NASA's secret to an efficient and humane transition to shared services

During any transition to shared services, some staff will only have part of their duties moved to the shared services unit. They will therefore no longer work at full capacity, causing inefficiency within individual campus or system units.

Without careful planning for future staff transitions and training, systems can have many employees paid at full salary without commensurate duties. Additionally, the system will not get the benefit of redirecting free time to more mission-critical activities.

To return generalists to full capacity or to support disrupted, departing staff, many campuses and systems provide early retirement, buyout, and time reallocation options to their generalist administrative personnel. However, others have attempted more innovative practices such as hiring organizational design consultants to help department leaders redesign roles and duties after generalist employees lose part of their duties to shared services.

Regardless of the specific practice employed, system leaders should ensure that displaced staff have support from the institution in either finding a new job or retraining to fit their new duties.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has an award-winning shared services center due in part to its commitment to supporting its staff through the transition. Before creating a shared services center in Mississippi, NASA spent three years analyzing current staffing and future staffing needs in human resources, payroll, and finance.

Every employee at NASA received an individualized transition plan, and they had three years to execute that plan. Individual staff members had the assistance of human resources staff at their local site. NASA created goodwill among its employees and saved more in labor costs than they originally anticipated.

Download a staff transition planning template

Read the full study to learn 9 more best practices for maximizing the benefits shared services


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