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Outsourcing vs. Shared Services vs. Global Business Services: What Would Work For Your Order to Cash Process

What you’ll learn

  • Outsourcing vs. Shared Services vs. Global Business Services (GBS): A comparison
  • How to choose between the three service delivery models based on your internal requirements
  • How to determine the right execution strategy based on your global business objectives


The debate on the best global service delivery models for Order to Cash (O2C) has been around for a while. Finance leaders focused on harmonizing global O2C processes and driving process excellence have always wondered which model would work best to achieve best-in-class status. Today, as more than 42% of UK businesses are more inclined to expand operations overseas, having this conversation is crucial for O2C leaders dedicated to continued success. There are three different service delivery models for O2C leaders: Outsourcing, Shared Services & GBS. Let us understand the difference between each model and which one would suit your O2C operations, depending on where you are today.

The 3 Global Service Delivery Models For Your Business:

1. The Outsourcing Model:

This model focuses on labor cost arbitrage. It involves you signing a contract with a third-party agency specializing in the work you need to get done.

2. The Shared Services Centers/Organizations (SSC/SSO) Model:

This model reduces complexity by centralizing mostly back-office functions but keeping them in-house. Shared service centers can be set up globally or locally and could be both centralized or decentralized.

3. The Global Business Services (GBS) Model:

The GBS model delivers best-in-class service to the internal O2C team as well as the external stakeholders involved. It is an emerging model formed with the combined evolution of business process outsourcing and shared services model.

You can read more about outsourcing, shared services, and GBS here – HFS Research

Selecting The Right Model for Your Business

Selecting The Right Model for Your Business

When it comes to deciding which model to choose and implement, there are multiple business factors to consider and the pros and cons of each model that you should be aware of. 

Here are the two top parameters for you to keep in mind while selecting the suitable service delivery model:

1. Business Vision:

Leaders should self-assess the following criteria while planning for and selecting any service delivery model:

  • What is your long-term cost goal? Are you more focused on aggressive cost reduction or interested in a long-term investment with higher ROI?
  • Are scalability and expansion a priority to you or a plan for later?
  • Does your vision include long-term engagement with customers focused on service-delivery excellence?

2. Costs Involved:

One of the most important factors to consider is the cost involved and the ROI delivered from the service implemented. Hence below are two important questions you need to ask yourselves.

  • Does the current budget allow us to put in the costs required for a particular service delivery model?
  • By what timeframe would you be able to enjoy returns on your current investment? Does the ROI sound convincing to you?

The issue of “Outsourcing vs. Shared Services vs. GBS” is a never-ending debate and the right answer requires an objective look at the unique requirements of each situation.

When Would Outsourcing Work?

When Would Outsourcing Work?

Outsourcing tends to make the most sense when an organization is looking for fundamental change, wants to move quickly in a short period, and views cost reduction as a top priority.

When Would Shared Services Work?

When Would Shared Services Work?

For sufficiently mature businesses, where the focus is not on just reducing cost but adding some value. A shared services approach enables more control over processes and outcomes, which reduces risk. This is especially important for key activities that are strategic to the business or bound by strict compliance requirements.

When Would GBS Work?

When Would GBS Work?

GBS might work for leaders looking to transform their functions into a best-in-class service provider for their customers and O2C team, hence support organizational agility. It works best for any organization wanting to stay at the forefront of its industry, the ability to react quickly to opportunities, threats, or critical economic considerations.

The Bottom-line

Is GBS the Best Service Delivery Model for Your Business?

The simple answer is ‘No.’ It depends. Choosing between outsourcing, shared services, and GBS does not necessarily have to be an ‘either and or’ decision. Many organizations use a hybrid model and are best served by a combination of outsourcing, shared services, and GBS- sometimes even within a single business function. Also, many activities can be managed either way effectively depending on the instance. 

For example, it would make sense that you decide to keep your critical and higher risk activities in finance, such as Credit and Collections, as in-house shared services. In contrast, you can outsource the most transactional activities like Accounting and Cash Application to get significant results quickly, meanwhile also having centralized operations for other activities. 

In the long run, success is not just determined by the approach chosen but how well it is getting executed.

For more material focused on managing Accounts Receivable (A/R) Shared Services, click here.


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