How to Do Shared Services

I was recently reminded that shared services isn’t always bad, but shared services done with industrialized thinking is always bad.  The industrialized piece is rooted in the functional separation of work where the unwary see cost reduction opportunity by combining like functions.   Voila – instant savings to your service or government.

If it were only that easy.

I wrote about shared services in a couple of posts one called The Case Against Shared Services and another post called Shared Services in Government: 4 Reasons Not to Share.  Both articles hit on problems, but didn’t completely describe the huge missed opportunity to redesign services.  You might get some savings sharing services, but while looking for the penny on the floor we miss the golden 6-foot statue the coin is under.

The rush to savings leaves out the counter-intuitive – if not obvious improvement.  When we study our organizations as systems, outside-in from a customer perspective and end-to-end we begin to question the original design.  When we question design, we can begin to question our thinking that created that design.  Rooted in what matters to customers, we get efficiency and effectiveness in delivering services.

Studying our systems and redesigning services before sharing them helps us locate the golden statue of cost savings without ever looking at costs.  It just happens.  But you have to know how to look, but more importantly you have to know to look rather than assume.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for  Download free from “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at  Reach him on Twitter at LinkedIn at

Share This: