The MCA Share and Share Alike Report, sponsored by Shared Services Solutions, surveyed more than 300 civil servants and around 100 shared services consultants around their attitudes towards shared services. The report also stated that whilst civil servants see the greatest benefits of shared services coming from cutting costs, improving efficiency, and raising the capabilities and professionalism of civil services, the economic business case for shared services may not be sufficient. Chris Price at Alsbridge comments: "There’s a danger here that shared services will end up being seen in a purely negative light, as a means of cutting costs, not as a way of improving service. That will make implementation more difficult because people will do it because they have to, not because they want to."
Roy Barden of Shared Services Solutions comments: "You need to be able to bring alive what the advantages of shared services would be to people, whether that’s recruiting teachers more quickly or being able to provide a single point of contact for a child in care. In isolation, the cost cutting aspects may even be negative."
Opportunity to improve services
The MCA report also revealed a vast opportunity to improve services in central government. Nearly two thirds of civil servants (63 per cent) rated the service they receive from their HR department at present as indifferent or poor; 45 per cent had the same view about their procurement team, and 38 per cent about their finance function.
Key factors to shared services success
The report also asked civil servants what they felt the most important factors were in determining the success of a shared services project:
* The majority (87 per cent) identified the ability to compel different parts of the organisation to adopt a common solution
* Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) identified existing cost efficiency
* Nearly two thirds (61 per cent) identified having a single, clear economic objective (e.g. to increase shareholder value)
Ben Brownlee at Impact Plus commented: "Shared services are one of the best opportunities there is to make the aspiration of joined-up government a reality. Combining corporate services will force people to work together and exchange information. Once they can do this for administrative tasks, they’ll start to feel more comfortable doing it for added value work. And the public sector should be in a better position to share because there’s no commercial competition. It’s one of the big advantages the public sector has over private companies."
The challenge for central government
The MCA report argues that the successful implementation of shared services depends on four overall factors:
* Having both a long-term vision for shared services, as well as a compelling, immediate business case.
* Getting participating organisations to standardise their work and share common processes, something that requires a balance of strong leadership and positive incentives.
* Ensuring that the shared service centre delivers improvements in the quality of service as well as cost savings.
* Creating a virtuous circle between customers and suppliers so that collaboration and intelligent buying/selling takes place.
Fiona Czerniawska, Director of the MCA Think Tank and author of the report concluded: "Although central government is making progress in some of these areas, substantial challenges remain, especially when it comes to winning the commitment and engagement of civil service managers. The case for using shared services as a strategy for cutting costs is compelling, but the longer-term success of the government’s shared services agenda will depend on responding to these people-related challenges."
Share And Share Alike, a report on shared services, is published by the MCA in association with The Times and Shared Services Solutions this week. To receive a free pdf copy email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click the link to be forwarded to The Times Online version of the supplement:
The Times Online Shared Services
The full findings of the reports will also be presented to pubic sector managers at an MCA event on December 6.
About the report sponsor
Shared Services Solutions is a partnership of Atkins Management Consultants and Catalise plc formed to deliver client side advisory services in response to the Government Shared Service initiative being driven from the Cabinet Office. For further information please visit www.sharedservicessolutions.com
About the Management Consultancies Association
The MCA was formed in 1956 to represent the consultancy industry to its clients, the media and government. Management consultancy is an increasingly important industry for the UK economy with revenues for 2006 estimated at £11.9bn. MCA members represent around 70% of the UK consulting sector, employ around 50,000 consultants and work with the FTSE 100 and all government departments.
For more information, please contact:
Management Consultancies Association
Tel: 020 7321 3994
Mobile: 07968 762404