At P&G, the battle was just beginning after core applications had been centralized and consolidated, says Passerini. With 99% of core applications on the global SAP system, the CIO turned his attention to all of the other applications used in the business and was surprised to find that only 27% were standardized. In just one area -- the management of promotional funds for retail customers -- P&G had 55 different systems in place. Over the past four years, P&G has gradually increased its overall standardization rate to 80%, and Passerini says he expects that figure to eventually hit 100%.
Other businesses may find that some applications must remain local, says Cameron. Sourcing, manufacturing and distribution planning often go global, while the sales, marketing and final distribution functions frequently remain local. "That local-global balance is the magic," he says, but it's often more of a political problem that needs to be solved, rather than a technical one.
The final step at IDEX, Kamath says, has been to build a global virtual organization -- a multicultural team that's distributed geographically in order to stay close to the customer, but that reports back to the central shared services organization. The virtual team has staff members in a range of locations, including Europe, China, India and Canada. "They need to be dispersed geographically, to be able to work independently and to be able to work with individuals from different cultures," Kamath says.
At Equifax, Webb's team carefully considered which roles would move to headquarters and which needed to stay local. "The relationship management piece, project management, business analysts and requirements analysis need to stay in-country," he says. "All of the rest can be questioned and analyzed for globalization."
IT's Sales Job
The process of globalizing is as much about management as it is about technology, IT executives say. And no IT globalization effort will succeed unless IT can show an immediate benefit to the business. "You cannot force standardization now with the promise that five years from now the world will be better," Passerini says. "The business must understand the immediate return as well as the good that comes later. Always start with business-relevant, concrete benefits that your business partners can see, feel and touch."
P&G built up its shared services business by clearly articulating the business benefits that line up with the company's strategic business goals, he says.