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calculate2Are traditional methods of calculating ROI holding you back from adopting new technology? We are glad to see it isn’t just us at Trintech who have realized that more often than not, the way you calculate your ROI may be inhibiting your company’s potential for future growth. This past year, SSON.com has expressed its view on how organizations are consistently misled on adopting new technology due to their “traditional ROI calculations.”

This article, which can be seen in full at the end of this blog, identifies that the struggle with identifying the business value of a technology investment lies in the issue that value-added outputs are increasingly intangible in today’s organizations. Although these intangible benefits may be hard to pinpoint, they are in most cases, more valuable than the hard benefits.

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Financial TransformationThe primary objective of any financial transformation project is to achieve process improvements by increasing the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of financial information, ultimately enhancing shareholder value. The challenge with financial transformation, however, isn’t why you would do it, but how you do it.

While we would all like to think that our projects will be a success, simply hoping they will be is unlikely to make them successful. In reality, McKinsey states that 70% of all transformation projects will end up failing; highlighting how difficult it is, at an operational level, to actually deliver a successful project that meets the initial objectives. So why is this the case?

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checklistDue to an increase in regulations and stakeholder demands, the pressure on the organization’s financial close and reporting processes is greater than ever before. These pressures often require organizations to disclose more information in their reports, and in a shorter time frame than ever before, dramatically increasing the risk of errors across their office of finance. Due to these pressures, many organizations are now turning to automation software to help them gain better control and visibility over their entire financial close process.

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bottleneckAlmost every company experiences bottlenecks when looking at Record-to-Report transformation. These bottlenecks cause severe distress in the decision process and can often lead to companies pushing back any planned investment.

Why would I spend extra money to increase the efficiency of one of my processes over spending that same money on a function that will directly contribute to the growth of my business? This is a very common and valid question most companies ask themselves when looking to transform their R2R process but by just simply analyzing the transformation from a different focus can change your view completely.

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Compliance Controls SquareAccording to an article in the Wall Street Journal and a survey from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), companies seem to have a looser grip on their internal controls than they realise.

With recent high-profile stories like Hertz and Toshiba, it is clear that organisations need to increase the use of technology to automate all processes including reconciliation and certification, embed compliance, and ensure authorization and proper signoffs with appropriate documentation are all digitally calculated, directed, and captured.

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ERPsWhen we initially speak to new companies we commonly hear “Why would I need software to manage my close when it’s currently managed in my ERP?”

It is true that ERP solutions go some way to help with the various individual close processes, however, it’s also true that companies such as AstraZeneca, ABB, Siemens, Microsoft, etc. also have ERPs but still wanted to improve their automation through the implementation of made for purpose R2R software.

Why? Because they weren’t happy with their current technology. They still struggled with all of the white space outside the ERP and were heavily reliant on spreadsheets and manual processes to manage their end to end Record to Report (R2R) processes and close their books. They all wanted to reduce the complexity of the close by automating their processes and close more quickly, for less money and with fewer resources. 

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Think-Youve-AutomatedThere is consistency among market leading experts and finance functions that the key driver for financial transformation improvements is technology. As PWC so neatly put it “Improving finance technology is the #1 method that finance professionals identify for making finance processes more effective.”

Bearing this in mind, it would seem to be a fair assumption that most organisations have already got to grips with their systems and implemented the required technology to be as effective as possible. However, Ventana Research’s recent research seems to state otherwise:

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FinancialDirectorFinancial Director has written an interesting piece about PwC’s annual benchmarking report and highlight how the finance function is improving efficiencies and reducing costs through automating processes. As they state:

“PwC’s annual finance function benchmark report found that the best performing finance functions cost 40% less than their peers and have ditched the traditional focus on book-keeping and information gathering in favour of greater automation, shared services and more efficient use of capacity.”

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APQCAPQC is running a great series of blogs around the process improvement cycle that follows our experiences of the process management cycle.

Although “Improving finance technology is the #1 method that finance professionals identify for making finance processes more effective¹”, it isn’t a panacea and yet this is commonly the starting point for most companies.

While companies engaging in process transformation may be aware of the seven aspects of process management, what APQC calls the “Seven Tenets of Process Management”, the order in which these are executed on is key to the effectiveness of your transformation.

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Financial Shared Services CostsFinancial Shared Services initiatives have primarily been undertaken to deliver reduced costs and improved efficiency.  These goals are achieved relatively easily within the first few years of with results most immediately being felt through reducing labour costs and centralization.

When they are first established, 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.

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