Before I get to the heart of this post, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. I’m a business and financial writer who’s been covering the AP space, and have been working with Lavante for several months. I’m looking forward to weighing in here on a range of topics, and hearing your thoughts on the issues as well. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

Now, onto the post:

If your company is like most, management continually is hunting for ways to cut costs and streamline operations. One way a growing number of firms are doing this is by establishing shared service centers (SSCs). In fact, more than half the organizations responding to the IAPP/TAWPI 2009 Document Management Benchmark Study indicated that they either plan to combine payments and document processing functions or they already have done so, as this article points out.  

What’s more, many companies now are operating multiple shared service centers. Sixty percent of respondents to The Deloitte 2009 Global Shared Services Survey had at least two SSCs, and nearly 20 percent had five or more. Almost two-thirds had been operating shared service centers for at least three years.

What have these companies learned? While there is no single way to “do” shared services, a few keys to success can be found in leading SSCs, Deloitte found:

–  Organizations that identify process owners and establish governance boards for their SSCs boost their level of standardization, lowering costs. Without strong governance and an effective link with their customers, SSCs can revert to centralized overhead centers, with costs gradually creeping up.

–  Similarly, organizations that treat their SSCs are a business and strategic asset are most successful in realizing both tangible and intangible benefits.

–  A growing number of organizations are adopting a hybrid shared-service model that combines outsourcing, offshoring and traditional on-shore shared services. This helps to improve the delivery of services and minimize cost.

–  Expanding a shared services platform provides a solid foundation for growth and should deliver greater value as the economy improves.