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Efficiency in back-office support services

WCL's Efficiency Review rapidly reduces duplication and errors in back-office services by aligning ways of working in centres of excellence and through sharing of resources between teams to build the foundations for shared-service centres.

Our 5-step approach is highly engaging to build team commitment to implementing the improvements. 

1. Functional Audit

A functional/activity audit identifies the number of people involved in each function (e.g. data, analysis, reporting, customer services, fund raising, volunteer management, event planning, procurement, HR, finance, IT, etc). We use data from existing organograms as our starting point and request managers to augment this where needed. This quickly provides data on the number and location of resources involved in similar activities and will provide the foundation for wider sharing of resources and flexible working by agreeing standard definitions for functions, and understanding which individuals are experienced at which functions/activities.

2. High-level business process review

A high-level business process review of target functions enables more in-depth analysis of the work, identifying waste, duplication and errors in the system and identifying solutions to improve efficiency and effectiveness. For example, we often find that use of different IT systems/solutions in different parts of the business doing the same processes is a major cause of inefficency and with change can lead to significant resource optimisation.

We find the business process mapping approach is most effective when bringing together
individuals and teams from different locations but who are working in the same functional area to
share best practices and define a ‘best in class’ business process that can be adopted as new ways
of working.

3. Centres of Excellence

Building on high-level business process reviews, we seek to create centres of excellence for
the major processes to provide a foundation for reducing duplication, allowing rapid identification of
additional capacity to meet unplanned demands (thus reducing the need for temporary/contractor
staff), and improving service efficiency and effectiveness through sharing best practice and co-
developing future innovations and developments (e.g. introducing consistent IT solutions and

automating processes), and to embed a culture of continuous improvement. The centres of
excellence may evolve into full internal shared-service teams, providing functional and back-office
services to a number of service delivery teams.

4. Performance Management and Continuous Improvement

We review the key performance indicators for priority services to track throughput, errors, repeated work, and customer satisfaction. A dashboard report can be developed to check on performance, compare team productivity, and encourage a culture of continuous improvement.

5. New Delivery Models

Where back office functions are found to be operating well (e.g. when compared with sector
benchmarks) and where there is an appetite from senior managers, you may wish to consider offering services to other organisations. In this way the services could grow their offer, deepen their
professionalism and become cost neutral (or even provide an income stream) to the business.


A feasibility study would consider the governance and legal entity options, opportunities for growth, tax and employment considerations, and assess wider implications.


WCL has extensive experience working with organisations to consider shared services companies.

Conclusion and next steps

We feedback and discuss our findings and recommendations in management workshop(s) to
ensure we are aligned with organisation and that the recommendations are jointly authored with the
organisation’s leaders.


We work with the implementation team(s) to develop a roadmap that sets out the changes needed to implement the agreed recommendations and achieve the sustainability outcomes defined.

To find out more about how Efficiency in back-office support services can help you and your organisation please contact us.

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