From Knowledge-based Work to Intelligent Automation: analysing emerging trends in Shared Services Organisations

Posted on April 18, 2018 by Grant White
Article image: From Knowledge-based Work to Intelligent Automation


Over the last few years, Shared Services Organisations (SSOs) – typically responsible for back-of-house processes such as Finance, Payroll, HR, and IT – have been embracing new technology with the aim of using innovation to deliver more value to their internal customers or as outsourced external providers.

Reflecting on my personal experience as a Finance functional specialist in Executive Search – partnering with organisations on Shared Services and Finance Transformation assignments – Technology, along with People and Process, have always been central in our discussions.

In recent years though technology, and topics such as embracing Intelligent Automation and how Shared Services Organisations are delivering more value by moving towards knowledge-based work, dominate these conversations.

SSON Analytics recently released its Annual State of Shared Services & Outsourcing Industry Survey Results 2018, which focuses on popular Shared Service organisational models, considers why strategy is evolving from transactional to knowledge work, and looks at how the Shared Services community is embracing Intelligent Automation (IA). You can read the full report here (free subscription required).  

Key take outs from the Report are:

  • Six out of ten SSOs are planning to add IA solutions to their agendas (if not already implemented). IA certainly has the power for disruption, offering far greater capacity for volume, analysis and consistency of transactions than can be delivered by humans.
  • The emergence of front office support is a significant trend. Sales and marketing, alongside data analytics for example, are now in scope for SSO delivery.
  • A scarcity of relevant skills and experience in the local market is a major challenge for Australian SSOs. Australian organisations have typically relied on third party solution providers, as opposed to our Asian neighbours, who are investing in these new, emerging resources. For SSOs looking to embrace automation, having the right talent to implement those solutions will be essential.
  • The greatest skill deficiencies observed are in data analytics, innovation, automation and process excellence. SSOs need to proactively hire and develop talent to meet the gaps in these skill-sets.
  • SSO recruitment priorities are changing. Hiring strategies for SSOs will need to prioritise process excellence, continuous improvement, innovation and customer service focus for future success.

Staying abreast of these changes is key to any executive operating in the business world, and if you’re a Shared Services leader, CFO or CEO, understanding the emerging trends and embracing IA will be key to your success. Clients and SSOs with whom I liaise provide great insights into these emerging trends. I’m keen to hear your thoughts, discuss any challenges you may be facing and exchange ideas.


About Grant White

Grant WhiteGrant White is a Director and leads the Finance Practice at TRANSEARCH International Australia, specialising in Finance, Commercial and Risk domains.
Extensive specialist Finance experience in the Australian market is now enhanced by being part of the TRANSEARCH International global Finance community which has completed over 200 CFO, CRO and related assignments in recent years, which will provide Australian clients with access to premium global talent. Clients will also benefit greatly from the rigour and confidence gained from the use of the TRANSEARCH unique proprietary assessment process, Orxestra, which focuses on Culture, Leadership, Performance, Team and Integration when assessing candidate fit.
In a 20 year career, Grant initially spent 10 years with Morgan & Banks where he led the firm's Finance Practice. Grant has worked with the global executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, where in addition to executing search assignments Grant led the Interim Executive Practice, as well as Carmichael Fisher, where he was Principal of the firm's Finance Practice.
Grant has a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) from University of South Australia and prior to entering the industry Grant had a career in finance in FMCG and the financial sector in Adelaide and the United Kingdom.
Grant has a passion for many sports including golf, AFL, soccer and tennis and plays active coaching and team management roles at his daughters' soccer club.

Grant White
TRANSEARCH International Australia
Level 7, 15 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9285 5800


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