Poland’s capital Warsaw is a global city, a major tourist destination and known for its Phoenix like qualities—its historic core was painstakingly rebuilt by the Poles after the destruction wrought during the 2nd world war. And Warsaw—like Poland—has successfully remodelled itself as an economic hub for central Europe. And after attending the Shared Services and Outsourcing Conference in Warsaw, you can see why.
Poland is arguably the most dynamic of the former soviet states to join the European Union. The economic fundamentals underpinning the country work—a strong domestic market, low private debt ratios and an independent and flexible currency. Interestingly from a future of work perspective, the last decade saw Poland establish itself as the defacto location for corporate shared service centres in Europe. So it was no surprise that the SSON located its conference in Warsaw with a ready bank of shared services leaders from the country eager to swap war stories, share best practices and learn from one another.
Most sessions at the SSON focused on how to drive higher levels of process governance through shared service delivery models as the route towards “global business services”. Most attendees seem to run hybrid models (mixing between regional and global process models) but the demand to squeeze more value from shared service assets caught most attention from the delegates—no surprise when you consider how much technology automation continues to creep into process work.
Typical questions focused on how to generate more value from shared service centre assets beyond the normal approach of shifting ever more business processes into the shared services centre, simplifying them and then standardizing them on a global scale. And the answers resoundingly focused on adopting more knowledge based processes i.e. analytics. Shared services leaders are wrapping analytic wrappers around service delivery and delivering insight back to the business.
According to discussion groups (and they would wouldn’t they) Eastern Europe and Poland in particular has several trump cards to play as more automation creeps into process work. Poland’s robust work ethic, university system, cultural affinity with its European neighbours and its time-zone advantages make it good place to begin developing people that can wrap more analytic insight around global service delivery. Several organizations showcased how they infused delivery with knowledge based processes from Polish delivery centres around master data management for example. How they’ve begun retraining teams to give meaning to data and see the shared service portfolio flex with more transaction work automating and using resources to drive meaning from data.
For shared services to maintain their dominance of the corporate services landscape then expect more of this to happen. The future of work for shared services is at an interesting point, set between a relentless focus on process (automation) and a leap on analytics (meaning). And it seems that the Polish audience gets it. And if Poland wants to maintain its dominance of the shared services landscape then it does need to bring something special to the table.