The basic expectations towards SSC and SAP systems for their operation are centralization and automation of important processes, ensuring operational transparency on the scale of the entire enterprise and the possibility of creating a simple user interface for the user to support only selected processes or process sections from the entire complex system.
For many reasons, Poland is a region of shared services centers for large corporations. The creation of a shared service center entails many changes for the organization – from creating a business blueprint to selecting a location. One of the most important stages is the implementation or adaptation of existing IT systems, e.g. SAP:
- harmonization of the SAP system landscape (e.g. connection of previously separate SAP systems or implementation of the Central Finance solution),
- harmonization of business processes implemented in SAP systems within the scope of SSC work, where the most common elements are the already mentioned harmonization of the chart of accounts and master data.
Although theoretically, the creation of SSC does not have to affect IT systems (carve-out and centralization of only human processes), it usually is not the case. SSCs are created with the aim of optimizing cost and process quality, and therefore companies want to make changes to the methods of operation and, consequently, to IT systems with their creation. The processes (systems configuration) and master data used in these processes are unified. This allows to speed up service, reduce errors and facilitate IT system maintenance (e.g. fewer interfaces, less master data, fewer processes to monitor).
The biggest challenges related to creating a shared service center are:
- planning the project/portfolio of projects in order to reach the target SSC structure,
- ensuring business continuity in centralized organizational units at the time of introducing changes,
- change management and monitoring of operation indicators in order to continuously optimize the processes covered by SSC,
- support management with adaptation to different time zones and different working calendars (e.g. work on Sundays).
In complex international enterprises, the creation of SSCs is often a multi-stage process, starting, for example, with creating a carved-out organizational unit, training users and transferring tasks to them from many dispersed departments. IT systems harmonization projects are implemented successively, up to the projects of standardizing individual business processes.
The most important thing is to plan the transformation process in such a way that it has the least negative impact on the activity (read: the results) of the companies that are subject to centralization. Therefore, often, instead of making as many changes as possible in one step, the implementation process of individual SSC changes is spread over time.
In international companies, the aspect of time zones and different work calendars is not to be overlooked, which often contradicts the need to centralize processes. That is why some companies decide to centralize their IT processes on a regional scale (e.g. Asia, America, EMEA), which facilitates, for example, downtime planning related to the necessary maintenance works of SAP systems.
What to do to make the SSC creation process a success? You need to think carefully about the goals behind the changes you make and plan a project or series of projects to create a SSC. It is also worth involving people with experience in such reorganisations in the field of process changes (e.g. accounting changes) and in the field of changes in IT systems.
Case study # 1
Harmonization of the chart of accounts in SAP
For one of the international capital groups, SNP Poland carried out a project to harmonize the chart of accounts in SAP for over a dozen companies whose financial and accounting processes are carried out in the Shared Service Center. The effect of converting several charts of accounts to one is the standardization of processes and simplification of the analysis of financial statements for companies in the region. SAP Landscape Transformation (SAP LT) transformation tools were used in the project implementation.
Case study #2
Animex: SAP and SSC – simultaneously
Since 2012, the Animex Group has been using the SAP ERP system. The implementation of SAP was associated with the introduction of many organizational changes in each plant, including financial departments. It was decided that it would be much more effective to handle many financial processes of all plants in one place – the shared service center. The simultaneous launch of SSC and launch of SAP ERP was associated with risk, but it was optimal in terms of costs and time necessary to implement the changes. SSC in Morliny provides a full range of services for all branches of the group.