Strategic Decision Making Model for Shared Services

Szendrey, Jaszmina (2011) Strategic Decision Making Model for Shared Services, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Shared services can be conceptualized as a consolidation of support processes scattered and duplicated all around the organisation into a new semi-autonomous unit using collaborative strategy. The aim of the organisation is to reengineer its business processes whilst improving them, and to reorganize its structure according to the shared services concept whilst keeping control over processes and keeping competences in-house. In this research I developed a shared services decision model which provides a formal approach to the evaluation of shared services opportunities of an organisation.

The drive to be able to respond to the challenges of the chaotically changing business environment has forced organisations to re-draw their boundaries and to make decisions quickly. To be able to make profound shared services decisions quickly, organisations need appropriate decision support tools which can help them evaluate the process(es) under scrutiny. In the shared services literature, consensus is reached about the importance of the shared services decision; also some general factors are being outlined in this context. This suggests that the main gap in the literature is the lack of a structured and comprehensive framework which describes the decision making process and integrates the key factors of the shared services decision.

In order to gain a better understanding of the shared services concept and develop a comprehensive decision model I designed a unique research process incorporating multiple research methods and data triangulation. Because of the nature of the research question I chose a multiple case study research design with four European companies. For the same reason I was only interested in rich and complex qualitative data provided by expert participants of the decision making process, therefore I used qualitative research methods, such as the expert-group (own development) and semi-structured interviews. In order to overcome some of the weaknesses of the research, such as the high demands in terms of the time and resources of data generation and analysis and the ambiguity of the interpretation and analysis of this data, I used a knowledge-based expert system to process the collected data.

The deepened understanding of the shared services concept, the generic decision model, and the meta-level of the model has relevance both for academia and for business practice. Academics can use the results as starting point or framework for their own research, while practitioners can enhance their decision making about shared services. The new method and the unique research process are primarily relevant for researchers in the area of shared services and, more generally to those who study organisational structures.

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