Manager, FPIA Consulting, Business Services, Capgemini
The FPIA Consulting team at Capgemini – Finance Powered by Intelligent Automation – is an international group of professionals and experts that support companies in their digital transformation. The team is part of Capgemini’s Business Services business center, which provides business services to a wide range of international clients, particularly in the area of finance transformation.
The role of FPIA Consulting team is to model and improve financial processes based on the concept of Shared Service Center and new technologies and systems that we help to implement to make the processes less manual and more automated and efficient to provide our customers with high quality information needed to manage their business. We do this both for our clients, who use Capgemini’s CSC services, and for those who choose to have their own CSCs, often located in different countries. Hence, we travel regularly (although nowadays due to the pandemic unfortunately not at all), we work at clients’ premises, and when it is not possible, we run projects virtually, using MS Teams, Skype, Zoom or other applications supporting remote working.
What is business consulting?
Many times these changes are neither small nor easy for the companies we support. For many of them, especially if it is a major transformation project, it can be the biggest change for the organization in its entire history to date. These are changes that take the company to the next level of growth, and it is usually a strategic investment to move the company into the top league or stay in that league in the years to come.
Therefore, our help and experience, as external consultants of FPIA, is of vital importance for the company. From this point of view, we are a mentor for our client advising on the implementation of optimal solutions that can be crucial for its growth. To this end, we often assess the current state of process maturity at our client’s company in order to be able to advise them on the most optimal path of changes (eng. roadmap) that are needed for this purpose taking into account the starting point they are at. Customers often know what they would like to achieve because they have seen such a solution in another company or learned about it at an industry conference, but they do not have a complete understanding of how to implement a given solution and what it entails. Besides, there is also a question whether this is the optimal solution that exists on the market?
The role, competencies and responsibilities of a business consultant
Here we see the first added value of a consultant who, with knowledge and experience in a particular area, can help the customer make the optimal decision. For example, if someone wants to implement SAP S/4HANA (whole article on this topic available here) to be able to analyze data in real time and use intelligent reports as in a competitive company. Or one wants to be the first player on the market to gain business advantage, who so far did not have CUW and did not standardize his processes, because he relied on locally implemented ERP systems in countries where he conducted business, then the ambitions are big, but the way to achieve them requires several stages.
In such a situation starting SAP S/4HANA implementation from the IT side, without prior process standardization or CUW/CK building, may cost such a customer tens of millions of dollars more than if they had done it correctly. It is at this stage that we, as FPIA consultants, help to design the company’s future operating model based on CUW/CK and the systems that will help to digitize the strategic processes from their current state.
If we have already agreed on a new target operating model in terms of core assumptions, i.e. a new organizational structure, selected core systems, including ERP, let’s assume it is S/4HANA, and systems supporting other areas. For P2P this could be inStream, for C2C – Rimilia, and for A2R – Blackline, and we know how we want to design these processes, e.g. in Visio or BusinessOptix, then we can get down to work. For this purpose, we first need to build a blueprint, i.e. a menu or, in other words, a catalog of all processes that take place in the company. We are assisted and supported in this by our DGEM, i.e. Digital Global Enterprise Model, which constitutes a knowledge base that we can use to propose ready and tested solutions to the customer, which accelerates the whole process.
Having a blueprint, we know what processes we need and we can start designing on a detailed level. In practice, this means drawing a process in the form of a process map in a format agreed upon with the customer, where each step in the process has its own owner – we define who is to perform it, describe what it means, and know what systems are needed to perform it. We also define what is the beginning of the process and what is its output, taking into account various scenarios of the process itself. In most cases, there are several dozen such processes, although sometimes there can be several hundred of them, all depending on the process scope of the project. We create them using DGEM, which is a reference point for future processes, together with people designated by the customer who know how the processes currently work and bring knowledge concerning the specificity of the company’s business. We are guided by the main assumptions that we agreed with the client beforehand.
We build a new organizational structure, define process roles, determine what skills the people performing these roles should have, and other elements of the new operating model agreed upon with the customer. Often the customer also needs to define the SLA/OLA so that all process participants know what their responsibilities are and what they can expect, i.e. in what time the process will be completed and what its quality and/or efficiency parameters will be. In order to monitor the execution of the SLA/OLA, it is necessary, in turn, to define KPIs (eng. Key Performance Indicators), i.e. key indicators of the process, measuring its parameters, which will firstly allow to assess whether the process is executed in accordance with the assumptions, and then constitute a basis for its improvement. The challenge here is usually the measurement method itself, since KPIs calculated manually are usually not very effective and accurate, so it is recommended to measure them automatically, based on systems used for processing data in the process. Here we see another benefit of processing data in systems – the process can be measured, monitored, corrected and improved on an ongoing basis and without too much work.
S/4HANA creates additional value here, i.e., processing this data in real time with the ability to monitor it on a smartphone, allowing us to react faster to deviations from the process and make the right decisions. As you can see, there is a lot of it, and the list is usually longer anyway, because there is also the implementation of systems, planning and organizing the project, planning communication, etc., in which we are also helped by colleagues from other Capgemini departments.
So there is a lot of work, and the client’s employees have their own tasks. Additionally, new knowledge and competencies are needed, which do not exist in the given company, because these are new solutions and processes that are yet to be implemented. Therefore, supporting us as consultants addresses several issues here. Firstly, it allows you to have the knowledge and experience needed to implement the change, secondly, it provides you with resources that are not present in your company and it would take a long time to hire and prepare them. Thirdly, it allows the client, using the consultants’ knowledge, to prepare its staff for the new tasks by acquiring new competencies, which they will acquire while working with us.
Implementation stages of new business processes
If we have already designed standard processes, we know who is going to do them, then we start the implementation phase. Yes, the best is yet to come, because now what we have designed, we will build. This is the stage that will largely require the involvement of many people who currently perform these processes or are their recipients, that is, all those who will be affected by this change. These individuals must be properly informed and prepared for the coming change. To do this, their supervisors and the organization as a whole must be made aware of the upcoming change in advance with the preparation of the entire company communication plan, from the highest level of company management to the individual employee. This is usually the part of the project that we refer to in English as „change management”. The key questions that must be addressed in this area are:
- Why is this change taking place?
- What does the company want to achieve?
- What does this change mean for the individual employee, the person?
- What is expected of employees in relation to this change?
In addition, also the communication plan is a very important part of any transformational change, so the work on it usually starts much earlier, and since this is a very sensitive area as it usually means reallocation of employees when it comes to their tasks, which sometimes they have been doing for years or even layoffs, clients also ask Capgemini for support in this area.
How to run a customer workshop well?
Our role as FPIA consultants in this area is most often to conduct „impact assessment” workshops (IA). These workshops are attended by all current and future process implementers and decision makers: specialists working in the process, global process custodians or their designees, current and future heads of departments responsible for the process, specialists from CUW/CK, and other process stakeholders, if so decided by the customer. With the new process designed, we compare the existing process to them, identifying any differences (called „gaps”) that exist in terms of organization, systems, authorization, communication flow, archiving, etc.
We document these changes, specifying what needs to change, who will be responsible for it, by when it should be implemented, and other practical information, so we can create a concrete action plan for implementation. If this is not possible, we define exceptions, which, depending on their importance and impact on the project, must be approved by authorized persons.
The consultant leading such workshops, which usually last several days or sometimes weeks, must be very familiar with the future processes and systems, and have extensive experience in them, in order to be able to identify and resolve the various substantive issues that are raised by the workshop participants on an ongoing basis. In addition to deep subject matter knowledge, the consultant leading these workshops must have strong soft skills to moderate the entire meeting. Often, it can be said that each day of the training, there are disputes about how to perform new processes, to whom they can be entrusted, or other problems raised by the participants, e.g. objections concerning the competence needed to perform certain tasks, tax and legal issues, or other risks. The consultant’s role is to conduct the whole meeting in such a way that the participants feel heard and that their problems are addressed. The consultant tries to solve as many contentious issues as possible during the workshop itself, moderating them and proposing solutions, while at the same time striving to achieve the goal of the workshop, which requires proper time management.
The IA workshop is an important phase of the project, because during it the client and his employees work very closely with the consultant and form an opinion about him. This is the time when the consultant, through the meetings, builds his authority, knowledge about the company and relationships with people, with whom he will later often work for weeks or months, implementing changes defined during the meetings.
I have listed here only some elements of the projects we work with, to give you a brief idea of our work. Apart from that, we help our clients to create a CUW/CK from scratch, which involves choosing the location of the office and its equipment. We participate in the recruitment and training of new employees, improve existing processes based on our ESOAR (Eliminate-Standardize-Optimize-Automate-Robotize) methodology, help implement new systems, robots or solutions based on artificial intelligence.
So it’s a very interesting and substantive job where you get to meet a lot of great people. What is more, it is a job that enables continuous improvement and learning about new solutions. During the project we share knowledge with the client and other people, creating added value, but also we learn a lot ourselves, because every project is different and brings new valuable experience. As FPIA consultants we have access to knowledge, whether through DGEM, ARRU (project database), PULSE nerve (KPIs) or many e-learning trainings, organized in the form of webinars or stationary. Improving one’s knowledge base is an essential part of every FPIA consultant’s work, as it is this knowledge that our clients value. In our department there are many people who often have already 10-20 years of experience in the operational model of the company based on the Shared Service Center, developed new technologies and participated in many transformational projects. We share this knowledge with each other, help each other and support each other.
Go to the next article and learn more about SAP S/4Hana implementation. If this article has given you a better idea of our work, maybe it’s something you’d like to do to further your development, then you’re welcome.