INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
INTERVIEW WITH MR. IRENDRA CHHABRA,
Global Head – Spend Management and Back Office,
What are some of the key trends that will shape Shared Services Transformation in the near future?
There are 6 major trends that will shape shared services transformation:
- Integrated Value Chain Automation: Organizations do seek to drive automation adoption, though from functional/activity silo-based automation efforts, the focus therefore will shift to getting the overall value chain integrated via prudent and pragmatic automation. The questions that will need answers are “By automating the first step, which makes the step cycle time faster, are we gaining any end-to-end outcome improvementsor just as flyovers in some parts of the countries only shift the bottleneck to the next traffic light, automation only creates a higher queue in front of a successor step that cannot be automated.
- 360 Degree seamless view of the Customer/Transaction: While there have been quite a few promises made and some kept around gaining and providing a seamless 360degree experience to the customer, with the proliferation of customer journey points – From just a simple contact structure of Email/ Fax/ Telephone to a complex web of: Email/ Telephone/ WhatsApp/ LinkedIn/ Instagram/ Company Website/ Facebook/ Twitter, it is required that organizations lay down the right technology backbone, though this is necessary but not sufficient. Apart from just creating a technology platform, it is important that the frontline teams of this organization which is traditionally broken down in its SSC as separate departments – Chat Support/ Email Support/ Web support… integrated it through a Customer Moment of Truth lens and not the channel.
- Similar to the Customer view, is the transaction. In the setup of Shared Services in the early 1990’s, it heavily borrowed from the assembly line concept from Automotive and Industry 2.0 Practiceshowever, with the processes/ systems and organization now part of SSC, and the technology edge that today’s applications bring, it is required that the transaction is viewed not as its sub-component/parts but with focus on an outcome that the transaction has to deliver and if it met or did not meet the goal. E,g, Vendor payments/ Customer Delivery, etc. are key outcomes that need to be seamlessly driven
- One SSC [Connect – Operate -Automate – Analytics – Intelligence – improve – Autonomous processing]: The biggest trend and or an imperative for validating survival in the coming future will be SSC’s ability to integrate hitherto different service lines/ practices/ departments/ offerings into one single view. With Analytics/ Machine Learning and Automation providing the necessary intelligence and gaps in the existing processes and agile approaches leading to plugin those gaps and as this automate/ improve/ learn cycle stabilizes most of the processes will become autonomous – Generally operated in auto mode, only in case of exception or fallout, manual intervention – very similar to the Continuous process Industry where 24 X7 Machines run and manufacturing petrochemicals/ etc. and only in terms of Control parameters above the threshold, manual intervention is there. Also, organizations that are heavily leaning toward only automation and analytics should ensure that they have adequate focus on Connect and Operate organizations as the success of any automation/ analytics or intelligence intervention is based on how these two core functions improve.
- In the end it’s all about PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE:
- As the traditional transactional/ Assembly line process work is becoming more automated and infused with Analytics and intelligence, organizations will need to build/renew/ enhance their people capability pools
- More automation and intelligent processing will require lesser and lesser resource capacity – resulting in the need to upscale PEOPLE. While traditionally most SSC organizations have looked at Horizontal UPSCALE – from transaction operate, to automate, to analyze the future shift requires VERTICAL UPSCALE that is from Invoice processor to a Controller to an audit/ compliance to Strategic finance roles as an example
- Build and integrate WFH/ WFA/WFO models – while the pandemic forced the shift to WFH/WFA, the prolonged lockdowns and the stabilization of the WFH model now have given both the employees and the organizations to see how the benefits of WFH can and WFO be balanced to create a more engaged, empathic, proactive leadership organization and the employees. At STARTEK, we pioneered the concept of a Virtual Call center agent long back for our European business operations and had great success.
What do you think about the evolving role of a GBS leader?
Managing financial strength, keeping an eye on the competition, planning product and marketing strategy, training employees, and engaging employees through cultural and social programs were some significant activities leaders traditionally spent their effort on. Times have changed, and thus like any other resources, GBS leaders need to enhance their skill set and focus area. Although there are no written and pre-defined rules, neither is there a success formula, but an unceasing attempt for leadership that fortifies the organizational goals and values always pays off. Success would be through improved work culture, upskilling and reskilling the employees, adapting technologies to remain ahead of the competition, and keeping the customer-first approach. I have not touched on the basic knowledge of financial numbers as one is supposed to understand the nuances of financial engineering. PEOPLE build the organization. The general practices should be people-oriented, processes will get percolated then, and efficiency will advance with a willing and self-motivated workforce. A leader with a strong sense of business direction and purpose will drive the organization in the right direction. The essence is that the very best too have to unlearn and relearn the new rules of leading the organization from the front. Strong leadership has always played a pivotal role in an organization. Take Apple as a prime example; strong leadership has played a vital role in the company’s expeditious success. Organizational growth and augmented profits are biproducts of direct benefits achieved due to a positive corporate culture:
- Shared goals
- Internal collaboration
- Mutual Trust and cooperation
- Reduced Iteration.
- An engaged, motivated, and elevated workforce.
The organization wins through an engaged, motivated, and professionally elevated team working towards the organizational goals with imbibed organizational values. What does it take to be a natural leader? It’s not about title or experience. Leadership is about taking care of the people within your organization and leading by example.
What are some of the good practices in achieving cultural change for driving technology adoption?
Culture has always played an essential role in the organization’s growth. Those leaders who adopted Technology as one of the main pillars for growth have taken the organization to the next orbit. While everyone understands this, few succeed. The issue comes at an adoption level where the maximum resistance comes from functional heads themselves. Technology adoption is a top-down approach. It is easy to invest in but difficult to implement and enjoy the benefits of tools. COVID came along as a catalyst for digital transformation and technology adoption. For a long, digital transformation was one of the line items on the “to-do list for CIO/CEO” as the clients were wary of change management. However, COVID has brought digital transformation to the forefront of all the initiatives as it supported a seamless business experience and continuity through the lockdown. The Cloud journey is one such example. During and post-Covid, overnight offices moved home to run the business operations. The mismatch between on-premises infrastructure and cloud-design considerations created the need to address some of the critical challenges to ease changes in people, process, and technology management. Organizations must bring in solutions to ensure continuity by addressing the following.
- “The Change always starts from the Top” – hence if we need to drive the change for tech adoption, we need to first ourselves immerse into this part of the transition.
- GBS leaders/ Business Leaders/ Function Leaders à have to move from Review Meetings – with their DRs to Reviewing system dashboard, (by logging into the system) Pull based without any need for Direct reports to send voluminous PowerPoint presentations/ documents, etc.
- Recognize that the current workforce has three major segments – Digital Native, Digital Adopters, and Digital laggards and structure all capability-building actions segmented for these three.
Do you think reskilling is a major challenge? What should enterprises be doing about it?
While there has been significant discussion on the need to reskill/ upskill and several training programs / Classroom programs are being advertised/ attended/ approved, my fundamental belief for Skills upgradation is – that role should precede upgrade.
- First identify and segment your organization and people into High-Performance High Potential Medium Performance, and high potential.
- Look at the need for changing/ upgrading/ infusing new roles and structures in the organization’s design
- Review / assess and assign the High potential employees a role to transition into with clear discussion on what skills/ capabilities need to be in place for the role to be performed effectively.
- Assign a Business/ Technology mentor
- Let a large part of skill building come through on-the-job real-life requirements and where there is a need to upskill or reskill provide focused interventional technical training rather than generics – Not e.g., Digital Transformation / Analytics/ Excel/ PowerPoint/ Cloud but specific to How do I create a forecasting model using X Analytics tool? How do I create an SCM Dashboard?
What are some of the innovation initiatives taken at STARTEK?
Moving from Contact to Connect: I can say with pride that STARTEK was the first in the industry (e.g. Voice BPM) to realize the emergence, congruence, and confluence of the Contact lifecycle of the consumer/ customer through all digital – new/ traditional means and the future growth of many many businesses will be governed by capturing the “Screen Time” of the consumer rather than only doing traditional contact selling, upselling or support.
Well last 24 months for us have been transformational though it was accelerated by COVID from the overnight introduction of work from home environment which forced us to introduce enough security measures to listen to customers with empathy and create Omni channel solutions. Some of the areas we are working on which the most significant opportunity and challenges for BPM are
- Leveraging Digital to enhance employee experience. That will result in a better customer experience. Amplified the empathy quotient. Using AI to assist agents in gathering insights via analytics into performance and customer journeys.
- Conversational ai
- User behavior analytics
- Agent communication and gamification
- Move from on-prem infra to cloud wherever possible