Shared services centers (SSCs) are increasingly investing in strategic capabilities to create value for parent organizations, as most of them (87%) are focusing on expanding remote working capabilities to ensure business process continuity, 61% are working on accelerating digital agenda, and 59% intend to increase virtual practices, due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, according to the 2021 Deloitte Global Shared Services and Outsourcing Survey conducted on over 600 leaders in 45 countries, including Romania, with shared services locations across nearly 75 countries.
The new workplace strategies in the wake of the pandemic have emerged as a key difference in this year’s survey. Organizations are searching for opportunities to generate additional cost savings and increased productivity, as almost three quarters of the respondents (73%) are planning to adopt a hybrid – in-office two to three days a week – or mostly remote model (14%) – in-office only a few days a month – and only 9% plan to return to the office on a daily basis. Consequently, organizations are aware of the fact that these workplace strategies will impact work culture, well-being, and future location strategy, as respondents reported developing a strong culture (77%), emphasizing well-being opportunities and flexible work practices (62%), and continuing improvement and innovation opportunities (62%) as the top approaches to retaining shared services employees.
The survey also highlights that digital enablers—essentially, digital technologies that improve and optimize the services provided—are critical to how SSCs innovate across functions to deliver cost savings. High-performing organizations that have successfully achieved three or more SSC objectives have adopted digital transformation as a strategic agenda: 72% of those have already successfully implemented RPA (robotic process automation), 55% have single-instance ERP (enterprise resource planning), and 53% have adopted cloud solutions. Process and technical complexity were cited by 43% of the respondents as the biggest challenge to automation.
”As companies increasingly rely on global service delivery models to provide higher value at lower cost, they are investing in the strategic capabilities of SSCs, prioritizing talent and new ways of working, and leveraging digital transformation to find a competitive advantage. Romania is the one of the leading destinations in Central and Eastern Europe for shared services centers. The development of the IT sector has made it an enabler for the automotive sector, the aerospace industry, the chemical industry, agriculture and many others,” said John Ploem, Partner, Delivery Center Enabling Services, Deloitte Romania.
From a global perspective, India continues to be the top preferred location across most industries (consumer, energy, financial services, telecom etc.), followed by the USA. While not making the top list, Portugal and Lithuania continue to receive attention and secure global business services investments. Colombia, previously ranked in the top ten in 2019, continues to see interest, but has dropped from the list in 2021.
The study also found that most organizations reported standardization and process efficiency as their top strategic objective for SSCs in 2021 and that 78% have successfully achieved it. Reducing cost (top priority in 2019) and driving business value follow closely and have remained immediate and tangible benefits of establishing an SSC. Of those organizations identifying cost reduction as an objective, 88% had achieved their cost reduction goals.
Deloitte has been conducting biennial surveys since 1999, to understand how shared services organizations capitalize on leading practices and trends to address their business challenges and better meet customer needs.