Thursday, September 13, 2012

Buddy, can you spare some talent? by guest bloggers Rick Bertheaud and Bryan Furlong

It's the conundrum of 2012.  People are out of work, but companies are running out of talent. What’s a shared service center to do?

By Rick Bertheaud, Principal, and Bryan Furlong, Global Management Consulting, KPMG

Global business services (GBS) demand high-performance from the latest new hire to the most successful executive.  Whether it’s outsourced, insourced, or a combo, your GBS should strive to be a preferred employer, a career shaper and a market changer.

Transactionals vs. professionals

If you look at your shared services centers as a warehouse of clerical staffs, your outlook may be sorely limiting.  While most shared service centers have focused on transactional and some segment knowledge, (i.e. accounts payable, onboarding, and the like) we are seeing more and more that the centers can be a significant proving ground for leadership beyond the centers.  

Today’s shared services skill sets are becoming more about the future of management and a career path that is about being able to create and sustain organizations and third parties in a cohesive manner.  It’s about building a global brand with extended global business services.  What you learn managing all the pieces and parts of a shared service center for accounting, is readily applicable to managing a service center for pharmacovigilance or R & D.  This leadership isn’t just in accounting or paperwork for example, but for leaders in a new management category that some have termed the Chief Integration Office.  

Strength in leadership

Remember that your GBS organization, first and foremost, is in the people business. People need strong, visible and accountable leaders.  It’s easy to look afar at shared service center workers as assets, or worse, children.

We have seen proactive and outperforming shared service leadership take a formative role in development, enhancement and management by treating everyone like an adult. From conception to implementation, these leaders shoot straight from the start, involving everyone as a team.  They don’t sugar-coat the need for change, they take input, make strong decisions, keep the momentum going, and involve the CEO, CFO and other executives in the process.  

A little anecdote: while we were working on a shared service implementation a while ago, our client’s global CFOs became quite engaged. After a series of regular meetings, one executive said, “This has been a great experience; it’s the first time we ever got together to do work.” Not that their organizations didn’t work together, but by becoming visible and involved, they were able to create a solid GBS that worked for everyone.

Not once and done

Thriving GBSs are always changing.  As you expand your organization globally and across cultures as well as to include more functions, processes, and expertise, you will need different kinds of talent–for GBS leadership, process managers and ultimately your entire staff.

For example, when you have a global portfolio of services, with a mix of internal and external providers, you may need to manage some resources by influence versus direct control – that requires managers with a special set of skills. You may also need to consider the cultural nuances involved in process delivery for one country versus another.  Take it a bit further, and you might even need to consider which city has the best talent to offer on an ongoing basis.  

While some consider the GBS a good farm team for the business, others view them as true centers of expertise and talent.  As such, your standing as an employer of choice will attract and retain the right talent. This goes both for the process leadership level, where you need innovation to support the business, and the production level in offshore markets such as India, where talent competition is fierce and turnover is high.

The proof is in the future

The classic journey for GBSs is to first establish a sound strategy and implementation for the service centers, and then to continuously improve, to provide end-to-end processes and full functions.  If you are doing it right, the centers will be sought after by the businesses they support.  And when someone outside your business wants to buy services from you, you and your team can then claim victory.
Rick Bertheaud, Principal, KPMG 
Bryan Furlong, Global Management Consulting, KPMG

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