Case Study: Establish Operations Service Centre

Client: Global Marketing & Communications Firm

Function: Project Management Department

Project: Establish Operations Service Centre

Project Objective

A global market research organization wanted to centralise their project management functions into service centre. The goal of this initiative was to reduce costs and improve quality and delivery of client requirements.

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges encountered in this project was that the client had no experience building a shared service centre (SSC). They had previously relied on third party providers to support some of their centralization efforts.

A second dilemma was that there was no documentation on existing processes. The business had been training new employees by involving them directly into jobs and allow them to build knowledge from there. This method would not be effective in a shared service centre environment.

In addition to not having recorded procedures, there were different ways of working found within each project team as each unit had customized the product offering to their client’s preferences.

Solution

The first step undertaken for this project was to confirm the products that would be supported by the service centre. After multiple discussions with various stakeholders it was decided to kick off the project by transitioning 1 product from a high cost country (Singapore). At the same time, project governance was established to keep all stakeholders on progress of the project as well as escalate issues that require resolution.

In order to agree on the scope, process documents were needed to allow all stakeholders to reference the same material. It was discovered that Europe had developed a similar service centre and was supporting 4 countries in contintenal Europe. Conference calls were set up with several members of the Europe team to find out how the process worked for them. This included the procedures followed throughout the product’s life cycle, how information is transferred between the service centre and the local office as well as forms and templates used to convey client requirements. Based on the information obtained, process maps depicting the Europe centre’s way of working was drafted.

A workshop was set up with local, regional teams and members from the Europe centre. There were 2 main outcomes from the workshop. The first was to identify differences in how things are done in Asia Pacific compared to Europe. Decisions were made whether to align with how Europe is performing the activity or to maintain the existing variance. The second was to obtain agreement with all participants of the workshop that the process maps will become the basis for the shared service centre’s operating model.

A consensus was obtained from the workshop participants regarding the types of jobs that the SSC will undertake as part of its pilot run. Analyzing the transaction volumes and processing times allowed for the development of workforce ramp up plan to aid the SSC with hiring the appropriate number of resources.

Change management was a key component to ensure that the project succeeded. A change assessment was conducted to determine the impact of shared service centre to each stakeholder group. Roles and responsibilities were redefined to fit into the new operating model. Communication plans were developed and included standard communications templates, presentations, speaking points, FAQs, etc. Training sessions were conducted to ensure that all impacted personnel understood the elements that are changing and to learn the new way of working with the SSC.

Coordinating all of these efforts required the creation of a Program Management Office (PMO) to plan and provide regular status updates. The PMO tracked performance against the custom designed transition methodology that had been developed for the project. This function operated at multiple levels and provided status updates to senior leadership as well as a forum for issue resolution among the project team members.