Complex businesses need to simplify

Most multinational organisations are almost ridiculously complex. It’s a barrier to innovation, compliance, and sustainable improvement – and increasingly a C-Level issue. Simplification has been one of three strategic priorities at GSK, for instance, since 2008.

The war on complexity in global shared services organizations is well timed. Unfortunately, though, it misses the point. Deloitte sets out survey results which illustrate the prize. Tackling complexity effectively, says Deloitte, can reduce the costs of delivering Finance, HR and IT by up to 20%, even in already "rationalised" global shared services organizations. Yet, only 30% of CFOs believe that their efforts in tackling complexity are successful.

The low-hanging fruit of labour arbitrage and automation were harvested long ago. "Getting a grip on complexity is", in Deloitte’s words, "the next frontier in reducing costs [of Finance, HR, IT and other non-core support activities]".

Visualizing processes

The aim is end-to-end perspectives, expressed in the language of the business with design principles that make it intuitive and easy on the eye - all managed within a methodology that blends compliance rigour with support for people doing real work, and ensures IT alignment. This is what drives engagement in sustainable improvement and therefore, ultimately, in business simplification.

And it’s not just effective in untangling process spaghetti, or bringing coherence to process fragments. It is equally effective in enabling organizations to escape the deadweight of enormous SOP document libraries and migrate to a far more agile world where end-to-end process provides the overarching narrative, supported where necessary by far fewer, and far slimmer, SOP documents.

A picture being worth a thousand words, etc., we shouldn’t be surprised that once people can see what’s going on, they are far better equipped to identify unnecessary complexity and collaborate to safely make things as simple as possible but not simpler (to paraphrase Einstein, who never wrote on shared services, as far as I know, but knew a bit about complexity...).

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