Integrated Business Service (IBS) models are reshaping shared services, blurring the boundaries that have traditionally siloed HR, Finance and IT departmental workflows.
A key driver behind many IBS deployments has been the realisation that core business processes may need coordination between functional areas. When HR, accounting, and IT areas are siloed, and potentially serviced by multiple external service delivery providers, it can be extremely difficult to innovate, streamline workflows, or tailor the experience.
IBS essentially places emphasis on the standardisation of the interaction, while abstracting the service delivery mechanisms that are occurring behind the scenes.
“One-Stop-Shop” or “Corporate Concierge” services are the result of IBS models. The goal of these services is to provide a single point of contact for service interactions. In theory, delivering a consistent and measurable “personalised” experience to every employee (or user), no matter where they are located, regardless of the service they need, or the communication method they are using to access the single point of contact.
Ideally, IBS models allow for “customer journey” workflows which seamlessly span discrete functional areas of an enterprise, while shielding the “customer” from the complexity of the component workflows.
As an example, an organisation might consider the end-to-end customer journey for a new hire, conceived from the new hire’s perspective. The journey might start when the new hire views the initial recruitment advertising, continuing on until the end of the new hire’s on-boarding process as a new employee.
By considering end-to end experience and processes that might need to cross between functional areas, rather than just adjusting existing workflows within a functional department, IBS offers a potentially wide scope to re-imagine and innovate.
Lessons Learnt from Shared Services Implementations
- Avoid unrealistic expectations and project timelines
- Standarise before consolidation
- Build a roadmap
- Ensure change management program is well resourced
- Build momentum
Future Proof by Embracing Agility
Traditional shared services functions are typically designed to deliver against a statically defined need, codified in an set of service agreements. As a result, they rarely achieve lasting impact for the organisation.
Many organisations start out pursuing an IBS model with a focus on cost reduction. This approach can potentially lead to a narrow focus and remit, and may leave significant gains unrealised.
In 2020, most mid to large size organisations have moved away from large projects with high costs and long timelines. Agile project methodologies are now frequently used to develop and deliver transformation.
When using an IBS model, teams need to work with the business to identify the processes and work flows that impact employees the most. Armed with this information, IBS leaders can seize opportunities to improve the experience by introducing new capabilities in a streamlined, end-to-end manner.
IBS teams must therefore be able to rapidly create minimum viable products, launch, and monitor the scale up of service delivery. This will enable the organisation as a whole to respond rapidly to changes.
Co-design can contribute significantly to stakeholder satisfaction. Once priority user journeys have been identified, leaders should avoid dictating solutions, and allow cross functional teams and users to co-design the solution.
The cross-functional IBS teams need to come together, acknowledge problems, and design solutions as a group. This helps drive change more rapidly through the organisation, improves stakeholder engagement, and reduces risk.
Ongoing iteration and service refinement is a critical part of the process. IBS teams need to remain positioned to rapidly identify the user journeys which need adjustments, as well as providing the data analysis, projections, and business case for change.
Workflows should be designed to automatically collect data points which are useful to help identify which user journeys have the greatest impact on overall satisfaction and business outcomes. Employee surveys and cross functional data should be used to continuously assess the performance of key user journeys. This valuable information can then be incorporated into iterative service delivery tuning and future workflow designs.