The idea of finance shared services isn’t novel, but improved technologies are creating a new way for them to reach maximum efficiency levels. Finance shared services started to become popular in the 1990s as businesses used them as a way to achieve economies of scale by centralising shared services. Such shared service centres (SSC) are well-designed to manage accounting processes in offshore locations or centralised away from disparate business units to lower costs.
About 80% of the Fortune 500 companies take part in a shared service model for one or many of their operations. Even so, SSCs haven’t yet reached absolute perfection, but with the aid of automation tools, they are continuously proving their value and saving businesses time and money.
A shared service centre is a centralised location for shared services that happen within an organisation. The SSC can be responsible for handling specific tasks, such as accounting, human resources, payroll, IT, legal, security or purchasing, to name a few.
The SSC serves the business unit with its specialised service to cut overall costs and create a higher degree of strategic flexibility. Although it sounds similar to dividing an organisation by department, a shared service centre is different because it has measurable outputs and is in control of services for entire organisations. Their outcomes are both qualitatively and quantitatively assessed.
Many benefits of setting up a shared service centre, particularly in Finance, overlap with the benefits of financial automation tools. That’s why automation tools should be part of every financial shared service centre because both are meant to offer: reduced costs, centralised services, standardised processes, measurable outcomes and easy deployment.
Every business has different goals and operational tactics. But, overwhelming the statistics behind organisations leverage Share Service Centers in finance. Let’s have a look at some key findings from a benchmarking study designed by ScottMadden across four business cycles from 2014 to 2018:
Processes in scope: 77% of SSCs report to the business’ finance executive
Process outsourcing: Before outsourcing processes, most organisation’s are first looking to automation as a finance solution. However, here’s a look at how they are outsourcing top processes:
Process centralisation: The most centralised processes tend to be those that are iterative and repetitive (transactional), rather than those that demand high-level analytical thinking. For example, in order of the most globally centralised processes, the list looks like this:
Many businesses have realised the benefit of using financial shared services because the workflow is similar between business units. Since financial processes adhere to compliance and regulations, it is something that can and should be standardised in its approach.
Furthermore, with the utilisation of automation tools, finance shared services can still deliver the impactful insights from deep data analytics that supports decision-making. These big business decisions often come from financial executives within the central business unit.
So, SSCs and automation tools support financial business leaders by offering a multitude of benefits, including:
With shared services comes the ever-important task of finding the right technology to leverage for communication and processing. Shared service centres in finance are not always going to operate at maximum efficiency from the get-go. It takes time and effort to set up processes that work for business leaders and the SSC.
As such, a rushed approach can create errors and flaws (but, we will show you how automation tools can solve all of them). Some significant challenges of SSCs include:
All of the challenges listed above could be cause for worry or even could lead to a business opting out of using SSC. However, data automation tools inherently resolve every risk mentioned. With a data automation tool like SolveXia, your SSC can manage all accounting and financial services without every sacrificing your oversight and access to information.
As a financial leader, you want to know where your business stands, and by using a cloud automation solution, you can access reports and dashboards in real-time, no matter where the services are being performed. Additionally, tasks are automated, and mass amounts of data can be securely stored so that processes take place in a timely and error-free manner. You have clear visibility into your business’ financial health and can offer the same to any stakeholder within your company with defined access controls.
To make the absolute most of finance shared service, your automation tool is a key player. The technology you choose to leverage should take care of two primary needs, namely:
The future is here, and it lies in technological advancement like automation solutions. Across businesses, tools that perform robotic process automation and data automation have given rise to more analytical decision-making.
Not only does robotic process automation perform repetitive and monotonous tasks so that humans don’t have to, but it also leads to machine learning. This allows for the resolution and remediation of problems before they happen, and the tool does so itself through its understanding of patterns from big data. Every small problem that gets resolved before it happens can lead to significant cost savings.
When you can leverage all your data in a centralised software solution, then you can gain more in-depth and more timely insights. These tools process data and transform it into information you can visualise in the form of customisable reports.
In this way, it doesn’t matter if your financial processes are happening across the globe because you’ll have all the information you need at the click of a button to make informed decisions that better your business. The power of Finance Share Services and automation tools are inherently linked in an increasingly data-rich business world.
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