Shared Services Special
August 7, 2013

Shared services: The Ontario solution

There are some success stories out there when it comes to shared services. The province of Ontario is frequently held up as a shining example of how to do shared services right. The province encountered its own fair share of troubles in the beginning: there was a lack of commitment to the project by several ministries, and there was no formal plan in place for its implementation. By 2004, customers were dissatisfied and Ontario was in the hole by $12 million annually.

But with a change of leadership in 2004, the government was able to turn its luck around. Between 2004 and 2009, Shared Services Ontario managed to eliminate its $12 million deficit and decrease its operating costs from $184 million to $168 million.

How did they do it? There are three key tactics that helped them succeed:

They studied other provinces and asked questions. They took note of what other organizations were doing and learned from their mistakes and successes. They asked their clients for feedback on what was and wasn’t working for them. And they asked their staff what difficulties they were facing in the office, to see if they could do something different that might make things run a bit more smoothly. They did not resist change when things weren’t working and were willing to make compromises.

They had a clear, articulated plan. They learned from their initial mistakes and realized they would need a detailed, step-by-step plan if they wanted to succeed. Everyone was on the same page and knew their responsibilities. There were guideposts in place so that, when one stage of implementation was complete, staff would know where to go next.

They continually revised their policies. They were not content with what they had after the initial implementation. They looked forward and asked themselves what more they could do to evolve their shared services model to boost efficiency further and realize even more cost savings. They realized that stagnation was not an option and that further work would be necessary to maintain momentum.

What are your thoughts on Ontario’s foray into shared services? Do you think the success they enjoyed is possible everywhere? Let us know in the comments.

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