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Shared Services, Shared Success

by Helen Sanders, Editor

Those based in, or who have visited London this summer will have witnessed remarkable achievements in an amazing diversity of sports. Not only have elite able-bodied athletes continued to redefine standards of sporting excellence, but the Paralympians have pushed perceptions of the limits of human achievement even further. Perhaps the message of this summer of sport is that personal achievement is everything, and every country should strive to outdo each other in its pursuit of excellence. But perhaps not.

On day three of the Paralympic Games alone, athletes from 115 competing countries visited the official prosthetic, orthotic and wheelchair technical service provider. Eighty technicians completed 277 complex repairs to ensure that these athletes could continue to compete without interruption. It would have been extremely costly and logistically inconvenient for these 115 countries to provide their own individual technical services. Instead, leveraging a single service provider was more efficient, cost-effective and enabled each athlete to focus not on the support functions that they needed to compete, but on delivering the sporting prowess and competitive edge for which they had trained for so long.

Every company encourages entrepreneurship and ever-higher standards of excellence in each country in which it operates. Companies can often gain considerable advantage by demonstrating superior skills, expertise, innovation and local market knowledge to those of their competitors. So how can these companies foster these skills and ensure that employees are able to focus on the activities that create business success? Freeing up employees from unnecessary administration, enabling them to channel their time and energy into value-added activities is a major factor in achieving this. Consequently, companies across a wide range of industries, profiles and geographies have recognised that centralising business support functions can improve the efficiency of these activities, reduce costs, and facilitate core business activities.