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Leading a successful enterprise takes courage, insight, intelligence, people skills, knowledge, wisdom, and the fortune of good timing. In the context of business, knowledge is the distillation of experience--personal, didactic, and referential--often in the form of proven business models that have been shown to provide the manager with a degree of control over the myriad of chaotic market forces. For example, representing opposite ends of the spectrum of business models are centralized versus decentralized models of control and resources, as well as in-house versus outsourced production and support services.
Virtually all of these models are time- and context-specific, in that they come in and out of favor, depending on the market conditions. Regardless of the current applicability, the more models at the manager's disposal, the more likely he or she will be able to maintain and enhance corporate value in a rapidly shifting environment. To this end, the goal of this book is to provide the reader with exposure to the techniques and technologies related to the shared services model--which describes a collaborative strategy in which selected business functions are concentrated into semi-autonomous business units with management structures that promote efficiency, value generation, and cost savings for the parent corporation, in a manner akin to companies competing in the open market.
Specifically, Essentials of Shared Services explores models of shared services that work--and those that don't--through the use of concrete examples. The book assumes an intelligent CEO-level reader, but one who may be unaware of the vernacular of theshared services model or how to recognize superior shared services efforts. The reader will come to appreciate the benefits of the shared services model, from cost savings that come about through lowering head-count to increasing corporate value that comes about through increased efficiency and effectiveness and economies of scale. To drive the issues home in an easily understood fashion, each chapter contains a vignette that illustrates key issues from practical corporate and shared business unit management perspectives.
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After reading this book, the CEO will be able to converse comfortably with shared services professionals, understand what to look for when hiring a shared services staff, and understand the budgetary implications of using shared services. That is, the reader will come to appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of the shared services model from a variety of perspectives.
Reader Return on Investment
After reading the following chapters the reader will be able to:
Understand shared services from historical, economic, technical, and management perspectives.
Appreciate why the shared services model is particularly relevant to contracting economies.
Understand how shared services compares, and in some cases complements other business models, including those based on outsourcing, centralized, and decentralized management structures.
Understand the significance of shared services on the company's bottom line, both long- and short-term.
Understand the relationship of shared services to re-engineering, downsizing, total quality management, and, in the information technology field, traditional systems integration efforts.
Understand how shared services professionals work and think, including why it is so difficult for staff transitioned to a shared services model to shift mindset from production efficiency to service.
Have a set of specific recommendations that can be used to establish and manage a shared services effort.
Understand the technologies that can be used to implement shared services.
Appreciate best practices--what works, why it works, and how to evaluate a successful shared services effort in the company.
Organization of This Book
This book is organized into modular topics related to shared services. It is divided into the following chapters:
Chapter 1: Overview. The first chapter of this book provides an overview of the key concepts, terminology, and the historical context of shared services.
Chapter 2: The Corporation. Taking the perspective of the corporate senior management, this chapter explores the implications of embracing shared services as a means of enhancing corporate value. Topics range from strategic partnerships and alliances to changes in corporate culture, timing, range of control, and risk exposure.
Chapter 3: Shared Business Unit. The chapter takes the perspective of senior management in the shared business unit. Topics include customer relationship management (CRM), inside sales and marketing, customer loyalty, touch points, reporting structures, addressing legal issues, and how to establish career security for management and employees.
Chapter 4: Process. The chapter explores shared services from a process perspective. Topics include the generic transformation process from an internal operation to a shared services business unit as well as the translation of existing processes to more efficient ones in the shared services unit.
Chapter 5: Technology. This chapter explores the many technologies available for shared services, especially those that have value in supporting the transformation process early in the life of the shared services unit.
Chapter 6: Evaluation. This chapter looks at how the various approaches to shared services can be evaluated. Topics include benchmarking, including standards, tools, and processes, the service level agreement, as well as employee and customer satisfaction.
Chapter 7: Economics. The chapter explores the economic aspects of shared services, from the evolving value chain, likely return on investment, and pricing models, to investment in people, processes, and technology, to legal issues and accounting practices.
Chapter 8: Getting There. The final chapter explores the practical aspects of a shared services implementation. Topics include predictors of success, working with vendors, how to enable corporate culture change, the significance of the request for proposal, and risk management.
Further Reading. This section lists some of the more relevant works in the area of shared services, at a level appropriate to a CEO or upper-level manager.
Glossary. This glossary contains words defined throughout the text, as well the most common terms a reader will encounter in the shared services literature.
How to Use This Book
For those new to shared services, the best way to tackle the subject is to simply read through each chapter in order; however, because each chapter is written as a stand-alone module, readers interested in, for example, the economics of shared services can go directly to Chapter 7, "Economics."
Throughout the book, "In the Real World" sections provide real-world examples of how shared services is being used to improve the bottom line and increase quality of service. Similarly, a "Tips & Techniques" section in each chapter offers concrete steps that the reader can take to benefit from a shared services initiative. Key terms are highlighted and defined in context throughout the book, as well as in the Glossary. In addition, readers who want to delve deeper into the business, technical, or corporate culture aspects of the shared services model are encouraged to consult the list of books and publications listed in the Further Reading section.
I would like to thank my enduring editorial associate, Miriam Goodman, for her assistance in creating this work. In addition, special thanks are in order for my editor at John Wiley & Sons, Sheck Cho, for his insight and encouragement.