What is a Shared Services Center?

Many multinational companies decide to centralize some functions in a unique location: a Shared Services Center (SSC). Those functions usually include Finance, and depending on the company Order Management, Human Resources, Procurement, and less frequently Marketing or Internal Sales.

Advantages of a Shared Services Center

So, what is a Shared Services Center? Traditionally multinational companies have offices in different countries, where the same functions are replicated.

For example “Company X” would have a General Accounting Team in Germany, one in Italy, one in Spain, etc.
Centralize a function means moving all the jobs related to that function into the same location: the Shared Services Center.

The advantages of the centralization are several and include:

1. Standardization of the procedures: the different entities of the company (in our example “Company X Germany”, “Company X Italy”, “Company X Spain”, etc) are now following the same procedures in each centralized function. The procedure selected is usually the best practice in the company or a new procedure, created by experts in the field.

2. Economies of scale: following the steps just mentioned, it is possible to leverage the new procedures and technologies offered by the Shared Service Centre and create economies of scale.
This means that if in the past 1000 working hours were necessary to solve a task, now less hours are required thus decreasing labour related costs.

3. Leverage a local talent pool: Shared Services Center are usually based in locations where a suitable talent pool is available.
This means a workforce with previous related working experience (often in other Shared Services Centers) and language skills and/or fresh graduates with language skills.

What skills and experience do I need to work in a SSC?

This really depends on the company. As a general rule Shared Services Centers based in Central-Eastern Europe are more likely to offer opportunities to fresh graduates than Shared Services Centers based in Western Europe.

For some roles a degree in Finance or Business is beneficial, for other roles any degree is suitable as long as you speak English and, often, a second language. In the UK and Ireland an ACCA qualification is often required for some roles (Controller, General Accounting, etc)

What is the culture in Shared Services Centers?

This depends again on the company. In general Shared Services Centers in Central-Eastern Europe are characterized by a young workforce, often the average age is below 30.

Career development

After joining a Shared Services Center what future career development can I expect?

This really depends on you. Some people spend their entire career in a Shared Services Center environment while some professionals then develop their careers in other sectors. Working abroad in a Shared Services Center is definitely a good way to kick-off your career after graduation and build experience.

After 1 or 2 years you can always move back to your home country and leverage the experience you have to find a new job.

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