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Behind the shared services curtain: Leaders on building centers of success

Shared Services Centers leaders, including from Accenture and ABB, reveal how to get the right attention, what keeps them interested, and how to make the most of every process.

When you’re looking for a bit of guidance at work, where do you turn? There’s so much out there that promises to help but, so often, nothing comes close to learning from people who have been there, done that.

With that in mind, I recently spoke to three experts on what it takes to build and run a successful Shared Services Center. They cover smashing KPIs, getting early scores on the board, and how to decisively win over the business.

While they all said the shared services remit is rightfully expanding in recognition of success, they were also open about the obstacles –  keeping top talent interested, mastering change management, and getting to do more strategic work.

Download the ebook here to peek behind the shared services curtain.

Check out some interview excerpts below.

Name: Ramki Raman Title & business: CTO, Intelligent Finance Operations and Industry Operations, Accenture

Ramki works in one of the world’s biggest Shared Services Centers. Here he shares advice on enforcing the policies behind the processes.

Celonis: What’s the most common best practice you share with clients?

Raman: To connect people, processes, technology. A common issue we find is people not adhering to the policies behind the processes, and no one’s monitoring how big the variations are and how often they occur. If you can’t detect and measure non-conformance then you’re stuck. 

Think of maverick purchases for example. A company might have a no PO, no pay policy but they still see maverick purchases. The policy’s getting breached but no one’s taking notice. A Shared Services Center can’t do its job if people refuse to change. 

Name: Swathi Devireddy Title & business: Advanced Process Analytics Community Leader, ABB

Swathi oversees a centralized/hybrid working model for shared services at global engineering leader ABB. Here she shares her take on the enduring importance of training. 

Celonis: You take training very seriously, can you share a recent experience of why constant training matters?

Devireddy: I spent a lot of time with our team in India earlier this year, looking into their use of the KPI dashboards. We found that once the KPI was hit some of the teams would stop there. Hypothetically, going from 50% to 80% can actually be relatively easy. It’s improving every percent after that, which can be really tricky. You might have to solve ten different issues to get a single percent increase. It can take personal interaction to make sure teams understand the KPI isn’t the end point, it’s just one step in the journey of continuous improvement.

Training programmes are also great for making more experienced users aware of new functionalities and for helping newer users understand how to get the most out of technology.

Watch ABB x Celonis for Procure-to-Pay 

Name: Bogna Pismari Title & business: Global Process Owner, P2P, Fresenius Kabi

There’s not much you can tell Bogna Pismari about shared services. With two decades of experience under her belt, the global process owner is an expert at improving working capital, getting business buy-in, and expanding the shared services remit. 

Celonis: Do you have a top memory of SSC success? 

Pismari: A real game changer was dynamic discounts. When I first joined Fresenius Kabi it took an hour to prepare the list of invoices needing to be posted to get the discount. 

Working with Celonis, we got the data immediately and moved in a year from capturing 40% of discounts to 68%. Then, investigating the process further, we noticed people signing contracts that guaranteed a discount if we paid within seven days. That can be challenging – so with the information gathered about us as a reliable payer, we negotiated up to ten days. Today we’re capturing 96-97% of discounts available. 

A second was touchless invoices. We constantly had a backlog, like most companies. Teams told us it was because of necessary, manual touches. We were touching invoices 6-7 times on average. With process mining we could see by vendor the fields we were touching and could interrogate why. For non-PO invoices you want three touches: receive the invoice, post it, approve it. Now we’re at 3.3 touches on average. We’re still aiming for three.

Discover opportunities. Attract value. Extract cost. 

Celonis transforms your Shared Services Center into an always-on value magnet that creates immediate and long-term cash impact by delivering on the value opportunities hiding in and between your processes.

Want to know more about the transformation that process mining and Celonis unlock? 

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Edward Baggaley
Content Marketing Lead

Edward writes about Celonis, its customers, partners, and product. He creates blogs - perhaps the one you’re reading - as well as ads, ebooks, keynotes, and advertorials. Newsweek, The Times, Time, and many B2B magazines have published his work.

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