Resolve to evolve: 12 2020 resolutions for GBS leaders

Add bookmark

Deborah Kops

The moment to advance is now

It’s 2020, folks, the start of a new decade with incredible opportunity to advance internal business services models, or whatever you care to call them. Business conditions could not be riper! There’s an unparalleled appetite for change just to survive. Technologies that redefine every aspect of work. Increasing globalization counteracted by nationalism. Previously unimaginable alliances and partnerships. New business threats.
Time to throw out the old playbooks, break away from the past, and redefine GBS.

Now, I suspect that you’re thinking it’s easy for you, Deborah, to pontificate and prognosticate. No one’s held you directly accountable for implementation for some time. But in my defense, I do see across the industry, have a semblance of a crystal ball (hold the witch jokes, please), and own up to a vivid imagination.

So, I asked myself: If I wanted to evolve my business services organization this year, what would I resolve to do?

Here is the countdown, in no particular order:

12. Embrace future of work

It continues to confound me as to why GBS leaders aren’t all over future of work principles. In 2020, it’s time for GBS leaders to put future of work front and center in their strategy, both for themselves and their enterprises. After all, with offshoring and outsourcing processes, shared services models have arguably hosted the dress rehearsal for future of work concepts—understand the work, rethink the worker, and harness the power of technology to operate remotely. Few HR or strategy leaders understand the reality of operations; for many it’s merely a trendy exercise. You can own it, GBS, and make an impact.

11. Develop a GBS go-to-market strategy

Your parents may have told you that all things come to those who wait, but it’s not a successful approach for those leaders who ache to create impact through business services design and delivery. Build it and they will come may work in the movies, but it’s a sorry approach to scaling enterprise business services. Decide what you are good at, what the enterprise needs from a business services model, what business is actually available to you, and formulate a detailed go-to-market strategy with all the bells and whistles – sales, marketing, change.

10. Design a target operating model

Hopefully your organization has defined a current operating model (as opposed to just an org chart), reflecting how you enable the delivery of your mission today. But technology, sourcing, talent, structure, capabilities, and even processes are not in stasis. Take the time to take stock and develop (and then continually refresh) a target operating model (TOM) that reflects how you are going to implement a future state. New capabilities – where do they sit? New technology – how does it interact with humans? New services – can the model deliver? You get the gist; go back to the drawing board.

9. Invest in business engagement

Perhaps one of the greatest sources of GBS’s impact in 2020 is to commit to discontinuing the old, tired ad hoc ways of dealing with customers – and instead investing in a business engagement model that takes the time to know the customer, is consistent, creates a GBS brand, is conducive to co-creation, and is compatible with change management initiatives. This likely means new rules for the team, new talent, and new organization structure, not to mention sharing knowledge — a sea change for GBS organizations that have emphasized delivery as opposed to scaling the business according to a plan. Develop a playbook, colleagues.

8. Harness the power of persona

No, GBS leaders, there are not three customer personae you cater for: C-suite, the business unit and the individual user. Confusing roles with personae is a big, big miss. In business services’ parlance, personae are archetypal characters that combine demographics, defined attitudes and behaviors to create specific customer groups that will react similarly to a given opportunity or a situation. If you want to change the way an organization works with you, it’s critical to get far more granular when looking at your stakeholders: their individual motivations, experience with business services, who influences them, and what they need from business services.

7. Focus away from service delivery

The trend is taking shape. As more and more functional leadership raise the specter of repatriation of shared services back into their chain of command, I’d argue that the standardize/consolidate/continually improve game may have finally run its course. Once made efficient and effective, it’s easy for finance or HR to do a land grab for operational process delivery, arguing that integration and consolidation doesn’t add incremental value, or table the issue of outsourcing to wring out a few more dollars.

The antidote? Plan to move into areas where value creation is so much more than better, faster, cheaper. It could be incubating unique and scarce capability. It could be delivering previously unattainable business insights. It could be improving customer interactions.

6. Finally crack end-to-end

Let this be the decade when end-to-end delivery is much more than a headline or an elusive dream. While some think it’s the endgame for business services nirvana, it actually opens up the door to the next stage in business services evolution—the management (not delivery) of ecosystems where who performs the work is irrelevant, but how it is orchestrated creates a new level of value.

Think whitespace; if you control the space between processes and functions, you change the game

5. Market!

Remember the axiom about no sound in a bell jar? Unless the powers that be know what GBS does and who leadership are, the model won’t stick. A simple, digestible, understandable story delivered consistently to key stakeholders through the channels they prefer (!) counteracts one delivery slip or the noise created by a guerilla stakeholder. Don’t shy away from marketing, thinking it’s cheesy and something only outsourcing companies do. Make your GBS story real, impactful and contextual.

4. Tag along with other transforming initiatives

At times, GBS withdraws into itself, trying to go it alone to get all the glory, or in response to the belief that it’s a proper defense against “they are out to get me.” In an increasingly interconnected enterprise, that is not a good positioning. When GBS objectives are aligned with those of other transformation initiatives, the impact is multiplied. When GBS management work effectively with other transformers, the pain is shared. When GBS plays ball, the funding (and air coverage) usually increases.

Choose to collaborate with friends…and frenemies.

3. Become an historian

Your mother probably told you that what goes around, comes around. And she was right. Most GBS challenges can be successfully managed or even avoided by observing patterns and preparing for their impact. New CEO? There’s a tried and tested strategy for effectively educating him or her to become a sponsor. Big merger or acquisition? Great opportunity to fund investment and grab scale. Opening up new markets? Establishing business services can be positioned as the critical success factor.

2. Develop a real digital strategy

Implementing a few bots and then declaring digital victory is not digital transformation. Let’s not kid ourselves—intelligent automation is a tool that only changes the game when other enablers are orchestrated in concert, including resourcing, workways, process management and risk profiling. Effective digital strategy can’t be relegated to a software provider under the supervision of an internal AI team. It takes the entire GBS enterprise and then some to make the change. Take the time to do it right.

1. Be honest

Each year the hype about GBS success increases exponentially. The PowerPoints exude numerous accomplishments in a quest to dazzle the industry and be positioned as a thought leader. But we don’t learn half so much from successes as we do from attempts and failures.

Let’s hope in 2020 we advance the model by sharing the good, the bad and the absolutely ugly about what we have and haven’t been able to achieve. We are all seekers. We are all colleagues. We need help from each other.


Perhaps you’ll make and stick to one resolution this year. Or, go for broke and push for a year of nonstop evolution. Whatever you chose to do, resolve to evolve the GBS story, not react. It’s a worthy pursuit.

Best wishes for 2020,


Do you have the SSO Performance Metrics you need?

Drive better performance with SSON Analytics' benchmarks

SSON Analytics' has the metrics and analytics that prove your performance – or identify gaps. Thousands of practitioners around the world already tap into SSON's Analytics tools and benchmarks daily. See our benchmark metrics.

Email for details.