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Shared services can drive savings, but stakeholder buy-in will dictate success

Find out how to overcome internal hurdles to make higher education and public service shared services a success.

As resource constraints drive the adoption of higher education and public service shared services, managing this change—both organizational and cultural—by effectively mitigating internal turbulence is turning out to be a critical success factor in this transformation. This was one of the trends that emerged at the recent Public Sector and Education Shared Services Summit, hosted by the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University, in collaboration with Accenture.

While there is overwhelming interest in higher education and public service shared services, framing a compelling business case to justify this transition is a key challenge. Although getting a decision maker on board is important in this regard, adopting an inclusive approach by involving all stakeholders in the planning process critical to deal with change resistance at

later stages of the journey. The evolution to a shared services model must be viewed as enhancing the value of individual employees by freeing up their time to focus on higher-value tasks, ultimately benefitting the organization as a whole.

From visioning through sustainment, each shared services transformation encounters its unique set of challenges. The common thread that binds all higher education and public service institutions is the lack of a profit motive, which is reflected in their cultures characterized by high resistance to change. Navigating this internal resistance successfully by assuaging stakeholder concerns and setting realistic expectations through open communication can go a long way in successfully implementing shared services initiatives in higher education and public service.