The Future of Shared Services in HE #fsshe

First: bit of voting – interesting that most attendees (enthusiasts? probably so by definition, otherwise wouldn't be here) think Shared Services will come/bring benefits, but around half think their senior management don't get it. 60% don't think enough being done to implement the recommendations of the Diamond Report.

Second: Steve Butcher/HEFCE. Need to try & move HE to where it doesn't know it needs to be (I paraphrase) – Ford quote about if asked them what they wanted, would have said faster horses. Referenced UMF Cloud projects but didn't mention DARE! Heartbroken, but then he did tell me beforehand, on grounds that couldn't fit it in…all about trying to move sector on.

Third: Andy Shenstone/Capita. What can Capita do for you. Shared services must be based on an outcomes based value proposition; focus on operational outcomes, but must look at educational outcomes as well – contribution to enhancing learning & teaching, student experience. Good points maybe but still a language problem: shared services must be presented jargon free, if they're going to fly, bit like Enterprise Architecture, has to be done.

Fourth: Jayne Rowley/Graduate Prospects. The Higher Education Degree Datacheck – HEDD. An official sector-owned suite of web services around qualification verification. Good articulation of service, model, benefits.

Fifth: Chris Hale/UUK. The Diamond review. General perception out there that HE is inefficient – may well not be the case, need to change the narrative. Focus on back office – IT, Finance, Estates, Procurement, Administration etc. Responsibility of institutional leaders to address efficiency – ref 'bit of voting', are they engaged? Procurement UK: need to recognise strategic value of procurement. Efficiency hub to support ways of working etc, joint JISC/UUK venture. Need to ensure that efficiency & modernisation remains (becomes?) a priority for institutional leaders & HE professionals.

Sixth: Chris Cobb/University of London. Need to look at shared services beyond efficiency – innovation, creativity. Easier to share new things – old things, don't look at high-level function (Registry, Finance), look at components. Evolution, collaboration. UoL: develop a taxonomy of all services; identify candidates; define proposition; assess demand; develop business models; CSG's/”For Profit” partners.

Seventh: Discussion. Need other projects like/as well as the UoL one described above to build up best practice, expertise, culture. Not just about outsourcing! (or creeping privatisation…) Conflict between collaboration & competition – again, component-based: outsource/share what doesn't give competitive advantage, if you can work that one out! Steve Butcher – different institutions hold different things precious. Jayne Rowley: insourcing, share within the sector.

Eighth: another bit of voting. Enthusiasm for Shared Services slightly down; views on senior management support & engagement with the Diamond review more negative…

(Thought: concern that Shared Services not on business/senior management agenda borne out by audience for this event: mostly external or internal 'suppliers'. Morning panel – only 1 out of 6 actually working in an actual University…)

Ninth: Mike Mercer/Manchester. The HEDD. Deployed May 2012. Instant drop in enquiries; turnaround time halved. Estimated savings 100 days over 1 year.

Tenth: Nigel Paul/Edinburgh. APUC. Operate for 60 institutions in Scotland. To obtain more benefit for procurement. Service – to deliver institutional agendas, not top-down project. Culture: 'listening'/partnership, not 'telling'. Key: service approach; recognition of institutional agenda; delivering benefit. Finally: matrix of criteria for shared services succes – can't replicate, but looks very helpful! (which isn't very helpful here & now). & a great centralise/decentralise cycle to finish – sweet spot = reducing costs & promoting excellence – & emphasising that it's all about people.

Eleventh: Mike Roberts/Warwick. Large scale shared services – what will it take? Back to conversations/events 2+ years ago. Not savings but quality! (but savings really). But savings come from quality. Technology isn't enough. Radical look at IT = savings of 0.5-1%, not enough. Savings need scale. We want shared ERP! Entry barriers are high. Scale defeats commitment. Pilot's don't convince. Pilot – evidence – scale – implement – benefit: doesn't seem to work. So: kick-start required. Conclusion: shared services can deliver. Big rewards mean big risks. Pilots don't translate. Intervention – to ease migration – is required. Government push – like APUC?

Twelfth: Final discussion & summing up. How to set up a Cost Sharing Group? (CSG).

Thirteenth: not unlucky, closedown. Very interesting event, if not moving very quickly. Top tips from chair including (good point): people share with people they like. Don't go out with partner next door just because they are next door. Get your own house in order first. Don't imagine you can do it without really having to chnage. Finally: communicate, communicate, communicate. & then communicate again!



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