Finance transformation is no longer an option, it is vital to ensure finance teams shift from number crunching to adding real value to the business through business partnering & strategic support, data & analytical capabilities & serving as business advisors. The impact of COVID over the last 3 years has taught us the necessity to be agile & respond quickly to expected, & more importantly, unexpected changes in the business & the external environment are critical.
I have had the opportunity to work on a large number of finance transformation projects including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) & revenue system implementation, scoping & roll out of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) & data science & analytical tools. In this article, I will give insights into what I believe are the success factors for finance transformation to aid those in the process of automation or looking to embark on their journey of transformation!
Planning – If not planned effectively finance transformation can be costly & fail to deliver what it set out to achieve. This includes current & future state roadmaps, the business case & project plans, resourcing, technologies, project timeline & key deliverables & targets, to name but a few. Review & report against progress, using an accredited project management framework, to ensure any risk to timelines is identified & remediated promptly.
People / Resources – Identify & centralise the Transformation team to ensure they can work standalone on the transformation programme. It can be very difficult to achieve optimisation, especially on a large-scale project if project resources are also required to work on business-as-usual actives. This includes resources in finance but also technology, business analysts, project management etc.
Identify technologies – Identifying what technologies will provide the solution to meet the transformation objective is critical for success. Examples include Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Business Intelligence (BI), data science & analytical tools & Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Often it’s not a “one size fits all”, a hybrid of solutions may be required to achieve optimisation.
Scalability – Do not underestimate the future possibilities of current automation; scalability is key when considering automation opportunities; what might be +100 hours a month saving when automating a process (e.g. high volume report downloads using robots) could translate to +500 hours saving in 12 month’s time as a business scales & grows.
Quick wins – Early on in a project “quick wins” are important to gain momentum for those on the project team & those impacted by its delivery (e.g. day to day Finance team).
Constantly evolving – Transformation is constantly evolving, it should not pause or end. You need to consider new ways of adapting & automating as business strategy & external factors change. This lends itself to setting up a centre of excellence further detailed below.
Return on Investment (ROI) – Consider ROI but don’t allow this to be the primary driver in decision-making during transformation. You need to consider other factors in conjunction with ROI. Measure value as you go because transformation is iterative. Think of factors such as employee engagement, attracting talented employees to best-in-class finance functions, customer engagement & ability to respond to customer demands & external environment factors.
Sustainability considerations – This is a hot topic at the moment & will continue to be so. Ensure it is part of the planning process around your transformation objectives & vision, both for finance & the wider organisation.
Centre of excellence for finance optimisation – When established, set up a centre of excellence to manage the transformation journey allowing other areas of the business to leverage off automation opportunities.
And finally, celebrate the successes!! The journey to transformation can take time, so celebrating each milestone is important to keep momentum & engagement across the organisation.
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