A Definition for Global Business Services

{{article.author.firstname}} {{article.author.lastname}}
Sarah Fane
Jun 28, 2020

Global business services (GBS) is a more integrated and mature evolution of the shared services model. GBS provides services beyond transactional functions and has a wider remit and expertise to deliver higher value functions, such as consulting and business analytics.

GBS deploys advanced tools and technology to deliver scalability to the business. GBS incorporates multiple functions and leverages business service delivery across all international operations, thinking and acting globally. GBS runs activities as a business, fully in control of the process, the budget and the reporting lines.

There has been a lot of noise in the last few years about Global Business Services (GBS). But what are Global Business Services? And what does Global Business Services mean?

What seems to be most commonly agreed on is that GBS is a result of shared services maturing and evolving on a global scale.

Shared services have had to grow and mature to better service the global corporations they support, and are transforming into Global Business Services. 

However many shared services professionals and analysts still aren’t really sure what Global Business Services means. We conducted a survey with over 100 shared services professionals to better understand the drivers of moving to a GBS model and how it is impacting the business. From our research we developed the above as a definition for global business services. We also produced a report on our findings. 

Download the report at the bottom of this blog for more insight into the Global Business Services model and for more insight into our ‘crowdsourced’ definition for Global Business Services.

If you want to better understand what we mean by shared services, here's our definition of shared services

And what is the difference between Shared Services and Global Business services?

Firstly, it's helpful to understand how shared services and global business services are similar. The report identifies 3 areas in clear priorities that SSOs and GBS have in common:

  • Improving processes
  • Reducing costs
  • Improving service quality

However, there are at least 4 key differences that separate GBS models from shared services:

  1. Global business services are more likely to embrace a hybrid model and take advantage of the tools and technologies of third parties.
  2. Global business services are more customer focused. In our study, 83% of GBS said being a customer focused organization was key to their purpose compared with 64% of shared services.
  3. GBS must provide functions that are beyond ‘just transactional’. 58% of GBS said delivering higher value functions was key to the purpose of their organization, compared with 33% of shared services.
  4. When looking at certain characteristics, there is a striking disparity between those of a GBS and those of an SSO:
  • 70% of GBS incorporate multiple functions, compared with 48% of SSOs
  • 46% of GBS have 1 global lead with board level representation, compared with 26% of SSOs
  • 46% of GBS are service-oriented rather than process-oriented, compared with 33% of SSOs

Considering these differences, we’ve identified 6 key steps SSOs need to take to become truly GBS:

  1. Higher value functions. GBS should provide services beyond transactional functions, having a wider remit and expertise to deliver higher value functions, such as consulting and business analytics. Review your current processes and seek the insight and best practices of third parties and organisations that are already leveraging these higher value activities (socialspace is a valuable forum to get in direct contact with GBS leaders).
  2. Culture. A true GBS upholds a service-led mentality and gets there by recruiting new talent, retaining their best employees and creating a robust staffing contingency plan. Re-engineer roles where needed and establish staff training programs to ensure adherence, incentivising your staff to adopt the desired behaviour.
  3. Tools and technology. True GBS’ leverage the most enabling technologies, reconfigure their ERP platform and platform service technologies and incorporate analytics into the process. Start with an automation strategy planning session, looking for areas of duplication and identifying manual processes for an automation analysis. Consider the process as a whole, benchmark, and ensure you choose technology that is the right fit for your organization.
  4. Leadership. Leadership is vital to help drive change, influence business strategy and on-board multiple stakeholders across the business. This ensures consistent and frequent communication between the GBS and the business as well as a firm governance of the GBS structure. Ensure your GBS leadership is made up of strong and consistent communicators, who are sponsored by the C-suite.
  5. Structure. What activities can you consolidate that leverage skills, cost efficiency and time zones? Decide, far in advance, which processes can be outsourced and which need to stay close to the business.
  6. Perception. To be a successful GBS, the rest of the company must view it as a value-adding, efficiency-driving business partner. You can encourage this perception by:
  • Adopting a true, service culture mentality
  • Leveraging the best skills
  • Cutting costs significantly
  • Ensuring c-level buy in

We have also produced helpful content about Global Business Serivces

 Why companies aren't moving to a global business services model. 

10 Pointers on GBS


To read this article you have to be registered.

Become a member to access all content and / or download it

We value your privacy

We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience and analyze our traffic. By clicking 'Accept All' you consent to our use of cookies.