Cost reduction and customer satisfaction are top of mind for shared services leaders as they work to support their businesses through the recession, according to a new study from Deloitte of 265 shared services leaders around the world, who provided data on 733 individual shared services facilities. Shared services are defined as the practice of shifting support processes out of a company's business units or divisions and into a separate service-focused organization. The 2009 survey marks the fifth in Deloitte's continuing series of research studies about shared services organizations (SSOs).
"Across the globe, organizations are trying to minimize their overall structural costs, so it is not surprising that cost control was one of the most prominent themes in this year's results," said Susan Hogan, principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leader of Deloitte's shared services practices. "Even though cost reduction has always been a primary goal of shared services organizations [SSOs], it's obvious that the recession has increased the sense of urgency around delivering financial savings to the bottom line."
Cost reduction was the most frequently cited driver for a number of planned shared services initiatives, including:
• Shared services center relocation - Among respondents who planned to relocate one or more of their shared services facilities, 92 percent reported that cost reduction was an important reason for the anticipated relocation.
• Changing the number of shared services centers - 48 percent of respondents planned to increase the number of shared services facilities over the next five years; of these, 46 percent reported that cost reduction was the main driver of the increase. Of the 16 percent of respondents who reported they planned to decrease the number of shared services facilities over the next five years, 71 percent cited cost reduction as the main driver of the reduction.
• Driving incremental value - 72 percent of respondents reported that cost reduction was one of their top three priorities for driving incremental value from their SSOs in the next two years. In addition, 62 percent reported that improving processes - a vital contribution to cost reduction - was among their top three priorities.