Business service excellence begins with people!

This article was originally co-authored by

7 February 2022

How might we become an even better strategic partner to the business? This is a question that has been haunting leaders of business service functions such as Finance, HR, Procurement and IT for decades.

Many organisations have implemented global or regional business service transformation programmes, very often with an ambition to create strong shared services and reduce costs. However, many such programmes have failed to deliver on promises due to overreliance on structures, processes, systems and service delivery agreements – and with too little emphasis on developing the people who are going to deliver in the new setup. As a result, they struggle to deliver the desired impact and to retain critical talent.

To achieve real impact, support function transformation programmes must focus not only on process efficiency but more on effectiveness – the actual outcome produced and the business impact delivered. This implies balancing short-term service delivery with strategic vision and development of a continuous improvement culture.

Furthermore, it requires embedding agile principles such as strong product ownership, increased transparency, reflection and continuous learning as well as developing ways of working and collaborating with the business.

Finally, it requires strong emphasis on skills development, functional leadership, employee self-leadership as well as team and individual collaboration and performance management.


Global industrial equipment leader

A global leader in industrial equipment decided to start an HR and Finance excellence programme to reduce costs and improve quality.

After an initial feasibility study, the company decided to launch a pilot programme and the first rollout across an entire continent of more than 10 countries, building the first of five regional Centres of Excellence.

The pilot programme generated a 15% cost reduction achieved through process efficiencies, digitisation and organisational alignment, combined with a significant upgrade of competencies and skills for all key roles within the new organisation.

After successful implementation of the pilot programme, the company continued transforming the remaining regions towards the global model, using the same co-creation-based approach with broad involvement of stakeholders, leaders and employees. In parallel, the company has invested in competence development for its functional leaders to enable them to go beyond business partnering towards becoming strategic and transformational advisers to the business.

Ensuring a holistic and sustainable support function transformation

Implement has developed six components that ensure a holistic and sustainable support function transformation with a strong emphasis on people development. The transformation components apply not only to service functions but also to other business functions such as Marketing and Sales.

The components are:

  • One sustainable organisational blueprint
  • One set of processes with clear roles and responsibilities
  • Intelligent digitisation and automation, making the most of technology investments
  • One set of impact-centric metrics agreed on with key business stakeholders
  • One way of leading and managing that supports impact, agility and collaboration
  • One common improvement culture that ensures continuous improvement

Organisations that embed these components in their functional transformation are much more likely to deliver real business value because they are designed with a people-centric mindset.

In turn, it makes these organisations better at recruiting, developing and retaining highly skilled functional talents because they have a better employee experience with more development opportunities, higher intrinsic motivation and therefore higher employee engagement.

With more focus on people, the journey towards true business service excellence can be achieved at an accelerated pace.

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