Watch the VLOG: Benefits of Automating Journal Entries in SAP
By Clinton Jones on January 5, 2016
Most finance organizations receive requests in various formats that must be processed for data entry, however there are vast inconsistencies for preparing this type of documentation. In this VLOG, I will discuss the traditional approach to manually entering journal entries, and how your organization might benefit from adopting Winshuttle’s journal entry system.
Journal Entries Video Transcription
My name is Clinton Jones, and I’m a Director of Product Management at Winshuttle. I thought today I would go through a quick story around the manual journaling process, and perhaps how you’re doing it today or how we commonly see customers doing it, and how you could be doing it with Winshuttle.
Lets consider some of the typical approaches that are used for the manual journal entries process. People may contribute journals using email attachments. They could send emails to a centralized group using a shared service center, or something along the lines of internal mail, so they would compile a bunch of pieces of paper and then send them into a shared service center. Or maybe use some sort of form-based technology that is rendered on the computer, and then submit to a shared service center to process into the SAP system. The challenge with all of these approaches is that none of them have the fundamentals of a workflow. The problem with any manual process is that if something gets rejected, today someone in the shared service center would have to send those items back to the submitter, and there is no tracking, no traceablilty and as a consequence things get lost or take a long time to get processed.
The Winshuttle approach is completely different; it is a template based approach, you can choose to incorporate a workflow into it or not, and you can choose to use a form based technology as well. Or simply use an Excel spreadsheet. The steps to doing that are simply recording the SAP transaction, leveraging an SAP API, binding it to an Excel template, pushing it through the organization through Winshuttle worflow, or through whatever routing mechanism you prefer within your organization.
In most organizations, the finance group, whether they are in AP or AR, Assets or even general accounting, receive requests by email, postal or internal mail or phone calls. These initial events often require a fair amount of data staging and preparation before they are sent for processing. Part of the challenge with this approach is that the methods for feeding the preparation stage are fragmented, inconsistent and erratic. Handwritten items may be illegible, supporting documentation may be incomplete or there may be a great many inconsistencies in the structure and form of the information. The finance groups involved then have to somehow shoe horn the information that has been supplied, into a format that is suitable for data entry.
Often these submissions aren’t data entry ready and if they all arrive at the end of the financial period, then there is a mad flurry of activity in the finance group to get the data into a state that is suitable for data entry. In the rush, errors will be made which will generate more work later, or in the next period. The next step is to submit the prepared data to either a data processing team or to a program. In either case, there isn’t a great deal of forgiveness for bad data and errors that are detected downstream will lead to further delays in the process, sapping more time from the finance team for deeper scrutiny of the business data events. This cycling of faulty data can take many days to resolve before the records finally appear in SAP. If an automated workflow is not a part of the end to end record creation and posting process then signoffs and review have to happen as a final step which may not stand up to audit scrutiny or could introduce the risk of further omissions, mistakes or even fraudulent behavior.
Winshuttle’s approach to the whole process is different.
Winshuttle for Journal Entry tackles manual journal entries (and other process automation scenarios) from a template based approach. The first step is providing intiaitors of data requests with an Excel template.
The template can be distributed via email, placed on a shared folder or downloaded from a document management system like SharePoint. Winshuttle Foundation, which is built on Sharepoint, automatically assigns metadata to the templates which is adjusted as the template travels through the Winshuttle Journal automation process. After the person completes the template, they can validate the data in the template against a number of different rules. These could be rules embedded in the template or they could be rules within SAP. Validation would then check things like validity of accounts, completeness of entries, etc. Issues are identified in near real-time in-line with the errors and the person preparing the data can correct the data before submitting it to the finance team for review.
Once the preparer is satisfied, that there is a high likelihood that the journal will post without errors, and they can submit it to a reviewer or approver. Using this approach to manual journaling helps in not only the concept of segregation of duties but also offers better audit tracing and accountability. Every step in the process is recorded and tracked and can be reported on. Data reviewers and approvers receive email notifications about items for consideration and can also use a worklist of items waiting for review. A reviewer has the option of rejecting a request and routing it back to the initiator or approving the request and passing it back to the submitter, another participant or to an automated posting process which will update SAP asynchronously.
One Winshuttle customer recently described this approach as so efficient and effective, that they managed to improve journal posting accuracy from 88% first time correct to 99% first time correct, and reduced the number of elapsed hours for journal entries from days and weeks to hours and minutes.
If you would like to find out more about how you can implemented such a process in your business, take a look at http://www.winshuttle.com/financial-sap/
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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