Modernising back-office processes is often a sizable step for Finance functions looking to get the most out of a transformation journey. There may also be an element of emotional attachment to existing ways of working, hence the importance of helping employees understand the need for the change. But moving away from spreadsheets and manual processes will allow your workforce to focus less on completing process-heavy tasks and more on strategic activities, improving both employee job satisfaction and the productive potential of your workforce.
To maximise the benefit of adopting SaaS technology, ‘out of the box’ processes should also be adopted (where possible). Finding the right balance between Optimal SaaS processes and your organisation-specific requirements is a significant piece of work.
In this blog, we have three examples of optimal Finance Processes, and share some key areas to be aware of when undertaking your Finance transformation journey.
Consider implementing Position Management
Modern Finance systems no longer require e-mail inboxes to be clogged up by system notifications; cloud-based systems will transport work to be done to those that need to do it, and the relevant staff will have actions appear on their dashboards. These could be approving purchase orders or sales invoices, or perhaps confirming the location and condition of fixed assets.
Position Management is a way of setting up a staffing framework to define the number and types of roles required to meet the organisation's current and future business needs. This way of working means approvals and other such tasks stay with the position rather than the person, drastically easing the management of joiners, leavers, and movers.
Optimise your end-to-end Purchase to Pay lifecycle
The optimal process for Accounts Payable involves no human interaction between receiving the invoice and making payment to the customer i.e., “touchless processing”. Invoices (and credit notes) are received electronically via a supplier portal, and “read” by the system. The supplier, purchase order, quantity, and price are automatically matched against a confirmed receipt. The invoice is then ready for payment by the agreed payment method on the due date.
The successful implementation of touchless processing depends on the configuration of the system and training and support for employees required to perform the requisite tasks. Review your end-to-end P2P lifecycle to understand any blockers to maximise automation. You may wish to consider engagement with suppliers too, to ensure they understand any new demands on them to achieve touchless processing.
The outcome will be problem-free, happy suppliers.
Understand your customer groups to help with debt management
Different customer groups can be configured on system with different attributes. These attributes allow divergent groups to have different debt strategies applied and prevent customers with different risk profiles from being harassed by irrelevant reminders.
Different customer profiles can be applied between departments, subsidiaries, and different types of customers with different risk ratings.
One group for example may get two letters and a phone call before further proceedings are initiated, whereas another group may only get one telephone call, perhaps due to previous poor payment history. Strategies are more easily configurable and flexible using modern technology but still require careful configuration and thorough change management to ensure users understand – and adopt the new ways of working.
If you are looking to transform your finance function, other processes you will need to consider include:
How is your Chart of Accounts maintained? Does it reflect your organisation accurately or has your structure evolved over time to meet ad-hoc needs?
Are all supplier communications managed through a secure supplier portal, which suppliers can access to maintain their own data?
Do budgeting and forecasting activities sit within your core financial application? Or do they occur on third-party systems and spreadsheets? Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting tools can be integrated to automatically mirror changes to your chart of accounts structures without the need to re-engineer complex spreadsheets.
Do your accounting teams spend a great deal of time manually reconciling control accounts? In a fully integrated system, we would expect all automated transactions to be automatically reconciled.
Is your asset register maintained on complex spreadsheets that require to be managed manually? Non-Current Assets can be automatically created from Accounts Payable transactions or from the Projects modules in an integrated finance system.
Does your organisation require a Projects module? Or if a Projects module is already being used, is it being used as intended to track Project costs?
The above list is by no means exhaustive, however it provides a good idea of the kinds of questions you will need to consider when looking to transform your Finance processes.
In our upcoming blogs, we will dive deeper into each of the other lenses and outline learnings from our finance transformation experts that you can incorporate into your organisation. Next up, we have Policy where we investigate why we should focus on policy prior to selecting and implementing new technology.
If you have any questions and would like to find out more, you can get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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