Driving performance with global business services

Making multifunctional shared services happen

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The move toward global multifunctional shared services is a process of evolution rather than revolution for most organizations.

This is not to say that companies cannot move quickly where there is ambition to do so. Or that all organizations pause at the same staging points along the way.

It is, however, possible to illustrate those staging points. Companies on this path have, broadly speaking, reached one of four distinct stages, each with a different level of integration.

Each level is a step in the journey of business services and not all companies start or end on the same level.

Level 1: The standard approach

Stand alone functional shared services center
The standard approach

In this model, companies have established separate units to provide shared services to individual functions. These units have relatively little contact with each other, and the leaders of each typically report to their respective C-level executives.

Any cross-functional decisions would be taken at this level, rather than by the shared service units themselves.

Even within these distinct shared service units, further demarcation may exist between teams serving different elements of the function. This happens particularly where the units operate from multiple locations.

Integration of processes that might be managed on a cross-functional basis is difficult in this structure.

Level 2: Going multifunctional

Multifunctional regional shared services center
Going multifunctional

In this model, companies have begun to integrate their shared service units, but on a regional basis. Shared service units combining two or more functions exist in several locations around the world.

Each unit leader reports to a shared services head responsible for performance monitoring and service management across all the regions.

The regional units are able to drive greater integration of the functions within them, leveraging infrastructure, technology and location. However, within the units, functions tend to operate individually, with integration focused on specifically identified pain points or support work.

Level 3: Globalization

Global business services

In this model, two or more shared service functions align across all regions globally under a global business services head. The global business services unit offers a unified face to internal customers and operates with a global service delivery network.

It works through processes on a global basis, with all functions operating under a single service management framework.

A global business services unit will often be created with regional centers to work different time zones or language areas. A hub and spoke approach is common for these centers.

Level 4: Advanced multifunctional

End-to-end global business services
Advanced multifunctional

This model represents, from today’s perspective, the end point for the evolution of global multifunctional shared services. So far at least, very few companies have reached this level of integration.

The model shares characteristics of level 3 integration, with a single global shared services organization operating through regional and global centers. However, the unit is no longer organized on the basis of the functions it serves, concentrating instead on service products.

This enables full integration with enterprise processes and complete end-to-end process integration throughout the company.

The organization is headed by one global business services head, who reports into the C-suite, or may be a member of it.