13 Lessons from Shared Services Implementations
Shared services provide an opportunity to cut costs, improve service and consolidate staffing levels. Now that you’ve decided to embark upon the journey, how do you achieve your goals and launch a successful operation? How do you avoid making costly mistakes and the potential risk of failure of an operation that took a lot of time and effort to stand up?
Avoid these key missteps by learning from others who have already forged down this path and learned the hard way. Although many challenges may exist, these 13 lessons learned from successful implementations will help steer you down the right path when establishing your HR shared services. Here are the common challenges many organizations face:
1. Obtaining and Maintaining Executive Support
Innovators must develop strong executive support upfront and throughout the project. Success requires education, planning, assessment, and specific actions to gain and maintain that support. You should understand and evaluate stakeholder positions to guarantee executive support is available, counteract undermining activities, and fast-track the project through the layers of bureaucracy.
2. Forming the Right Team
The right project team can make or break implementation and operations. Team members must be able translate knowledge and related experience into a structured approach for their respective project sub-teams.
A thorough plan is essential; however, planning must be flexible and iterative to achieve success.
Overlapping project demands can negatively impact your implementation schedule, budget, and resources.
Schedule slippage: These issues can result in schedule slippage. Establishing a solid project plan at the outset with built in cushion is critical. Conducting frequent sponsor meetings to quickly resolve issues and closely monitoring and tracking progress can help minimize schedule problems.
6. Overcoming Politics and Bureaucracy
Resistance comes in many forms as various groups within the company attempt to maintain or gain control, or even sabotage change efforts. Layer this on top of the approval bureaucracy often present, and schedule problems are guaranteed to appear.
7. Leaping over the Technology Hurdles
Vendor issues: As technology moves towards a SaaS world, implementations increasingly rely upon more vendor support. Establish contracts with milestone achievement payments to guarantee on-time, on-budget delivery, and establish weekly governance meetings to discuss any project or relationship concerns.
8. Getting Timely Decisions
Decision making can be difficult, especially in consensus-based organizations. Empower teams to provide insights or voice concerns, but assign an overall decision maker, and clearly document issue resolutions and decisions to avoid revisiting and rework.
Mid-implementation scope change: It is tempting to add services or remove them from scope as a result of political pressures, technology issues, and factional inertia within the team. While this may be unavoidable, ensure the impact will not counteract change management currently underway.
Leaders’ long-held relationships often interfere with the selection of qualified staff. Shared services most often require customer-oriented employees who are comfortable using technologies and are flexible problem solvers. A zero-based staffing approach is preferred for retention of top performers.
Training, while critical, is often compromised to allow more time and/or resources for other tasks. It can carry or sink shared services depending on the effort extended.
13. Testing Launch Readiness
Testing processes, training, and technologies is critical to success. Frequently, implementations stop short of ensuring all activities have yielded the desired results.
Technology testing: Ensure that unit, system integration, and user acceptance testing criteria are upheld, allowing for system correction and retesting of failed test scripts prior to moving to the next phase.