by Danielle Bass, Director of Global Accounting System, Citrix
Complicated multinational reporting requirements, intercompany eliminations, multiple disparate ledgers, and time-consuming reporting practices – if any of these characterize your financial consolidation process, it might be time for an overhaul.
I know of which I speak – at Citrix, we faced more than one of these challenges. The remedy: a complete overhaul of our consolidation system processes. The results: A lot of learning… and a few surprises along the way.
The challenges of consolidation
At Citrix, we were faced with the need to consolidate more than 90 entities – some old, some newly acquired – using a legacy SAP ECCS module first deployed in 2001. Our system could consolidate the general ledger (GL), but couldn’t handle IFRS or statutory reports. Our teams spent upwards of 100 hours per quarter analyzing system entries and building reports, even with the help of IT and systems resources.
We desperately needed a system that could consolidate and provide results in real time – not to mention one that could give our executives easy access to detailed information. After reviewing our options, we realized that SAP Business Planning and Consolidation 10, version for SAP NetWeaver was the only tool that could deliver. In December 2011, we purchased our software licenses, and in January 2012 selected SAP Services to partner with to help drive our strategy and roadmap including an advisory workshop prior to kick off and ongoing support with system integration.
Secrets of our Success
By eliminating and automating many manual, resource-intensive processes, we’ve saved hundreds of hours each month as we consolidate over 120 entities. Along the way, we identified five factors critical to the project’s success::
- Educate early and coach often. Attend trainings and conferences to learn about best practices and possible future state outcomes. Get informed about the latest technologies, and talk to others in your field to learn from their experiences. Think of education as a journey involving both informal and formal training. As a project leader, you’ll also want to ”coach” your project, keeping your team motivated and focused through the inevitable ups and downs. It helps if you have a strong team that can understand.
- Transfer knowledge. Closely related to educating and coaching is ongoing knowledge transfer – making sure team members and internal resources learn what they need to know throughout and beyond the project. If I had to choose one factor that kept things smooth when we went live, this would be it. So what did we do? First, we chose the right team – carefully selecting internal members and a consulting partner. Consider establishing a buddy system, pairing system integrators with team members to ensure that your team will know how to troubleshoot and run the live system. Our project team also shared responsibilities with SAP Services, further boosting self-sufficiency.
- Make decisions quickly. When things go wrong (and they will – there’s no such thing as a perfect, issue-free implementation), you want to respond quickly and as a team. Clearly defined responsibilities and escalation paths will help you quickly correct issues and find the fastest resolution. Choosing a consulting partner that had the right product development contacts within SAP helped us resolve technology issues quickly.
- Build in governance and compliance. Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and audit requirements are crucial to your success. Enlist internal audit staff and other SOX experts early on. Consider reporting regulations and audit committee requirements as you plan roles and responsibilities, security, and audit logs. At Citrix, internal audit and internal SOX resources worked closely with us as members of the project advisory board.
- Ready the organization. Make sure your project sponsor is well versed in change management and can speak clearly about the project, including primary objectives, timelines, benefits, and – most important – process changes. Users need to understand how the new process will affect daily, monthly, or quarterly routines. If you’re introducing a brand new system that consolidates multiple entities, users will also need training. At Citrix, we executed a strategy involving targeted communications both virtual and on-sight to ready the organization.
You can learn more about how SAP Services helped Citrix revamp our financial consolidation process at my Sapphire session – it’s part of the Finance Forum. I’ll highlight ROI results in areas including how we consolidated over 90 entities; automated earnings revenue schedules and financial statements; and accelerated our close-to-disclose process. I look forward to seeing you at Sapphire!
As Director of Global Accounting Systems at Citrix, Danielle Bass is responsible for identifying and implementing system strategies and plans that support the growth and optimization of the company’s global Finance and Accounting Teams. Ms. Bass’ focus as Director has included BPC, GRC Process Controls, Vertex, BI and SAP re-engineering projects. Prior to joining Citrix, Ms. Bass managed ERP and system initiatives in a broad range of industries including manufacturing, beverage, and healthcare. Ms. Bass obtained her BS in Accounting from the University of Southern California and holds a PMP credential.