions by exploiting automation opportunities. Implementing automation technology has proven time and time again to be the most effective way to run an efficient organization while also reducing operating cost. We are finding more and more organizations investing in emerging technologies in an effort to optimize their current practices.

We would be remised if we only focused on the proactive steps our community is taking and did not shed light on how they have had to react to what has happened in the wake of COVID-19. We asked respondents to tell us what they are doing right now in an effort to adapt to the current business environment so that we can understand their immediate needs and where they are focusing their energy. After looking at other trends, we were not completely surprised to see that almost all of our respondents (who represent the Top 20 SSOs globally) said that they plan to accelerate the use of automation within their enterprise.

While strategies being employed right now seem to be reactionary in nature, we asked the community what they believe the lasting impact COVID-19 will have on GBS delivery models. More than half of respondents answered that GBS and SSO models will become increasingly digitized, showing that more and more organizations will turn to emerging technologies to transform their business strategies.

With that being said, when we asked if these future of work strategies have been developed, a whopping 78% of respondents answered that they are currently developing these new strategies for SSO and GBS models as a response to COVID-19. These strategies are mainly focused around rethinking “how” work is being done.

It was important for us to understand where our community was, and where they were immediately heading, but we also wanted to look forward and see what their main objectives will be in the next 5 years. Following the trend that we have seen throughout this in depth look at the current industry, 43% of respondents said, “Leveraging automation and smart technology for efficiency,” is going to be their main focus moving forward.

As we take inventory of the industry’s current struggles and areas of improvement, it is hard to miss the common theme throughout, automation. More than ever before, SSOs and GBS organizations are turning to digitization and seeking new, emerging technologies to help them transform their current business practices and prepare them for future of work. To learn more about the respondents from these surveys and to find out how you can meet with them to help them transform their strategies, request more details here.

Sources: Future of Work: How to rethink the Service Delivery Model as a result of COVID-19; Global Business Services: Transformation Realized; Highlights from the Top 20 Most Admired Shared Services Organizations 2020 Benchmarking Analysis