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29 June, 2011 Uncategorised

Should you centralise?

This month’s tip comes from a question sent in to me: 

“We have a number of corporate support areas and ‘helpdesks’.

Would it make sense to try and centralise these and build a single central operation?”

While there’s no simple answer to this, I suggest a few key points to consider:

1) In general it will be more cost-effective to centralise various support operations, as this will usually save through a single approach, use of tools and processes, reduction in licenses,  reduction in overlapping activities, etc.

2) It will usually be easier to manage a single operation and easier to get consistent delivery and management information.

3) However you must be clear on the objectives of this, as the potential negatives and risks may be high to the business, such as:

  • Loss of key staff and skills, if jobs are seen to be downgraded
  • Difficulty in combining completely different types of operations, personality types, and skill levels – e.g. software support, telesales, building maintenance
  • The costs, time, and resources required to consolidate the operations may be significant and outweigh the benefits, particularly in small organisations
  • Service and quality levels will almost certainly be adversely affected during the changeover period and this may expose the business to risk.

As ever, this sort of change project will need careful consideration, objective setting, cost/benefit analysis, detailed budgeting, and planning, as well as quality project management in order to truly succeed.