Public Services

Shared services is dead, long live shared services

Rob Anderson Published 23 January 2018

The new shared services strategy will reportedly require "a substantive negotiation with SSCL and building of internal capability". In a civil service distracted by Brexit, that may take some doing


While our recent suggestions of the death of shared services in central government may have been exaggerated, a new strategy issued by Cabinet Office this week all but admits the original 2012 strategy for Next Generation Shared Services (NGSS) has failed.

The revised 'strategy', a term we use guardedly as it doesn't amount to much other than a vague plan to dig Cabinet Office out of a big hole, is to plough on with ISSCs 1& 2 whilst introducing a third "modern flexible platform". Seasoned observers will recall that the plan for ISSC1 was to migrate to Unit 4 Agresso, but that appears to be conveniently ignored here.

Five years on, the promised £600m annual savings have not materialised and the ISSCs have not expanded as planned. There are at least five ministerial departments whose back-office functions remain separate, in additional to the original outliers (HMRC, MoJ & MoD). MoJ did join ISSC2, having wasted millions on its own implementation before admitting defeat, but Home Office pulled out as the progression to a cloud-based single operating platform (SOP) was well behind schedule. HO has now turned to Accenture to build its own Oracle Fusion-based service centre under its Metis programme. The new CO strategy issued on Wednesday positions this as the blueprint for ISSC's move to the same technology, somewhat rewriting history in the process.

The resurrection of the shared services agenda will delight many of our clients, such as Microsoft and CGI who already have a toe-hold outside of the two main centres, as well as those with a low-cost 21st century offering that can quickly accommodate services beyond HR, payroll and finance. Cabinet Office officials, however, have less to look forward to - alluded to in the document by the line "This will require a substantive negotiation with SSCL and building of internal capability". In a civil service distracted by Brexit, that is a daunting task.

Rob Anderson


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