SSON Excellence Award winner 2012 (Europe): Improvement & Innovation

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What does it take to lead the field in "Improvement & Innovation"?

HP GBS shares its winning application.


Global Business Services (GBS), HP’s shared services organization (SSO), during the 12 years of its existence has built a strong track record in process delivery with high productivity and outstanding quality for customers. That fuelled rapid expansion of services in scope, breadth and depth. GBS covers areas of finance, human resources, supply chain, customer services and high-end services such as sales operations or marketing.

Even though, the GBS’s world class service quality has been widely recognized, we continuously challenge status quo going above and beyond the traditional SSO value proposition. This proactive approach led GBS to a breakthrough in the definition of the SSO objectives.

We formed an innovative, challenging but realistic goal to provide ‘SSO @ No Cost’ to HP

Each year, the incremental positive impact SSO generates to HP Profit & Loss (P&L) should be equal or higher than the SSO’s operational cost, in effect "cost neutral".

This ‘out-of-the-box’ view on the SSO objectives required a strong focus on the cost neutrality used as one of two key measures of success. To balance the financial focus, the second strategic indicator is client satisfaction measure, aggregating customer (recipient of day-to-day service) and client (contractual partner) satisfaction.

From a 10,000 feet perspective the primary enablers for the ‘SSO @ No Cost’ are:

  • Leveraging from GBS wide scopeto discover improvement ideas that resolve highly complex business problems that generate significant financial benefits.
  • Elevating Total Customer Experience(TCE) to the next level
  • Discovering and executing opportunities for business processes improvement at processes’ intersections.
  • Joint SSO and IT efforts in analysing the value and data flow within business processes.


In order to meet our key objectives we developed a comprehensive and innovative process improvement framework which is based on 3 pillars:

  • Working Together– joint effort of GBS, clients and customers
  • Talking the Same Language- comprehensive Unified Process Improvement Methodology.
  • Working Towards the same Objectives – improving customer experience, increasing efficiency and effectiveness of the processes.

The framework disciplines the delivery of different types of improvements. It is a virtuous circle: improving process productivity (Efficiency) and delivering additional positive P&L impact (Effectiveness), increasing client trust and improving the Total Customer Experience. This leads to new business for GBS (increased Coverage) and generates new areas for efficiency and effectiveness gains, completing and restarting the circle.

‘Unified Process Improvement Methodology’ (UPIM) is the engine of the framework. It has been evolving since 2010 from classic Lean Six Sigma.

UPIM guides us what, how, with whom and when changes should be done to make process improvements as effective as possible. It is comprised of three innovative approaches:

  1. Wearing Customer Shoes– deep understanding of customer objectives and needs, analyzing and improving customer touch points (interaction and information exchange) by looking at them from customer perspective.
  2. Connecting the Dots– analyzing and improving interactions and relations between linked processes, stakeholders, IT Systems and data.
  3. Internal IT Capabilities– internal "IT SWAT Team" to speed up process changes which require IT applications customization or enhancement.


Due to a volatile economic environment leading to internal pressure on costs, we were challenged by the company to identify "do it now and quick" opportunities with positive financial impact to HP. Time horizons and speed of implementation of ‘SSO @ No Cost’ program were critical success factors. That’s why we considered how to overcome both resistance to the change itself and resistance to the proposed means of implementation of the change.

The change process affected more than 2,000 employees, across all GBS locations in EMEA, covering 42 processes in 59 countries.

We took a brand new approach to management of change – transforming it into real leadership of change. As a result GBS secured a seat for its representative on the EMEA management board in HP and determined the transformation of ‘intention into reality’ and created the premise to sustain the change.

Some of the changes implied internal structures, systems, processes and operational tasks were perceived as disruptive. Skills and functional demarcation lines were replaced by multi-functional working teams, empowering people and encouraging multi-discipline activity. New ways of measuring performance impacted the reward system, like rewarding improvement projects that had tangible and significant TCE and/or P&L impact.


Following our strategic approach, there are two measures as ultimate proof of success – cost neutrality and TCE measurement.

1. Cost neutrality

Each year, the incremental positive impact GBS generates to the HP P&L, should be equal or higher than the GBS operational cost, in effect "cost neutral".

  • We considered the projects contributing to process change year-on-year and generating on-going annual savings in the benefit of our clients. ‘One-off’ cost savings are not considered.
  • All P&L savings were acknowledged by our clients and confirmed by their finance managers.
  • The P&L savings were calculated based on a 12 month timeframe, after which we regarded the process improvement changes as ‘client owned’ becoming the new baseline for GBS in the next year.

Results were delivered by efficiency projects, scope extension of current processes and effectiveness projects. In 2011 GBS EMEA achieved the following positive P&L impact:

- Efficiency projects 7% of yearly budget

- Scope extension 15% of yearly budget

- Effectiveness projects 78% of yearly budget

Measuring fiscal year positive P&L impact (by revenue generation, cash flow improvements, and cost savings) against GBS EMEA operational budget, a cost neutrality ratio of 96.7% was achieved.

2. Total Customer Experience

Process improvement initiatives also drove significant improvements in increasing our customers’ level of satisfaction. At the end of the year, our customer satisfaction reached the level of 81% and our client satisfaction reached the level of 77%.

Further prospects:

For the first four months in fiscal year 2012, the impact of new effectiveness projects, against the operational budget lead to a FY12 YTD cost neutrality for our clients of 101.9%.

In terms of TCE we have seen continuous improvement, reaching customer satisfaction levels of 86%.

In both areas the improvement projects in progress (currently 114 specific projects are in progress) will ensure the continuation of this positive trend.


There is no doubt that innovation and improvement are two factors hard-coded into the DNA of every top class SSO, nevertheless the key question is how these terms are understood and what is the level on which innovation and improvement is being considered and implemented.

As exemplified in this application, HP GBS EMEA, being the truly mature organization with an outstanding portfolio of services, applied innovative thinking followed by tangible improvements not only on activity, process or client level but challenged the very fundamental concepts embedded in many leading SSOs’ strategies.

As a consequence we formed the concept of ‘SSO @ No Cost’.

By setting this goal at the strategy level (and complementing it with an equally challenging customer satisfaction target), we ensured all the business relations, tactical activities & decisions we undertook were aimed at execution towards what really matters to our customers.

Following this approach we fostered innovation and improvement in various aspects of SSO existence:

  1. We implemented large enhancements into our process improvement methodology. Brand new tools enabled us to identify improvement opportunities not only pertaining to a particular business process but across processes, truly "connecting the dots".
  2. We went above and beyond the classic approach towards customer satisfaction, focusing on our clients but also on serviced customers, executing improvements directly aimed at TCE.
  3. We redesigned the model of cooperation with IT, increasing speed and agility in execution of less complex but still important improvement projects, while securing adequate IT support for significant process changes.
  4. We took a brand new approach to change management – converting it into real change leadership – as a result GBS secured a seat for its representative in the EMEA management board of HP.

The results are the ultimate prove point of our success. The last fiscal year, the first year of implementation of the new approach, we reached a cost neutrality ratio of 96.7%.

The forecast for this year assumes at least 100%. This, accompanied with an increase in TCE score by 28 pp and continuous growth in advanced service lines, showcase the tangible outcomes of innovative approach that GBS EMEA have undertaken.