‘Many organisations will have to start to look at this’: how to make shared services work in the public sector

By on 16/11/2022 | Updated on 16/11/2022
Photo by https://www.lesfinances.ca from Pexels

The UK government is working on developing shared services across the public sector to help save money and provide more integrated services. A Global Government Forum webinar looked at what has been achieved so far, and how to unlock further progress

The UK government is facing a difficult financial climate, with departments having to continue to provide public services in the face of rising inflation and tight fiscal settlements.

As a result, government departments and agencies are looking to make savings to ensure that as much money as possible can go to frontline services. Options include the development of shared services, where back-office services like finance, human resources and procurement are provided by a combined team for a number of different departments.

Global Government Forum convened a panel of public and private sector experts for a webinar with knowledge partner SSCL that explored how the UK government can develop and implement its Shared Services Strategy for Government.

The session looked at:

  • Whether the revised plan can deliver improved services for departments
  • How to measure success
  • Whether existing shared service centres could be expanded to incorporate more of the work government does

Here are the key points discussed during the webinar, with clips for each section:

Mark Thompson, coordinating director, Government Business Services, Cabinet Office, discussed the development of shared services in the public sector:

The cluster approach to shared services now being implemented:

And the government’s three priorities around shared services, including investment of technology:

Thomas Elston, associate professor, public administration, at the Blavatnik School of Government, set out what he called the three challenges to getting shared services right.

These are, 1) the importance of having realistic expectations:

2) Thinking about side effects:

And 3) being mindful of the opportunity cost:

Claire Dove CBE, the Crown representative for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector at the Government Commercial Function, discussed how shared services can help smaller organisations get better value for money:

How shared services and collaboration helped her develop her own organisation:

The difficulty that voluntary and community organisations face in bidding for government contracts – and how they can be overcome, including the development of the government’s ‘Find a grant’ service:

Paul Sellick, Sopra Steria‘s UK sales and marketing director, discussed the work of two joint ventures – SSCL, which is run in partnership with the Cabinet Office, and NHS Shared Business Services, run with the Department of Health and Social Care:

The benefits of delivering shared services:

The challenges:

And the opportunity to further unlock benefits of shared services:

The webinar also included a discussion on the development of shared services, including:

How to measure the success of shared services:

The timeframe for measuring success:

And how shared services can be balanced with organisational independence:

To learn all this and more, you can watch the 75-minute webinar via our dedicated event page. The webinar – hosted by Global Government Forum with the support of knowledge partner SSCL – was held on 6 October 2022.

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About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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