Corporate Services: From functioning to shaping


Human resources, finance and facility management have long been in the shadows. In many organisations, they merely support and enable the business. Read more below how this is changing fundamentally now.

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No one can achieve anything on his or her own. What applies to people also applies to departments and areas in organisations. Many companies still distinguish between business units such as Sales and Marketing, which drive the business and thus the success of the entire organisation. And corporate services, such as human resources, compliance, IT, facility management, purchasing and finance, which merely support and empower the business with expertise and structures. After these have played a subordinate role for long enough, the moment of Corporate Services has now arrived: It is time to change themselves and the company and to break down silos.

Under scrutiny: Corporate Services

In many places, corporate services have a reputation as operational support for sales, production or marketing. Viewed as cost centres far removed from the business, they struggle to contribute to value creation. Corporate services are put to the test when restructuring or cost-cutting programmes are on the agenda. It is not uncommon for companies to place the work of these areas in the hands of external agencies. This is reckless, because not only do they lose responsibility for important processes. The business also misses out on the great potential that lies dormant in corporate services.

"Corporate services design transformational processes. In doing so, they are at the forefront of building the economic future."

However, a shift in thinking is taking place. In recent years, corporate services have become the new hero:in the company. In times of skills shortages, human resources are using statistics, tools and people skills to answer the question: how do we find the right person for the right job at the right moment? IT teams test digital marketing and sales channels, promote direct communication with customers externally and with employees internally. They think far beyond the hardware supplier and enable innovative development processes. With clever space concepts and suitable personnel services, Facility Management plans the decentralised and flexible architecture of companies that want to operate sustainably yet profitably. Corporate Services design transformational processes. In this way, they are at the forefront of building the economic future of a company.

Participation and co-determination

From inspiring onboarding to promising projects, professional development to the end of an employment relationship: what employees and managers experience in their company and how they perceive decision-making processes, manners and opportunities for development play a major role for the entire organisation. Effective, committed teams interact more intensively with customers and they improve the organisation's reputation. But for this, companies need different structures: the popular division into business, which leads the organisation into the future, and corporate services on the sidelines, which make sure that things run smoothly but otherwise please keep quiet, is obsolete. The key lies in the participation and co-determination of all stakeholders.

"Management levels need a culture of partnership in which all areas of the organisation have a say."

Those who build new structures and develop innovative business areas deserve a seat at the table. In some companies, corporate services have already succeeded in this and have become essential, strategic partners. CEOs can accept this development and expand the circle of decision-makers in the management. This means that they will work more closely than before with CHROs, CIOs, CFOs or CTOs. Senior management needs a culture of partnership in which all parts of the organisation have a say. In a world where people make the difference, working in an environment that makes them effective, HR, IT, Finance, but also Facility Management and Procurement are no longer peripheral, but a central part of the strategic business.

The end of silos and classic power structures

It is now clear where the journey is heading: in future, Human Resources, Facility Management or IT will not only create the operational foundations for the success of companies. They are shaping the new working world and creating opportunities that go far beyond "saving costs" and "simplifying processes". As strategic partners of the business, corporate services challenge traditional power structures. In the long term, however, all management areas should strive for intensive and appreciative cooperation.

"Digital transformation is in the DNA of Corporate Services."

Today, corporate services are showing more and more clearly that they are up to their new tasks. On the one hand, they need and use reliable and economical structures for this in order to do justice to the core processes and tasks of the company. On the other hand, this is not possible without a digital mindset and corresponding competences. The digital transformation is in the DNA of corporate services and until now, HR or finance departments have not made much of a fuss about it. It is almost taken for granted that you can now submit an application online easily, quickly and simply and that the application process is handled purely digitally. Corporate services did what needed to be done to keep up with the changing demands. So they are skilled at it. This is their big advantage, part of their responsibility and the opportunity to demand more say that fits their new role.

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