Optimising financial processes

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Driving GBS Performance with Data … It’s Time We Got a Grip!

Global Business Services (GBS) and Shared Services leaders have always been challenged with delivering cost reductions. greater productivity, shorter cycle times, improved cash flow and, in the main, have delivered on these objectives.

“Next Generation GBS”

However, this is not enough for the truly aspirational GBS Leaders who oversee the most ambitious GBS organizations.  They strive towards some key common aspirations;

  • Creating an enhanced Reputation as value creator as well as cost reducer
  • Become a Centre of Excellence (CoE), with expertise to optimize and automate, as well as operate
  • Lead the charge towards End-to-End Business Process Collaboration
  • Enable Digitized, integrated processes
  • Create an enterprise-wide talent pipeline

You may be asking, “So how are these leaders planning and executing to achieve these next level goals?”. 

The answer is with data but not in the traditional ways.  Data has been increasingly democratized throughout organizations.  Access to data is no longer the issue it had been historically. 

BUT, “access to data” isn’t the only problem. Like the ancient mariner, adrift in the ocean, observed “water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink”. The key is the ability to convert your “saline” data into “freshwater” insights that drive effective action to address business process issues and improve performance and customer/stakeholder satisfaction to meet your operational and aspirational objectives. 


Defects, exceptions and anomalies drive many negative outcomes.  They decrease productivity, distract our teams, put our credibility at risk, and drive non-value added activity.  The good news is that driving defects from our processes can be accomplished by leveraging the data that already exists in our business. It exists, but may not be immediate accessible in a meaningful, focused way.

Once you define what a defect-free process flow looks like and identify/characterize the defects themselves, then you can utilize your data to identify where the breakdowns occur and eliminate a ultimately prevent them. These may not be simple tasks of prevention, rather some may require global process collaboration with various stakeholders to drive the necessary outcomes. This is part of the value creation of the next generation GBS team.

Establishing a focus on resolving defects and promoting a culture of root cause analysis is a critical success factor for leading GBS organizations.

We have this focus and approach a name. “Defectivity”.

“Causes not Symptoms”

This is where root cause analysis comes into play.  One by one you can put your most troublesome defects in your rear-view mirror by asking “Why” questions and not being satisfied until you find the true root cause.  Once the root cause is identified you can put tracking mechanisms in place to drive the defects out of your process.

You may be thinking “I have access to a universe of data bigger than I could possibly want but it is not getting me to where I want to be”.

You are not alone. 

Having an ocean of all data is not the cure to all ills. The real key is the ability to derive context and meaning from the data.  This means understanding the subtle semantics and nuances of knowing of what we mean by “customers, “suppliers”, “orders”, “backlog” etc and in what contexts they mean different things. How we identify the precise business questions to ask is the true challenge. Once we know that, data helps us get the answers.

“Global process collaboration is the critical enabler”

In order to determine the right business questions to ask, global process understanding is key. You may wonder why. If my GBS organization only “owns” one pillar of a global process, why does it matter about the earlier pillars?

End-to-end perspective is key to understanding stakeholders and customers, the relevance of their performance measures, and the nuance of the questions they ask and the context of the key “things” in our business domain, about which we have data. Things like customers, suppliers, orders and the like.  This end to end perspective enables collaboration with other process stakeholders, helps win hearts and minds and helps align on a common view of “what good looks like” and on the priority activities required to get there.

“Business Insights & Diagnostics”

So I have applied all this, but I still need the insights to drive action. I have a “defectivity” focus, we are collaborating effectively across the end to end process for greater understanding and alignment, we are focused on root causes, we understanding the nuance of the critical business questions . . . .  NOW, I can create genuine business insight that leads to effective action  . . .

Process workload, defects and risk and compliance exposure . . .

“But even THAT is NOT ENOUGH!”

Speed is of the essence.

Pareto had a great principle. You can, in most cases, achieve 80% of an outcome with 20% of the effort. This equates to delivering 80% of the business value of an initiative or objective with less than 20% of the time, effort, and cost. The key is to find the right 80%. There are some powerful examples of this.

“Impossible”, you say.

It is absolutely achievable but takes focus and thought to get it right.

It is a powerful business strategy in any context and one of the keys to competitive advantage. 


“The Keys to the Kingdom”

In summary, the keys to driving Next Generation GBS Performance are, in essence;

  • Global Process Understanding & Collaboration
  • Stakeholder & Performance Measure Alignment
  • Focus on Defect and Root Cause Analysis – “Defectivity”
  • Driving the Data to Insight to Action cycle
  • Winning the Hearts and Minds of Your Stakeholders via Business Partnering
  • Deploying a Pareto Principle to Accelerate Time to Value

A leap towards next generation performance requires more than just “received wisdom” !

Thanks for reading . . . .