A group of us met recently at UCD for the UC Shared Services Innovation Colloquium. A grand title for a simple concept – to explore what makes shared services really work at UC. Some of our most ardent shared services proponents across the system organized the event: Shohreh Bozorgmehri, UCI; Kian Colestock, UCI; Emily Deere, UCSD; Safa Hussain, UCD; Janine Roeth, UCSC; and Gabe Youtsey, ANR. Key goals were to share best practices, connect people, and build a community for shared services. About 25 people participated in total, representing IT leads and business partners from a variety of shared services.
Advice from an expert
Phil Searle from Chazey Partners, a shared services advisory firm, made the opening remarks. A few of his points stood out for me. He said it’s essential to treat the internal customer as though they were external customers. In other words, make the service so good that someone with every choice in the world to go elsewhere would want it. At the same time, it’s critical to figure out how to transfer budgets to the service owner. Another point he made was to either “do it, or don’t do it.” Meaning, half-hearted doesn’t work. and if something’s failing, be brave enough to stop. He also said it’s critical to have some successes to pave the way. I would say we already do.
Current examples of shared services
We talked about some of those successful shared services in operation today – and how we can use their experience to build a playbook for the next set of service owners at UC. Examples are UC Recruit, applyUC, Mobile Web Framework, and UC Transfer. Some common themes for success started to emerge: Stable funding (even centralized funding in some cases), a clear governance structure, and excellent relationships with the business partner. It was really inspiring to know there’s such collective wisdom and practical knowledge to build upon.
Call to action
At the end of the day, we talked about the lessons from the session and what our next steps might be. I posed a question to the team: What will we report back to the UC IT Leadership Council, our sponsors? You didn’t have to attend the colloquium to have ideas. So – what do you think we need to do to get more shared services off the ground?
This was an excellent event. This colloquium provided a rare opportunity for a number of leaders that are already providing UC-wide shared IT services to highlight their successes, provide best practices, and share lessons learned. Best practices for project intake and prioritization, strengths and pitfalls of various IT governance models, and establishing sustainable funding models were some of the the topic areas. The event’s outcomes will provide a great foundation for future shared IT services at the UC System.
It was very interesting to hear about different shared services that have been successfully deployed across the campuses. I think a primary challenge for UC is figuring out how to help fund ‘start up’ shared services, and how to subsidize services until they have enough customers to be self-sustaining.
Gabe and Carrie — I totally agree with both perspectives. I particularly enjoyed Phil Searle’s presentation since it placed some context around the Centralized / Decentralized Cycle. He was a great addition to the event.