SSO's & Small Entities (Chapter 5): Evaluating Questionnaire Results

Pedro Moreira
Posted: 11/18/2015

This article is part of an on-going series by Pedro Moreira, based on his experience at Siemens’ Shared Services operation, where one of the projects he ran was a migration within the company’s finance group. Moreira focused his Master’s thesis on the impact of Financial Shared Services, with a special focus on how Shared Services supported the migration of a small Siemens entity into the Global SSO.

His research shows that as SSO transitions generally try to keep complexity to a low level, they tend to leverage a standard or generic approach to all business units. When dealing with smaller entities, however, this creates a danger, as their rules, reality and dynamics are unique. Small entities, with Finance functions staffed by 10 or fewer people, generally have broader responsibilities within one role, so services that would not be core to the SSO need to be considered as part of the migration. This creates added cost and complexity.

Moreira recommends that companies rolling smaller entities into their SSO should do so via a special "small entity migration wave".

"The findings and recommendations of my thesis are quite important in terms of analyzing common organizational structures within an SSO, understanding how Shared Services serves small entities, and, also, how it can ultimately lead to less than optimal savings and operational efficiencies", explains Pedro. The recommendations he makes point to organizational changes and measures required to reverse the negative impact, as well as tips on where and when this can occur.

"Since starting my thesis, I have used SSON’s online resources as a source of information and ideas on the latest SSO developments and technology," Pedro explains. "Now, I'd like to contribute back to this community by sharing the knowledge I have acquired."

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In the last article we discussed data collection, covering both secondary and primary data. Special emphasis was given to the questionnaire and its constructs, as this was an important tool to determine the impact of the finance migration and validate the expected results and current state of the art. Given the questionnaire’s importance, I’ll dedicate this article to its results.

Population and Sample

From a target population of 75 people, 20 responded to the questionnaire, which represents 27%. Regarding the three initial Y/N questions, 40% considered that their work was affected by the finance migration, 25% were in managing positions, and all of them (100%) were already working for the entity on January 1st of 2011. Remember that this date is key to allow people the capacity to discern between the pre- and the post-migration reality.

(Click here to see the control questions result graphs)

Perception Results

As we know, the purpose of the three Y/N questions was to give perspective and validation to the following 60 questions and statements. With this in mind, we focused the statement analysis on those 40% (sample) that considered themselves to have been affected directly by the migration, as they were the ones whose perceptions were crucial to measure in the study.

In the result analysis we grouped the answers "Strongly Disagree" and "Disagree", as well as "Agree" and "Strongly Agree". Therefore, the analysis is based on four categories that are "Strongly Disagree and Disagree", "Neither Agree or Disagree", "Agree and Strongly Agree" and "Do not Know". With this grouping we intended to perceive negative impact ("Strongly Disagree and Disagree"), neutral impact ("Neither Agree or Disagree"), positive impact ("Agree and Strongly Agree") or where it was not possible to determine impact ("Do not Know") in the respective metrics the questionnaire covers.

(Click here to see table with full metric results)

In the link above you can see the individual metric results (table) as well as the overall obtained perception by metric groups (charts). In this way, we discerned the individual’s perception of impact on the different areas.

Confrontation with Hypothesis in Study

By analyzing the questionnaire’s results we could verify that only in 9 statements was a "positive" impact perceived, versus 13 "neutral" perceptions, and in 21 statements the impact was perceived as "negative". Also of note is that in 10 of the statements it was not possible to reach a conclusion ("Don’t Know").

There are other combinations in which no clear impact was perceived, with 3 statements offering equal negative/positive perception and another 3 with negative and neutral/positive perception.

In this context, we verified that negative perceptions/metrics showed the highest results in the questionnaire, relating to people whose work was affected by the migration. When confronting this result with the hypothesis in study, that the impact of the finance migration from the entity to the GSS was positive, we must conclude that the hypothesis was not verified.

Given the general perception of shared services in the marketplace, we had considered that the impact of the finance migration would be positive. In fact, we believed this to be the most coherent hypothesis or expectation. However, that was only verified in 17% of the metric, given that 64% of respondents were either neutral or negative, thus justifying the failure of our hypothesis.

Case Study Organizational Perspective

When a large organization (meaning multi-entity) sets up its own internal SSO, a specific set of objectives, environment and performance are laid out. These naturally derive from the organization as a whole but are key as they rule the relations between three parties: Corporate, SSO and Entity (or Entities). In order for this relationship to be successful, all three parties must be aligned in their intrinsic dynamic. Therefore, any complete consideration and/or analysis must consider these three organizational players, at the risk of being incomplete and unrealistic.

Multinational organizations tend to consider only the Corporate and/or SSO factors in their analysis, thereby potentially limiting, hindering or failing in what they expect to achieve. Therefore, from inception to implementation and most importantly, throughout the life cycle, it’s crucial that the three organizational components willingly engage in a common dynamic, as active participants in shared objectives, performance and feedback.

This study closed the gap and completed the circle by providing a perspective from the entity side, in terms of how an entity perceives these particular dynamics and to show how important this perspective is for the optimal execution of a finance migration project.

In the next chapter we’ll go more in-depth and show how an entity’s perspective can leverage a migration, as we’ll start discussing the conclusions and recommendations of the study.

Other articles in this series:

Introduction: How to Maximize Savings And Operational Efficiencies When Working With Small Entities

Shared Services and Small Entities (Chapter 1): Globalization and the Shared Services Evolution

Shared Services and Small Entities (Chapter 2): Organization, Objectives and Relevance

Shared Services and Small Entities (Chapter 3): Milestones for Shared Service Implementation

SSOs and Small Entities (Chapter 4): Case Study Data Collection

This series will be continued next month...

Pedro Moreira
Posted: 11/18/2015

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