CEO: Importance of an effective governance         framework in Shared ServicesQ&A with Albert Olley, CEO of New South Wal...
another round of standardisation and automation, and moving into theoptimisation phase of the maturity.We also have moved ...
putting in place a very strong client engagement model looking at what are theclient’s strategic directions, their needs, ...
that we save in providing services is a dollar that can be released back toproviding services to the broader New South Wal...
with the outcomes of shared services or align with their broader objectives, sopeople aren’t afraid to challenge the statu...
Albert Olley, Chief Executive at NSW Businesslink                        BBus (Accounting and Computing), GradDip Applied ...
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Q&A with Albert Olley, CEO of NSW Businesslink


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In this interview with Albert Olley, CEO of NSW Businesslink, he shares his perspectives on shared services in organisations and opens up about his tips and lessons for others to achieve the success of NSW Businesslink. In particular, he talks about the importance of an governance framework so that SSOs are optimised and bring the best value of organisations.

Albert Olley is presenting at the 14th Australasian Shared Services and Outsourcing Week 2011, to be held in Melbourne in April. For more information about the event, please visit, email or call +61 2 9229 1000.

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Q&A with Albert Olley, CEO of NSW Businesslink

  1. 1. CEO: Importance of an effective governance framework in Shared ServicesQ&A with Albert Olley, CEO of New South Wales BusinesslinkSSONBefore we delve into some of the main issues we are going to discuss at theconference, can you give us a little rundown about where Businesslink is at interms of its shared services and can you give us an idea of the scales,functions, maturity and so forth?Albert OlleyBusinesslink is a shared services provider within the New South Wales publicsector. We are an organisation with about 850 staff spread across 6 locationsin New South Wales. Our clients have about 22,000 staff that we supportspread over about 950 locations worldwide.From a service perspective, our agent clients provide service to approximately250,000 of the most vulnerable people in New South Wales.As a shared service business, the range of products we provide cover allaspects of finance, HR and IT. We also cover property and facilitymanagement, records management, and projects both for developing ITsystems, building and renovating properties and office facilities.In relation to the type and nature of services we provide, we do a mixture ofboth transactional and advisory services, as well as just straight processing inrelation to each of the products we service.At the moment, we’re in the process of growing up the value chain from beinga manager of services for the client to a provider of managed services. Andwhilst this is a small sudden change, it’s a major move up the value chain toactually provide the services rather than just manage them.From our maturity perspective, Businesslink has gone through the process ofamalgamating functions and staff together as we created, into stabilising andconsolidating our functions. But we’re about to go back into another round ofconsolidation as our clients transfer similar functions that still exist in theirorganisation over to us; and as part of doing this, we’re also stepping into 1
  2. 2. another round of standardisation and automation, and moving into theoptimisation phase of the maturity.We also have moved up the maturity curve on the client-relationship side, insuch a way that the clients are now seeing us as a provider of valued services,and working with us to achieve standardisation across all clients. This israther than looking at their own individual needs, which provides greatopportunities for us to move to the next round of cost and processingefficiencies.SSONIn your 2010 annual report, you noted that the changes to DHS have provided“impetus for new reforms” and that you’re “refocusing on the way we workwith the client agencies”. Now, can you explain how this structure hasunleashed new life into Businesslink? What kind of overall strategies are youguys now gearing towards?Albert OlleyAs I mentioned previously, our client relationships have moved significantly.At a maturative point, we are working together to actively standardiseprocesses and solutions across the board. What the changes within humanservices have enabled us to do is accelerate that level of change and push iteven further, in that we’re able to achieve common focus and havestandardisation and common governance across human services as well asourselves. This lets the program achieve wider benefits and get benefits at afaster pace than what we would have been negotiating with individual clients.When you couple the changes within human services with the reform agendathat New South Wales government has adopted through the blueprint forcorporate/shared services and released in 2010 – the two initiatives togetherhave actually provided a real and solid mandate to reform and acceleratewhat the shared service, provision of services, and shared service model is.In that context, strategies that are being adopted in the changes that we’regearing around in a number of areas largely in common and standardisedsolutions for all clients so where we had variances before we’re looking tostandardise and get common outcomes. Providing clarity in responsibilitiesand roles between what the purchaser responsibility and the providerresponsibilities are; and that within the department of human services inBusinesslink we are working very strongly with our purchaser-providerrelationship and the strategy around simplifying and consolidating functions.So if there’s only one provider of the service that’s a great road across allclients in themselves. A strategy to achieve separation and clarity in who setsstrategy and direction versus who actually delivers the service to make thestrategy and provides the advisory in transactional services; and the finalaspect that we’re focusing on in the change and reform agenda that humanservices change has allowed us to drive is to really focus on clientengagement, whilst we have a degree of client engagement this is now 2
  3. 3. putting in place a very strong client engagement model looking at what are theclient’s strategic directions, their needs, their purchasing trains to be out withour modified out process, as in products and modify their consumption, toactually get the best value out of the services we provide.Arthur ChanNow that it’s 2011, what are your more specific goals for the next 12 months?SSONSpecific goals for the next 12 months are probably in 5 key areas. First one isin stock and cultural development within the organisation. We had a focus onbuilding our people, building our capabilities of our people to endow them tolead the organisation and drive change and be innovative. So continuing tobuild that leadership skills role, subject matter skills, personal capabilities, aswell as focusing on competencies in customer services innovation. So, fromthe start perspective, to get the best results and effectiveness, we reallyneeded the staff powered and equipped and that’s the number one area offocus.We’re also looking at organisation structure and our operating model andlooking to move ourselves from a functionally aligned organisation to a serviceoperating model and that comes with significant change to the way we worked,to the way our people relate, and that will drive a large level of change andclarity for roles and responsibility but will also help with your customerengagement on providing clear direction for them on who is doing what andhow we work with them to drive improvement and change.That from a structure perspective, coupling that to an operating model changeon getting a single point of contact in getting our delivery channel strategyrights, so we are maximising self-service and telephone-based services,resolving as much of the service and fulfillment request for thoseappointments and contact between the structure and the operating model wewill get a large range of efficiencies and operating improvements in there.Third area of strategic focus in goals is around service management, andgetting service management culture and capability built through all productlines and also this is in the organisation. We’ve been delivering good service,but in a bespoke manner and we’re looking as part of their staff developmentto really build the service management culture and capabilities through theorganisation.Fourth goal is in conjunction with department of human services in driving thefirst phase of standardisation and automation in doing services and processesthrough, and using that as a vehicle to smooth to the next level of efficiency incost of service.The final goal which is in core and the pinning one is in achievement of ourefficiency improvement targets and cost savings. Cost effectively every dollar 3
  4. 4. that we save in providing services is a dollar that can be released back toproviding services to the broader New South Wales community.SSONNow, in your session at the conference, you’re talking about how important itis to have an effective governance framework in place when embarking onyour shared services journey. What kind of tips can you give to the audienceand other organisations in managing competing priorities, and what kind oflessons have you learned?Albert OlleyIn starting this answer, a highlight that there’s probably no silver thoughts inthis situation, it is horses for courses situation and it’s from my perspective it’sabout delivering and managing relationships and how this business is runningthe client’s engagement, versus a model of fulfilling and taking orders.I think for me, governance is a key aspect in a lot areas of their life, whetherit’s personal or work and having clarity around who the decision makers are,who are influencers, and what stakeholders you’re going to manage, helpsyou navigate the way you can get your outcomes and achieve what you’retrying to achieve, most effectively and efficiently.That has a couple of bad elements to it, one is around understanding thevarious personalities that you try working with, their preferences, the agendasthey’re working for, navigating through the journey to actually ensure that it’shelping everyone in need. Governance framework is operating on a win-winenvironment rather than a win-loss particularly in the public sectorenvironment for shared services, it’s a partnership mutual arrangement to getbenefit role outcome, and being able to achieve a win-win outcome reallyhelps the business on both sides remain positive and drive forward.For me, I think there are a couple of key elements in the actual governancearrangement which are tips and which help achieve good governanceoutcomes and good outcomes for the shared services, they for me are –clarity on the mandate of the shared service. So that from a client perspective,a purchaser perspective they understand what it is they are buying off theshared service; and from the shared service organisation they have realclarity on what it is that they are supposed to be providing and what isexpected.Service levels are very easy to talk about but often very hard to put in place.They get generally understood, but it helps you if you understand what arenegotiable, what are non-negotiable elements and that the executive in seniormanagement in both the client in the shared services organisation are fullyon-board and understanding what that mandate is. That flows on learning toprovide real clarity in the roles and responsibilities and decision making rightsof both organisations – the client as well as the provider, and open people upto the challenge when things are brought up and demands even down the line 4
  5. 5. with the outcomes of shared services or align with their broader objectives, sopeople aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and who put their hand up andsay, ‘no, I don’t think this is where we should be going,’ or ‘here’s thechallenge that presents’.I’ve mentioned before the clarity of service expectations in the servicesprovided in good definition documentation of what the services are, what theservice standards are. Often, and we see this in our own customersatisfaction survey, that lower cost of service can often relate to lowerstandard of service which generates into a lower customer satisfaction rating.But if that’s what the client and the provider have agreed, then that’ssomething you’ve got to work through and work in how you manage that in therelationship. I think that then flows into strong and ongoing changemanagement and communication. Shared services probably like a lot ofprojects have to put a lot of effort into communicating and doing changemanagement when they get set up. But then once you’re up and running thatprobably winds away and needs to stay on the radar, stay on the agenda tomake sure there is good ongoing communication between the client, betweenthe shared service provider on what the services are, what the servicedeliverables are, what’s changing, what’s new, what’s different to help thestaff and the client understand what the shared service provider is providing,and also to help the shared service provider staff understand how their clientsare changing, so that we’re not providing square boxes trying to fit in theround holes in aligning expectations.Albert Olley will be speaking at the 14th Australasian Shared Services &Outsourcing Week to be held in Melbourne in April 2011. In particular, hewill give a session on the foundations of a successful governmentshared service. He will also take part in the a group session on Centresof Excellence in SSOs.For more information about the event, please or call +61 2 9229 1000. Alternativelyyou can email Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter@SSONetwork. 5
  6. 6. Albert Olley, Chief Executive at NSW Businesslink BBus (Accounting and Computing), GradDip Applied Corporate Governance Albert was formally appointed as Chief Executive in September 2010 after acting in the position since March 2010. Before his appointment as Chief Executive, Albert was the Company Secretary and Chief Financial Officerwith responsibility for corporate governance, financial services, taxationservices, payroll, business service centre (call centre), internal audit and riskmanagement, product management, corporate services and the managementof relationships with key clients and stakeholders.Some of Alberts achievements since he joined Businesslink include thesuccessful implementation of SAP Human Resources and Finance functionsfor Businesslink’s largest client; the lead and management of the keyorganisational transformation program to implement a whole of businessproduct framework and unitised fee-for-service business model and theoversight of implementation of organisational risk management, fraud andcorruption and Business Continuity Management strategies and plans 6