There is an interesting secret within the biggest trend in service delivery in an effort to compete globally in volatile times. As global enterprises move toward global process standardization, many of these companies are missing a vital piece required for success.

The reason? While many companies have appointed a leader who is accountable for each process and tasked with driving global standardization—often known as the global process owner (GPO)—they often lack the proper selection criteria. It’s simply not enough to appoint a knowledgeable process leader. Finding the right person to fill the GPO role is critical to effective finance transformation that leads to world-class processes. And finding that person starts with a clear understanding of the GPO’s function.

The Journey to Best-in-Class

World-class finance and accounting services are built on a delivery model aligned to organizational goals and business needs. For some, standardization means a single roof with centralized services. For others, it could be a mix of global, near-shore, regional and in-country resources organized to deliver the most effective services at the best cost.

There is one common characteristic of world-class organizations, however. These companies have given responsibility for end-to-end process capabilities to a single person who is directly accountable to the CEO, the COO, or the leader of a global business services (GBS) organization.

The importance of the GPO role should not be overlooked. World-class global processes—whether finance and accounting, procurement, or any other end-to-end value chain—incorporate multiple foundational elements. They can include standardized, globally enforced policies; metrics that continuously benchmark performance to industry standards; technology that enables improved processes; and an operating model that matches skill sets to requirements and accommodates fluctuations in demand. All of this is driven by a GPO focused on end-to-end performance, working with multiple stakeholders in harmonious collaboration to achieve a common goal. And yet, the GPO role is where many companies make their biggest mistake. That person must have the right skills, the right authority and the right scope to create true world-class processes.