Tag: GIC

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!

 

Shared Services Centers and the Myth of Scale | Blog

Shared Services Centers (SSCs) – what we refer to as Global In-house Centers (GICs) – need to achieve breakeven to be financially viable. The breakeven equation is straightforward: the point at which total labor arbitrage (the average difference in labor cost between the SSC and a center at home) is equal to the SSC’s run cost (all non-labor costs such as facility rent, utilities, training, recruitment, travel, and other miscellaneous costs.)

Conventional wisdom says that that only large centers with a minimum of 1,000 FTEs can achieve breakeven. But that’s old-school thinking, and old-world reality.

We analyzed the breakeven point for 850 GICs in today’s digital world across a variety of factors, including the scope and complexity of services delivered, locations leveraged, and employee profiles. And we found that even an SSC with as few as 25 FTEs can be financially viable if it is delivering high-end, judgment-intensive services.

The rise of small SSCs/GICs

In the last three years, the average SSC scale, as measured by the number of FTEs, has declined by about 60 percent.

Why are we seeing this significant increase in small-scale centers? Several reasons:

  • Lower barriers to entry: Technology advancements facilitate better collaboration and knowledge transfer among leadership and peers
  • More robust ecosystem: Better infrastructure, access to a large talent pool with relevant technical and functional skills, and multiple professional services firms to provide on-ground support
  • Lower cost: Easier access to cost-competitive real estate, and wider availability of talent with the relevant functional, and managerial skills.

Today, it’s not about scale…it’s about alignment with the broader sourcing strategy

Ever since the inception of the SSC model, enterprises have been relying on their centers to improve products, processes, customer and employee experiences, build high-value skills, and drive operational excellence. But in today’s environment, scale no longer matters. Why? Because some of the main levers for SSC success, such as enhancing cultural integration, accelerating the strategic agenda (e.g., innovation, digital transformation), facilitating cross-functional collaboration, and promoting process ownership, are scale-agnostic.

Today, the decision on whether or not to establish a delivery center must be based on how it aligns with the enterprise’s broader sourcing strategy. In particular, enterprises should assess whether the SSC/GIC can help them:

  • Retain and strengthen in-house capabilities, especially for core intellectual property intensive work
  • Develop tighter integration (better control and governance) and stronger alignment on culture and brand
  • Accelerate the adoption of digital and other disruptive technologies such as automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence.

The next time you’re thinking about setting up a new SSC/GIC, don’t let the scale of the center – or lack thereof – stop you from exploring the possibilities!

Does Your Shared Services Center Need an Innovation Team? | Blog

In order to evolve from cost enablers to strategic partners that can drive competitive advantage, shared services centers (SSCs) – what we call Global In-House Centers (GICs) – must support their parent enterprises’ innovation agenda. And whether innovation means one, more, or all of the following to their enterprise, SSCs are quickly recognizing that creation of their own innovation team is one of the key ways they can deliver on that strategic requirement.

Types of innovation initiatives

What is an innovation team?

An innovation team is a group of dedicated resources mandated to evangelize innovation within the organization. The members typically have innovation-specific competency and relevant experience, and are unrestricted by business-as-usual constraints.

While ad-hoc or informal innovation teams used to be the norm in most GICs, the forward-thinking ones realize that a formalized approach is becoming essential for long-term success.

SSCs’ innovation teams influence strategy, capabilities, and culture

Based on our discussions with and analysis of around 800 GICs spread across offshore geographies, we’ve grouped innovation teams’ focuses and capabilities into three areas.

Shaping the enterprise’s overall innovation strategy

SSC’s innovation teams help shape their enterprise’s innovation agenda by enabling decisions on key themes such as: improving the process/product/service mix, enhancing the customer/employee experience, and revamping the business model; impact areas like cost savings, risk management, and revenue generation; and innovation partnerships with start-ups, academic institutions, etc. For example, one GIC’s innovation team was given a mandate to ideate and develop innovative solutions/products to better engage customers. It led all the stages of the innovation journey (from ideation and concept testing to detailed design and development) to develop the enterprise’s flagship mobile payments app.

Enhancing capabilities by improving skills, tools, infrastructure, and technology

SSCs’ innovation teams support and lead capability and ecosystem development. Areas they become involved in include setting up the physical work environment including innovation labs, garages, and digital pods, and developing new methodologies, frameworks, and tools. For example, one GIC we work with – that of a leading U.S.-based financial services firm –assisted in development of a cloud-based, compliant platform for instant communication and content sharing. The platform is used by more than 20,000 employees across the organization for real-time collaboration.

Fostering a culture of innovation

Beyond their primary responsibilities of supporting core, business-as-usual activities, GICs’ innovation teams often serve as “innovation champions” or “innovation ambassadors” to shine a spotlight on best practices and key pitfalls to avoid. These teams primarily consist of employees embedded within the GIC’s business units/functional teams, and focus on domain-specific innovation. This enables direct development of an innovation culture in delivery teams. For example, in one insurance company’s GIC, the innovation team is mandated with promoting innovation at the grassroots level. So, it organizes trainings, workshops, and competitive events.

Innovation team make-up

At a broad level, innovation teams are comprised of the following key roles:

  • Innovation champions: Leadership members (typically C-level executives, and functional/business unit heads) for providing strategic guidance
  • Program managers: Senior management members and/or dedicated managers for driving innovation programs/projects
  • Process experts/technologists: Experts with deep knowledge of product, technology, and tools
  • Strategists: Typically, tenured senior resources with extensive experience with innovation programs and solid domain knowledge.

Of course, some SSC’s also include other roles, some very niche and company-specific, in their innovation teams.

Size your innovation team to your specific needs

Our research found that SSCs’ innovation teams are typically comprised of five to 20 dedicated FTEs, spread across the enterprise and the SSC. A relatively small number of GICs have 20-50 or more FTEs that are specifically part of their innovation team.

While most GICs have a lean innovation team, we encountered multiple instances of recently bulked-up teams. Interestingly, there is a limited co-relationship between revenue/size of the SSC’s parent enterprise and the size of its innovation team. What tends to impact the size of the innovation team is the extent of the innovation focus, the level of innovation maturity, existing structures for driving innovation, and broader business requirements.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. When designing your SSC’s innovation team, you should start by determining what aligns well with the existing structure and caters to evolving innovation needs. You can customize its size and composition once it’s up and running.

Can Your Shared Services Group Manage Enterprise Risk? | Blog

The financial crisis of the late 2000s, increasingly stringent regulatory requirements, growing competitive pressures, and a host of other factors have vaulted the risk management function to new heights of strategic importance for banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) companies.

Our ongoing research in the sector shows that most enterprises handle risk management out of their onshore headquarters locations, rather than giving ownership of the function to their offshore shared services centers, or what we call Global in-house Centers (GIC).

When we asked BFSI companies why they were keeping risk management on their home turf, they cited several reasons:

  • Because they’re still trying to streamline their risk management frameworks, structures, and processes, they’re unclear what to keep onshore and what to offshore to GICs
  • As risk management is becoming an increasingly critical component of the overall enterprise strategy, they view offshoring the function as a risky move
  • They’re concerned that the offshore talent lacks the needed business acumen and understanding of sourcing geography’s regulations
  • They feel constant interaction and frequent coordination with multiple business units and teams is the first line of defense for reducing risk at the origin

What’s the common thread behind all these rationales? They’re all perceptions, rather than reality.

In fact, our research shows that GICs are particularly well-suited to deliver the risk management function. Why?

  • Many shared services organizations are the driving force behind their enterprise’s digital, automation, and analytics initiatives, and their deep knowledge in these specialized capabilities can be highly useful in the risk management function. And there are synergies in areas such as risk modeling, forecasting, scenario analysis, and reporting. For example, a leading bank’s GIC has successfully automated local regulatory reporting, and is transitioning to be a centralized reporting team
  • There is a dearth of risk talent globally, but offshore GIC locations, such as India and Poland, have strong, solid pools of talent with deep risk management knowledge. This talent is coming from their domestic market (e.g., local banks) and existing GICs that, over time, have scaled their risk management function
  • To deliver real risk management value to the business, the GIC and the group risk team must be integrated; shared services groups have already cracked this operating model way back in areas such as investment research (e.g., sell-side and buy-side) and actuaries (e.g., pricing and valuation).

How can your shared services organization assume responsibility for your enterprise’s risk management function? Like most GICs, yours was probably established to handle scale-oriented transactional work. But risk is about value, not scale. So, you need to change your parent company’s mindset about your group’s capabilities by proactively identifying, proposing, and demonstrating how you can add value and be a strategic partner in managing risk.

Here are a couple of examples that may help get your creative juices flowing:

  • One GIC parlayed its experience with machine learning algorithms to build “Challenger Models” that significantly increase the precision of dataset validation for its company’s credit analysis
  • Another shared services group championed creation of its company’s “Operational Risk Center of Excellence” through process enhancements, global transformation projects, continuous process review and improvement mechanisms. This helped streamline and simplify various processes and risk frameworks.

Our two cents to enterprises: you stand to lose a lot if your risk management capability isn’t up to snuff. Your best solution may be right in front of you, even if not geographically right next to you.

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