Everything you need to know about Shared Services

super helpful

Shared services are becoming more prominent in businesses today, but a lot of people don’t understand fully what they are or how they work. So, I thought I’d put together a helpful and easily digestible guide on all you need to know about shared services.


When did shared services begin?

The concept of shared services began in the 1980s. Large organisations, with multiple business units, began finding alternative ways to reduce or eliminate business administration costs.


What does a shared service centre do?

A shared service centre is usually a centralised function of an organisation, where all back-office responsibilities are managed for different business divisions or subsidiaries. It provides support services typically with ‘none-core’ activities and resources. By consolidating multiple business operations, it allows each division or business unit, to focus its time and resource on the business’ vision or goals.


What is included in shared services?

The most popular functions are Finance, followed by HR, but also can include Payroll, Procurement, Engineering, Master data, Compliance, IT and Legal. Other areas such as Customer Service, Fleet and Master data are becoming more and more popular in shared service functions too.


What is the difference between shared services and outsourcing?

A shared service is usually an internal function of a business, ran by company employees. An outsourced provider is usually an external business that manages these tasks on your behalf. There is also a term known as the ‘hybrid model’ which, as you can probably expect by the name, incorporates both. Outsourcing tends to have an agreement or contract in place, where the external provider will agree defined SLA’s and performance metrics. However, outsourcing isn’t to be confused with offshoring.


What is an offshore shared service?

An offshore shared service is still an internal function of an organisation. Offshoring simply is setting up a shared service in a remote location abroad. Organisations choose this model as there tend to be larger talent pools, cheaper labour costs and the ability to create centres of excellence. Popular offshore locations include The Philippines, India, Eastern Europe and Costa Rica.


What are the benefits of shared services?

The benefits of shared services can include cost-effectiveness, improved service levels, higher quality and reliability, standardised processes and best practices, not to mention the customer satisfaction element. Most of the benefits are achieved by consolidation of systems, redefined processes and advanced technology. A shared service model frees up time and resource so each business unit can focus on driving performance, improvements, or even service levels, whatever their vision may be.


What is a shared service delivery model?

A shared service delivery model is the design of an operating model. This is usually the shared service centre’s vision, strategy and process. This isn’t just designed to benefit the shared service, but more to factor in the customers, suppliers and end user’s needs. Usually, an SSC delivery model is designed to adapt the end user’s needs, so that the function can add value and ensure future growth and scalability.


What are finance shared services?

Shared services across finance usually include Purchase/Procure to Pay (P2P), Order to Cash (O2C), and Record to Report (R2R).

R2R can usually include FP&A, compliance, regulatory reporting, and general ledger. Essentially, an R2R function provides strategic, financial and operational feedback, to show how a business is performing.

P2P is the process in which goods are purchased and paid for by the business, and the whole supply chain is managed from the order through to payment.

O2C is the opposite of P2P, whereby a company manages it’s end-to-end sales order process, right through to collecting the payment from the customer.


What are the HR shared services?

An HR shared service function is usually responsible for processing administrative tasks such as HR Support Desk, Learning & Development, Recruitment, Talent Management, Payroll (sometimes sits under finance) Reward, HR Data and Analytics and more.


What is Global Business Services?

Global business services are where one organisation provides all support services to business worldwide and integrates all processes and practices of shared service and outsourcing activities into one function. This is also known as a GBS model.

A GBS model is typically a more mature model than shared services, and a GBS tends to deliver higher value-adding functions. GBS models are typically multifunctional and provide transactional, consulting and analytical services to an organisation globally.


What qualifications are specific to Shared Services or Global Business Services?

There aren’t many qualifications that are specific to the SSC/GBS functions. Typically, you will see Finance, HR, and IT employees utilising their professional qualification, however, there is a specific qualification about GBS, which has been developed by The Hackett Group.

The Hackett Group offer a diploma and an Advanced Diploma in Global Business Services, which enhance skills, knowledge and capabilities. You can find more information about this here, but keep an eye out for my updates, as this is something I’m currently pursuing.

If you would like to discuss anything to do with shared services, you can email me at sam@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here.

Why won’t top-performing shared service professions join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.

Trust your gut – is it a thing?

Trust your gut – is it a thing?

How many times have you said, “I should have followed my gut” or “I just had a feeling”? This has happened to me loads in the past, and I don’t understand why I sometimes ignore these feelings and don’t trust my gut. Maybe it’s self-doubt that stops us from following these innate instincts within us?

If you think about it, we are often driven to making decisions based on need and weighing up the pros and cons that will best serve that need. I find that often things that look great on paper and has everyone around you telling you it’s great because it will fix the problem or serve that “need”, just doesn’t feel right. This is a prime example of when you need to trust your gut. It could be with someone we date – the handsome guy who everyone loves but there is something missing. The same happens in the job market – you take the job with the best salary and package but are miserable working there because the culture isn’t right or the travel is too much.

Trusting my gut

Recently, I decided to trust myself and my gut at the ripe old age of 38, I mean if I can’t trust myself by now, when can I?

I found myself back in the job market after opting for redundancy, a situation I have never experienced before. However, for the first time ever I followed my gut throughout the entire process.

Firstly, when I heard the details of my option to stay, I knew it wasn’t right for me, so I took the leap and went for the scary option! I followed this behaviour – which is very unusual for me – by turning down meetings with potential employers because I felt (in my gut) I needed to figure out what I wanted to do.

Taking action

After taking a few weeks off, I started the meetings, coffees and interviews and this is when my gut really came into play.  There were numerous occasions when I walked into an office and felt my heart sink, looking at the sterile, soulless reception and wondering why I was bothering continuing with the meeting. I took action, I stopped any process that didn’t feel right in its tracks. I’m sure some recruiters thought I was mad turning down interviews, especially when I couldn’t give much of a reason except for my gut feeling.

I continued down this path and realised I trusted myself and my capabilities and as soon as I knew what my ‘red lines’ were, I wasn’t going to compromise. I met some great people along the way, but I started to notice my own language and feelings. When giving feedback, I noticed I used language like “yeah they were nice” or “yeah I think we got on” or “ they were alright” and so on. Although I could have worked with most of them, if I’m honest, there was something in my gut that said they just weren’t right for me right now. The “yeah” was always said with an element of hesitation or dismissiveness, which highlighted that gut reaction.

So, my advice to any job hunter or potential employer is if you find yourself using such language or fighting such unexplainable feelings, take note and act. Fear of missing out is a real thing but so is the regret of not listening to our gut. I owe some of this to an old friend of mine who once said, “if it’s not a YES! it’s a no.”

Trust your gut, it knows you better than you know yourself! If you want to discuss further or for all things HR  email me on carly@refind.co.uk.

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Managing stress in the workplace

Managing stress in the workplace

Are you tired? Do you feel irritable? Do you suffer from headaches, muscle tension, and struggle to concentrate at work? If so, you may be one of the millions of people across the country who are feeling the effects of occupational stress. So how can we manage stress in the workplace?

Occupational stress

Occupational stress has many emotional symptoms such as feeling overwhelmed, feeling depressed, feeling anxious about going to work, lacking confidence, and experiencing mood swings. Alongside this, many people report physical symptoms such as general aches and pains, feeling nauseous, losing or gaining weight, and pain or tightness in the chest.

According to a 2019 report by Qualtrics, more than a quarter (29%) of UK workers reported that they felt stressed or emotional because of work, either ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression accounts for around 44% of all cases of ill health and is estimated to cost the UK £34 billion per year. Worst of all, however, chronic stress has been shown to exacerbate many serious health problems such as mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

It’s very clear that stress is not something that should be brushed away by employers and employees alike, but rather has to be recognised and managed for the benefit of both the individual and the business.

The cause

Occupational stress can be caused by a lot of things. Excessive workloads or unrealistic deadlines are some of the most common, along with difficult relationships with colleagues, disagreements with the management style, being micro-managed, being unclear about what it is that you are meant to be doing, and feeling as though your skills and abilities are being wasted. Stress can be caused by one of them, all of them, or it may be something different. Every person is unique. The important thing is to take some time and think about what is it that is specifically causing these feelings of stress at work.

The approach to managing stress

As many of these causes are due to difficulties imposed upon the employee by the employer and, aside from raising concerns, there is little that the employee to change these causes. What can be changed, is the approach that we take to manage stress in our day to day lives. Try to take a walk during lunch hours to clear your mind for half an hour, work regular hours and take the time off that you are entitled too, make an effort to manage your time both in and outside of work, reflect on your thoughts and feelings often, try to develop relationships in work, and accept that there are some things that you do not have control over.

One of the best treatments for work-related stress is exercise. Aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, dancing, and walking increases the production of endorphins in the brain improving your mood. Exercise also offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on the things that have been causing you stress. Many people report that engaging in exercise allows them to think more clearly and find solutions to their problems that they previously could not work through. Naturally, this can have great benefits to both mental health and performance at work.

Finally, finding time to unwind with people in a friendly and sociable environment is essential to keeping on top of stress. Human beings are inherently social beings. Socialisation, whether that be by talking with friends, going for a coffee with a co-worker, or going for some food after work, has been shown to decrease stress-related anxiety, make us feel more confident, and promote a sense of attachment to those we are close to. This is one of the reasons that we love to host events that bring together people from across different industries to enjoy time together in a friendly environment.

Want to talk more about stress at work or interested in coming to one of our events? You can contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.


You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.


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Interview questions I never want to hear again

Interview questions


As a candidate and as a recruiter I have heard many an interview question. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Here are some interview questions that I have been asked….and I never want to hear again!


‘Sell me this pen’

This was my interview for my first-ever full-time job. Now granted, it was for a telesales role, but this is still one of the worst things I have ever heard. I don’t know how putting an 18-year-old on the spot to sell an item that is a necessity really has any bearing on how I would perform selling financial services products over the phone.

‘I tend to hire graduates and you don’t have a degree, so why should I hire you over someone fresh out of Uni?’

To give this some context, I had been working in recruitment at 3 years at this point and had managed a team. The director of this business posed this question to me during my first stage interview. Not only is a degree irrelevant to my ability to do my job (which I had been doing for the past 3 years without a degree), but it actually felt pretty belittling. Needless to say, I didn’t return for a second interview – which I got invited to, despite my lack of education!


‘If you could be any animal what kind would you be?’

I never know what to make of these questions, I think people use them to try and judge character or personality, based on what people answer. In my opinion this question poses any use. Especially as it just makes the candidate overthink their answer. SO, if it is simply being used as an icebreaker, you have probably made them tenser than anything. FYI – I would be a penguin.


‘Why should we hire you?’

Now I don’t disagree with the principle of asking this question, I think there are definitely better ways of phrasing it. This comes across as super aggressive and puts people on the spot. If you rephrase this to ‘What skills and experience do you have that you feel would be beneficial for the role’? It allows candidates to put some thought into an answer and doesn’t make them feel like they are on the back foot.


‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’

I don’t like this question on many levels. You don’t know what the interviewer is trying to gauge with this. If you say in the same role, do they see you as unambitious, or loyal? If you say you want to progress, do they feel threatened by you, or think you won’t stick around? Are they trying to gauge whether you are planning on having children? There isn’t much value in asking this question alone


What are the worst interview questions you have ever been asked, and how did you respond?


For all things HR Shared Services or if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

Why won’t top-performing shared service professionals join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.