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How to add value to finance shared services

BlogSarah Feurey03.10.2012 Comments (0)Bookmark

Finance shared services, Purchase to pay

While I’ve been working on both the US Summit for Leaders in Finance Shared Services and our European Summit for Leaders in Shared Services, I’ve learned a lot from speaking to the presenters on the main theme: How can shared services add value to the business?

In the context of shared services, what is value? For different organisations, value can mean different things. For some, delivering value means achieving efficiency savings through automation and standardisation. For more advanced shared services it’s about being a more strategic partner to the business and adding value beyond mere cost savings.

When I’ve asked people what needs to change in order for them to deliver more value, the responses generally fell into five categories. Here are my tips from shared services professionals on how they think they could add better value to the business.

1. Streamline services. As shared services are generally established to save the organisation money, it is essential that you reap the rewards of standardisation and automation. Particularly as functions such as finance are ripe for automation, reducing manual touch points will improve accuracy, reduce human error and help you become an efficient organisation.

2. Integrate and collaborate.  In order to be a more strategic partner to the business, your shared service can’t sit in isolation. Not only do you need to align your shared service with the needs of the business, your shared service should align with other departments. Aligning finance and procurement functions and a centrally managed P2P process can do wonders for your organisational efficiency.

3. Improve customer service. As your shared service should operate as a business, ensuring customer satisfaction is crucial.  Key steps to improve customer service include: understanding your customer, aligning yourself with their needs, understanding their priorities, developing service level agreements and providing regular customer feedback and satisfaction surveys.

4. Provide better service. Once you’ve moved the initial transactional functions to a shared service model and proved the model works- what next? Shared services that have been able to provide stable and satisfactory service often look to ‘move up the value chain’. With the information you have, can you provide business intelligence and analysis back to the organisation? Have you considered bringing in more functions to shared services?

5. Get the right technology. For shared services, technology is a key enabler to deliver on all of the above issues. The right technology investments, in the right places, are crucial to optimise your efficiency.  

Do these tips align with what you think you need to do to drive value in your organisation?

finance shared services, shared services, purchase to pay, P2P, efficiency, standardisation, automation

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