Shared services appears to be on everyone's lips at the moment. But will it really help save costs, boost efficiency and encourage HR to grow? Or will it just end up creating more problems than solutions?
Shared services may not be a new concept but it certainly appears to be flavour of the month.
A Treasury-commissioned report by former Logica boss Martin Read revealed last month that government departments and quangos could achieve cost savings of between 25-30% if they re-engineered back-office functions and introduced central wide shared services.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said in last month's Budget that he fully supported the report's proposals, agreeing to speed up the introduction of shared services across departments.
While one would not contest the aim of saving money and improving efficiency, Personnel Today revealed the move is likely to see the loss of nearly 6,000 government HR jobs. It also runs the risk of being time consuming – Defra's HR chief recently warned it took her department two years to fully implement shared back-office functions across HR, payroll, procurement and finance departments.
So will the introduction of shared services really help save costs, boost efficiency and encourage HR to grow? Or will it just end up creating IT headaches, cutting key staff and losing vital talent?
"If the business case is sound and implemented correctly then there is no reason for [IT or staffing] issues to come about," Philippa Bradley, strategic HR sales lead at Logica UK explained. "Sometimes the business case is built on 'sand' and in these cases, the realisation of the business case is hampered by poorly motivated staff having to do more with less people."