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GBS State of the Union 2020

Even a global business services (GBS) organization that’s delivering on its commitments can—and should—do much more to meet colleagues’ rising expectations and the changing needs of business units. Here’s a five-point action plan for the new year.

Helps companies drive performance through transformation of their support functions and global shared services

To: CEO

From: GBS Lead

Subject: Reflections on last year and our aspirations and commitments for 2020

For two decades, organizations across industries have been moving toward a global business services (GBS) model of shared services. Initially used to control costs, GBS organizations increasingly manage end-to-end activities that cut across traditional general and administrative back-office areas to more customer interaction roles and front-office activities (Exhibit 1). As GBS helps improve customer experience, time to resolution, and cashflow—and reduces revenue leakage—business units have more time to seek customer insights, forge partnerships, drive innovation, and more.

Global business services can evolve across four key dimensions.
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Our GBS organization has come a long way from the early days of moving basic services: acquiring and setting up new sites; hiring and work transitions; taking the first steps in continuous-improvement projects and lean programs; developing the first set of frontline supervisors and managers; deepening collaboration and using digital tools; and delivering the benefits we promised in our initial business case.

Today, as more people in the organization have come to recognize the value of GBS, their expectations have expanded well beyond cost savings. Stakeholders now expect us to provide deep insights into customers, channel partners, suppliers, and employees; speed delivery to our end stakeholders; and nimbly respond to changing business models and employee needs—from consumer-grade self-service to mobile access to remote colleagues.

In 2018, we began laying the foundations for these structural changes. We aligned services to improve end-to-end customer journeys, for example, and began investigating emerging technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), cloud-based service management solutions such as a service portal, a self-service knowledge base and case management workflow, and data visualization tools to provide insights on service levels and KPIs.

In 2019, we deployed a few RPA programs, implemented the service management portal and automated most of our standard GBS performance reporting via self-service portal for business users and other stakeholders. With IT’s support, we tested the solutions to meet our data privacy and cyber security needs, and are now prepared to scale the infrastructure to all service lines and regions. These pilots have given us fresh priorities as we plan to scale up in 2020 and beyond:

  1. Back to basics: Given the importance of “lean then digitize,” we need to rethink why and how we do things as we scale up digital solutions.
  2. Bulletproof data quality: Before can scale up new digital and analytical solutions, we need to partner with IT and our analytics leadership to get the right data and better understand what we are “trying to prove,” in ways that align with our business dynamics.
  3. An ecosystem of solution and service providers: We need partnerships for co-innovation, including close collaboration with our IT colleagues for technology assessment, data security and privacy, and deployment models.
  4. Agile design, build, and run delivery models: We will run small, self-managed cross-functional teams with business stakeholders.
  5. A recommitment to delivering value to all internal stakeholders: We will conduct joint annual business planning and quarterly reviews to meet our joint strategic goals, from people capabilities to business outcomes.

The Five-Point Action Plan for 2020

Back to basics

Our RPA pilots in 2019 quickly showed that investments in process automation pay off only where the underlying processes and policies are standardized; customizing workflows to support non-standard processes is costly. We will therefore reinvigorate our continuous-improvement program to drive lean-and-digital based automation. To identify lean and automation initiatives and monitor their impact, we will deploy automated process-mining technologies to digitally visualize our process steps and then surgically resolve bottlenecks and exceptions for impact. For example, we aim to free up at least 30 percent of core processing capacity for advanced and new capabilities, such as data quality assurance and GBS services expansion. The many potential benefits of this approach are illustrated in Exhibit 2.

Digitization complements traditional lean efforts to optimize returns on digital investments.
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Data quality assurance

Our automation pilots also revealed gaps in enterprise data standards, definitions, and hierarchies, which significantly slowed our progress in scaling up digital and analytical processing capabilities. In 2020, we propose to partner with IT, leaders in the digital center of excellence (COE)—such as master data stewards—and analytics colleagues to set up data SWAT teams for data extraction, cleansing, transformation, and loading into target databases. This will allow us to create a trusted common data repository for the enterprise and GBS. We aim to automate at least half of reporting that is done manually today, and create a self-service system to deliver them to stakeholders. This will allow the company to reduce reporting capacity and pivot to advanced analytics, including machine-learning capabilities.

Ecosystem of digital and analytical solution and service providers

In testing various digital and analytical technologies in 2019, we recognized the need to harness multiple solutions and work with a range of providers to reimagine the GBS service-delivery model and resulting experience for stakeholders, employee colleagues, and external customers. We will therefore work closely with IT and enterprise digital COE colleagues to expand our ecosystem of strategic external solution partners in RPA, smart workflow, advanced analytics, and machine learning.

We aim to align on a common IT and digital solution stack across 80 percent of GBS activities.

Agile design, build, and run delivery models

We plan to reorganize GBS using agile practices, including small cross-functional teams across GBS, IT, business SMEs and CI agents, to accelerate GBS service transformation (Exhibit 3), while improving the client experience and increasing pull for GBS offerings.

GBS will evolve to a dual operating model combining automation with agile principles.
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We aim to redesign at least 20 percent of GBS customer journeys around agile principles, covering 70-80 percent of resources deployed, and have at least half of these operating at scale by the end of 2020.

A recommitment to delivering value to all internal stakeholders

A key benefit of an agile delivery model is its focus on the stakeholder experience and the value delivered. GBS needs a seat at the table with stakeholders when strategic business decisions are taken about scope, capability-building, and investments in people and digital tools. GBS proposes to operate as a true partner to the business to align on initiatives—known in agile terms as a “backlog.” These could include use cases to reduce revenue leakage, increase straight-through processing for end customers, enhance user self-service capabilities, and build analytical tools and people’s capabilities to deliver actionable insights to the business. We will therefore lead joint business-planning sessions as part of the ongoing annual planning process to meet business needs and address pain points. This will be followed by formal quarterly business reviews to hold ourselves accountable for our commitments and show our value.

We aim to achieve at least 95 percent of our joint business planning backlog in 2020.

The GBS leadership team, associates, and I are passionate about driving GBS to the next level of performance and value for the business. We are eager to kickstart this transformation journey—and look forward to exploring the possibilities with you.

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