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What "Global" Really Means (and Why)

The world of global shared services is vast, varied and littered with different definitions of what is a “global shared services”.  Is global having one location for the world that does all the work?  Or does it mean that globally your processes are the same?  What does global shared services really mean? While no definition will please everyone, these are the three characteristics that I believe define global shared services. 

1. The Service Model taxonomy is the same globally

The type of work done in a global shared services centre (SSC) is consistent for all entities in the organisation.  This does not mean that globally the exact same transactions, forms, or data are required, but it does mean the specific activities for a process are done to a globally consistent process and standard.  When you define what work gets done at which level of your service model (local, regional and global), for the activities that are global you should be able to apply common service delivery tools, processes, leadership and governance.  And even if you deliver your global processes out of more than one service location, the template for the global services should be the same.  “What” work gets done is globally consistent.

Tip: If you want an example of what a process framework looks like, APQC has a good one they use for their Open Standards Benchmarking.  Also, Everest has a Global Delivery Network Model that that might be worth checking out to get some additional insight.

2. Global Governance and KPI's/Measures

For a global SSC to exist, there has to be one governance and measurement process.  A single governance process must rule over those services that are deemed universal.  A strong set of global reporting to show the measures – including customer service, productivity, quality and financial – needs to be in place and visible to all stakeholders. 

Oversight board meetings should be established so all members can easily participate – always a challenge with time zones, so at worse case flip the timing so everyone is equally disadvantaged.  For a global SSC to work there has to be a process to resolve conflict and to ensure that each of the customers of the service recognises that their concerns have been listened to and that their requests have had a fair hearing.

Tip:  If you want to see some examples of KPI’s Alexander Mann did a presentation for HROAand contained within are some good examples for the recruitment process. In addition, a few years ago the HROA led some research around SLAs, which includes excellent examples of KPI's – you can read here.

3. Managing partnerships at a global level

If you have outsourced all or part of your global processes, you will have other organisations assisting in delivering the service.  The management of those processes needs to be at the global level.  There needs to be one voice to your partner for areas such as KPI management and monitoring of the contractual relationship.  The fastest way to get scope creep and out of control costs is to allow a partner that is delivering a global service to take instructions from regional or local stakeholders who are not accountable globally for the relationship.

Tip: If you want to read more about creating the right partnership relationship for your global shared services, Vantage partners has published several white papers including Relationship Management for Outsourcing Service Providers.


In simple terms, what you deliver, how you measure and govern those processes, and how you interact with your partners, will define what is “global”. Some things are not on this list, and I can hear people saying, "Why is this not included"? The biggest of these, I am sure, is location.  Most people would think that a Global SSC runs out of one place. While this is possible, and some organisations do have a single delivery centre for their services, it is not mandatory for a service to be global. There could be multiple delivery locations, which provide the same service, which is governed and measured in the same manner, with partners that are managed through a global contract.  The "what" and the "how" are global, but the "who" and the "where" could be global if that is efficient and effective for the organisation – but does not have to be.  The benefits of a global SSC can be achieved without these two "W's".

Article written by Mary Sue Rogers

first published in SSON Newsletter 

Posted On : 31-03-16

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