The name “shared services” may be a bit of a head-scratcher for some business leaders and heads of municipal organizations. However, the concept is catching on as revitalization efforts in the Flint and Genesee region ratchet up.

Inside Business sat down with George Wilkinson, Director of Operations for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, for a primer on this ongoing initiative. Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the region’s public-sector organizations are key targets of the program.

The following is a brief Q&A with Wilkinson, who also manages the Chamber’s Shared Services enterprise.

What is Shared Services?

Shared Services is a business model that enables the leveraging of resources between organizations for lower costs with agreed upon customer-service levels. In many instances, Shared Services is a separate business unit created within an agency accountable for delivering a suite of services.

What are some of the primary benefits of a shared services model?

  • Economies of Scale – Lower costs
  • Agreed-Upon Service Levels – Value decisions on what and how much to provide
  • Standardization of Processes – Best practices
  • Culture – People with the skill and mindset to optimize the model beyond the back-office

What are some of the biggest issues faced when implementing shared services?

  • Resistance to Change – Effective change management must be a component
  • Legacy Systems – Limitations of legacy systems can sub-optimize results
  • Leadership – There will be tough times, everyone has to be on board and visibly and vocally supportive

What are the key success factors for shared services organizations?

  • Attitude and approach to service of the leadership and employees in the organization
  • Key performance metrics (Balanced scorecard: cost, productivity, quality, service)
  • Executive support
  • Operational business knowledge
  • Embedded culture of continuous improvement
  • End-to-end process orientation
  • Enabling technology platform

“Conveying foundational keys to success and how shared services are making a positive impact regionally is important,” said Wilkinson. “One of the 2015 objectives of the Chamber’s Shared Services team is to enhance our communication to stakeholders.”