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2012 Financial Process Performance Wish List

I just came back from the SAPinsider Financials Conference in Las Vegas. Had over 75 people in my session on Friday morning … interesting for a last day. The topic, “Leading change in the finance organization”, clearly hit home.  I had several attendees tell me that it was the best presentation they had been to this week as it wasn’t technical and provided them with real tips & insight into change leadership.  
And now today we are almost one week into spring and it’s time to seize upon the opportunity to deliver value in our organizations: spring cleaning can in fact include performance-enhancing transformation.  This calls for Change Leadership throughout the organization and a laser focus on where we can secure some early wins, and what projects might take a little longer to deliver but still offer up real ROI.  Let’s take a look at opportunities for financial process improvement initiatives for the remainder of the year:
  1. Improve Performance
    1. Near-term: Remove paper and hand-offs from key near-cash processes like Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.  List the reasons why your organization has yet to deploy a workflow solution to efficiently route transactions.
    2. Longer-term: Review the metrics by which your team or department is measured.  Are they actionable?  Do they provide real insight into bottlenecks in the process?  If not, look for a solution that delivers leading edge reporting and analytical capability to track the business process for continuous improvement.
  2. Contain or Reduce the Cost Structure
    1. Near-term: 1. Do a quick, back of the envelope study of how many copies are being made of paper invoices and other documents coming into the department. 2. Stop making copies.  3. Count the savings.
    2. Longer-term:   Evaluate the true cost of paper to your department: filing cabinets, cost to locate documents, off-site storage, copies that are made through the life cycle of the document.  Implement a scan & index solution to digitize the paper and follow through on destruction timelines for
      the paper.
  3. Optimize Cash Flow
    1. Near-term: Evaluate discounts offered and lost in 2011. Identify possible causes and implement a prioritization process to ensure discount-relevant invoices are processed in a timely manner.
    2. Longer-term:   Implement a program to increase discount options on a wider breadth of invoices with advanced discount solutions such as Dynamic Discounting.
  4. Fine Tune Risk Management Strategies
    1. Near-term: Evaluate invoices that have been processed and/or paid more than once.  Identify cause, including any patterns with certain vendors, services or approvers.
    2. Longer-term: Implement a controlled workflow approval chain with adequate duplicate record checks to guard against fraud and inappropriate approval processes.
  5. Change Leadership 101
    1. Near-term: Empower key resources from your team to research process improvement opportunities.  Register them for SAP SAPPHIRE NOW/SAPInsider/Fusion conferences to help expand their knowledge base.
    2. Longer-term: Learn about opportunities and implications of Change Leadership in the Finance Organization by attending our upcoming sessions at Regional ASUG Chapter Meetings, and Fusion in Nashville – Effectively leading change in the finance organization.  Deploy our suggestions
      and look for projects to increase in efficiency and likelihood of success. 
By implementing some of these quick and easy short term tips, you will undoubtedly recover some costs, reduce risk and optimize your cash flow.  We are always available for a free initial consultation to discuss planning a roadmap for process and technology innovation in your organization.  Good luck, and have a great spring and summer!

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