Making shared services work for you
1 Jul 2011
Paul Fairhurst, Principal Consultant
In the current economic climate sharing and partnering are obvious ways to reduce costs and maintain services. However, as our clients in local government and health have found out, this is easier said than done. The principal problem is one of governance of the shared activities. Understandably, councils and trusts are reluctant to give up sovereign power to a common body. Organisations, therefore, have to put processes in place that manage the inevitable tensions that will arise as the joint body is pulled in different directions. Even getting to this point needs resolve to overcome legal hurdles, to decide on what content to share, to extract work from the participating organisations and to make decisions over the form of staff employment (ie no change, secondment, transfer, etc).
Our research on shared services and partnerships has supported our consultancy activity. For the NHS, we used a range of case studies to help health organisations better understand the options available to them for improving back office efficiency, and also what the critical success factors are in implementing shared services successfully. For local government clients we have developed a model and tools to support the decision making process for deciding to share professionals or entire support services. As well as sharing our insights with organisations we are also able to provide a structured approach to thinking through the issues involved and making an evidence based decision.
In practical terms this has meant working with Greater Manchester PCTs in their visioning and implementation of HR shared services and with a consortium of North Western councils on further collaboration beyond a joint payroll service.