Finance Resolution #4: Improve Workflow Inefficiency
By Clinton Jones on January 6, 2017
The fourth New Year’s resolution you should consider for Finance first addresses the fact that you don’t need to fear Microsoft Excel. Finance teams can actually leverage Microsoft Excel with SharePoint, Winshuttle and SAP to streamline finance operations in transformational ways for the finance function.
There are plenty of surveys and studies that back up the idea that operational workflow around the period close and period end activities are often the weak link that slows things down. One of the reasons that workflow slows things down is the fact that when someone has to apply their name or signature to something, this holds them up as informed and accountable. The degree of diligence around sign-offs and approvals varies from process to process and organization to organization, but it is also nuanced and wrapped up in a combination of policy and financial materiality.
inefficient workflows and manual spreadsheets impact real-time financial reporting
Unfortunately, even if you choose to implement high degrees of automation around your finance processes, most automations are triggered by humans interacting with various upstream and downstream systems. Humans are fallible, and so is the quality of their work. Often-times you’ll find that a workflow around an approval or decision document, will fail because of insufficient information, incorrect data or unresolved feedback. Part of this can be addressed with a better workflow design, more triggering events, timers and intelligent routing – and these traits can be found in most workflow tools.
Winshuttle’s SAP automation platform is different, because it has tightly integrated components that allow you to interact with SAP at every step of the workflow. From the outset, you can pre-validate and test data in your form or Excel workbook before you route the data to the next participant. Pre-validation of data for SAP means that you are less likely to have an integration step that fails after approval, in the last stage of the data change or creation process.
While Excel is popular because it’s easy to use, it’s its ease of use that is a double edged sword. It allows teams to quickly cut through complex systems and reduce numbers to simple reportable grids that are presentation ready. But it can also be prone to errors and it’s generally considered less acceptable to use Excel as a system of record due to the data quality risks.
Winshuttle allows finance teams to refocus SAP as the system of record. This refocus is achieved by providing easy to deploy and maintain SAP transaction automation and data queries that can be invoked by end-users through self-service.
When these Excel based templates are wrapped with Winshuttle workflows, you can create a complete audit trail for data submission, approval and posting to SAP. All interactions with SAP can be invoked in real-time and for certain scenarios, as appropriate, integration scenarios can be executed on a schedule or asynchronously.
For many companies, the powerful capabilities of data extraction from SAP with Winshuttle enable finance and operations teams to extract and analyze SAP transactional and master data using tools that they are most familiar with. While this doesn’t obviate the need for the SAPGUI and the standard SAP reports, it can help make day to day use of SAP easier. For insights into how Winshuttle can be used to improve cost analysis in SAP take a read of the Remy Cointreau case study.
Don’t miss the previous blog posts in this series:
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.
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