5 Characteristics of Shared Services Centre Unicorns - and how to implement in your centre

Published on

By Holly Parker

To harness maximum value from your Shared Services as both the organization and the SSC’s capacity and capabilities grow, careful consideration must be given to the technology pillar in the Shared Services triad - People, Process & Technology.

BPM for Shared Services

Given the considerable investment required to establish a Shared Services Centre (SSC), it’s essential to ensure technology investments (information management and workflow management etc) chosen for internal/external process and relationship management remain relevant into the future.

SSC evolution sees three major transformations:

  • from non SSC – characterized by inconsistency and duplication;
  • to SSC – able to realize economies of scale, standardization of the narrow set of functions SSC was designed for and workflow management,
  • to optimized SSC – with the same characteristics as SSC, but with the systematic application of continuous improvement techniques.

Some SSC unicorns are even able to make a fourth and final transformation into something entirely new – a self-managing organization able to add value not just to itself through the processing of high-volume transactional tasks, but to the whole business through autonomous optimization of cross-organizational processes.

The SSCs who are able to cross into SSC super-star territory share some common characteristics in how they approached their journey to align People, Process and Technology:

1. They make accountability and transparency their core values

Organizations which reach the peak of SSC performance know that in order for work to be completed effectively, all the key stakeholders must understand how their role fits into the overall process and business context, along with clearly communicated expectations. This in turn pays dividends to SSC management, who are able to control and monitor a process’ performance – picking up and resolving issues before they become critical. They put their people in the right place, at the right time and –  crucially – with the right information.

2. They design agility and flexibility into the SSCs DNA

Related to transparency is agility. SSCs which prioritize transparency and control go further by ensuring they are able to react with speed to resolve issues or realize opportunities for competitive advantage, as they open up in the market. High performing unicorn SSCs achieve this by choosing technology with the stability required for Enterprise-scale case and transaction volume, but which retain lightweight maneuverability. They know change is inevitable, and plan accordingly.

3. They champion collaboration and engagement for the best problem solving

The old adage two (or more) heads are better than one plays out in the SSC also. Unicorn SSCs know their people are their biggest assets when it comes to creative solutions to operational problems. They make it easy for the people actually doing the work to suggest and engage with the ‘how’ of the process, boosting engagement. The links between engagement and performance are well established. Engage people, see better results.

4. They are committed to systematic continuous improvement

Unicorn SSCs are always on the lookout for opportunities to make gains in performance. Boosted by their commitment to transparency (allowing them to see the inter-relationships and impacts of change across their operations), and embedded agility, they proactively seek out opportunities for holistic improvement.

5. They begin with scale in mind

One issue SSCs who don’t get to unicorn status find is that while their technology and internal systems are really great for the functions they were initially developed to perform, when the time (inevitably) comes for them to increase the breadth of their services, or to expand globally, their information management systems are not up to the job. Unicon SSCs do not mess around when it comes to seeking out a solution capable of delivering on their needs at different levels of maturity. They seek out partnerships with providers capable of providing the support they need across their SSC development journey.

These characteristics form the base of the technology systems unicorn SSCs use to deliver results, scale, and react with agility to changing requirements.

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