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Taking a BIG Step Towards Global Delivery

"Transition" – NounDefinition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

The process of transitioning work into a captive or outsourced SSC (Shared Service Centre) is the most critical step within any shared service project, and more so when you are moving work from local to a global delivery location.  To understand why it is an increased challenge to “go global” we need to look at the steps to achieve a successful transition along with some of the risks.

The primary activities associated with transition are:-

  • Understand and document the work currently being done including the processes, policies, procedures and tools.
  • Train the new people in the shared service on the appropriate processes and systems to do the work.
  • Establish the appropriate measures of quality and productivity for the transition phase to ensure you can get the ramp up to the full SLA objectives.
  • Determine the transition timing along with how it will happen.  All at one time or phased?
  • Move the work.
  • Monitor ramp up.
  • Hand over to day to day delivery operations at agreed quality and productivity levels.

In addition to the steps required to transition the work, there is also the approach.  Are you going to “lift and shift” the work, basically take the work the way it is currently being done and move it with no change?  Or are you going to “transform and move” basically modifying the work before it gets to the new delivery team?  These are the major activities that have to occur for any transition.

What are the significant risks associated with the transition?  The top one is failing to understand how the work gets done today.  This lack of understanding could come from the fact that the current employees are not motivated to ensure the transition of the knowledge.  Or they are excellent at the normal things but miss telling the transition team about all the exceptions, or there just is not the time or capacity for them to keep the day to day working while at the same time ensuring the work is ready to move.  These and other reasons are why capturing how the work gets done today is not 100% accurate or complete. 

The second biggest risk is that the receiving team has not had the appropriate foundation training to prepare them for learning how to do the work.  As an example, they don’t know how to do the basics within the system and therefore are learning the system and the new process at the same time, resulting in a significant learning curve for any individual. 

The final big risk is that the measures associated with ramping up delivery are not agreed, quantified or measured, and therefore, the expectations on service level are not appropriately managed, and the delivery team has increased noise and dissatisfaction.

If the transition is moving the work from local to global these risks are compounded, as there are new variables introduced into the mix that increases the risk profile and makes the transition more challenging.  These include: -

  1. Time zones.  If the new delivery team is located in a different part of the world and in a different time zone, there will be increased challenges associated with training the new people and moving the work in a manner that ensures excellent customer service from day one.  Of course, the team in India will work the USA / European hours, but all of the staff in the new delivery location might not be hired to work the same hours.  For example, if your new delivery location in India is covering all time zones in the USA, all of the new delivery staff would not be in all of the time.  During the transition, you might need to come up with the time zones and hours that the transition activities occur, so you don’t end up duplicating the processes.
  2. Remote transition.  The individuals who were doing the work most likely will be geographically a long way away from where the work is moving.  To ensure the knowledge is transitioned means using technologies such as Skype or have a small number of individuals from the global location travel to the site(s) where the work is currently done and they gain the knowledge and then do “train the trainer.”  These techniques, while cost effective, can increase the risk of poor knowledge transition and training.  Managing geographically dispersed transitions is a major subject in its own right and worth getting expert advice and help to understand some of the options, lessons learned and risks.
  3. Language and culture.  In some cultures when asked if they understand and you get an answer of “yes” it might not be yes. Some cultures don’t want to disappoint, and even if they did not understand what you asked them to do, they would say they do.  Robust testing and validation need to be put in place to ensure that the receiver of the knowledge and the training truly understands and can do the work.
  4. Data, words, and definitions.  Like language, different organisations, and different countries call the same things – something else.  This is especially true when you get into areas like payroll or procurement where taxes or specific items purchased are called different thing.  When doing global transitions, there is a need to put extra effort, training and testing into ensuring that the individuals doing the work have a real understanding.
  5. Monitoring and measures.  When moving to a global delivery service, most likely the transition of work will be phased.  If the work comes in waves to the new team, initially they might easily be able to handle the work as they will have more capacity than what would be required to do the tasks.  As more locations are added this will change.  Having the right monitoring mechanisms for migration to a global SSC are critical to success.

Many of these risks exist with a local or regional transition and when you add the global dimension, the risk level does increase.  When building the transition plans the incremental costs, time, resources and tools needed to mitigate the risks need to be part of the total business case.

Delivering all of a process for your business from the smallest possible number of locations has significant advantages, and is worth the incremental challenges and risks discussed.  Take lessons learned and ensure you have the right tools and resources to manage the global move and this will make all the difference in hitting your measures on day one.

Originally published in SSON 


Posted On : 25-06-16

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