Category: Shared Services/Global In-house Centers

The Evolution of the Automation CoE Model – Why Many GBS Centers Are Adopting the Federated CoE Model | Blog

Automation CoEs in Global Business Services (GBS) centers or Shared Services Centers (SSCs) have evolved over time. Mature GBS adopters of automation have made conscious decisions around the structure and governance CoEs, evolving to extract maximum value from their automation initiatives. Some of the benefits they have hoped to gain from the evolution include:

  • Faster scaling
  • More efficient use of automation assets and components, such as licenses and reusable modules
  • Better talent leverage
  • Greater business impact

The typical CoE model evolution

CoE models generally evolve from siloed model to centralized and then to a federated:

Siloed model – kick starting the journey

Most GBS centers start their automation initiatives in silos or specific functions. In the early stages of their automation journeys, this approach enables them to gain a stronger understanding of capabilities and benefits of automation and also to achieve quick results.

However, this model has its limits, including suboptimal bot usage, low bargaining power with the vendor, lower reusability of modules and other IP, limited automation capabilities, and limited scale and scope.

The centralized model – building synergies

As automation initiatives evolve, enterprises and GBS organizations recognized the need to integrate these siloed efforts to realize more benefits, leading to the centralized model. This model enables benefits such introducing standard operating procedures (SOPs), better governance, higher reusability of automation assets and components, optimized usage of licenses and resources, and enforcement of best practices. This model also places a greater emphasis on a GBC-/enterprise-wide automation strategy, which is lacking in the siloed model.

However, this model, too, has limitations, suffering slow growth and rate of coverage across business units because the centralized model loses the flexibility, process knowledge, and ownership that individual business units bring to the bot development process.

The federated model – enabling faster scaling

The federated model addresses both of the other models’ limitations, enabling many best-in-class GBS centers to scale their automation initiatives rapidly. In this model, the CoE (the hub) handles support activities such as training resources, providing technology infrastructure and governance. Individual business units or functions (the spokes) are responsible for identifying and assessing opportunities and developing and maintaining bots. The model combines the benefits of decentralized bot-development with centralized governance.

The federated model has some limitations, such as reduced control for the CoE hub over the bot development and testing process, and, hence, over standardization, bot quality and module reusability. However, many believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

The three CoE models are described in the figure below.

Automation Adoption in GBS centers and the Rise of the Federated CoE Model

The table shown below shows how the three models compare on various parameters.

Comparison of salient features benefits and limitations each CoE model

Why GBS organizations are migrating to the federated model

There are several reasons why GBS centers are moving to the federated model, as outlined below.

  • The federated model helps to better leverage subject matter expertise within a business unit. With bot development activity taking place within the BU, the federated model ensures better identification of automation opportunities, agile development, and reduced bot failures
  • The federated model leads to efficient resource usage. Centralization of support activities ensures: efficient use of resources, be they human, technology, reusable modules, licenses, etc.; standardization; and, clear guidance to individual business units
  • The federated model facilitates development and sharing of automation capabilities and best practices, which helps in the amassing of standardized IP and tacit knowledge important for rapid automation scaling

Federated model case study

A leading global hardware and technology firm’s GBS center adopted the federated CoE model, which houses the CoE hub, in 2017. In the three years since, it has grown to over 400 bots across more than 20 business units in a wide variety of locations, and saved more than $25 million from automation initiatives. The CoE hub has also successfully trained over 1,000 FTEs from technical and business backgrounds on bot development. As a result, firm-wide enthusiasm and involvement in the GBS center’s automation journey is high.

Transitioning to a federated CoE model has helped many GBS programs scale their automation initiatives rapidly. For more details, see our report, Scaling Up the Adoption of Automation Solutions – The Evolving Role of Global In-house Centers or reach out to Bharath M  or Param Dhar for more information on this topic.

The Evolving Role of Retail and CPG Shared Services Centers | Blog

Over the past few years, India has emerged as an attractive destination for both the expansion of existing shared services centers – or Global In-house Centers (GICs) – and new GIC setups by retail and CPG enterprises. This change is due largely to access to skilled talent, especially for digital services, and the relatively low operating costs. Today, India accounts for 20-25 percent of offshore retail and CPG GICs, of which roughly 50 percent were set up in the last five years.

While these GICs initially focused on the delivery of services such as IT, HR, F&A, and contact center, the need for digital integration to obtain faster results and innovation is driving retail and CPG GICs to help deliver core operations by leveraging next-generation technologies such as AI, advanced analytics, and automation.

In recent years, India-based retail and CPG shared services centers have started to deliver complex, judgment-intensive work such as sourcing and procurement, merchandising and inventory planning, sales and marketing, supply chain and logistics, and customer experience management; this work was earlier managed in-house by enterprises themselves.

In fact, best-in-class GICs have been aggressively pushing the envelope by building capabilities to deliver niche/complex processes for core operations. For instance, an American multinational CPG that set up its GIC in India in 2019 focuses only on the delivery of core services such as consumer science, packaging, and product development from the facility.

And that’s only one among many examples of enterprises leveraging shared services centers to deliver core functions. In the sales and marketing function, for example, India-based retail and CPG GICs are delivering some of the most niche/complex processes within the function. Here’s a look at these processes and the extent of GIC adoption for process delivery.

Processes managed by India based retail and CPG GICs

As you see, India-based centers are increasingly delivering processes like customer engagement and site merchandising, and there’s significant delivery potential for processes such as promotion management, marketing communication, and channel management.

Of course, the availability of skilled talent is key for the successful delivery of these core processes from India. Even when most companies globally face an acute talent shortage, best-in-class India-based GICs have been quick to scale up niche talent to deliver both core operations and digital services by hiring resources from adjacent industries. For instance, an American retailer’s shared services center has hired employees with TV, visual media, and digital content experience from the domestic advertising industry to support less-adopted processes such as promotion management and marketing communication. The GIC plans to establish structured upskilling programs to familiarize these new hires with global delivery operations.

Over the coming years, we expect this trend of GICs delivering core operations to continue and, in fact, increase significantly. Doing so will drive accelerated innovation, as the centers’ talent will have the advantage of deeper business context.

To learn more about the growing synergies between enterprises and GICs, please reach out to Bharath M or Ranjith Reddy.

A World Caught Unaware: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery in the Wake of COVID-19 | Blog

This is the fourth in a series of blogs that explores a range of topics related to these issues and will naturally evolve as events unfold and facts reveal themselves. The blogs are in no way intended to provide scientific or health expertise, but rather focus on the implications and options for service delivery organizations.

These insights are based on our ongoing interactions with organizations operating in impacted areas, our expertise in global service delivery, and our previous experience with clients facing challenges from the SARS, MERS, and Zika viruses, as well as other unique risk situations.

A virus originating in China has brought life to a standstill around the globe – and that includes service providers and shared services centers or Global In-house Centers (GICs). From delays in procuring office supplies (most of them sourced from China) and rescheduling of important meetings/events to the threat the virus poses to human capital, the risks have pushed most firms to revisit their business plans and potentially prepare for another worldwide recession. The virus spread has also been a wakeup call for providers and shared services centers, testing their preparedness in terms of business continuity and disaster recovery. In fact, it has made some firms comprehend the need to balance their cost-competitive mindset with a risk-competitive one.

Some organizations are well prepared and offer examples for others to follow. In this blog, we take a look at some of these noteworthy business continuity and disaster recovery measures, based on our conversations with more than 20 GICs and service providers globally. Strategies that stand out in particular include:

  • Site-based strategies for senior leadership – A few firms have balanced their leadership positions across centers and geographies to ensure that all senior roles for critical processes are not based in a single location
  • Headcount thresholds – Some firms have thresholds on the maximum number of Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) in a particular location – both at a city level and country level
  • Dedicated resilience management groups – Some firms maintain a full-fledged business continuity team to manage crises and their responses
  • Robust work placement strategies – A number of firms ensure that critical activities are spread across locations

For example, a UK-headquartered bank (with GICs across multiple locations) has an intra-city, inter-city, and inter-country Business Continuity Planning (BCP) strategy. The bank follows a robust BCP operating procedure by: (A) assessing a service’s/process’ business impact /criticality if work were to stop due to reputational, financial, or customer-related reasons, among others); and, (B) identifying the work location based upon criticality – highly critical services/processes are typically distributed across two countries. To understand this better, the company invokes:

  • Intra-city BCP for extremely short-term events, such as shutdowns for three to four hours due to maintenance work at a site
  • Inter-city BCP for short-term or limited impact events affecting a city, for example, transport strikes
  • Inter-country BCP for critical events such as natural disasters. For instance, during the recent floods in Chennai, India, the bank moved critical processes such as risk and analytics to other GIC locations, such as Poland

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity in Service Delivery Centers

In the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, we are likely to see significantly strengthened business continuity plans – those that take into account talent availability, work placement strategy, infrastructure availability, and newer metrics to manage performance. In particular, we encourage enterprises to explore answers to the following questions to develop robust business continuity plans:

  • Can the virtual model emerge as an effective alternative to physical locations? What does it mean from an infrastructure perspective?
  • How can automation solutions be deployed to manage down time?
  • What additional features need to be added to office communication tools and applications to enhance collaboration?
  • Is there a need to adopt new metrics to monitor resources working from home for an extended period of time? What should these metrics be? How will they co-exist with privacy laws?

Visit our COVID-19 resource center to access all our COVD-19 related insights.

Coronavirus Service Delivery Update | Blog

This is the third in a series of blogs that explores a range of topics related to these issues and will naturally evolve as events unfold and facts reveal themselves. The blogs are in no way intended to provide scientific or health expertise, but rather focus on the implications and options for service delivery organizations.

These insights are based on our ongoing interactions with organizations operating in impacted areas, our expertise in global service delivery, and our previous experience with clients facing challenges from the SARS, MERS, and Zika viruses, as well as other unique risk situations.

Over the past two to three weeks, media focus has shifted away from China, where the growth rate of new infections has slowed markedly. Hubei province remains the epicenter of the disease, but 8 of the 10 provinces that make up that core group of provinces where the disease has been most prevalent, have seen no new cases for several days. Hubei and the coastal province of Zheijang alone among the 10 are reporting new positive cases. There have been no public reports of service delivery interruption from any of the 44 Global In-house Centers (GICs) inside the core group of 10 provinces. Indeed, the last week has seen a steady return to work outside Hubei province.

The new global focus is on a group of high-risk countries including South Korea (Daegu and Cheongdo), Iran and Italy (specifically the whole of the north of the country and not just the provinces of Lombardy and the Veneto), and on a secondary group comprising Japan, Singapore, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Data from Everest Group Market Intelligence (EGMI) shows that there are 470 Global Inhouse Centers (GICs) – or shared services centers – and 196 service provider delivery centers located in China and across these additional nine countries. Based on travel advisory and media reporting of regions that are more or less severely impacted, China still has the greatest exposure to delivery risk, with 73 delivery centers in high impact areas, and a further 272 in areas that are likely seeing little or no impact. Italy has 14 service provider delivery centers in the high-risk Northern provinces. South Korea has one or two GICs in Daegu, the city most affected by coronavirus infections. See details by country and sector in the two tables below.

exposure by country

exposure by sector

In view of restrictions imposed by governments, or companies implementing business continuity protocols, or simply out of fear of contracting the virus through proximity to large numbers of people, it is highly likely that most, if not all, of the delivery centers in high impact areas are closed and will remain so until further notice.

Many multinational corporations with offices in China and Hong Kong have imposed either complete travel bans (Amazon, Apple, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Ford, Goldman Sachs, Google, HSBC, JP Morgan, LG, Salesforce) or have banned non-essential travel (GM, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, PwC, Siemens) to and from mainland China, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. In some cases, cross-border travel has been suspended indefinitely.

The same imposition of a work from home policy for all staff of multinationals in China and Hong Kong, which is beginning to ease, is now the norm for many businesses in Milan, the capital of Lombardy. The cancellation of meetings or conferences involving even modest numbers of international participants is now a daily occurrence.

The outward spread of the disease has also started to impact major service delivery locations, especially India, which comprises 40 percent of the world’s global services delivery capacity. As of March 6, 2020, 30 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the country. Initially, only passengers from high-risk countries were being checked at airports, but the government has implemented universal screening for all passengers flying into the country. Multiple companies such as Cognizant, PayTM, Wipro, and KPMG have temporarily closed select offices in Delhi NCR and Hyderabad and stepped up their employee safety efforts. In addition to encouraging the remote working model, these efforts include disinfecting and sanitizing office spaces, putting hand sanitizers at entry and exit points, discouraging staff from conducting physical meetings, restricting the entry of outsiders in office premises and distributing N95 masks amongst employees.

We continue to monitor these locations.

Visit our COVID-19 resource center to access all our COVD-19 related insights.

Innovation in 2020: Shared Services Can’t Fake it Anymore! | Blog

At the very beginning of 2020, we launched our Pinnacle Model analysis focused on innovation in shared services centers (SSCs)…also referred to as Global In-house Centers (GICs). This ground-breaking research identifies the characteristics of Pinnacle GICs™ – those global shared services centers that stand apart from others for their business outcomes and capability maturity. We study these best-of-the-best GICs to identify common trends among them, including the differentiated capabilities they’ve built to support and drive enterprises’ innovation agendas, and the best practices they’ve adopted to enable the desired transformation and overcome any operational challenges.

Here’s a look at two of the top trends we’ve identified thus far from our current analysis of leading GICs spread across offshore and nearshore geographies.

Time to achieve the expected ROI

Realizing fast return on investment (ROI) is key to making an innovation agenda a win-win for both SSCs and their parent organizations. A quick ROI enables the GIC to gain the influence it needs to serve as an end-to-end innovation strategic partner to the parent enterprise. Our emerging findings show that approximately 90 percent of GICs/SSCs achieve expected ROI in less than 24 months.  If you’re a GIC leader, you can confidently use this number to boost your parent enterprise’s confidence in further leveraging your team and its capabilities to drive its innovation agenda.

Extent of external ecosystem collaboration

GICs have a unique combined insider’s and market view that enables them to provide strategic insights to orchestrate enterprise-wide innovation. Our emerging analysis shows that Pinnacle GICs have invested extensively in and partnered with start-ups and academic institutions to source innovation ideas across their product and services portfolio. They leverage these partners across various stages of the innovation cycle, particularly in the idea generation and concept testing stages. Additionally, Pinnacle GICs strongly embrace start-ups to help drive an innovation-focused culture across the entire organization.

We’re winding down our analysis of GICs’ innovation journeys and would love to incorporate your views into our report. Please click here to participate in this study. When we’ve finished our analysis, we’ll send you a complimentary report that will show you where you stand relative to the industry’s crème de la crème.

Retailers’ Evolving Sourcing Strategy Industry | Blog

The National Retail Federation, industry analysts, and economists alike have debunked the idea that the retail industry is struggling, dying, or on the verge of an apocalypse. While some retailers and CPG manufacturers have sung their last swan song, many are dramatically transforming their businesses to effectively compete – and indeed, thrive – in the dynamically changing marketplace.

As part of this transformation, retail and CPG firms are evolving their sourcing strategy for: industry-specific processes including sourcing and procurement, merchandising and inventory management operations, sales and marketing, and customer experience; and horizontal processes like IT services, digital services, compliance and quality, and corporate functions such as F&A, contact center, and HR.

Global sourcing maturity across functions

Our recently released Industry Insights – Retail and CPG report looks at the changing shape and flavor of sourcing in the industry.

Here are the four key takeaways from the report.

Key takeaways

The in-house model is gaining ground

Historically, retail and CPG firms leveraged third-party service providers to deliver a broad range of services such as IT, F&A, and HR. However, in the past several years, many have invested in building what we call Global In-house Centers, or GICs. These in-house shared services centers (SSCs) give them more flexibility and control over the quality of work and reduce their costs. And they’re not only delivering standard back-office processes; they’re also building strong capabilities in areas such as store layout management, pricing optimization, custom application development, financial planning and analysis, customer sentiment analysis, predictive threat monitoring, and other digital services. For example, a US-based retail SSC in Bangalore, India, is developing a new order management system to scrape competitors’ websites for pricing data.

Service providers are moving up the value chain

Just like SSCs, third-party service providers in the retail and CPG stage are also upping their game. They’re not only delivering rules-based and transactional tasks, but also much more advanced services like cybersecurity, blockchain, ERP implementation and maintenance, and legal services.

Delivery destinations are similar to other industries

Retail and CPG firms choose their sourcing delivery destinations based on their competencies, just as enterprises in other industries do. They typically leverage locations in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), such as Poland, for marketing and analytics, and India for business process services – including those specific to the retail industry – IT and digital services. The Philippines and other APAC countries offer capabilities such as customer service (both voice and non-voice) and regional language delivery of accounting services, while LATAM primarily supports the U.S. market.

As is the case with most industries, India has emerged as the most popular offshore location for retail companies’ SSC setups, delivering both business process services and IT/digital services (product analytics, application design and development, R&D, etc.) to North America and Europe. In fact, a U.S.-based retailer’s GIC in Bangalore, India, provides it a full suite of solutions including technology, marketing, HR, finance, merchandizing, supply chain, property development, and analytics and reporting services.

GICs and providers are building deep domain and digital skills

To help make sure their digital strategies are up-to-date, CPG and retail firms are opening dedicated R&D and innovation labs in offshore locations with the help of third-party providers and GICs to support them in automation, analytics, cloud, and social media services. And with the spread of e-commerce and mounting competition, some retailers have started employing engineering talent in India to build pricing systems that determine how demand would respond to a change in price.

As part of the broader digital agenda, some centers have also started exploring the use of AI for certain activities within operations and sales/marketing, such as store layout and pricing optimization, as well as RPA solutions for automating rule-based processes. For instance, Tech Mahindra signed a contract with a Nordic retailer for end-to-end managed services, wherein it will automate and consolidate the retailer’s existing IT infrastructure and enhance the end-customer experience through digital solutions.

Going forward, we expect both service providers and GICs in the retail space to evolve their capabilities with an increased focus on the use of digital technologies such as analytics, automation, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, and IoT. These advanced capabilities will help retailers stake their claim in the highly competitive marketplace.

To learn more about sourcing in the retail and CPG space, please read our recently published Industry Insights – Retail and CPG report, or connect directly with the authors Bharath M and Sana Jamal.

 

What’s Driving the Upcoming Wave of Indian Service Provider Layoffs? | Blog

Recent news reports of upcoming layoffs in India’s IT-BP industry are painting a pretty gloomy picture for 2020. Indeed, the reported layoff numbers from Cognizant, DXC Technology, IBM, and Infosys collectively amount to more than 20,000 employees and account for 4-5 percent of their total India headcount. Coupled with the economic slowdown in the country, these layoffs will add to India’s high unemployment rate over the next few quarters.

What’s driving these layoffs? Is it the maturity of legacy systems, as Cognizant and Infosys said? Is it due to workforce restructuring and cost pressures, as Capgemini, DXC, and IBM cited?

There are four reasons that many of India’s IT and BP providers – not just those mentioned above – may have to trim their workforces in 2020.

Cost and margin pressures

The slow economic growth is putting pressure on providers’ ability to meet their target margins. Heavy discounts to retain existing clients, building new relationships, and slow revenue growth are exacerbating the situation. Letting some employees go helps them streamline their costs.

Rise in reshoring

Reshoring continues to grow for multiple reasons: stricter visa regulations, new data security regulations (i.e., the introduction of GDPR in 2018), and buyers’ increasing desire for providers to grow their onshore presence for ease of coordination, better alignment/training, and promotion of customer intimacy.

Given their dependence on multi-national and global clients, service providers have drastically increased hiring in some onshore locations to localize their business presence. This not only adds to the overall costs of operations but also translates into a reduced number of transactional roles in India to optimize overall costs.

Digital uprise

Legacy technologies are fast giving way to new digital technologies like cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is increasingly reducing the need for workers with expertise in legacy technologies. And automation adoption has made jobs redundant, leading to lower headcount demand than before.

Rationalization of the experience mix

One lever service providers are pulling to help their clients optimize their delivery costs is rationalizing their middle-heavy delivery pyramid, particularly in India. This is because mid-level resources add to the existing high cost of operations, aren’t particularly adept in emerging technologies, and have been slow to up-skill themselves on them. Thus, providers are increasingly targeting a healthy mix of resources spread across entry-level and experienced talent. This will result in substantial mid to more senior employee layoffs.

The double whammy of the economic downturn and technological transformation might lead service providers to cut more jobs in the coming quarters. This will not only help them streamline their costs, but also redirect their focus towards reskilling and restructuring the existing workforce. While the existing employees struggle to upskill themselves to retain their jobs, the fear of future uncertainties is comprehensible.

To learn more, please read our recently published report, “Market Vista: Q4 2019.” It’s designed to equip global sourcing professionals with incisive research and insights on the latest trends in the sourcing market, sourcing locations, and service provider developments. We develop the Market Vista reports based on deep-dive discussions with leading shared services centers, service providers, and other market participants.

Is Your Shared Services Center Driving Automation Across Your Enterprise? | Blog

Over the past few years, automation has become an integral part of Shared Services Centers’ (SSCs) growth and evolution. Whether large or small, whether onshore, nearshore, or offshore, SSCs – what we refer to as Global In-house Centers (GICs) – have made strong progress in adopting automation solutions.

Some have only dipped their toe into basic RPA. Others have moved ahead with more advanced automation technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. And a handful have started emerging as key strategic and revenue-generating entities for their parent companies. These GICs have built scaled delivery teams with strong domain knowledge around the implementation of automation solutions. There are multiple instances of GICs housing the global automation Center of Excellence (CoE) and driving initiatives across the enterprise. Aggressive adopters have moved beyond automating processes within the center and are now supporting process automation across locations and businesses. And they’re increasingly leading the design and execution of automation strategy, and are influencing decisions on go/no-go opportunities.

Everest Group’s recently published report Scaling Up the Adoption of Automation Solutions – The Evolving Role of Global In-house Centers discusses the key adoption trends and challenges in the GIC and automation space.

Let’s take a quick look at the four key trends.

4 trends GIC

Solutions and support

Some mature GICs have developed multiple offerings to support different businesses. Typical offerings include advisory support, platform or infrastructure support, and end-to-end implementation support. For instance, the India GIC of a leading European insurance firm provides bot infrastructure support to the company’s Singapore entity. With this set-up, the Singapore-based team didn’t have to invest in its own infrastructure to gain full access to the bots’ capabilities.

The talent ecosystem

From developing in-house automation talent to managing vendor resources, SSCs are making major strides in the talent management space. As part of their talent management strategy, many best-in-class GICs are investing heavily in building in-house talent, especially for AI-based solutions. This includes developers, data scientists, and project managers. These GICs are also investing significantly in upskilling/reskilling programs for their resources, and are strongly emphasizing education and awareness of automation’s capabilities and benefits. Some GICs are also training their business/operations resources on automation skills; this helps them scale-up faster.

CoE roles, governance mechanisms, and structures

Many GICs are upgrading their CoE model, roles, and responsibilities as they progress along their automation journey. Many successful centers are moving towards the federated hub and spoke CoE model, wherein the GIC houses the CoE hub and the functions have their own automation team (spokes.) The federated model enables rapid scalability and better opportunity identification than centralized CoEs. But, with either model, there are some pitfalls to avoid. Our blog titled Four Reasons Enterprises Aren’t Getting Full Value from Their Automation CoEs details what they are.

In-house automation platforms

Building on their understanding of automation capabilities, some mature GICs have started exploring the use of custom-built in-house platforms to run automations. While in most cases these are for attended RPA bots, some best-in-class SSCs have developed platforms using advanced technologies such as interactive virtual assistants (IVA) and machine learning. There are even a few examples of GICs adopting a 100 percent in-house development model, meaning no third-party vendor support. While we expect GICs to continue exploring in-house automation tools, we don’t expect that these will replace the use of third-party vendor products in the near future.

What GICs have accomplished over the past few years in scaling up the adoption of automation solutions across businesses and locations is just the tip of the iceberg. Going forward, they are likely to build on this foundation and penetrate deeper into the enterprise with ever more complex automations.

To learn more, please read our report — Scaling Up the Adoption of Automation Solutions – The Evolving Role of Global In-house Centers – or contact us directly at Bharath M or Param Dhar.

Why Pharma Companies View their Indian Shared Services Centers as Growth Partners |Blog

India is clearly becoming the “it” destination for pharmaceutical companies’ shared services centers (SSC) – or Global In-House Center (GIC) – organizations. Why do we say this? Because global pharmas with headquarters in the U.S. and Europe employ more than 11,000 FTEs employees in their India-based shared services centers to deliver not only table stakes transactional finance and HR services but also highly complex processes across all stages of drug development, including drug R&D and clinical trials.

What’s India’s appeal? There are four factors.

Established/Mature Location for Global Pharma Services Delivery

India is a time-tested, proven GIC destination for a wide range of industries. Many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies started delivering their global services support operations from India back in early 1990s. Now, pharma majors like AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, and Novartis are delivering complex, judgment-intensive services such as product R&D, biostatistics, and clinical trials site management from their India GICs. Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bangalore are the preferred locations, housing more than 80 percent of the pharmaceutical GIC talent.

Skilled Talent Pool

Talent availability, at scale, is one of India’s strongest value propositions. In recent years, many pharma companies have been able to successfully scale their delivery teams supporting diverse functions such as R&D, commercials, IT, and finance. For example, a leading pharma GIC houses 2,000+ resources providing IT services for various pharma functions. And multiple other pharma SSCs have scaled teams (400+ resources) that support R&D services, and dedicated resource groups comprised of doctors, PhDs, and biostatisticians, for complex drug R&D processes like development of computational solutions for analyzing clinical trials.

Opportunities for Cross-functional Collaboration

India’s availability of diverse talent profiles at scale allows India-based pharma SSCs to support multiple functions. And because many of them house IT resources with R&D and commercial business teams, they have multiple opportunities to collaborate on and insource IT work for drug R&D (e.g., to build IT platforms for drug development and IT services for lab support), and commercial operations (e.g., IT services for finance.) The value of this collaboration? Tighter integration of functions, better understanding of business requirements, and faster execution.

Mature Market for Digital Services Delivery

Leading India-based pharma GICs are working on digital initiatives including analytics and automation, and some are serving as global automation CoEs for their parent enterprises. Many are developing analytical tools for marketing & sales operations, competitive intelligence, and incentive planning. They are also investing heavily in automating less complex and high-volume transactional processes such as expense management, purchase order creation, offer letter generation, résumé screening, and management reporting, and deploying RPA bots to read files, extract data, and report adverse events. As part of the broader digital agenda, some centers have also started exploring the uses of artificial intelligence/machine learning to recruit patients and select sites for clinical trials, and for channel sequencing and optimization in their enterprise’s sales & marketing function.

Going forward, pharma companies not only expect their India SSCs to grow in scale and expand the scope of their process delivery, but also play a significant role in their digital transformation journeys by leading initiatives across all stages of the product R&D lifecycle. To satisfy these expectations, the GICs need to build deep domain capabilities and acquire or train talent to deliver increasingly complex, higher up the value chain services and next-generation digital initiatives.

To learn more about why pharma companies consider India their preferred service delivery destination, please read our recently published report, “Healthcare and Life Sciences – GICs in India Fast-tracking Enterprises’ Digital Agenda,” or connect directly with the report authors Anish Agarwal, Bharath M, and Rajeshwaran Pagalam.

What’s the Best Structure for Your Shared Services Innovation Team? | Blog

As we presented in a recent blog, shared services centers (SSCs) – or what we refer to as Global In-House Centers (GICs) – must create their own innovation team to support their parent enterprises’ innovation agenda. But how should you structure your team to yield the desired outcomes?

Innovation maturity and mandate

You should start by determining your SSC’s innovation maturity and mandate. The maturity is determined by the strength of your existing internal capabilities, including talent, technology, and culture; the involvement and support you require from leadership; the primary focus area of the innovation, e.g., generate revenue, reduce costs, or mitigate risks; and the impact generated by your innovation initiatives e.g., dollar value of costs saved or revenues generated.

The innovation mandate is outlined by the level of ownership and visibility for innovation initiatives; the extent of cross-collaboration between business units / functional teams; and overall alignment of your SSC with the parent enterprise’s structure and business model.

Once you’re armed with that information, you can select one of the three SSC, or GIC, innovation team structures most prevalent today, based on the guidelines we present below.

Types of SSC innovation team structures

SSCs with low-to-medium maturity and innovation mandate

If this describes your SSC, you’ll do best with a centralized structure in which your parent enterprise drives the innovation and you have limited involvement. This structure allows the parent company to have greater control and ownership, and prevents the GIC’s low maturity from being an obstacle. Many organizations prefer this structure, as it enables faster implementation of enterprise-wide and business model-related innovations, promotes standardization, and improves governance of innovation initiatives. However, many SSCs are reluctant to operate in this structure, as it presents limited opportunities for them to breed an in-house culture of innovation and deliver higher-level transformational value.

SSCs with moderate-to-high maturity and innovation mandate in a specific domain

The best fit for these SSCs is a business unit-or functional team-led innovation structure. This allows the parent enterprise to adopt a decentralized innovation approach, enable direct communication and visibility between the SSC and business unit or functional stakeholders, leverage innovation teams placed within the GIC’s business units or functional teams, and provide better alignment on domain-specific end-business objectives. Key success factors include regular mentoring by the parent’s teams to build strong future-ready GIC leadership, and direct communication channels between SSC and business unit stakeholders.

SSCs with high overall maturity and innovation mandate

For GICs that fall into this category, a dedicated innovation team in which responsibility for innovation is fully in its hands works best. This structure allows the GIC to take more ownership of proposing and prototyping new, innovative solutions, and equips it with capabilities to better respond to enterprise-wide requirements.

Achieving the right balance of ownership, accountability, and investment is the key to successfully implementing this structure and making it a win-win for both SSCs and parent enterprises. It enables the SSC to reach its true potential and gain recognition as a thought leadership partner and empowers the parent to implement innovation initiatives with relative ease and replicate best practices across business units and functions.

Because every company’s innovation structure is inherently different, GIC leaders need to thoroughly investigate each of the models and decide on the most appropriate one based on their GICs’ overall maturity and mandate.

If you’d like detailed insights and real-life case studies on how SSCs are driving their enterprises’ innovation agenda, please read our report Leading Innovation and Creating Value: The 2019 Imperative for GICs.

In upcoming blogs, we’ll be discussing ways you can promote innovation and increase its impact in your shared services. Stay tuned!

 

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