A shared service that works for all...

Posted on November 30, 2016
‘We will also work with those organisations to agree plans and set targets for back office and efficiency savings where appropriate, and use our investment cycle, beginning in 2017, to encourage more shared service models.’
Towards An Active Nation, Sport England

Sport England has made it very clear in the Towards An Active Nation strategy that it believes shared service models are a legitimate means of helping the sport sector to ‘become more productive and sustainable’, and at Sport:80 we agree.

The purpose of a shared service agreement is to enable a collective of NGBs to aggregate their interests in a particular service and, acting as a group, drive down costs whilst benefiting from back office efficiencies. Shared service models can work across a whole range of areas including everything from kit, clothing and equipment to venue hire for competitions, office stationery, websites and other digital services.

Having said that, there are some obvious challenges with shared services, the biggest of which is ensuring all those involved are able to benefit, and it’s not just those that shout loudest who are heard. The sport sector is susceptible to this particular pitfall given the variety of governing bodies, each of which differs in terms of prominence, size, strategy and funding. The key to a successful shared service has to be a solution that is flexible enough to align with the goals of each organisation, but this isn’t easy to come by.

At Sport:80, we have been promoting a shared service model for a number of years now and in the past 12 months we believe we have created an alternative approach that has started to bear fruit. In the infancy of our organisation we recognised traditional shared service models that include catch-all agreements, one size fits all solutions and standardised benefits don’t cut it in the sector we are passionate about. So we took a different approach; aiming to create a community of sports organisations all using our technology and benefiting from knowledge sharing, collaboration and ultimately economies of scale.

Talking to you now, we believe we have created the foundation of that community which currently includes governing bodies for Archery, Fencing, Weightlifting, Squash, Cricket and Judo among others. All are using our sport management platform to manage key areas of their organisations and to deliver online services to their members. Each organisation works with us on terms that align with their needs and goals, and the shared service element of our offering means they are able to benefit from each other’s engagement with the platform.

So how does the Sport:80 shared service work?

Our sport management platform is cloud-based, and this provides the flexibility that I mentioned earlier. Firstly, it allows us to configure the technology for a specific sport, and secondly it means our in-house development team can constantly update and improve it, often (but not exclusively) as a result of engagement with our community.

We have made it our mission to regularly engage with each governing body using the Platform to get their feedback on ideas for improvements or what new features they would like to see. We then go away and develop new tools based on this feedback, pushing the improvements platform-wide for all to benefit from. In the past this has amounted to integrated features such as waiting list functionality for event entries, results capture and rankings, e-membership cards and an email marketing tool.

We are delivering and supporting innovative technology solutions across the sport sector, including the recent launch of British Weight Lifting’s BARS system, which was built using our Sport Management Platform. David Gent, Development Director at British Weight Lifting believed our approach was a significant aspect in the NGBs decision making process for the project:

“Sport:80’s approach played a big role in our decision to choose them as our Technology Partner. They are personal and inclusive; we are able to work with them on our terms and have a great working relationship with their team. We also value being part of a community that promotes idea-sharing and innovation, which has ultimately led to us being able to make strides towards our goals of improved engagement with our members and becoming a paperless organisation.”

With no barriers to entry, our approach is seeing us work with more governing bodies each month and we are keeping in touch with the likes of the SRA to update them with our progress. Our vision is that our technology is used by more sports organisations based in the UK and Ireland under our shared service model which will allow us to deliver even greater economies of scale.

We believe that our Platform and our vision will allow all NGBs, regardless of their size or stature, to benefit from a number of opportunities that will bring the goal of sustainability in to closer reach. Firstly, by providing online access to a sport and improving engagement with members, governing bodies can improve and diversify existing revenue streams by up-selling additional services and/or products. Also, as a direct result of aggregating the interests of NGBs under a shared service, we will be able to open up commercial opportunities that may have not been as lucrative, or even available to governing bodies if they were acting alone.

Now you may think this is a new concept, and that a shared service among differing bodies is an impossible feat, but it’s not new, and it has been done before. We know this because in the past members of our team have been involved in the success of a project just like this.

If you are interested in finding out more about our past experience in this area, any of our on-going projects with governing bodies or our shared service model, get in touch by emailing info@sport80.com or by calling 020 3005 2526. 

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