What is the Best Way to Deliver Shared Services?

If you haven’t heard of shared services before it is a phrase you might come across more and more if you have anything to do with providing public services.

Essentially it means different organisations sharing different parts of their business to achieve savings.  So, for example, all public service providers need legal and finance functions and, in theory, there is no reason why they can’t be provided by shared teams.  At the same time it may be possible for neighbouring council’s to share functions.  Swansea and Neath Port Talbot Councils, for example, share an Archives Service.  Other ways public service agencies might look to achieve savings is by sharing management teams or by sharing assets such as the buildings that services are delivered from.  

As public sector funding reductions begin to bite the interest in shared services is only going to grow.

Here is Paul Smith, Chief Executive of Swansea Council giving his take on the current economic context, how partnerships might respond to it and some of the shared services ideas coming out of the recent community planning event.

Nationally in Wales a lot of work has also been going on.  See this report from the WLGA for example or the work of WAG’s Efficiency and Innovation Programmme.

If the Council is going to embark on shared servcies projects it’s important to know that they will deliver savings and that services will be protected as far as possible.  For this reason the Performance & Finance Overview & Scrutiny Board will be doing some work over the next few months to help ensure that any future moves towards shared services by the Council have the intended effect.

In particular they will be asking:

  • How exactly should we define shared services?
  • What shared services projects have been undertaken by the Council so far?
  • What are the main success factors?
  • What are the main risks?
  • What are the implications for service quality?
  • What should be the criteria for new shared services projects?
  • What new shared services projects might be considered?

To answer these questions the board will be reviewing existing evidence, looking at what the Council has done so far, talking to national experts and finding out about successful projects elsewhere.  They will also be keen to get the views of other local service providers and neighbouring Councils.

The Board intend to produce their report by next March.


  1. […] the task and finish group taking evidence for the Review of Shared Services, met with Alison Ward, Chief Executive at Torfaen County Borough Council, to learn about the Gwent […]

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