The quality of technology is a key factor in the adoption of shared services among public sector organisations, according to research from workforce solutions provider MidlandHR.
Public sector bodies have been urged by the government and analysts to move towards shared services to save money in response to budget cutbacks.
The findings in the research revealed that three quarters (73 percent) of public sector organisations believed that having the right supporting technology is "important" or "very important" when implementing a shared service for HR and payroll.
The research, 'HR and payroll shared services in the public sector – perceptions and realities', examined the opinions of over 100 UK public sector representatives involved in functions spanning HR, payroll, finance, purchasing and IT.
Of those sharing services, two in three (63 percent) organisations share services internally, whereby multiple departments share a centralised service or services.
One in five (18 percent) operate a joint service shared with another organisation, while 12 percent are the lead organisation supplying services to other organisations.
For those not already sharing, 58 percent would choose an internal shared service as their first option.
The majority of respondents (84 percent) felt it was "very important" to redesign processes as part of a shared HR and payroll service.
Almost a third (30 percent) of organisations perceived payroll as an easier service to share compared with HR. The main reason stated for this was that it is more of a transactional process "for which well established systems are available at a reasonable cost".
Karen Bull, product strategy manager at MidlandHR, said: “With two in five organisations (37 percent) planning to implement shared services in the next two years, they’ll need to ensure that their supporting technology is process driven and highly configurable. This will enable multi-organisational processing in one environment."
Earlier this year Socitm, the public sector IT managers association, published the full version of its strategy document - "Planting the Flag: the Strategy for ICT-enabled local public services reform" - urging councils to make more use of shared services.
The strategy sets out how technology can enable public service reforms and savings across the whole range of local services, with shared services at the centre of the initiative.