Benefits and challenges of setting up HR Shared Service Centers: An example from a pharma company based in Prague, Czech Republic

  • After the Second World War and especially in the early 70s a new phenomenon arose – today widely known as globalization. It eliminated barriers and thus increased international competition. Companies such as Siemens, General Electrics and Procter & Gamble were forced to act globally in order to stay competitive and therefore they had to redefine their businesses in a strategic and internationally oriented manner. As one of a company’s most essential departments, human resources was tremendously forced to adapt to the changed business environment. Language skills, cultural awareness and global mobility were only a few new requirements in human resources. Early in the beginning of globalization, large companies recognized the opportunity to outsource specific departments with the goal of cost-saving and resource bundling. Manufacturing was and still is a predestined department to make use of outsourcing, whereas the situation for other departments including IT, procurement and human resources is more complex. The main fear is losing control to the outsourcing partner. Main departments with a strategic importance for the overall success are therefore only conditionally suitable for outsourcing. Companies need to ask themselves, how much control over their human capital they are willing to sacrifice for saving costs and staying competitive. With the purpose to evade this conflict of objectives, companies seek for a hybrid model, which allowed them maintaining control and cutting costs at the same time. In the early 70s, first companies found the solution in the Shared Service Center model, which then rapidly spread throughout a number of countries and industries. Human Resources Shared Service Centers can be defined as a hybrid model, combining advantages and avoiding disadvantages of outsourcing and decentralization of Human Resources. The Shared Service Center model is expected to lower costs, improve efficiency and service quality, and enable organizations to better focus on core functions. Although the strategy seems only having advantages, there are many aspects to consider in the pre-implementation phase. Moving to the Shared Service Center model represents an immense strategic project, including high risk, costs and impact on the overall success. For this reason, the project needs to be well planned, designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated from the right people, at the right time and at the right place. Any small mistakes made during the project might have an unpredictable and irreversible impact and prevent the company from benefiting of the Shared Service Center model or might even force the organization to stop the project completely. Before deciding to implement Shared Service Centers, companies need to accept that there is neither guarantee for success nor a universally valid success strategy. Best and worst practices will be discovered during the transition at the earliest and a success evaluation can only happen in the post-transition phase. Although the Shared Service Center model is not a recent trend as it found first-time application many decades ago, the topic remains relevant as many companies still hesitate implementing this risky strategy. Some organizations succeeded, others failed and returned to their old approach while some are currently in the transition phase. Before deciding to move to the Shared Service Center model, one of the top pharma company’s was facing the same issues as other companies on such a scale. The management increasingly felt the pressure to offer the same or an even better service quality at a lower price. Changing the strategy and implementing Shared Service Centers across the globe was seen as the most promising solution. The large pharma company with employees of many nationalities worldwide offers a huge variety of cultures, which can be seen as a chance, but also as an obstacle on the way to a successful Shared Service Center implementation. Primarily, the company has to consider that the project might not work in the same pace, quality and method for all countries. Finding best practices for all countries is a desirable goal, yet not easy to achieve.

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  • Benefits and Challenges of Setting Up HR Shared Service Centers

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Author:Melanie Hennemann
Advisor:Frank Kramer
Document Type:Bachelor Thesis
Year of Completion:2019
Granting Institution:Hochschule Furtwangen
Date of final exam:2019/03/22
Release Date:2019/07/02
Tag:HR; Pharma; Shared service center
Degree Program:IBW - Internationale Betriebswirtschaft
Functional area:Marketing
Open Access:Innerhalb der Hochschule
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das UrhG