Streamlining shared services across three businesses

In the education sector, three businesses in the same not-for-profit group structure recognised they were all competing for the same specialist suppliers required for assessing students’ work (around 30,000 suppliers in total). This way of operating substantially increased the risk of failing to meet deadlines for public examinations (e.g. for university entrance) which would have resulted in negative publicity and potential removal of their licence to operate.

Our consultants worked with the three organisations to develop a vision for a future way of working. Some initial hostility was experienced based on concerns about loss of control but, with our facilitation, this was addressed directly by developing a vision of governance and customer service expectations. Trust between the various parties increased as a result.

Working closely across all stakeholder groups we developed a strategy which was agreed by all parties and developed a new supplier contract to reflect the way of working agreed by the organisations. We then created a roadmap for delivery which centred on the implementation of a shared service centre to attract, recruit and manage these suppliers. A key feature of this roadmap was that it specified that the transformation would take place at a measured pace to match the risk appetite of the organisation.

Our work on the outline business case led to broader consideration of where shared services should be used across the group. This provided the organisation with opportunities for much needed cost savings, improved resilience and a better ability to satisfy the industry regulator. We developed a detailed business case for the first phase of the shared service which was agreed and the initial stages of the project have been successfully delivered.