By: Vivek Naidu, Vice President – Information Management at Kodak Alaris India
In today’s robust and competitive business environment, organizations are constantly looking at streamlining business processes to derive greater business value. This is primarily the reason why today, shared services centres and outsourcing have been widely adopted or are being adopted by over 90 percent of Fortune 500 corporations. These approaches to service delivery have allowed companies significant cost savings thereby taking advantage of the labour cost arbitrage, improved productivity and economies of scale. All of this leads us to ask an imperative question, what are shared service centers and how tangible are their benefits to companies when it comes to increasing organizational efficiency and efficacy.
Shared Service Centers and their importance to businesses
In lay man’s terms a shared services center in an organization, is an entity responsible for the implementation and the management of specific operational tasks, such as accounting, human resources, payroll, IT, legal, compliance, purchasing, and security etc. Most often in organizations, shared services centers are either inbuilt or are outsourced.
With continuous improvement being an essential element in any business strategy, organizations are constantly looking at improvements. Be it large or small, achieved in a factory floor or back office floor, the goal is the same- to better leverage the resources of an organization to create optimal value for customers and key stakeholders. Staff service activities are also not exempt from the ongoing pressure to become more market driven and efficient. Infact the increasingly complex costly support services within organizations are prime candidates for cost reduction and simplification.
Thus shared service centers are being created in organizations as an optimal solution to reduce the cost and improve performance of staff services spanning across finance, human resources and facilities support and other functions etc. Apart from the above benefits, shared service centers allows for process standardization, improved levels of service, increased professionalization and better technology at organizations.
For shared service centers to become a major success, information management will play a critical role. Improving access to information, providing accurate and reliable data in real time, decision support and enabling processing of transactions with embedded controls in place are just some of the important factors that will come to play a crucial part in reducing unessential costs.
Information Management Solutions in Shared Service Centers and its benefits to corporations
As mentioned above, Information Management will come to play a major role in shared service centers. Information as we know today, includes both electronic and physical information. The organizational structure must be capable of managing this information throughout the information lifecycle regardless of source or format (data, paper documents, electronic documents, audio, video, etc.) for delivery through multiple channels that may include cell phones and web interfaces. With shared service centers generating large volumes data, capturing and consolidating this from digital and paper sources and giving out the right information to the right people at the right time makes Information Management very important. Shared Service Centers embedded with the best available production scanners and capture & Information Management software are able to scan faster, perform imaging functions and extract data and extract valuable insight from the contents.
Use of such software’s and scanners can save up to 53% on total cost of ownership – over five years, thereby aggregating and leveraging knowledge and expertise across geographies, people, processes and knowledge. Information Management in shared service centers of the multinational organizations can therefore take the best capabilities, business insights and knowledge from different sources within the company. It can standardize and centralize them in order to optimize outputs through the development of best practices fostered by frameworks, processes, tools and templates. In terms of tangible business benefits to an organization, it enhances value creation, brings about cost reduction, and also targets non-transactional and complex activities such as those that demand deep industry insight.
The way forward –Shared Service Centers transforming to Centre of Excellence (CoE) and Information Management playing its part
As it is evident, shared service centers are here to stay because of the multiple financial benefits an organization can accrue. Going forward, organizations, will slowly gravitate towards transforming their shared service centers and take them to the next level that of a Center of Excellence (CoE). The Center of Excellence (CoE) that is being viewed as the next generation of the shared service center that will eventually evolve into being Global Business Services.
In the coming years, we will witness this trend catching up as organizations will want to synergize effectiveness and efficiency of supporting services across the company by applying multiple service delivery models including elements of shared services, outsourcing, off-shoring and IT solutions. Information Management will play a major role in global business services as they can be implemented globally and span across business units and functions. The relevance of Information Management solutions and its ability to successfully deploy a variety of capabilities in a seamless end to end process will only increase its demand in the coming years.
With the growing trend of taking shared service centers to the next stage, and also the values realized from the Center of Excellence (CoE), many organizations will look at Information Management in order to keep up with this transformation. In conclusion we can say, that shared service centers are a concept whose time has come.