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FCW : January 2016
Government agencies are chal- lenged to drive efficiency in busi- ness capabilities while simultane- ously improving the effectiveness of capabilities that are central to their mission, such as law enforcement, policy development and citizen ser- vice delivery. Rather than allocate their resources across competing mandates, many are opting to share commodity services across organi- zations or agencies. For CIOs and their leadership teams, shared services offer a way for IT to improve cost efficiency, close productivity gaps and reduce duplicative administrative process- es. Strategic sourcing methods allow agencies to combine their buying power for similar needs, leading to lower prices and better service. Despite the obvious advantages of shared services, there are also challenges and expenses. Such a large-scale transformation runs the risk of failing to deliver the fore- casted benefits. One of the biggest challenges is convincing business leaders — who might fear a loss of control, functionality or service quality — that shared services will benefit the agency. To ensure that they are prepared to deliver a successful migration, IT leaders must first assess the matu- rity of the capability in question and gauge the benefits, costs and risks. By demonstrating that the long-term cost savings will balance the costs of migration without a significant sacrifice in service quality, federal IT leaders will be better equipped to achieve stakeholder buy-in. Survey data from federal IT exec- utives shows that change resistance is the most commonly cited barrier to successful shared-services migra- tion, so ensuring a common under- standing of the agency’s desired future state is critical. Once reservations have been addressed, leaders can move for- ward with developing their imple- mentation strategy by focusing on three key phases: 1. Plan. First, IT leaders need to create and articulate a vision of suc- cess — a tangible goal that can be used to align stakeholders and main- tain momentum. Then they should assess potential implementation risks so they can build confidence among stakeholders and allow the organization to make risk-informed decisions throughout the shared- services implementation. Leaders who also develop a communications strategy for the change ensure that the right information is presented to the right stakeholders at the right time throughout the migration. 2. Build. The first step is to docu- ment existing processes to ensure that knowledge can be quickly com- municated to the shared-services provider. From there, IT leaders should institute service-level agree- ments that are both specific and measurable. SLAs establish clear expectations and lay a foundation for a productive and collaborative partnership. Keeping some degree of flexibility to change SLAs over time allows agencies and providers to respond to changing business requirements. Lastly, establishing change request protocols helps the customer and provider ensure that flexibility is built into the relation- ship from the start. 3. Monitor. The migration strategy doesn’t end once the model is imple- mented. IT leaders need to continu- ously measure and communicate the performance of the system. By identifying and tracking a set of key performance metrics, they can not only assess performance but also establish a baseline for continuous improvement. Additionally, regularly refresh- ing the original business case helps determine whether assumptions have changed (or were originally flawed) so that customers and pro- viders can identify lessons learned and make course corrections. Lastly, IT leaders should foster a continuous learning culture that promotes a healthy perspective on failure and invites employees to play an active role in solving problems and continuously improving. n Make shared services a shared success To realize the benefits of shared services, IT leaders must develop a migration strategy that informs participants of their responsibilities and determines the steps involved One of the biggest challenges is convincing business leaders that shared services will benefit the agency. Commentary | KRIS VAN RIPER AND AUDREY MICKAHAIL KRIS VAN RIPER is is practice leader and AUDREY MICKAHAIL is senior executive adviser at CEB. January 2016 FCW.COM 13 0116fcw_013.indd 13 12/21/15 9:34 AM
November and December 2015