Finance resolution #1: Spend More Time on Strategic Analysis

By Clinton Jones on January 4, 2017

As part of my five part blog series ‘New Year’s Resolutions for SAP Finance Teams in 2017,’ I mentioned the Winshuttle platform could be leveraged to support finance teams. The first resolution I’d like you and your team to consider is spending less time collecting and correcting financial data and more time on performing higher value strategic analysis work.

This resolution doesn’t need to be limited to New Year’s – it can be an improvement initiative for your finance operations that you can work towards all year round. As you know time is scarce for finance. There is so much to do during the course of the year, and the periodic bursts of energy required to complete month end, quarter end and year end can be very disruptive to daily operations. Market analysis suggests that the one things that is almost as scarce as time is suitably qualified personnel.

A 2015 survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) cited “finding qualified staff or retaining qualified staff” is a top concern for small accounting firms. While this is a focus for the profession, this challenge also carries through to the corporate segment.

One of the ways that finance teams can address this skill shortage is by spending less time on mundane data processing tasks, and more time on the evaluation of data, and decision making activities like providing consultative advice to the business. The easiest way to free up time for these higher value tasks is to establish automated data management processes that have more external participants contributing to the data collection, correction and management process in structured, consistent and meaningful ways.

You can achieve this through Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) which augments manpower with structured and automated procedures. While Winshuttle is not an RPA, the capabilities of Winshuttle can be leveraged by the most prominent of RPA technologies through Winshuttle scripts programmatically.

For example, a prominent soft drinks company, who spoke at a Winshuttle User Group conference, achieved this by implementing the Winshuttle Foundation platform. They deployed Winshuttle based solutions to cover processes as diverse as marketing expense management (MEM) and the Manual Journal Entry process from Excel.

Moving SAP “First Time Correct” entries closer to 100%

In both instances, not only was the end to end process accelerated, but data quality improvement and rework rates were also reduced. This organization had a KPI around “First Time Correct” entries and they are moving closer to 100% as they continue to refine the process.

Having other groups involved in any data management process can be fraught with risk. Not only is there a risk that data might not be provided in a timely manner, but data may also be incomplete or downright incorrect. By establishing data collection routines that allow users to provide data in flexible mechanisms like Microsoft Excel, almost any user in the business can extend the data processing capability of the finance department.

By using Excel based templates with data validation, you can make real-time trial data posting calls to SAP for data checking and wrapping the templates with workflows for oversight and audit. This creates more hands on keyboards and more resources for  feeding SAP systems without having to add staff to the finance team. Stay tuned for the next post in our series on Becoming less reliant on IT!

Don’t miss the previous blog posts in this series:

New Year’s Resolutions for SAP Finance teams

 

About the author

Clinton Jones is a Director for Finance Solutions Management at Winshuttle where he has worked since 2009. He is internationally experienced having worked on finance technologies and business process with a particular focus on integrated business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Clinton serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance for finance organizations globally. Prior to Winshuttle he served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP and with Microsoft in their Global Foundation Services group.

Questions or comments about this article?

Tweet @uploadsap to continue the conversation!