Implementation Insights Blog

Implementation Management Associates help organizations around the world achieve large-scale, complex change. This blog discusses our insights into organizational change.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Challenge of Shared Services Implementations

There are many organizations that are looking at shared services models as a way to increase efficiency and reduce operating expenses. If you are considering implementing shared services, you can anticipate the following barriers:

1. Poor scope or project definition-- what is in, what is out; changing role definitions; etc. for the shared services implementation

2. Poor implementation history leading to reduced credibility of management

3. Ineffective sponsorship of the shared services implementation

4. Weak motivation for the change

5. Lack of cultural fit (culture is extremely powerful, so if the shared services implementation is inconsistent with the culture, the culture will win!)

6. Ineffective communication planning for the shared services implementation (substance, variety of delivery methods, messages targeted to audience versus top-down communications one size fits all)

Here are some things to be aware of from a shared services implementation perspective:

  • You can expect to have a lot of resistance to the business change, even if it is entirely logical from a business perspective. This will be especially true in the ranks of middle managers and directors who will be giving up their power base

  • For many organizations, even if you are successful at implementing a shared services model within the various business units (organizational stovepipes) it is extremely challenging to implement across the organizational structure's vertical columns and overcome the existing power structures-- it is the paradox of enterprise-wide change

To be successful in implementing a shared services model, you must have:

1. Clear performance measures for service levels and a process in place for ongoing measurement

2. A plan for building the required sponsorship in all the areas impacted by the shared services implementation

3. A communication strategy that relies heavily on face to face communication, with messaging designed in the "frame of reference" for targets of the shared services implementation

4. Reinforcements that are aligned with the desired business outcomes and behavior change

The "human side" of shared services implementations are complex, so there is great value in having a single vocabulary and implementation method like the AIM (Accelerating Implementation Methodology) that serves as the foundation of the implementation.

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