Functions often struggle to overcome challenges with cross-functional linkages. For example, Accounts Payable (AP) struggles with standardizing Purchase Order (PO) numbers, reducing non-PO invoices originating in procurement or operations due to limited support from these functions. This is where center office provides clear advantage solving cross-functional issues, where stakeholders from different functions come together to establish accountability, with measurable expectations to resolve inefficiencies. Since we wrote our article on center office and how it is a game changer for Global Business Services organizations, we have received an outpour of inquiries regarding how to enable cross-functional processes seamlessly.
In this blog post, we will delve into how center office organizations have used enablers to drive success.
- True Global Process Owners (GPOs): Today, many organizations have GPOs in place. However, the GPO does not oversee the end-to-end process (e.g., for the Source to Pay (STP) process, a GPO may be designed to have ownership over AP, but sourcing or procurement is not part of its scope). Additionally, GPOs are typically established within a single function (e.g., within AP) and are not only biased to the issues and goals of the function where they originated, but also are not aware of every function that plays a role in the end-to-end process. To set up a successful center office, the GPO must have true responsibility and control over the end-to-end process, feel a kinship with stakeholders from other functions, and have a clear understanding of the goals comprising the overall process.
- Process and technology are optimized and work across processes: Continuing with our STP example, a successful center office will ensure sourcing, procurement, and AP processes are optimized individually, but more importantly cross-functionally so data flows seamlessly through the STP process. Once the end-to-end process has been optimized, then successful center offices ensure the right technology is in place to support optimized processes by prioritizing automation and minimizing human intervention. People can then focus on resolving value-added, critical issues within any process.
- Collaborative environment: Think of the center office as a “war room”—representatives from multiple functions, businesses, or organizations working together to solve a common, business problem. This is the environment you want to strive for. The key to success of center office is participation of both internal and external customers to resolve inefficient end-to-end processes.
- Meaningful and actionable end-to-end Service-Level Agreements (SLAs)/Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Organizations have siloed SLAs specific to a particular function. Many times functions must work together to resolve issues, but SLAs cannot be met because SLAs across functions are not aligned. To develop a successful center office, KPIs and SLAs must measure the performance of the end-to-end process, turnaround time, and customer experience. On top of this, the KPIs agreed upon should be few and those most important to drive action and value for the customer (whether internal or external).
- Keeping the customer at the core: The center office should support a great customer experience. All organizations should be working toward a common goal and must collaborate and share information with each other to achieve this goal. Organizations should not worry about their own internal goals, but rather focus on the needs of the customer of the end-to-end process.
With these enablers in place, there is greater chance your organization will be successful in implementing your center office.
Ann Van Hook
Deloitte Consulting LLP
Deloitte Consulting LLP