Why GBS Skills are the Required Standard for Tomorrow’s Performance

what t oexpect

I know, I know… You are being inundated with messages about technology, robotics, as-of-yet-undiscovered new locations, twists on the traditional shared services model itself, and more. And yet, you know that it's the quality of your team, of your employees, that is the single most important driver of your shared services performance, its brand recognition, its sustainable competitiveness and its success. Given the choice between cheaper but inexperienced and untrained staff offshore, or a costlier, highly-trained and savvy nearshore hub, you might choose the hub if you want to guarantee value-driven performance to your clients.

Today, in the face of the ‘new and improved’ business and economic environment, we have had to adjust our definition of shared services and therefore also the definition of what the ideal team member looks like.

SSON conducts an annual survey of its global members, and what is indisputably true is that shared services providers, whether inhouse/captive or BPO, are building up a different set of skills within their team. What’s emerging are softer capabilities around relationship management, negotiation, and leadership; but also the ‘new transactional’ skill sets around data analytics and robotic technology (see the 2016 report).

One of the clearest trends is the aspiration towards Global Shared Services/Global Business Services (GBS) – if not the model in its entirety, then at least its habits, processes, and behaviors. But, as will be no surprise, this involves a lot more than sticking a new sign over the door. GBS implies global process ownership, worldwide leveraging of talent, pushing the work towards those places that have a clear competitive advantage, and recognizing what's good for the whole as opposed to what's good for the individual business unit. You cannot just rebadge your old or existing staff and set them loose.

CIMA, in collaboration with the Hackett group, and ACCA, are two organizations that have taken the lead in providing comprehensive and robust training in support of the Global Business Services model. And that is admirable and laudable.

What is perhaps even more exciting  is that new locations that are just emerging (or expanding) onto the shared services and BPO map are leveraging this to ramp-up their value proposition to potential investors.

This week I had the chance to speak to the team at the Trinidad & Tobago International Financial Center (IFC), which is building out a BPO park in Arima, as Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is already host to the Shared Services Organizations of two of Canada's leading banks. It’s still early days for the service delivery market in this country, but T&T is determined to strategically position itself squarely in the BPO / Shared Services court as opposed to the Call Center market.

Aliyah Jaggassar is Vice President of BPO/Shared Services Development at the Trinidad and Tobago IFC, and explains that the Government has taken the initiative to diversify away from its traditional focus on Oil and Gas, to Services, particularly Finance and Accounting (F&A).

"Finance and Accounting is, after energy, the second most important area of interest in our economy – every year, thousands of students graduate with the kind of F&A skills that are so in demand, globally," she says.

But graduates alone are not enough. In the face of Shared Services trends and corporate demand, what's needed are the kind of people that understand the challenges of global services delivery and that can deliver from day one. So, in October, the Trinidad and Tobago IFC partnered with ACCA to leverage the GBS qualification that the latter offers for its growing and ambitious talent pool.

“Trinidad and Tobago has 60 tertiary institutions, which every year produce plenty of graduates in Finance and Accounting. Many of these are already ACCA-qualified, but we realized that would not be enough to compete on the global stage,” Aliyah explains. "So, last month, we identified and began promoting the GBS qualification as part of our domestic initiatives to develop more F&A employees with specialized skills in BPO/ Shared Services.”

What's noteworthy is that the GBS program hasn't just been ‘lifted and shifted’, but it's been specifically tailored to what the Trinidad and Tobago IFC believes will support multinational clients’ requirements.

“We worked with ACCA to add a number of softer skills into the program, that do more than just train individuals on Shared Services and BPO processes. We wanted to ensure that we included the kinds of skills that surveys like SSON’s highlight as being critical today, namely managing relations with international clients, interview skills, negotiation skills, and the ability to localize Global messaging.”

The new world demands new people. With Millennials increasingly dictating the pace of change and communication, borders are breaking down and the playing field is getting flatter. But that’s no surprise. Tom Friedman told us that 10 years ago. What’s key today is education, talent, skills. The right people can support your objectives wherever they are. But first comes preparation.


Note: Trinidad & Tobago offers a number of incentives to multinationals considering Shared Services/BPO. These include corporation tax exemption, withholding tax exemption, free "plug and play" incubation spaces, intermediation with Government and other agencies, and training subsidies. Find out more here: http://www.ttifc.co.tt.