While being the backbone of many organization’s Offices of Finance and Accounting, it is now commonly acknowledged that this overreliance on Excel spreadsheets coupled with the lack of visibility associated with its use represents a very real risk. With automation available to improve both process efficiency and effectiveness, the challenge many companies face isn’t why they should transform their process but how.
The key to overcoming this challenge is creating a strong business case for investment. One that not only sets out the objectives of the project but is also underpinned by a robust financial analysis, in the form of qualitative and quantitative ROI, and a thorough understanding of risk.
One of the most common things we hear when we speak to companies about improving their financial close process through automation is “But I already have an ERP system.” It’s true that an ERP goes a long way towards helping manage some of the financial close process. However, there is still a great deal of work that is taken outside of the ERP each period end and managed manually.
Trintech is a global software provider with over 1,700 customers in over 100 countries. Across the globe, we focus on delivering value to our customers through local representation to build a community where we are known as a trusted partner to deliver best practice and enable process improvement.
In our previous eBook, “Part 1: Enabling Financial Transformation through Technology,” we examined the “why” of Record to Report transformation and briefly described ‘how” you can achieve this through the implementation of Record to Report technology.
Now that you understand the “why” and the “how” it’s time to put it into action to ensure a successful Record to Report transformation delivery. But first we need to lay the framework, as the majority of you have probably never embarked on a financial transformation journey before or have experience with a technology purchase or implementation of this calibre.
Over the past few years, terms such as: ‘Modern Finance,’ ‘Continuous Accounting’ and ‘Robotic Process Automation’ have all created buzz across the finance industry. These have been launched as a response to the challenges facing finance around attracting and retaining high quality employees, the rising risks due to the difficulty in certifying accurate data, today, and the expectation that finance has a role in driving the business forward.
Typically, Shared Services Center (SSCs) automation initiatives have been undertaken to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
These goals are achieved relatively easily within the first few years, most immediately through reduced labor costs and centralized activities.
In fact, standardization and centralization deliver up to 50% savings. During subsequent phases, technology automation and outsourcing cut costs further. But, if cost reduction is the only clearly defined goal, organizations will reach a point of diminishing returns.
By leveraging Record to Report technology, you can effectively manage the entire R2R cycle in one place with one single view of all your relevant controls. Software not only provides you with the means of collating all this data in a single view, but also can eliminate those white spaces between key control components and enable you to standardize across your business.
In terms of reconciliations, we tend to spend most of our time simply gathering data before we can even begin to think about reconciling it. Once the data is finally in the right format, the majority of our time is then spent manually going through the matching process, rather than spending that time focused on the areas that are most critical to us, as can be seen in the diagram on the right.
The primary objective of any financial transformation project is to achieve process improvements by improving the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of financial information, ultimately enhancing shareholder value.
Take the example of the close process. It would be incredibly simple to shorten the process by adding more people, however, is this an efficient way to reduce the number of days to close? On the right, the Hackett Group displays that best in class companies actually can be seen closing in fewer days, with greater automation and significant lower audit fees, emphasizing the idea that you really can do more with less.