This is a case study on the implementation of shared services across back-office functions between the National Library of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland in the period 2008 to early 2013. It describes the potential benefits of a Library doing business in a less conventional way, at a time when the public sector is facing challenges of high customer expectations and tight budgets. From 2004 the concept of building shared services in the cultural sector was promoted by the Scottish Government as a means of achieving improved performance and more cost-effective service delivery. The initial four attempts to create shared services in the cultural sector failed. This study looks at the first attempt that succeeded and draws out the factors contributing to that success. Key precursors to progress included finding common ground and developing trust between parties who were initially suspicious of each other, establishing an effective governance framework, obtaining ongoing commitment from senior management, and aligning everyone’s agendas to make them compatible. By 2013 the program had delivered a common Information Systems network, as well as two parallel finance systems sitting on the same server. In March 2013 the HR teams entered a phase of living together for six months to test their integrated operations prior to formally becoming a shared service, treating both the Galleries and the Library as a single client. Building a shared service with another cultural partner has been a useful, though demanding experience. Both organizations are better off for committing to sharing.
Mead, D. and Homer, S. (2014), "Creating Shared Back-Office Services in a National Library", Mergers and Alliances: The Operational View and Cases (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 37), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 175-199. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0065-2830(2013)0000037012Download as .RIS
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