I've blogged about shared services before - lots of discussion about how sharing some back-end systems might save money. I was interested to see today that the idea is catching on in the US as well. There's an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University co-operating on the implementation of an ERP system for Finance, HR and Payroll. Now that in itself might not be particularly newsworthy over here, but what particularly interested me in the article was the amount of money they are going to save. Apparently they are going to save (or avoid appointing) 40 staff between them, with Chapel Hill estimating that they would have had to employ an extra 60 to 70 staff to run the new ERP, and the new arrangement means that they can eliminate the need for 40 of them, saving $3m every year on staffing which will be split between the two institutions.
So, three years ago we put in a new ERP system for Finance, HR and Payroll. We appointed 5 new staff in IT, and as far as I'm aware, no permanent staff in any other department. The two Carolina Universities are slightly bigger than us with c30,000 students and 8,000 staff compared to our 25,000 and 6,000, but not much. So, what did we do right? (or wrong?). What on earth were these 70 staff going to do? And is it any wonder shared services can give savings when the numbers involved are that big and some of us are sceptical about making large savings when our numbers involved are so small?