The Shared Services Team is part of the Transformational Government Unit within the Cabinet Office. It is responsible for taking forward Shared Services as part of the Transformational Government strategy, promoting the sharing of corporate services functions such as HR, Finance and Procurement and looking at opportunities for wider sharing within Central Government (e.g. Banking, Vetting, Fraud, Debt recovery, Estates. Audit. Travel, Correspondence).
Deploying shared services involves separating the transactional operations of a business or function into a self contained unit which is organised to deliver more effective service at lower cost. Savings made through sharing can then be passed to front line services to improve service to the public.
There are already examples of large operational shared services (such as the centres in Department of Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs) which have shown financial benefits as well as improvements to the quality of services.
The team drives the shared services understanding in government departments about:
We do this by holding regular cross Government briefings; running the Pan Government Shared Services Group, promoting the use of tools such as Benchmarking; networking with providers and customers and promoting the use of best practice. There is more guidance for providers and customers.
The Transformational Government strategy (Nov 2005) highlighted three themes:
Benefits can be classified into three groups;
The Shared Service Team focuses on sharing services that provide the opportunity to reduce waste and inefficiency by reorganising or reusing assets and sharing investments with others. The team started by focusing on sharing of HR, Finance and Procurement transactional services. Currently, there are Shared Service Centres in Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs, National Offender Management Service, Ministry of Defence, Department for Transport and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. The team helps other departments examine how their services should be delivered. For example, the Cabinet Office will receive these services from DWP.
The team will also look at the potential areas for sharing outside HR, Finance and procurement. Examples of areas that might be looked at in future include Banking, Vetting, Estates, Debt Recovery and Fraud Investigation.
A successful Shared Service implementation will in general require:
No. Experience shows you will be less focused on routine transactional problems and will have more time to deliver value added decisions, use information better and have better access to support.
Experience across a variety of organisations (National Health Service, Ministry of Defence, Transport for London, DWP, CO) has shown that basic processes are sufficiently similar to be standardised. Departments might differ operationally but the basic transactional services (say, in HR and Finance) are very similar. The shared service centre can cater for people who need to access their services via deferent channels, such as phone, internet and letter.
Sharing activities that can be carried out in a standard way enables organisations to focus on what makes them truly different.
While the terms are related, shared services and outsourcing are different concepts. Moving to shared services means a fundamental change to an organisation’s service delivery model. Shared services generally will drive, or be a part of, an organisational and functional transformation that leads to lower cost and/or better quality services. Shared services can make extensive use of the private sector or use internal resources, or some combination, to deliver the transformation.
Transformation will not generally be the reason why an organisation adopts outsourcing. Whatever is decided, there will always be a need to keep some resources in house; the ‘retained functions’. More about this can be found in the Toolkit.
No. Shared services is not just a change to IT systems. It is a change to the way that a Department does its business, by moving transactional type services from various parts of the organisation to a shared centre. New IT systems might be required as part of this change. There are some systems that are designed to cater for shared corporate services; they are known as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
Most of the information you need is on this site.
There is plenty of guidance in this site. Special guidance is provided for those who are to be Providers or Customers in Government and a toolkit is provided to show a logical path to establishment of shared services from Vision to Operation giving lots of useful examples and reusable templates.
Within Central Government, Corporate services (principally HR, finance and procurement) are becoming accepted areas for sharing, but there are examples of sharing in other areas too (e.g. in Estates. Audit. Travel, Correspondence). Many departments already share services, especially where there has been a historical connection between them, or where they share premises. Examples of areas for sharing that might be looked at in future include Banking, Vetting, Estates, Debt Recovery and Fraud Investigation.
The Shared Services Director is part of the CIO Council and also works with the CTO Council.
Part of the work in Transformational Government is looking at ways of modernising front line services to benefit the citizen. Information on how sharing front line services is contributing to these improvements can be found on the Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IDeA) site.
Not in the foreseeable future. Departments are still concentrating their efforts in-house to establish Government areas of expertise.
Shared services in central government are currently focused on improving corporate transactional services such as HR, finance and procurement. Progress has been steady:
Other areas where sharing could happen in future include: Banking, Vetting, Fraud, Debt recovery, Estates. Audit. Travel, Correspondence. Any activity that is duplicated in Government Departments has the potential for sharing.
It is expected that savings of between 20 and 40% can be achieved. In Department of Work and Pensions the benefits realised have included £50m savings to date.
Many departments choose to go to a shared services model because it helps them improve their systems and gives vastly improved management information.
Not necessarily. Saving resources in Corporate Services means that departments can relocate people to other areas of work, including front line work. The purpose is to use our resources efficiently in this area.
Information on this can be found on the Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IDeA) site.
First, departments need to recognise the amount of resource that is allocated to corporate services and publish this information annually. This information can then be ‘benchmarked’ against other providers of similar services. Benchmarking is recognised as a way to drive up efficiency.