Position Finance to drive value

Reduce the cost and time spend on processing transactions and doing reporting through automation to build more analytics and supporting capabilities

Client Challenge

Shift the focus from – hindsight to foresight – static and rigid to real time and dynamic – execute and control to monitor and orchestrate – operator to strategist

As part of a group reorganisation the UK team was tasked with bringing three brands together under one management team. The brands provide Supply Chain, Product development and Manufacturing services within the same industry, all with their own people, processes, systems and culture.

Management wanted to take the opportunity to modernise by leveraging digital technologies and become more data-driven, standardise processes across the brands to gain efficiencies and embed an agile working culture promoting continuous learning.

For Finance, this meant playing a more strategic role, providing the business with foresight rather than hindsight and spending far less time processing and reporting by utilising technology to automate and streamline.

Solution

We began by understanding what role the business wanted finance to play and how finance can play an integral role in delivering the business objectives to ensure the vision of the future Finance Function is aligned with the business objectives which formed the basis of the target operating model (TOM).

We performed various assessments covering people, process, technology, data and culture to get a clear view of the current state to identify the gap that needed to be bridged and prepared a one-year roadmap to get them to their future model. Our overriding objective was to leverage digital technologies to simplify the finance function and enable it to operate with greater efficiency and effectiveness.

The starting point was the standardisation and improvement of the P2P and O2C processes across the brands and establishing a standard chart of accounts before we transferred all three brands onto one platform. This created a common language for the team to become one and enabled cross utilisation of the staff.

The focus shifted towards automation using OCR, NLP and RPA tools to automate invoice processing, reconciliations, processing standard journals and compiling and aggregating information for reporting. Workflow software was used to streamline cross functional collaboration for approvals and exception handling. Speeding up the close process through a combination of process improvement and technology.

Implemented self service analytics providing the business with the right information at the right time and shifted the focus of the finance team from preparing to analysing discovering trends, opportunities and risks. Introduced monthly rolling forecasts and scenario planning delivered through driver-based models providing the business with options and early warning indicators promoting agility within the organisation.

Impact

The finance transformation resulted in a more efficient and effective finance team. The team used time gained from efficiency to improve their business knowledge thus becoming more connected, using analytics to drive insight to navigate the business and build business resilience through early warning indicators, creating more time for the business to respond.

 

  • Overall Finance spend reduced by 35%, now representing 0.38% of revenue and more than 70% of time allocated to value adding activities.
  • Transferred all three brands onto one ERP platform with a common chart of accounts helping the team to speak the same language and enabling cross-utilisation of staff.
  • Standardised O2C and P2P processes enabling automation of 70% of manual and repetitive tasks and consolidated the three brands under one team handling exceptions and performing credit control.
  • Reduced close cycle times from 7 to 4 days. Created a central repository providing transparency over the process and visibility into the time it takes to perform tasks guiding continuous improvement efforts.
  • Outlawed outbound paper, eliminating unnecessary time spent preparing and posting invoices and remittances. Introduced inbound document management system scanning and tagging all documents.
  • Introduced self-service expense reporting, reduced time spent processing and chasing employees for information and at the same time increasing visibility and control over the expenditure.
  • Self-service dashboards automating 90% of standard reports providing real-time data to the right people at the right time, shifting the focus from preparing to analysing within the finance function.
  • Monthly Rolling forecasts looking 18 months ahead and scenario planning.

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