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4 stakeholder relationship tips for shared services leaders 

Author: Steven Smith, Vice President, Business Development for Shared Service Centres, Thomson Reuters

Shared services centres (SSCs) are increasingly taking on a greater volume of work as organisations grapple with rising business uncertainty. A recent report by SSON and Thomson Reuters found that nearly four in five multinationals (79%) plan to depend even more on SSCs in 2022 as they expand their services and/or geographic reach.

As SSCs extend their core business functions, strong relationships with senior stakeholders will help ensure they are seen as valued business partners rather than support functions. Let us explore some ways in which shared services leaders can strengthen relationships with business leaders.

1. Know your client

First and foremost, it is vital to understand the business needs, challenges, and perspectives of enterprise stakeholders. This involves identifying their pain points, understanding why they are allocating work to your SSC, and being clear about their expected deliverables. 

For example, do your stakeholders expect your SSC to provide greater transparency and standardisation of financial disclosures across all jurisdictions? Should you be managing risk and costs more effectively? Without the right technology enabling you to centralise and harmonise tax compliance and statutory financial reporting, your SSC will not be able to meet these expectations. 

Gaining a deep understanding of what your client wants will enable your SSC to consistently deliver services that align. It will give you valuable insights that can be leveraged to identify innovative solutions to ongoing business challenges. But the benefits of being connected to the business go beyond operational. Once efficiencies are taken care of by technology, talent within the SSC functions are freed up to take on more higher-level work. They are better placed to contribute to the strategy and growth of their organisation, levering their stakeholder relationships. 

2. Anticipate needs to get a head start

Businesses around the world are striving to maximise efficiencies by assigning more work to shared services. If your enterprise is looking to do the same, anticipating and preparing for this shift in scope could give your SSC a head start. 

Begin by assessing its current capacity and capabilities, stretch goals and pain points. What extra resources would your centre need to meet a sudden spike in demand for services? 

Put together a plan that includes projections of the extra staffing, management, incentives, training, office space and software your SSC would need under different growth scenarios. Outline where efficiencies could be achieved. This could include automating manual processes or leveraging expert disclosure templates provided by global financial compliance software. 

You can also look at ways to support business continuity and resilience within the organisation. Enable your SSC to absorb work from other departments when needed, or flex workloads between centres themselves, which is where modern cloud software can enable seamless transition. 

3. Identify new ways to deliver value

Shared services leaders who see themselves as true business partners are increasingly looking to redefine their centre’s value proposition. To optimise results and ensure success, it is critical to align your SSC’s value-added services with your stakeholders’ business needs, challenges, and perspectives.

Start by identifying new ways to increase cost savings and standardise outputs in financial reporting. An investment in global compliance software that incorporates standardised reporting templates and end-to-end process management tools could deliver substantial efficiencies that enable your centre to deliver significantly greater value.

Next, assess your SSC’s current level of effectiveness and work out whether processes can be improved with increased automation. Four in five (80%) of business leaders regard the increased use of automation as significant areas of change within their SSC’s near-term future, according to a survey by SSON and Thomson Reuters. Should additional software automation be on your technology roadmap?

4. Communicate wins

Your SSC may be operating in the most efficient way possible and proactively managing compliance risks, but unless you communicate key ‘wins’ to enterprise leaders they may be unaware of the full value of your services.

Let the spotlight shine on your SSC’s achievements so that key stakeholders are privy to how much your centre is doing for the business. The more you communicate your SSC’s achievements, the more you can secure support to increase remit and deliver more value to the company.

Conclusion: Planning and preparation are key

SSC leaders who nurture enterprise relationships are not only more capable of managing expectations, but they also offer additional foresight, initiative, and forward planning. Strong relationships with enterprise stakeholders enable SSC leaders to anticipate and prepare for changes in demand for shared services. 


Steven Smith 

Vice President, Business Development for Shared Service Centres, Thomson Reuters

Steve is a leader in the SaaS space whose role is to help companies automate and augment the value of their shared service centres. Steve ensures Thomson Reuters' customers are getting the most out of their digital capabilities through unique, content-enabled technology. With over 20 years of experience in taking technologies to global markets, Steve is committed to supporting the bright future of shared services centres.

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