Cinderella’s warning, shared services and maturity

Shared services, outsourcing, in-sourcing, managed services…all just ways to remove business activities from their existing home and entrust them to the care and feeding of others.

Is it that easy?

Were they ahead of their time?

The business case is clear but I have some doubts…like about how you transfer that which isn’t already very well defined or isn’t mature?  How do you not lose quality and knowledge in the process?  On what basis do you declare success?  Measure risk?  Think back to the 80’s hair band, Cinderella, who warned about this in their brief moment of fame, “Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until It’s Gone.”  The message was clear when they sang, “If we take some time to think it over, baby.”

Sure, they wore makeup and strange clothing, but they were years ahead of their time, telling us to seriously look at what we have before we ask someone else do it better, or more cheaply.

This becomes even more important when considering the managed services route.  Ownership doesn’t change hands, so how will you continue to lead it if you can’t visualize and measure it, and you are more removed from the resources?  Take the time to capture and measure what you do before letting it go.

It works both ways

Shared Services Maturity Model

The reverse is true as well.  The best shared services companies enforce this discipline on their customers because they know the eventual challenge in deciding if the service is meeting expectations.   Serco, a $7B shared services specialist, maps its 280+ Group Finance processes, integrates them with its risks & controls framework and with its SAP implementation, before it deploys them to end users. They do this because simply doing it cheaper and with more focus is no guarantee of success or growth.  They operate an intelligent operations platform for their customers.  This is the next level of maturity for outsourcing and shared services, after the value is already taken from cost reduction and specialization.

Back to Cinderella

Taking the time to capture and measure what you do as the customer or service supplier could make an enormous difference in how it will be done in the new way and with lower risk.  At least you’ll know what you’ve got.  Before its gone.

Another take

Mike Gammage talks about another unintended side effect of not thinking about what you’ve got until it’s gone on Sourcing Shangri-La.  Enjoy.

For more of Mike, his thoughts on shared services can be found in this video:


Categories: Strategy

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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One Comment on “Cinderella’s warning, shared services and maturity”

  1. March 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm #


    I very much like this blog. It’s clear, informative and covers a lot of ground.

    I too am a fan of Shared Services & have been recently dwelling on “why is Shared Services not more effective in the UK Public Sector?” Have captured my views in my own recent blog


    Dr Alf Oldman

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