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2021 global shared services and outsourcing report

Trends and best practices for shared services and outsourcing models

How are global business services (GBS) organisations addressing today’s business challenges? Results from our survey reveal that shared services centers are investing in strategic capabilities to create more value for the business and customers. They’re also shifting to more global and hybrid delivery models to access and retain talent. Explore the findings.

Shared services and outsourcing delivery models: More global, complex, and rapidly evolving


Service delivery models are constantly evolving. There is a rising shift to leverage global, multifunctional, and virtual or remote models for the world’s largest companies, especially driven by learnings from COVID-19. These organisations are prioritising areas across work, workforce, and workplace to be successful in furthering the value that shared services and outsourcing models bring, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and driving excellent business value. Apart from expanding the traditional functional scope, they are developing specialised capabilities such as analytics, reporting, digital capabilities, and enhancing the customer experience. These shared and global business services (GBS) constructs create an environment where new capabilities can be rapidly adopted and position their customers for success.

Since 1999, Deloitte has been conducting biennial surveys to understand how shared services organisations capitalise on leading practices and trends to address their business challenges and better meet customer needs. This year’s survey witnessed record participation:

  • More than 600 respondents, a 58% increase from 2019, from 500 unique organisations globally
  • Respondents from around 45 countries; with shared services locations across nearly 75 countries
  • About 56% of respondents were from organisations with at least $5B in revenue
  • Participation was highest among the consumer and energy, resources, and industrials sectors, contributing more than 50% of the responses

Explore highlights from the survey, and download the executive summary for more findings and trends.

Key findings: The Deloitte 2021 global shared services and outsourcing survey results

  • Since 2015, Finance, HR, and IT remain the top three functions performed in SSCs across industries and continue to grow “upstream.” They have also moved beyond the back office to include more specialised industry areas.
  • GBS footprint for procurement and customer service and call centers have increased the most since 2019.
  • GBS organisations are looking at implementing analytics, process excellence, programme management, reporting, and RPA.
  • Multifunctional (more than three functions) continue to be the most prevalent SSC models across industries.
  • Organisations are increasing emphasis on developing a strong culture, well-being, and flexible work practices to retain talent, with financials being table stakes.
  • Contingent workforce, part-time employees, and remote work practices remain the top three non-traditional talent models.
  • Organisations are beginning to realise more significant benefits from RPA implementation, with 20% realising between 20% and 40% savings (up from 9% in 2019).
  • Process efficiency and standardisation has overtaken cost reduction as a primary objective for investing in GBS, and more organisations have adopted the digital agenda.
  • Cost reduction and process efficiency and standardisation have been the most tangible and attainable benefits achieved.
  • Building analytics and reporting capabilities, where GBS is well-positioned to drive value.
  • Enhancing the focus on better customer experience with user-centric design and self-service capabilities.
  • Furthering savings achieved through RPA and automation by employing more coordinated, less siloed approaches.
  • Shifting delivery models to be more remote and virtual, focusing on developing more virtual and remote work strategies and leveraging location-agnostic hiring.

Key trends and findings: Digital transformation and the shift to global models

Download the infographic


Key attributes of successful global business services organisations


More than 50% of respondents are achieving three or more objectives they sought out when investing in GBS and SSC capabilities. These successful global business services organisations are:

  • Adopting hybrid models, incorporating both shared services and outsourcing models; about 65% include outsourcers in their delivery model
  • Multifunctional in scope, with Finance leading the way: Finance (94%), HR (57%), procurement (54%), IT (52%)
  • Adopting digital transformation as a strategic agenda: 72% of SSCs have implemented RPA, 55% have single-instance ERP, and 53% have AWS or cloud
  • Incorporating diversity into their leadership roles: More than 80% indicated that a third of their leadership teams are composed of minorities and women
  • Adopting new approaches to retain talent: 67% are building continuous improvement and innovation into talent programmes; 59% are leveraging contingent workers

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