Collaboration is key Collaborative relationships and communication are the keys to successful transition to shared services according to Geoscience Australia (GA) and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (Industry) shared services hub (Hub).
From March 2017, GA began receiving pay and conditions services from the Hub and their journey is an example of how building effective relationships can help with transition.
GA’s People Services and Strategy Manager, Bryce McNicol, said the collaborative consumer/Hub relationship supported by a multi-channel communication program was the key to the success of their transition to the Hub.
Both Bryce and his Hub contact, Wilma Baines, agree the primary lesson for the successful transition to shared services is the establishment of a joint project team to enable collaboration.
“It meant we undertook the journey together – the joint project team became a forum for open and regular information exchange and problem solving,” Wilma said.
“I think what made the joint project team work so well, was that we met every week or fortnight to carefully plan the stages of transition, and how it would be communicated,” Bryce said.
An effective communication strategy and products helped significantly with the transition. The project team will be preparing a Communications plan that includes timelines and engagement strategies that teams can leverage.
Bryce said he would recommend Human Resources (HR) people in consuming agencies work closely with their internal communication team.
“For example, we knew GA staff were not all that interested in the background to the broader whole of government Shared Services Program (the Program) or that we were transitioning their pay from GA to the Hub – they just wanted to know their pay was going to arrive on time in their bank account.
“So, we decided to let people know about the transition only two weeks ahead of time. We kept the information succinct by stating that pay and conditions were moving to the Hub, and we produced materials that provided a contact number for enquiries.
“The added advantage of limiting the communication activities to a two week timeframe was that it prevented unnecessary worry and concern about change among staff,” Bryce said.
GA communicated the transition to the Hub through a range of channels including:
- TV noticeboards
- desk cards with contact details for HR and payroll
- emails and blogs
- senior leadership briefs.
Bryce acknowledged that loss of Average Staffing Level (ASL) is a common concern across the Australian Public Service (APS) when moving to shared services.
In GA’s case, four staff were affected, two were able to move to the Hub and two found new positions in GA. Overall, Bryce and Wilma agree the transition from both the Hub and consumer agency perspective was seamless.
When asked to list key lessons from the experience, they emphasised the importance of establishing a joint project team, complemented by:
- holding weekly or fortnightly meetings
- working closely with communication and change agents
- thinking carefully about timing of messages to prevent uncertainty
- crafting messages that are sympathetic to the agency’s culture.
For more information on the Industry and GA experience, contact Wilma Baines on 02 6102 8634.