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Keywords: shared services, framework and governance, cross-border shared services network, Go Shared Services
Sarah Feurey | News | 14 June 2012
Getting shared services operations off the ground can take time. Involved parties need to be on the same page with the software and in standardising their business processes.
But it has been suggested that by working hard on the framework and governance surrounding shared services it is destined for success.
Michael Larner, Senior Analyst at public sector market intelligence firm Kable, told the Guardian that with ongoing austerity in the UK, suppliers should expect an influx in back office shared service arrangements.
"Councillors and IT departments can potentially reach across borders but if cost savings are the sole focus the arrangement is not likely to last," he said.
Mr Larner's comments come in response to the recent launch of a major cross-border shared services network in England.
In an effort to make savings in back office functions, local authorities in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire have set up Go Shared Services, providing finance, procurement, HR and payroll services to Cotswold district council, Cheltenham borough council, Forest of Dean district council and West Oxfordshire district council.
They claim the operation will cut £675,000 a year in back office functions as well as drive functionality and co-operation between the counties.
However, the network took two years to create. According to the news provider, this involved procuring ERP software, designing and testing its functions, linking IT services between partners and deciding which local authority would oversee the shared service.
"Go Services' announcement shows how hard - and long - negotiations have to be between council partners to drive real savings," Mr Larner commented.
"The fact that the partnership is across county lines rather than within the county adds a layer of complexity which appears to have been worked on from the outset."
Encouraging the public sector to adopt shared services has been a hard sell, but this case could show other county councils how it can be successful if managed properly.
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