Latest Unit4 research unveils global trends in shared services adoption

top down view of a cluttered work desk, with multiple sticky notes and a few people standing over the desk, pointing at things | Unit4 research

Unit 4 has published research on shared services adoption. The 2023 State of the Digital Nation and Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) Study: Professional Services – A Benchmark for 2023 study gathered data about the adoption of shared services among public sector and professional services organizations (PSO).

The studies suggest that there is a clear focus on using shared services, not only to drive cost savings, but to improve operational performance, decision-making and agility. All of these factors, when combined, can achieve organizational resilience.

Internationally, around half of the PSOs in the PAC study say they have centralized project management, customer services and sales and marketing. Across all the markets, 24 percent say they will centralize Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) in the next three years, but this is a lower priority in the UK, 15 percent, which is possibly because 60 percent say they have already centralized finance and accounting.

Unit4 research further reveals there has been significant growth in the adoption of central and shared services, which has gone from zero percent in 2021, to 33 percent in 2023, according to the State of the Digital Nation study. For those already using central and shared services, growing a firm’s footprint has been one of the top three changes that public sector organizations have seen in the last 24 months.

“PSOs are adapting quickly and they understand that shared services can help to build resilience against market uncertainty, which is critical if they are to remain competitive,” said Mike Ettling, CEO of Unit4. “During the pandemic, PSOs experimented with global delivery models and, for ambitious mid-market firms, this can act as a way to differentiate. To be successful, though, requires streamlined and aligned internal and external business processes. It is clear that the shared services model offers a more effective way to establish the right foundations for global delivery strategies.

“There is an urgency to look at the shared services model in the public sector, not just because of budget constraints but because it is understood that service providers must collaborate to deliver services effectively to citizens,” continues Mike Ettling. “Shared services are going through a perception change in that they are no longer just seen as a means of cutting costs, but as a strategic means to resolve fundamental challenges around legacy systems, data compatibility and delivering real-time analytics. The model has the potential to deliver on ambitious transformation goals to make the public sector fit-for-purpose in the 21st Century.”