Shared Service Centres A Successful Solution for Swedish Companies?
Background: Searching for best business practice has for a long time had its focus on the business process, which includes cutting costs and improving quality and flexibility of products and services. In the 1980s the focus turned to the support processes, which contributed to the development of Shared Service Centres (SSC). Problem: Implementing a Shared Service Centre involves many changes, which leads to a wide variety of effects for the company, and depending on where the SSC is located, these effects can have different characteristics and can be of different importance. We formulated these problems in three questions: How is the implementation of an SSC realised in a company? What underlying causes are decisive for the selection of location? How does the implementation of an SSC reflect on the interested parties (staff and customers) and the financial situation? Purpose: To describe and evaluate the phenomenon of Shared Service Centres by relating findings from reality in some Swedish companies, to existing theory. The main focus lies within three central areas; implementation, localisation and effects. Methodology: To investigate how the Shared Service solution is applied in Swedish companies we conducted two deep interviews, at SKF and Volvo, and a less extensive questionnaire was sent out to five companies. The empirical findings have been analysed and compared to a theoretical frame of reference, followed by a discussion. Finally, our own conclusions are presented. Conclusions: The main aim for implementing a Shared Service Centre seems to be cost savings. A difficult task for management, regarding the implementation, is to convince staff of the advantages of changing into an SSC. When choosing a location for the SSC, existing business activities with existing staff appears to be the decisive argument for the management. Due to the standardisation, work tasks can easily become tedious, and the big challenge is to create variation. The expectations of the SSC solution seem to be met, since Shared Services have led to great cost savings. Suggestions to further research: An issue that we did not receive satisfactory answers to was the customer aspect concerning the effects of implementing an SSC. Therefore a continuous study in this area could be pressing, since customer satisfaction is vital for the survival of an SSC. We also think it would be interesting to conduct the same type of investigation as we have done, but instead focus on smaller companies. Are there differences depending on the size of the company?
Göteborg University. School of Business, Economics and Law