INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
INTERVIEW WITH MRS GEETA DEGOANKAR,
Sr. VP Shared Services,
Thomas Cook India Ltd
How do you believe shared services of the future will look like? What will they deliver beyond providing a fixed portfolio of scale services?
To keep up with rapidly shifting business dynamics, the next generation of shared services center, SSC, will have to be more flexible, collaborative, and technologically astute. They will be adaptive business systems that deliver game-changing performance.
Apart from the overall value that an SSC brings of consolidation, standardization, visibility on efficiency, compliance, cost control, the key area is the transformation of process through the use of effective tools of process improvement & digitisation. With the current scenario where WFH, remote working & digitization will be key to future states, the SSC will surely move up the value chain to support in transforming all middle office,back-office processes which will provide cost benefits & process efficiencies. This can be simplified as below
- Provide reliable, low-cost services
- Add value with a simplified customer experience
- Provide insights that improve business performance
The additional aspect will be to provide digitization of process through new-age technologies (RPA, Machine Learning, etc) & becoming COE for such initiatives in the organizations.
What is shared service organizations doing to deliver game-changing performance? Is there any change in terms of preparedness that you’re seeing now versus say five years back?
Apart from the points mentioned above, I am seeing more and more Shared services leading projects on RPA, AI, data analytics which will make SSC the coe for ensuring digital tools, new technologies get embedded in the systems and process which can then support and help organizations adapt faster especially in the areas of HR, Finance & middle office operations. There will be more areas that will be moved to a shared services environment for better control, visibility, and digitization at the process level as the process transformation expertise will reside in the SSC.
How do you believe digital has enabled shared service organizations to deliver improved business impact? Could you please detail with some examples?
The first thought about SSC a couple of years back was cost savings- as that was the overall expectation through cost arbitrage benefit. With increased stress on the reduction of the bottom line, this was a successful model, expectations were to have yoy impact on cost. To enable yoy impact the SSC had to look at various new areas to increase the efficiency of the people involved and digitization was the only way forward. Multiple tools were available to enable this &now with intelligent automation like RPA, Machine learning, it has plugged the challenges of multiple systems, integrations, etc along with the time taken to implement & benefits seen. There are successful case studies in the area of HR operations right from handling employee queries through a chatbot, back end processing which completely touches free. Finance wherein critical, time taking reconciliations activities, month-end activities are now being automated through tools or performed by BOT’s. This model has supported the process in a situation like COVID-19 where we were running the processes remotely.
How do people within shared services need to be reskilled to get ready for the future? What should enterprises be doing about it?
- Move up the value curve and focus on more analytical and value-added activities (Data analytics, Complex activities, Middle & back office(e2e ops), Reducing non-sales activities for front line staff.
- New roles like BOT managers vs. traditional People Managers, Business Analysts. Setting up of Center of Excellence to help Groups/Business Operations adopt various intelligent automation across their processes.
- Training to upskill staff on the domain as well use of technology in various areas.
Can you please detail some key innovation initiatives within the Thomas Cook India Shared service organization? What kind of business impact has this delivered?
At Thomas cook SSC we are in the 4th critical stage of Automation & transformation of the process to impact the overall customer experience. This has helped not just in cost-effectiveness, but the reduction in leakages improved the quality of the activities, improved visibility & control. It has helped us to move up the value chain to make SSC ready to get more complex activities transitioned in the SSC- wherein the primary role of SSC is to transform & automate these processes. SSC will also be the COE for intelligent automation to facilitate transformation+technology within business areas. We have now tested our RPA program in a real-time BCP situation and we have had no issues with remotely managing the RPA programme, realign it as per changing requirements.