Posted on: January 14, 2014
TRANSFORM. INNOVATE – these are the two words ringing in most finance departments these days. The role of CFO is rapidly changing to be the Catalyst for Change – a very strategic partner to the CEO and the Board in business planning and growth. So what does it mean to your F&A Shared Services? What role can you play to become a strategic partner?
So, the first generation of Finance and Accounting (F&A) transformation was about defining, streamlining, and normalizing processes, as well as establishing shared service centers in diverse geographical locations with the right personnel. Many enterprises have been successful in this initial endeavor with improved operational efficiency, reduced costs and centralized operations support. There are many others who are still in this first generation stage.
Now, the next generation of F&A shared services transformation is beginning to unfold. Can it go beyond cost reduction and BPO to driving strategic decision support? With so much normalized data mined over years, many F&A shared service centers are sitting on wealth of data that could be turned into information of enormous value.
The ability to analyze order-to-cash(O2C) transactions over several years, for example, on a global, massive scale—including customer information, credit information, invoices and customer payments, records on customer interactions, deductions and customer disputes—has the potential to greatly strengthen business planning, maximize growth, and ultimately to change the way business is transacted.
Which product lines yield the best cash conversion? Could changes in the delinquency behavior of a certain group of customers be used to modify marketing strategies? Which customer segments are likely to be more risky ? What operational fixes should be made to decrease write-offs?
The answers to all of these value-driven questions (and infinitely more) exist within the data stored by most F&A shared service centers. More importantly, with the right analytics solutions, these questions can be answered in real time, enabling course corrections and process improvements at the speed of business.
Analytics solutions that are purpose-built for F&A environments often come with data visualization dashboards that provide business insight in a very simple and intuitive manner. But the dashboards are only the beginning. The new generation of analytics is bound only by the creativity of the person who queries the data.
The applications for analytics are vast and the technology is rapidly moving into new frontiers. Industry analysts say this has the power to transform business, and when one considers the possibilities, it is hard to reach any other conclusion.