International Finance
Economy

What Does The Future Hold For Shared Services?

by Karen Airey, Marketing Communications Manager, Basware UK 2nd December 2013 The Shared Services Forum UK annual conference always provides an excellent opportunity to understand what’s happening within the community.  Led by shared service professionals themselves, the event attains a level of end-user engagement and attendance rarely seen elsewhere, so there are always interesting viewpoints put forward to digest after the event is over. This year is...

by Karen Airey, Marketing Communications Manager, Basware UK

2nd December 2013

The Shared Services Forum UK annual conference always provides an excellent opportunity to understand what’s happening within the community.  Led by shared service professionals themselves, the event attains a level of end-user engagement and attendance rarely seen elsewhere, so there are always interesting viewpoints put forward to digest after the event is over.

This year is no exception and we were treated to two very different keynotes from Dr. James Bellini, a futurist well known for his twenty-five year experience as an award-winning TV broadcaster, and the wonderful John Timpson CBE, owner of the Timpson family business whose name you’ll recognise from the high street chain of shoe repairers.

James Bellini presented his thoughts on the future; the importance of big data and how this would affect us as corporates and individuals, how our way of working would evolve and how our culture would change in an increasingly automated, data-centric, robotic and networked world. Our work would change to be more mobile, less constrained to conventional hours – the employees of the future being constantly connected, with access to information and expertise from around the globe.

This keynote was contrasted by the presentation by John Timpson, whose upside down approach to management put the focus back on the individual and a trust in people.  His approach has been to throw away the company rule book (bar two; turn up and look the part, and put the money in the till!) and to allow his employees the freedom to serve customers in whichever way they thought best with minimal monitoring and intervention.  The company is growing significantly and has successfully managed its recent acquisitions, so John’s approach has certainly paid off.

So how do these two seemingly opposed visions, a data-driven robotic future and the importance on focussing on individuals and their human touch, sit together and what does this mean for the future of shared services?

Shared Services have already moved well beyond the mere transactional savings which they initially offered and increasingly their real value is in the data they provide to the business. Analytics and Management Information are playing a significant role, and are essential to informed decision making.

As the need for accurate data and efficiencies has increased, so has the need for automation, but it is this automation of manual processing and reporting tasks that is now allowing finance and procurement professionals the freedom and time to use their expertise to add-value.  They are collaborating with suppliers and more widely with other areas of the business, and business owners are able to tap into their experience. Indeed, John McLafferty of Rolls-Royce plc, went on later to describe how their shared services team are actively engaged in business improvement roles throughout the business.

The tools we are all familiar with through social media are now being utilised within systems to heighten communication between buyers and suppliers and aid the resolution of queries. It has taken time for the business community to embrace this type of communication but this is increasing and I’m proud that Basware is leading in this area with its Alusta platform.

Purchase to Pay professionals are no longer simply transacting – that’s now automated  – nor are they constantly juggling spreadsheets for reporting purposes – that’s increasingly being taken care of by analytics – they are, and will increasingly be, in improvement roles for their business. Automation has the ability to give individuals the information and time to better serve the needs of their customers and for me that’s where the link is between these two seemingly different views of the future.

Source: Basware

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