Archives For shared services

By Anna Tumidajewicz, finance and accounting practice delivery manager, Infosys

Infosys delivers an innovative approach to talent management challenges. One of the key challenges that we successfully responded to was the transition from a shared service centre to a business process outsourcing enterprise for one of our key clients. In this project we had to shift our focus from the transactional processes provided for the client to offering higher-level finance and accounting services (such as audit, controlling, financial planning and analysis), as well as having increased our services portfolio, and streamlining and improving finance processes to offer higher quality solutions. It was an upward development curve opportunity for our employees, and for us, remains a requirement of a real blend of financial, management and business capability we need to deliver services of higher value. Outsourcing is a fast-moving, changing environment so on top of strong domain knowledge we need to develop project management, change management abilities as well as specialist skills, such as language competency, are also highly useful.

Solutions – the development curve in mature operations

The described challenge required from us strong and focused solutions that had already been part of the overall employee development approach. We find the following practices a successful way of staff development:

  1. Tailor learning processes to ensure their efficiency – We have established a dedicated leverage on F&A Centre of Excellence and global training programs to develop our specialist finance capability, but we recognised that it must be complemented by more targeted interventions at a personal level. We conducted extensively more than 150 training programmes based on the company’s strategic plans, as well as the needs of particular finance and accounting units and individuals. We also conduct an individual development needs analysis for our employees, which are a part of bi-annual employee evaluation. Our training function is enhanced by the pool of over 100 internal process and domain trainers separately developed as experts in particular areas. Additionally, we have created ‘The Practice Ambassadors Program’ giving access to coaching and mentoring, as well as more tailored development plans based on performance reviews. Ten per cent of our employees are covered by a higher education policy that relies on financial contribution to support their external educational activities. Our finance and accounting ‘high potentials’, leaders and managers are a part of the Leadership and Management Academy and our ‘Diamond Mind’ programme.
  2. Recognise the importance of experiential learning – In developing the required broader business and management capabilities, we have systematically established a secondment and rotation programme, supported by a formalised workforce planning strategy, which is connected up to personalised career paths, giving individuals a wider perspective on career and learning options.
  3. Proactively manage staff engagement in a change environment – We recognise the constantly changing environment in which we operate, so on-going engagement interventions are key; we use a wide range of development activities, reward and recognitions aspects, an open-door policy, as well as satisfaction surveys to gauge engagement. Crowdsourcing opportunities and staff workshops also allow us to continually receive employee input. The organisation is very focused on on-going employee social interaction through regular meetings, social events, diversity programmes, and corporate social responsibility activities. Engagement practices are reviewed on an annual basis and benchmarked.

This case study appeared in an ACCA report on Talent and capability in global finance functions. As part of ACCA’s qualitative research leading organisations shared their approaches.

By Tony Campion, strategic business partner HR, Coca Cola

As our shared service operations are reasonably new, we are still in the process of working through some of the talent challenges we face, and a key area of focus is how we keep people engaged and how we develop them. We have quite limited bandwidth to continuously promote people into new roles within the finance centres, and with on-going challenges in the wider economy we find people are tending to stay rather than move on to new opportunities in the external environment. Our focus is on establishing the reputation of the finance centres and making sure a ‘them’ and ‘us’ culture does not prevail across the broader finance function, because this obviously impacts in driving mobility of people from the business into the shared service centre but also vice-versa. We also recognise that the skills needed by finance professionals in the shared service centre are quite different – they aren’t skills that are always prioritised or developed in a traditional finance organisation.

Solutions – building capabilities in new operations

  1. Recognise different locations may bring different capabilities. We see strengths and weaknesses across our different locations, so it’s important to think more broadly in terms of capabilities that are needed in different areas, and how these complement each other. You also need to factor this in to location selection.
  2. Appreciate that shared service operations call into play a different skill-set, and plan to develop these. We consistently use a 70/20/10 blended learning approach which develops the technical, business and management skills increasingly needed – we see capabilities such as cultural skills, virtual working, change management, working in a matrixed environment and of course customer service as essential. We are currently establishing a coaching programme to provide opportunities for individuals to learn from more experienced hires.
  3. Ensure a talent review process is embedded into the performance management process and plan for succession. We use a rating system which rates both the achievement of objectives and the achievement of competencies. We also assess those with high potential and build this into a transparent formal succession plan.

This case study appeared in an ACCA report on Talent and capability in global finance functions. As part of ACCA’s qualitative research leading organisations shared their approaches. 

By Barry Patton, finance director Ireland, Intel

The finance organisation at Intel is very much an influential finance operation in the sense that we report directly through the finance organisation to the CFO, and we have a key role to play in continuously challenging and helping drive value for the operations – so we are very business and operational impact focused. However, with the advent of our shared service operation, both transactional finance plus ‘higher value’ finance roles moved across.

From a retained finance function perspective this has created specific talent development challenges for us because many of our entry roles to develop our talent were lost, resulting in a retained finance organisation structure which had small numbers of finance personnel at more junior roles, small numbers at very senior roles, and too many roles in the middle – so essentially a circular shaped, rather than pyramid shaped organisational structure impacting on traditional career development paths. There may be very rational reasons why, from a cost and standardisation perspective, shared services makes sense, but it has development and succession implications for the retained finance team which are not always thought through.

Solutions – creating development paths in the retained function

  1. Carve out new roles to facilitate development. We have systematically carved out roles, creating for example two junior roles rather than one senior post. This starts to rebalance the retained finance organisational structure and open up more career paths but critically it also allows us to intervene at the junior level and give people opportunities to develop the skills they will need upwards – we can take them on the journey and these are skills you can’t learn coming straight in at a senior level. It’s cost neutral but of course there is a headcount implication and we get measured on both – so we have to make the case consistently.
  2. Support development opportunities through rigorous talent identification programmes. We have a talent identification process in place called ‘repeat high performers’ – each year one-fifth of our staff will be given this performance rating and if they meet this two years in a row, this categorises you as high potential which helps drive mobility because hiring managers become interested in you and from a corporate standpoint at a manager level it puts these individuals on everyone’s ‘radar’.
  3. Create influence in the business and maintain finance ‘connectivity’ by exporting finance talent. We try and give finance people business operational experience. This allows us to retain finance staff outside of the finance function so that if we have a major capability issue in the function we can reach back out to the business and bring people back. We also adopt the same approaches across our geographic regions, monitoring which finance people are where and fitting them into the overall succession planning cycle. This is also critical in creating a strong finance reputation within the business and ensuring we are truly connected to the operation.

This case study appeared in an ACCA report on Talent and capability in global finance functions. As part of ACCA’s qualitative research leading organisations shared their approaches.

By Sally Fisher, partner, Deloitte

There is a change afoot. CFOs and finance directors are beginning to take the talent agenda seriously and are redefining their traditional talent strategies. The well-documented war for talent is making way for a war to develop talent.

The ability of organisations to recruit the critical skills they need is being outstripped by organisations’ need for the skills, experience, attitudes and behaviours that are essential for the finance function, as it seeks to establish itself as a strategic partner to the business. Those with captive shared service centres are also investing in retaining and developing individuals with the technical and project-management skills, and the knowledge and networks within the business that are needed to create seamless end-to-end finance processes for rapid and robust transaction management. A lack of succession planning in our work with new CFOs transitioning into their role within FTSE 100 and 250 organisations, a constant theme that arises is the poor quality of the succession planning that they inherit. The majority of new CFOs are external hire recruits to the organisation, which in itself is revealing of the quality of the succession plan. Many new CFOs whom we work with in both the UK and US report that addressing the skills and capability gaps in their top team is a priority for their first year.

A perfect finance talent storm

Three forces are coming together in 2013. Firstly, there has been a long-term inheritance of finance function learning and development budgets dominated by technical skills development at the expense of leadership and behaviour competences. Secondly, in the years since the financial crisis a significant reduction in learning and development budgets has had a detrimental impact on everything other than core technical skills development. Thirdly, there is recognition that in these more challenged economic times with competitive and often consolidated marketplaces, growth ambitions will only be achieved if the finance function can play a strategic role in helping the business innovate in sustainably profitable ways and manage the increased complexity of the risk/opportunity dynamic. These three forces are redefining the skills that are needed within the function, with greater focus on commercial acumen, analytical thinking, communication and influencing skills, personal impact and solution-oriented attitudes. They have also ensured that there is inadequate supply, not only internally but also in the external recruitment market.

New approaches to developing capability

There is growing recognition of this problem and, in keeping with a general trend that we have seen in the US, where training budgets increased by an average of 13% in 2012, we are starting to see purposeful investment in skilfully designed development programmes that focus on clearly prioritised competences and targeted audiences within the finance function.

The key features of the most successful programmes are:

  • a bias towards developing behavioural competences and advanced analytical skills
  • the bringing together of communities of experts working in different parts of the business but on similar financial or commercial challenges, e.g. pricing or resource allocation adherence to a ‘less is more’ principle in learning and training, with a small, focused curriculum that develops the necessary critical skills
  • a globally consistent strategy and curriculum, with localised nuances only where necessary, e.g. as a result of distinct market conditions or regulation
  • any face-to-face development time is spent with a quality facilitator who is capable of shifting mind-sets, not just training new skills
  • the integration of action learning, coaching, mentoring and leading edge resources with face-to face development experiences.

What organisations are not yet doing enough is defining the success of  development investment by measuring business impact, and taking advantage of mobile digital solutions to create tailored learning platforms that push relevant content to finance professionals according to their preferences and needs, connect communities of experts, and stimulate collaboration. This will be the next leap for global finance organisations in the war to develop talent.

This case study appeared in an ACCA report on Talent and capability in global finance functions. As part of ACCA’s qualitative research, leading organisations shared their approaches.

Corporate Governance

By Deborah Kops, founder and managing principal of Sourcing Change

Not too long ago I sat through a panel comprised of very experienced shared services leaders. And it hit me like a ton of bricks; although each was accomplished in his or her own way, every panellist’s path to leadership was very different.

So I came up with a typology of career paths which represent the usual cast of leader characters…and what kind of change they are typically called on to make. Are you a lifer? A loyalist? A moonlighter? Or an expert?

Look around at the players in our shared services community, and you’ll see four distinct pathways to leadership. Each pathway corresponds to the level of maturity of the model, and at the same time is shaped by the business context in which the model operates. Which pathway characterises your career? What kind of a shared services leader are you?

Firemen, teachers, accountants, architects, astronauts, drummers, or even hedge fund managers…ask any child what he or she wants to be when he grows up, and I highly doubt you’ll hear “I want to be a shared services leader.” The majority of professionals taking up their first positions find that their careers take twists and turns, often placing them in roles that they never knew existed.

When it comes to shared services leadership, there are a number of career paths that lead individuals into the role. However, looking more closely, four main pathways become obvious, each of which reflects the context in which shared services is operating, and the degree of change that the leader is expected to drive. Whether you’ve come up the ranks as a lifer, moved from another role in the same company, often to fix or accelerate delivery growth as a loyalist; hold a “day job” such as controller but implement shared services at the same time (the ‘moonlighter’); or come in from another organisation under the mandate to implement, expand or accelerate shared services (the ‘expert’), you have the same aim: advance the value of business service delivery.

So to validate my assumptions about this cast of characters, and see what kind of havoc they wreak (in a positive sense!) on their organisations, I partnered with sharedserviceslink (http://www.sharedserviceslink.com) on an industry-first survey. Check out our results by reading our very-easy-on-the-eyes infographic at http://www.sourcingchange.com/what-kind-of-a-shared-services-leader-are-you/.