Page 3: Centralisation
Centralisation involves bringing together key activities in one particular part of an organisation. This might be, for example, at Head Office.
The Commission created a change management team to help introduce the centralisation process. The team worked closely with HR managers. Together they have set up 25 Standard Operating Procedures to replace the previous 47-plus practices. These state clearly how every key process of the HR function should be carried out.
The Commission has also set up a Shared Service Centre (SSC) in London to manage and streamline transactional services. Transactional services in the Human Resources area include the administration elements of recruitment, such as producing adverts, helping to shortlist candidates or sending out invitations to interviews. Everyone who accesses the new Shared Services Centre is now able to get the same high level of service, regardless of their location.
The Commission has been introducing the change in phases. Around 15 people are in this central team and they provide a single point of contact internally for advice and support by e-mail and phone. Every two months, the work of one or two regional offices has been transferred to SSC. The SSC now has responsibility for meeting the HR transactional needs for the entire Legal Services Commission.
A new role has been created the HR Business Partner. This replaces the previous role of HR Manager. The HR Business Partner concentrates on long-term planning e.g. workforce planning.
Workforce planning considers the staffing needs of the Commission for the present and the future. It looks at how many people will retire or resign over the next few years and how many new recruits will be needed to keep the service operating at peak performance or deliver new business.
In the past there were HR managers based in each of the different regions of the UK. HR Business Partners have a more functional role. This means they take responsibility for specific functional activities across the country. For example, a HR Business Partner may be responsible for managing a particular aspect of policy for several locations.
Benefits of centralisation
There are a number of benefits of centralisation:
- Managers can focus on higher level work related to long-term planning and decision making. Routine procedures are carried out at a more junior level using standardised processes. Managers therefore do not have to spend time on tasks such as form-filling.
- Systems across the organisation are now more consistent. This is more cost-effective and fair for all. This fits with the Commission”s drive for lean production within its services i.e. the elimination of waste.
- Employees can carry out some administrative tasks for themselves through a self-service process. They access a simple-to-use online system. They can use this for example to book holiday time or update their personal details.
- The structure of the SSC is designed to be flexible so that it can take on additional work of a transactional nature when required.
However, there are some potential drawbacks to centralisation. For example, Legal Services Commission employees may feel that some services are now at a distance from them. Managers may feel de-motivated by having less personal contact with the people running the system and having less control over the process.