The idea of finance shared services isn’t new; however, it is gaining popularity. With the ability to centralise services, potentially decrease a workforce by 30%, and lower overall operating costs, many businesses are considering implementing a finance shared services organisation structure.
The idea is that instead of having multiple departments performing the same tasks in various locations, you’d instead have just one location where everyone works out of to accomplish said function. This is commonly seen for departments like finance, payroll, inventory, hiring, public relations and information technology.
We’ll cover how it works, from implementation to execution and all the important considerations.
To successfully implement financial shared services, you’ll require the right technology tools. It’s more than possible and highly likely that you’d be able to overcome the hurdles by adopting the right technology, but that first step can be a hurdle in itself. It’s not surprising that when a new technology is introduced to teams, there is some pushback. It’s beneficial to utilise organisational change management to smoothly transform the department and ensure the team is on board.
Here’s a look at what you can expect when you evolve into providing finance shared services, as well as the ways by which the right automation tool will aid your organisation on the journey.
There are several best practices that are recommended to offer the most robust, agile and communicative finance function from a centralised location. These best practices can be categorised into two main tenets, namely:
The future of finance hinges on automation’s abilities. Think about this - robotic process automation (RPA) can model a human’s workflow through a one-time configuration. Then, it can enhance its own performance through machine learning. RPA is the most fit to handle repetitive, time-consuming and highly meticulous tasks. Doesn’t that sum up most of a finance team’s back-office duties? With RPA and machine learning, it means that you can set parameters for finance functions and automatically initiate workflows as required without having to lift a finger.
To further the depiction, imagine that an outcome exceeds a defined threshold in exception handling. Machine learning makes it so that the system will start remediation automatically. With manual processing, this could take a team hours or days to notice in the first place, thereby costing the business both time and money.
More often than not, a finance process is time-bound and so the consequences of errors or delays can result in a quantifiable loss that affects the bottom line. Through robotic process automation, you will inherently decrease costs and reduce risks while your team can focus on high-level analytical tasks to achieve finance transformation.
If you’re considering moving siloed departments by instead sharing resources, then you can follow the shared services roadmap. Shared services implementation can be accomplished by these following steps:
Gap analysis brings to light the difference between what is actually happening versus what people perceive to be happening. It’s a way to showcase the need for change. Importantly, it's how you can prove that an automation solution can bridge the gap. This is required to gain buy-in from key stakeholders as adopting new technology will require investment in time, energy and money.
Once you can define the difference between best practices and what’s currently going on, then you can decide what tools will suffice to improve the business’ processes. Additionally, it makes it easier to manage expectations and depict how a finance shared services model could be of use.
At the core, shared services exist to resolve the fact that the same department is performing the same function in various locations, be it cities or countries. Each market may face its own share of challenges, regulations and considerations, so there is a lot to keep in mind when implementing shared services.
To make it feasible, shared services must be made scalable, regardless of where your team sits. Software solutions make this possible by standardising procedures and providing audit trails so that all data and work is easily traceable. It also makes it easy to sandbox and test processes as you want to roll them out, so that you can mitigate risk should you need to adjust any steps.
Centralising your finance functions will require a technology audit to be done successfully. This is because you’ve collected a lot of data and information across software solutions up until this point, but you don’t want to lose any legacy records. As you bring in a solution with APIs and the ability to connect to your existing technology stack, it’s best to first consider what you need to keep and what you can now get rid of. The technology audit answers this question and can show what functions you can now combine into one system.
Finance shared services proves to be a big consideration for businesses that operate in several locations or are looking to expand. By granting your organisation the ability to cut costs and centralise resources, it could prove to be a cost-effective method of increasing productivity and scaling functionality. To properly transform into a shared services model, you’ll want to adopt a technology solution that can handle all your needs and provide transparency into the process. An automation tool like SolveXia can provide all this and more.