Last month I attended the 19th Annual Australasian Shared Services & Outsourcing week conference in Melbourne, and was excited to see influence of customer outcomes driving strategies, vs purely the old school “cost cutting” drivers. Here is a summary of my key outtakes and considerations, which I hope will be useful for any organisation considering how to create greater efficiencies.
The focus on influencing better customer outcomes was articulated best for me by Simen Munter, GM of Group Hubs at ANZ “Do you let your customers wait, or your staff be busy?” And visually summed up by this fantastic video of Formula 1 pitstops from the 1950’s to today.
Historically shared service centres are driven by cost – this is now a hygiene factor. Now that they’ve been around for longer companies with shared service centres are looking for new ways to deliver value. The predominant themes I saw were:
- People talent
- Automation aka robotics
And underpinning all of this is process. The purpose of introducing automation (and indeed having good processes!) is to drive standardisation, reduce errors, produce better outcomes.
In turn this frees up people for more value-adding, thinking work.
Without base process knowledge and awareness of handover points between human and machine, it is a challenge to innovate, let alone at speed.
Elaborating more on the three key themes, and the kind of questions worth considering:
As Geoff Gruebner, Head of Centre from BP Global Business said “Without ideas that we don’t already know, we will not get to where we want to be in 2020.” Innovation is how you deliver value year on year.
The question for organisations is how can they be innovative? What are the new ways to deliver on value?
The consensus was a framework and process is required to support innovation. I concur, and emphasise the value of enabling your frontline staff be part of the idea generation.
2. People Talent
Key to people talent is empowering staff. How do we empower our people (to create better customer outcomes)? How can we empower them through technology? Being flexible and able to move at pace is key. And then what training can organisations provide to help develop staff?
3. Automation aka robotics
Automation delivers a level of standardisation that people can’t in some cases.
Acknowledging there is a lot of fear when we talk about robotics, however “taking the robot out of the human” can lead to positive outcomes and more about “how can we empower you through technology?”
These factors can all lead to achieving better customer outcomes. The challenge as I see it, is how to realise benefits beyond the project tick (i.e. thinking past these as one-off projects within themselves), and ensure a continuous improvement framework and culture is established.
The ultimate is to create an environment where the benefits of good process and standardization are leveraged, yet organisations have mechanisms to encourage people to do what they do best and innovation to flourish.