Shared Services Workflows & Process Definitions

Understand, Analyze & Improve Shared Services Group Business Processes

What is a Shared Services Workflow?

A shared services workflow, or flow chart, is a visual representation of the work activities that happen in a shared services center. Because shared services organizations typically include Finance, Master Data Management, and Human Resources – among others – some of business processes will probably already be captured on paper. Still, these and other processes benefit from process modeling.

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The Benefits of Process Management in Shared Services

Typical shared service centers are home to business processes that are both repetitive and transactional such as invoice processing, billing, payroll processing, etc. Centers can streamline operations by using process management and traditional process improvement to identify problem areas in process flows dealing with efficiency and productivity. The following are just a few examples of specific benefits for shared services centers:

  • Operational Optimization: Shared services centers deal with a multitude of business processes across various industries. Using process analysis to develop standard systems for process flows allows greater visibility into operational areas such as service usage, costs, and bottlenecks.

  • Better Request Assessment and Assignment: Shared services centers receive a constant stream of work requests for the various divisions that make them up. Traditional process improvement can help develop a stand process flow that helps asses and assign each request to the respective line of business.

Steps to implementing the Shared Services Model

Despite offering benefits ranging to higher levels of standardization to lower costs, many companies don’t take advantage of a shared services center. Of course, an effective shared services strategy needs a thorough understanding of a company, its needs and capabilities, and the reality of the market. Building a shared services strategy doesn’t have to be difficult, however. Careful planning and a solid foundation will help any company transition to a successful shared services model. Below is a high-level outline of the steps to take:

  1. Assess and Strategize: Everything begins with a solid foundation. A successful shared services strategy needs leaders and end users across a company to come together and determine where service levels currently stand and what the needs and goals are for the future.

  2. Design and Build: With a consensus on overall strategy in hand, companies can develop more details plans for design and implementation. Here, companies can take advantage of process analysis to create standard best practice checklists that illustrate not just new roles and review thresholds, but any new tools required and metrics to monitor the new operation.

  3. Implementation: With preparations done, implementation is straightforward. Start populating shared services centers by reorganizing and training staff following previously developed process models. Be on the lookout for risks and problems not considered during previous phase.

  4. Improvement: It’s critical for any shared services center to continually improve. Traditional, Lean Six Sigma-style process improvement can help ongoing efforts to rethink processes and tools.

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