Collaboration and integration of services are key elements of our Public Service Reform and efficiency agendas. We expect the majority of efficiency gains to be delivered by best business practice and business process improvement, better use of public assets, improved collaborative working and much wider application of Shared Services: ensuring that value is added in all end-to-end business processes and eliminating non-value added activities.
In our response to the Christie Commission Report we stated that we will reform our public services through a decisive shift towards prevention; greater integration at a local level driven by better partnership, workforce development and a sharper, more transparent focus on performance. Our public services must challenge themselves to work collaboratively, including engaging in sharing services.
Shared Services is more than just centralisation or consolidation of similar activities in one location. It is the convergence and streamlining of similar functions within an organisation, or across organisations, to ensure that they are delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible. In a Shared Services model, these activities will be run like a business, delivering services to internal and external customers at a cost and of a quality and timeliness that is competitive with alternatives.
What are the drivers?
The real terms reduction in the Scottish Budget means that public sector organisations have to do more with less money. The public sector in Scotland can share services in order to drive out inefficient practice and reinvest in front line services that have the greatest impact on citizens. Meeting customer expectation is a significant challenge but can drive behaviour and best practice. Scotland, like most of the western world, has an ageing population and (by extension) an ageing workforce. The public sector will have to look at opportunities to retrain in value added areas and share capacity.
Shared Services can also support the green agenda by utilising virtual shared service centres, situated in a range of locations and using the same business processes, technology and trained staff. This allows employees to work from any location across the country, in the process reducing the impact of their carbon footprint.
What we are doing?
Within Central Government we are committed to ensuring that public sector investments in ICT deliver maximum value for money by implementing the recommendations of the McClelland Review of ICT Infrastructure. We have instituted a programme to share and integrate our ICT requirements and support and look to all public sector organisations in Scotland to demonstrate how they will contribute to the potential savings identified in the review. The national strategy Scotland's Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services was published on 19 September 2012 and signals a way in which public bodies can collaborate to ensure that services can be truly joined up to meet the needs of the people of Scotland.
We are also undertaking Benchmarking of Corporate Services within Scottish Government, its Executive Agencies and some of the non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs). This data gathering will feed into decision making for the organisations involved.
In addition, we published a refresh of the Shared Services Guidance in July 2011 which will be regularly updated. It is designed for public sector organisations in Scotland looking to understand shared services and to help them decide if sharing might benefit their organisations.