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The tools and skills needed to optimize process performance

If Shared Services are "navigating a tidal wave of change" as SSON’s 2024 global market report puts it, then optimized process performance is the port in the storm. By improving the fundamentals of how business gets done, Shared Services can deftly navigate challenges, while creating value and expanding their remit.

Last year I wrote about the growing remit of Shared Services and expansion into controlling cost exposure, accelerating digital capabilities, and increasing purchasing power. This year’s report reveals that expansion continues, with a sharp focus on customer-centricity.

Safe to say, gone are the days of Shared Services solely focused on cost-cutting efficiency drives. Instead, today’s top teams are called on to create value and exceed customer expectations with everything they do.

The great disconnect stalling process improvement

A tall task. Especially when the processes behind everything they do are not working as well as they should. So, what’s getting in the way of process optimization? It’s not awareness of the need to do it, it’s the ability to take action.

This inability is caused by a big disconnect at the heart of most enterprises. Departments speak their own languages, systems don't play well together, and processes are hard to see and harder to improve. The fallout: SLAs are missed, efficiency stagnates, and customer needs go unfulfilled.

As you’ll read in this chapter, here is where technologies like process mining come into play. Process mining creates a living, moving digital twin of a business’s processes. In doing so, users get end-to-end visibility of how their processes run and insight into how to improve performance.

Take a flexible AI approach 

The other technology now firmly in play is AI, which holds nearly limitless potential for improving processes. However, it’s important to take a flexible approach to AI that can move and grow with the business – and the underlying processes. Otherwise leaders risk making an expensive, underwhelming tech investment rather than achieving the big, impactful performance improvements they’re after.

Blending the right tools with the right skills is key. I've seen how putting process mining into the hands of problem solvers takes it to the next level. That’s because there are often two challenges to overcome when it comes to improving enterprise performance: the first is the tangible change, like understanding what prevents optimal payment behavior. The second is the change management needed to get out there to proactively rectify the issue and refuse to slide back into old ways of working.

Shared Services is a game of inches

Shared Services pros tend to be natural-born problem solvers so it comes as no surprise that employers want more of the same. Indeed, the survey finds problem solving to be the top priority skill for recruitment and training.

While it can be tempting to approach process performance optimization with a vision of making massive leaps forward, it’s more realistic to view it as a game of inches. Methodically cutting costs, dedication to exceeding customer expectations, and always looking for ways to grow the remit. Shared Services that push the optimization agenda forward every day stand to outperform their competition over the years to come.

Editor's note: This article was originally published as part of The State of the Shared Services & Outsourcing Industry Global Market Report 2024.

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Paige Andrews
Product Marketing Manager

Paige Andrews is a product marketing manager at Celonis, driving the go-to-market strategy and positioning of Celonis’ Procurement and Accounts Payable solutions.

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