The Six Million-Dollar Questions

Every GBS Leader Wants To Know

Richard Dobbs
Richard Dobbs
Vice President, Global Business Services
VP of Kimberly-Clark Business Services with 25+ years of diverse experience in the Shared Services space across organizations like Mondelez, Xerox, GE and Fidelity. Richard has designed, built and successfully managed several Global Business Services.
Caroline Basyn
Sashi Narahari
Founder and CEO
CEO and Founder of HighRadius, a Fintech enterprise SaaS company which leverages AI-based Autonomous Systems to help companies automate Accounts Receivable and Treasury. Sashi’s leadership has secured the trust of 200+ Global 2000 companies.

Podcast Summary:
Six Million Dollar Questions every GBS Leader wants to Know

Million Dollar Question #1: Over the years in your career, you have set up shared services, both as a Captive Centre, as well as outsourced to a third party vendor, which one is better?
Key Points
  • There’s no right or wrong answer, but there’s probably a best answer for your company depending on two variables:
    • Speed: How fast you want to go and realise savings and the benefits of getting there.
    • Culture: The cultural acceptance threshold of your organization
  • Prefer a hybrid model, and therefore, over the years developed a Pyramid Model with five levels:
    • Level 1 or Transactional Services: Services that have largely been commoditized and can be done anywhere in the world.
    • Level 2 or Issue Resolution: If in processing the transaction, something goes wrong, it needs a little bit of extra work.
    • Level 3 or Issue escalation: It can be language or location sensitive, needs to be closer to the stakeholders or business partners that you’re serving.
    • Level 4 or Process management: Managing the sending process and the network of delivery centres that you’ve set up.
    • Level 5 or Governance: Never outsource this. Not engineering the higher levels of the Pyramid is one of the biggest mistakes many companies make.
Million Dollar Question #2: What companies should do first- Lift-and-shift or Standardization?
Key Points
  • In theory, I say standardise and harmonise first, it makes your lift and shift go much smoother.
  • We’re a global, 150 year old company. Sometimes, we’re very non-standard and complex, which makes it difficult to drive to global standards.
  • So practically, I say you lift and shift first and then drive the standardisation, as –
    • It allows one to get the savings quicker.
    • Once all the processes are consolidated, it gives better ability and leverage than to drive the standardisation first.
Million Dollar Question #3: In your opinion, what is the impact that RPA can bring to shared services? Also I’m curious if you’ve implemented any form of AI, and what kind of benefits have you seen?
Key Points
  • If you’re very non-standard, you sub-optimise your bots, and you end up having to write your bots over and over again.
  • We’ve done over 200 processes with RPA and we continue to work at it, and it has its limits. Artificial intelligence can unlock potential here.
  • Artificial intelligence gives you the ability to structure your data to interpret your non standard processes in a way that they look standard.
Million Dollar Question #4: Could you share your secret recipe for transforming GBS from a cost-cutting focus to a revenue growth strategy?
Key Points
  • As a GBS leader, we have to evolve ourselves and our capability, otherwise we will be made irrelevant over time.
  • There are four stages in this evolution journey
    • 1st Stage or Discrete Shared Services: Pull in processes together somewhere in the world to get economies of scale and cheaper execution
    • 2nd Stage or Strategizing Discrete Shared Services: Take discreet shared services and give it some strategy, make it functional and regional focused, and give it more of a charter.
    • 3rd Stage or Bringing it All Together: Treat and run it somewhat like a business that’s like a Global Business Services organisation.
    • 4th Stage or Intelligent Business Services: Be more innovative and value driven to actually influence the top and the bottom line.
  • There’s three types of monetary value GBS organisations can unlock-
    • 1st Type or Labour Arbitrage and Work Absorption: A one time benefit which acts like the price of entry into shared service.
    • 2nd Type or CI Automation: Making it better, faster and cheaper by applying CI machinery, standardisation and automation.
    • 3rd Type or Influencing the Top and Bottom line: GBS organisations sit on mounds of data, and we have to unlock its potential to influence the top and the bottom line.
  • 20-20-40 – a rule of thumb:
    • First 20%: Comes from Labour arbitrage and work absorption
    • Second 20%: Comes from the value that you create applying CI automation.
    • Final 40%: Comes by measuring the value added to the top and bottom line
Million Dollar Question #5: If I am running SAP, and want to optimise the process. Should I just use SAP, or you go for a best in class offering maybe like a Coupa or Blackline, so your thoughts on that.
Key Points
  • Both complement each other.
  • We need to integrate ERP core with digital core to get the data consolidated in a structured way to run our company better.
  • You need to find a sweet spot of a simple technology landscape
  • The receivables space is one of the areas where we generate the greatest amount of value to the top and bottom line
Million Dollar Question #6: What is one key piece of advice you’d like to share with your peers or even a younger self of yours in the early stages of the GBS career journey?
Key Points
  • You have got to build the right foundation – having the right people in the right roles focusing on the right things.
  • You have to bring in good methodologies, mindset, have a good measurement system in place, recognition, the way you communicate with employees, on and on and on.
Bonus Section: Richard on being invited by the US Congress as a GBS Leader!

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