Finance automation – getting organized

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How can organizations align themselves to achieve success in finance automation?

In the previous post in this series, my colleague Lee Beardmore looked at the legacy hurdles organizations typically have to overcome on the path to finance automation.

It’s a good place for me to start. Let’s assume those legacy technology and process obstacles are either behind us, or that they are being addressed. We’re looking forwards now, and we’re looking especially at the benefits that finance automation can deliver, as discussed in Capgemini’s recent study, “Reimagining Finance for the Digital Age.”

So, then: how can enterprises organize themselves for this transformation, and set themselves up for success?

Fixing misconceptions

I’d say there’s one big answer to this question. It’s an answer that entails approaching transformation in a completely different way.

Rather than one big wave of the automation wand that transfigures the entire finance function in a great flash of light, automation-led transformation encompasses a holistic vision (enabled by our “Five Senses of Intelligent Automation”) that is implemented in agile sprints.

Instead of a classic, large ERP transformation where everything must change – comprehensively and simultaneously – and often suffers a time delay between design and build, automation-led transformation consists of a number of smaller transformation projects that lead to long-term sustainable change and increased value.

Not only does it not need to be approached in this way: it’s genuinely better if it isn’t. Incremental steps will get you to the same destination, and the results will be more rewarding.

“Jam today”

At Capgemini, we find the best route to success has a number of stops along the way. One mammoth trek can be exhausting, and there’s a long wait before an end-point is reached and a benefit is felt.

In the UK, there’s an expression for this: if a reward is delayed to a point at which it may seem unlikely, it’s known as “jam tomorrow.”

But if instead, organizations set themselves intermediate targets, the attainment of each one delivers a prompter sense of achievement. It’s “jam today” – and what’s more, because each target is part of a sequence, in a sense it’s “jam every day.”

Continuous improvement

The modular approach also brings opportunities for assessment and calibration that aren’t possible with “one big push.” “How did we do? Did we meet our objectives? What improvements did we bring to our internal processes, to our customers, to our suppliers? What needs fine-tuning?” The lessons learned can improve immediate outcomes – and can also be applied to subsequent elements of the program.

Accentuating the positive

The arrival at each milestone brings not only a sense of satisfaction, but an opportunity to communicate the news – not just to the relevant team, but to the wider finance function; to the enterprise as a whole; and even out to the supply chain and the customer base.

All these audiences stand to gain from the improvements each small step-change brings. It’s important to engage external audiences in particular: people like to feel included and involved, and ensuring customers and suppliers are made aware of the benefits of each stage of the program will help to consolidate relationships and deliver more value for everyone. As the whole initiative rolls out, it proves to them and also to internal audiences that this is working – it’s “jam today” – and that when the end-stage is reached and the transformation is complete, the whole will be greater than the sum of all the parts they’ve seen so far.

Momentum of success

By realizing that transformation need not and should not be monolithic, organizations can create and sustain a momentum of success. They can focus on the things that matter – ensuring that they have the right processes, and the right people with the right skills to keep things moving. The mantra needs to be “control, effectiveness, efficiency and value” – and in our experience, that’s what the incremental approach delivers.

Read the full “Reimagining Finance for the Digital Age” report.

 To learn more about how Capgemini’s intelligent automation can deliver enhanced value to your finance function, contact:

Learn more about how Capgemini’s Finance Powered by Intelligent Automation offering helps you navigate the myriad of products, tools and services, enabling your business to benefit from an intelligent solution that combines automation, digital platforms, know-how and insight.

David Lumley leads a global team passionate about finance and accounting (F&A) that delivers global finance and automation transformation projects for large organizations across a range of industries including CPRD, FS, Utilities, and Telecom.


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