Are we finally ready for shared services?

The concept of shared services has been around for decades. But now with tight budgets shared services are finally starting to get some traction. Dan Chenok is the Executive Vice Chair for the Industry Advisor Council and the Executive Director at IBM's Center for the Business of Government. 

ACT IAC has just released a new paper, Practical Solutions for Shared Services. Chenok told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that the concept of shared services has been around for awhile.

"A number of the trends surrounding shared services are different today then they were 10 years ago, take cloud for example, cloud allows agencies to access services," said Chenok.

  1. Organizational change: In the past 10 years we've seen a build-up of the CXO disciplines. CIOs, CFOs, CHCOs are all part of a management framework that if they work together they can find efficiencies in each function and some of those opportunities can be seen more effectively because these communities are coming together more regularly.
  2. Technology: Whereas 10 years ago you had to go through lots of client serves or more traditional technology to get to a shared services, now with the advent of cloud computing and other forms of distributed technology the use of analytics to identify and make best use of technology, it is much easier. The cost of agencies to find and take advantage of services that are beyond their boundaries is much lower and faster than before.

Legal/Policy/Budget Challenges

"The question is what is the government able to do given the need for accountability, but with the understanding of what is a commercial best practice, that's something that requires time and learning," said Chenok.  "Shared services is an opportunity to work with Congress and their CFOs and OMB to identify when shared services makes the most sense. Identify the easiest way to work through the budget process, execution and appropriations. Agencies are looking for opportunities to identify the pathways."

Where do shared services work best?

"The more commoditized a service is the wider the service can be shared. That's something that makes sense because all the agencies don't need to spend the same amount of money if they each had to build that system themselves," said Chenok. 

Future of shared services?

"Overtime you will see a move from those back office commodity common system functions to more of a front office function where mission agencies like in the natural resources area where you may see services offered from EPA, Dept of Energy and NOAA. You can see them coordinating more effectively," said Chenok. 

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