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Research Report

Shared Services Primer

Understanding the opportunities for scaling administrative services

Shared services is a tried-and-true method for increasing the efficiency and quality of administrative service delivery. Based on shared services maturity, it’s a vehicle to leverage cloud-based enterprise systems and automation to standardize processes, freeing up the capacity for staff to complete more strategic and mission-centric tasks.

With careful planning, shared services centers can even generate cost savings over time. However in higher education, shared services initiatives tend to evoke fears of layoffs, increased administrative burdens for faculty, and expensive consulting engagements with questionable returns. Use this resource to better understand shared services, take the readiness diagnostic, and look at example maturity models.

Understanding shared services

The term “shared services” evokes different connotations in higher ed, from purchasing consortia between schools to payroll administration within state systems. As noted below, this research brief defines shared services as the consolidation of transactional activity performed by generalist staff into a single delivery point.

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    EAB's definition of shared services

    Shared services is the consolidation of administrative activity previously performed by unit-based generalist staff into a centralized delivery point in order to increase service quality and reduce labor costs for customers.

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Shared services readiness diagnostic

The questions in this diagnostic are designed to guide conversations around transforming business processes through shared services. They should be used to assist senior leaders with evaluating the urgency of migrating to shared services, designing an end-state model, achieving faculty and key stakeholder buy-in, and pursuing an implementation plan.

Use the diagnostic questions to spark senior-level conversations about campus readiness to adopt shared services.

Take the Diagnostic


“Under our old model, business services were perceived as low-value and non-core. With shared services, administrative staff have been able to reinvent themselves as high-value service providers.”


Shared Services Director

Public Research University

Shared services maturity model

Institutions that are further along in the shared services planning process or those that are looking to reevaluate an existing shared services model may benefit from comparing themselves to best practice. This maturity model provides a snapshot of solutions deployed by the most mature higher ed shared services organizations in response to common challenges.

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How to bring shared services to life on campus


Design a Shared Services Model That Reflects Campus Priorities

Shared services centers absorb administrative work from campus units to realize efficiency and quality improvements. Rather than adopting…
Strategic Advisory Services

Ease the Transition to Shared Services with a Plan for Change Management Hurdles

Designing an organizational model that reflects campus priorities is an important first step in any shared services journey.…
Strategic Advisory Services

Compendium of Shared Services Profiles

This resource is designed to shed light on this common question. Notably, no two campuses’ approaches to shared…
Strategic Advisory Services
Research Report

Design a shared services organizational model that balances efficiency and customer responsiveness

Shared services organizations absorb administrative work from distributed campus units to realize efficiency and quality improvements.
Strategic Advisory Services

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