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Does shared services work better on a local government level than a national one?

NewsSusie West, CEOContent Plus11.05.2012 Comments (1)Bookmark

Shared services operations could be expanding on a local government level, proving greater success than central government has so far achieved, it has been suggested. Some local councils are utilising shared services so well that their work could help…

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shared services, finance shared services, local government, National Audit Office, NAO, shared services operations

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David Turner Harrogate UNIT4 Business Software Ltd 17.05.2012

You're probably right that there are good shared services examples at a local level, and few at a central government level. But ther are also many failures. The reason it why - I don't believe there are any fewer political or emotive territorial issues at a local level.

The report you refer to gives one big clue - which is the technology used by central government. They have slavishly adopted huge, monolithic ERP systems in recent years in projects that often overran and under delivered. This has left them unable to accommodate change without massive cost and upheaval. The report pointed to the inflexiblility of their ERP systems as a key contributor to the lack of shared services success.

Yet I could point to governments where shared services has succeeded spectacularly. The Norwegian Government runs around 115 different departments on a single shared ERP platform. (It happens to be on an Agresso ERP that my company UNIT4 provides - ironically the same one used by Hampshire CC in your example above). There are other examples in Sweden and elswhere.

So it seems that shared services can succeed for government organisations of all shapes and sizes - but the ability of their technology platform to support the necessary massive ongoing change is a critical factor in its success.