Finance Strategy: Transform Your Processes

February 20, 2014 Casey Wiedeman

finance

Previously, we discussed how “Finance Transformation Begins with a Vision”.  We then provided the model to “Stay on Course and Enable Quick Decisions” by establishing governance. The next step is to define critical process areas before the design of the technology solution. When an implementation proceeds without process design, decisions are delayed or not made holistically. Processes are often discussed over and over due to the lack of documentation. This results in project delays and fragmented processes. Documenting the desired processes to align with the application upfront ensures best practices and establishes a framework for end-to-end testing, training, and internal control documentation.

Discover the End-To-End Process

Before defining the future-state of Finance processes, it is important to understand the current end-to-end processes across the various Finance functions and determine if there are inconsistencies with subsidiaries or global operations. Discovering process inconsistencies, pain points, system gaps, control weaknesses, manual activities, and reporting limitations will provide the transformation focus areas.  Reducing the time spent in these areas is a necessary condition to transform the Finance function into a strategic business partner.

Define the Future-State

To ensure that the future-state of Finance processes are transformational, a focus must be placed on the strategic vision.  For example, if the vision is make the solution simple, then use this principle as a guardrail to ensure that the future-state processes are easy and intuitive.

Process design will need to consider five questions to create an effective process. In addition to these questions, the following dimensions need to be captured within the process.

  • Business rules and decision points

  • Roles that add value and the security necessary to control segregation of duties

  • Reporting and information needs to enable process progression

  • Processes external to the technology implementation required to enable the overall process

  • Key control points that govern the process and ensure compliance

Align Key Stakeholders and Capture Potential Change Impacts

Reviewing the future-state processes with key stakeholders is necessary to ensure that there are no process gaps and provides a forum to gain stakeholder commitment in support of the new processes.  New Finance technology will enable processes that were previously not possible.  These processes can have a significant change impact on the organization.  Identifying these potential change impacts during process design and stakeholder review is critical to capture and leverage as part of a change management strategy.

Conclusion

There is a high probability that the same old Finance processes will be implemented if they are not redesigned in advance of a technology implementation.  Defining processes that deliver the desired value to the organization will provide the framework for the technology design and is a key step in transforming the Finance function into a strategic business partner.

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