Judges and Previous Winners Share How to Win an SSON Impact Award

Its 2019 and the SSON Impact Awards are back. In celebration of the hard work an innovation that go into making shared services tick, we have a line up of judges seeking to crown champions for excellence in categories spanning every aspect of the industry. But, what does it actually take to win? Scroll down and read on to learn the secret for success from our judges and past winners.
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Meet This Years Judges
Each year, the SSON Impact Awards are judged by a carefully curated line-up of industry professionals. This year the judging panel includes previous SSON award winners as well as specialists from companies including Adidas, Barclays and Western Union. Below, we fire four quick questions at two of the judges who will have a final say on who will take home a coveted SSON Impact Award.
Andrew Parris, Director of Shared Services, Tarmac
Andrew joined the SSON Impact Award judging panel last year, following Tarmac success in receiving multiple SSON awards. For Andrew, participating in the awards offers an opportunity to inspire SSC teams.  “Working in SSC organisations is often a thankless task…[the awards] remind our teams of how well they are doing, and inspire them to do more of the same, or even better!”
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SSOW: In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges confronting the Shared Services industry today?
Understanding the new world of "smart automation" and how this will impact on service delivery going forward. The technologies and methods now available and becoming available, fundamentally change the dynamics of our industry.

SSOW: What do you perceive to be an essential factor for success in shared services in 2019?
For me personally, it's always about "what's next".  I am never satisfied by simply doing things the same way as they were done before.  Change is part of the human condition as far as I am concerned and selecting and implementing the most effective change initiatives with enthusiasm, diligence and professionalism.
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SSOW: What can applicants do to make sure their entry stands out?
First and foremost, the application has to make sense. It's no good just regurgitating a set of slides used for internal presentations and hoping for the best.  Read the brief, respond to the brief and only respond to the brief (no unnecessary "bumph").  Secondly, tell an inspiring story.  Make sure that your application has structure and that it grabs our attention.

SSOW: What do you enjoy the most about participating in the awards?
Hearing inspirational stories about excellence in shared services' organisations and collaborating with other "seasoned professionals" (apologies to fellow judges!) in reviewing the awards provides even more insight into what other people find inspiring.
Irina Chernousenko, Director of Shared Service, The Coca-Cola Company
Irina has been working with the SSON Impact Awards since 2013, starting out in Singapore for SSON Asia and before making her way to Europe. For Irina, the events a great learning experience for those who are new in the industry, “talking to and learning from the people who has done it before is the most fantastic way to learn.”
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SSOW: In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges confronting the Shared Services industry today? 
Talent development and retention. Shared services is about people, if we get the right people with the right attitude we can deliver great services. Another one is cost pressure - often you need to invest (in technology or process re-engineering for example), before you start to enjoy savings.

SSOW: What do you perceive to be an essential factor for success in 2019?
 Understanding your client’s needs and delivering on them. Shared Service Centres are no longer about transaction processing. Today is about value creation for finance function and for business in general.

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SSOW: What can applicants do to make themselves standout?
I am looking for a story with a great focus on the category. Very often we receive very generic applications with no focus. I am looking for something new and fresh, done differently. Something that  has never done before or it’s done in a very different way. For example, we once gave an award to a police force, who implemented shared services to meet 20% budget cut goal, without reducing police force on the streets. 

SSOW: What do you enjoy the most about being a judge? 
In over 5 years I am surprised that we have never had an argument about a winner. There is always one exceptional application which stands alone. The variety of ideas that we see are amazing, from process improvement and automation to creating a talent pool for the finance organization to delivering value as a business. I am looking forward to this year stories.  
Meet Last Years Winners
For many of the categories within the SSON Impact Awards, the decision on who will be titled winner can be a close call. However, in some cases a clear winner stands out from the crowd. Below, we share insights from two previous SSON Impact Award winners to give you an idea of what it takes to succeed.
Excellence in Automation
Mondelez Business Services
Caroline Basyn is the Senior Vice President of Mondelez Business Services and Mondelez International. At the time of last years awards, Caroline had joined the company three and a half years prior with the mission to build global business services from scratch. Here she provides an insight into the story of Mondelez Business Services and how they won the award for Excellence in Automation.Watch Caroline's interview above or read it below.
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Caroline Basyn (CB): When we started, we had literally zero people in the organisation. I started on my own and, bit by bit, tried to attract people from within Mondelez to join alongside those from outside of the business. We created a good match of people that had internal expertise of the business and its different functions alongside those who came in with expertise on shared services.

SSOW: You decided to launch immediately with GBS, how did you make the decision?
CB: The decision was very simple for the company. At that point in time Mondelez was struggling to get the growth that they wanted to provide to the shareholders. So it began to question how we can improve the margins. One of the ways to do this was to review the organisation design and leverage the capabilities that typically global business services provide in terms of savings - because they benefit from labour arbitrage and productivity savings.
The productivity savings come from a couple of components: (1.) Leveraging scale, because you get the smallest country, like Nigeria, and do business for them next to the biggest country like US, so you try to leverage that scale. (2.) At the same time, as you centralise everything, you have a good visibility of how you can simplify and standardise the processes. (3.) the third one was how do we automate? How do we digitise? How do we take benefits of technology going anywhere from invoicing, EDI, to what I call sexy part which is robotics and artificial intelligence.
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SSOW: Could you go into each of those three and give a short summary of the thinking behind them?
CB: So with the automation aspect, before the global business services organisation was organised and was centralised, it was very difficult for some markets to justify investments into certain technology and find the benefits of investing that technology 

Due to the fact that we assembled everything together and that the leverage and business benefit of implementing certain technology would have different scales, it was easier to justify those investments. It’s also easier to benefit while you implement that from the standardisation component, because the more you drive standardisation, the easier it is to drive digitisation as well. And then the scale comes naturally.

An example I can give you, if you go to India, to our delivery centre in Noida, you can go to a big floor where we have all operations and what we do in each market. You can see labels on the top of the floor: There is Belgium, the US, Venezuela and more. But, in reality, regardless of the time that we need to go from one place to another, you have the same processes. So, instead of continuing to deliver the processes by market, we started to deliver the processes by subject area. For example, you have now one corner with fixed assets, another corner with inter-company billing and another to do the journal entries. So that’s the way how you leverage scale - by transforming from a market driven process to a subject matter expertise process.
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SSOW: What is your global operating model looking like in terms of the actual locations and how did you decide where to set them?
CB: That’s an interesting question. Our global operation model is a three tier model. We have people in what we call ‘on-shore’, so close to the front office, either in manufacturing site, either in headquarters. We have people in what we call ‘middle offices’ that are, let’s say, in a lower cost location but in the same time zone, can speak the different languages that we have in that time zone and can understand the legal framework. Then we have the third tier, which is radically offshore, typically India or Manila, where we provide the services mostly in English and mostly in a different time zone to Europe or for North America. 

In terms of how we leverage that, we make sure that different procedures, in terms of how we handle the operations, work according to the same cookbook, as we call it. Officially we call it a handbook, but that handbook has ten chapters and every single delivery centre, whether it’s an internal delivery centre or an external one, or whether it’s somebody in our front offices, is leveraging those same chapters and same definitions of operations.
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SSOW: What kind of people do you look for?
CB: It depends for which job, but if you take the majority of the leadership, I always look for three characteristics. One characteristic is pure leadership. What is the kind of drive? What is the kind of communication? What is the kind of project management? What are the leadership capabilities? One of the leadership characteristics we were looking for is entrepreneurship. This was obviously very much needed as well as people who were ready to take some risks, and people who were ready to invent the new way of doing, because within Mondelez it was not that way. 

The second characteristic is that we want business leaders. We want people who have deep, functional expertise. So when we talk about finance, those people are coming with a deep finance background. When we’re talking about procurement, they’re coming from a deep procurement background. The same for marketing, and I can go on for every single function. HR particularly as well. We want a deep, functional expertise and people who understand those processes end to end.

Then the third characteristic is we that we desired people who understand what it is to run shared services. And that expertise I needed to get outside Mondelez, because we didn’t really have it inside. So we were looking for people who would come with integrated lean Six Sigma skills, who would bring those skills of running big, large delivery centres, potentially having created them, and understand what it means to drive operational excellence as well as what it means to drive also services that customers would love to adopt and would love to use. So, individuals who have the end-user or the end-customer in mind.
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What I would like to say is that the lead team that I have built bit by bit since I started this, is the best lead team I ever have had to manage in my whole career. Interestingly it’s also the most diverse lead team. From all parameters you can think about: geographic, religious, gender, subject matter expertise as well as age. I have millennials in my lead team as well as people with more than 25 years of experience, myself with more than 30 years of experience. We all work together and I think the collaboration between this group has been phenomenal and is one of the big reasons of our success.

SSOW: Why was automation the solution and what was the process to get where you are now?
CB: Interestingly, we started to do a lot of automation in our delivery centres, and we started to use a lot of robotics in our own scope within Mondelez Business Services and we got really great results. We were scratching our head and said: There is a lot of work that we did not move to our Mondelez Business Services, but there is still a lot of manual work that is done out there. Whether it’s in the supply chain organisation or the manufacturing organisation. Even in finance and some other organisations as well.
We asked: What is the model that we should put in place to help those organisations optimise without necessarily moving the work into MBS? So we came up with a solution that we called Robotisation as a Service. It is a deal that we closed with one of our partners that gives us a total solution. You sometimes call it a ‘key on the door’ kind of solution that has the infrastructure, the software, the support of the robotisation solution and also the maintenance.

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This solution is a fixed price for a fixed year, providing all those services but integrated. So the only thing we needed to do is go and identify the opportunities and then, if the opportunity exists, develop and build the solution. Then, in terms of running the solution, it would already be totally settled. The pricing would be settled, the service levels will be settled and the support will be settled. So, we started to deploy that with pretty much success, but to be honest with you, I am still looking for a more exponential growth going into the future.

We also set ourselves a target, which is a little bit a self inflicted target, to say: Okay, let’s go after $10 million of savings just generated by this Robotisation as a Service. And so we’re in the middle of this journey. We have had a couple of early successes, but a lot more success is to come.

SSOW: How is scaling a challenge for you?
CB: Scaling is a challenge. If you have fragmented processes, or processes that are not standardised, it’s very difficult to go for robotisation projects and leverage a big ROI out of it. So what is super important is that you understand very well what you can automate and then how you can re-apply it in an exponential factor from service to service or from organisation unit to organisation unit or country to country. So here the scale is not about doing the same thing at a large scale, but it’s doing the same thing repeatedly.

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SSOW: What does something like that do for your customer recognition?
CB: It’s a good question. I’m still looking at how to do the internal marketing of the early successes we’ve had, and so we’ll add this award to this whole marketing component. I think it recognises that it has value. It could be also an entry door with some top managers, saying: Hey guys, not only is this a good solution and we implemented it there, but on top, look, this was recognised across a large industry set of peers and we won this award. So it will probably spark the interest and open the door to start with.

But, knowing my company, we’ll need to continue to prove, to be able to deliver at the same time. The other thing it generates, it generates a lot of pride for our own organisation, and you may have seen that we have a people strategy, and that is very important. And that second pillar is the win pillar, and so in that win pillar we’re going to make sure that we blow it up and that we celebrate and that we make a lot of fuss about it so that people can be proud of what they have done. Because a lot of different people have contributed to this, from the moment of the idea up to the moment of building and then now supporting it.


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SSOW: What is your opinion of the European Shared Services and Outsourcing Week 2018?
CB: Just fantastic. I think it’s a terrific event. Its super well organised. The whole organisation of SSON is so friendly and so attentive to the details. If you talk about the speakers, there some very high calibre speakers. I enjoyed listening to several of them. Nicola, who is my friend from P&G. Also Stephen from Akzo Nobel. Those were really high calibre people with really deep thinking.

The other thing I like is the booths, they are terrific. I like the interaction with the vendors who are providing solutions. Obviously they’re here to sell, and we’re here to listen and understand and learn. They have a lot to teach to us and the beauty is that you see that a lot of smaller companies are coming here to present some of their solutions. I think it’s wonderful because we need to listen to them, because they’re small today but they can be big tomorrow. 

I think companies like us need to be able on one side to explore this and be a little bit more on the front end side onto how to adapt new technology. I must say the maturity level where we are in Mondelez two to three years ago, we were heads down delivering, we knew exactly what to deliver. Now we want to be open to the world and say: Okay, help us. Help us. Give us new technology, give us new hints, we want to learn.
Best Process Innovation & Excellence in Culture Creation
OMV Petrom Global Solutions
Last year, the Service Delivery Centre of integrated oil company OMV Petrom took home not one, but two SSON awards. Here, representing the 1,000 employee organisation, Sorin Babici (Department Manager) Andreea Objreja (IT Project Manager) and Laura Andreea Marin (Senior Artificial Lift Engineer) share a glimpse into their story and the innovations that led to their success. Watch their interview above or read it below.
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Sorin Babici (SB): The vertical in focus for today and for our project was Upstream. We figured out, as part of the new innovation hype that has been in culture of our company since last year, that we had to do something to cover one of the major gaps we had in optimising the cost for remote condition monitoring for our upstream facilities. We are targeting specifically a certain set of well sites, let’s say the cash cows of the upstream business.  

We had started to ask ourselves to not rely on technology while initiating this project but we tried to outsmart the industry a little bit and questioned ourselves about why we are doing this project. As soon as we figured out the answer for the ‘why’, we started to break down into details to see how we can achieve our goals and with what.

This is quite an atypical way of approaching things, but as we had courage and in the end were successful we were happy that our initial strategy paid off. The ‘why?’ was because we had those gaps in remote telemetry, remote collection of data via remote monitoring. For the ‘how’ we addressed certain specific methodologies, we sought for technology partners and to on board the business in order to have a good momentum. We also asked the central business, or the brains behind the operations in the upstream area as well as the remote facilities which are supposed to be going through this process and doing the hard work in the background. Then in the ‘what’, we realised that we have some good cost effective technologies which promise to deliver really good business case for our industry for the future.  
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SSOW: Can you tell us more of your journey with Internet of Things?
SB: I was one of the people who heavily promoted the internet of things concept in the organisation. It was shocking for me that many of our managers felt that this is completely new to them.

The Internet of Things is essentially everything that surrounds us and is connected one way or the other. I think in the Internet of Things you hear many people focusing on technology, but I believe the real value of the internet of things is getting a good sized collection of data. So this is the real value for the business. I also encourage all the business peers that I am meeting with to join this journey and to develop on as we are just at the beginning of the journey

SSOW: What challenges have you come across?
SB: First of all, as many would have expected, we had the challenge within technology limitations. I would say we went beyond transforming technology, we went into bending technology to actually fit our use case. So going beyond the natural boundaries of the technology is one thing. The second thing was the engagement of the team, because there was something completely new and as we are an organisation typically focused on delivering on waterfall methodology, we had to seek something else.
We had to convince a lot of people to get on board and to believe in this idea, this a challenge. It was also quite challenging to present this to management in the right way. Because when you start this kind of project and innovation, everybody sets their expectations high, so we need to do proper stakeholder management.
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How were your ideas and vision translated?
Andreea Objreja (AO): We had a great opportunity to present this idea within a hackathon. We actually were pitching the idea for two minutes in order to raise awareness of it and to have management commitment and support to deliver this project. So with this visibility we actually started on building the team, getting upstream on board, and with this collaboration we ended up with some specific use cases that would build proof of concept on these IoT technologies.

These products are not yet available on the market, that’s why we are in the innovation area, so we are building together with our partners based on our use cases and their products. We are now a very close team and will remain as such for future automation as we follow an upstream strategy of zero footprint at the well site until 2020.

Can you tell me more about the awards application process?
AO: The application for the award was really supportive in promoting the idea even further.  We were amazed when we heard that our idea was selected as one of the participant ideas to this conference. We actually were just on the time limit as we were really stretched. We submitted the application on the last day, and when our colleague announced that we are short listed we were amazed that we really got into the competition. We were right on the edge.
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We also applied a new project management methodology on top of this innovation idea. It was design thinking. This idea was introduced in the first design thinking incubator run within our company and it brought a lot of value by validating our assumption, by identifying the aims and needs of our real customers. The ones which are really the end customer using these solutions, IT solutions.

SB: to summarise the experiences we had in this project, the challenges. The fact that we run and we deliver with success in, let’s say a conservative space in the oil and gas industry, I would have to say one thing to the audience: I strongly believe that courage is at the heart of every success in our business, so be courageous.  Thank you.

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