Trends and Issues in Higher Ed

October 18, 2017

Tips for moving to shared services

Ask for help. Find out who else has done this before and what they suggest. Support from others who use or provide shared services can be an invaluable resource. After you’ve made the move, share ideas and experiences with others.

Create goals together and set clear expectations. Involve all those involved or impacted — service partners, team members and leaders of all levels — in setting goals and expectations of service. This builds buy-in and ensures the new model meets unit needs.

Prioritize communication. Draft partnership agreements, often known as “service level agreements,” to clearly communicate what the shared service is and is not. Develop a plan to roll out the new service model and ongoing feedback loops to hear from and communicate with partners. Prioritize communication skills when deciding who will be on the shared service team.

Respect individuality. Honor and make use of the unique cultures, processes and expertise in each of the participating units. Shared service is about meeting their individual needs better not a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach. While the shift may involve change, this change needs to help the unit accomplish its own goals better.
Choose tools, platforms and processes carefully. Moving to a shared service often involves sharing a new tool, system or process. Experiment and invest time in choosing, for example, the right new web platform or a new ticketing system to triage requests. Choosing the wrong system can waste time, money and the good will of participating units.

Improving service is an ongoing process. Create avenues for gathering input from participating units and tackle, as a team, one or more continuous improvement projects each year.

It takes time. Set realistic timeline expectations for moving to a shared service and reaping the benefits. Manage expectations of participating units so they know how soon to expect improved results.

Measure impact. Look for ways to measure success in comprehensive ways. Start with the performance expectations set in partnership agreements. Conduct regular surveys of partner satisfaction. Remember to count as cost-savings funds that were redeployed to more mission-specific work.