The finance function

Backbone of or business partner to the organisation?

25 June 2021

How to free up time to become the proactive finance partner for the business.

More and more, we see organisations focus on building a value-creating finance function to cover everything from state-of-the-art bookkeeping and reporting to business partnering using advanced analytics, automation capabilities and business process transformation knowledge.

In the journey towards building a value-creating finance function, we see the following three steps that we will elaborate on below:

Step 1: License to operate
Step 2: License to deliver relevant data and finance expertise to your organisation
Step 3: License to engage as a strategic business partner

License to operate

For obvious reasons, your core finance processes need to be at its best. When we engage in helping the finance functions streamline and automate these processes, it could be:

  • Automating journal entries
  • Streamlining and automating accounting and period end processes according to SAP best practice
  • Securing IFRS and/or US GAAP compliance using SAP best practice
  • Securing the right setup for handling of transfer pricing
  • Setting up tax calculations, using SAP best practice
  • Implementing special requirements to finance processes, leveraging SAP capabilities in general

Usually, the main purpose is to secure compliance, to secure a solid data foundation to be leveraged by the business, e.g. for planning purposes and for securing insights on a more general level.

Furthermore, more effective finance process execution and automation will lead to freeing up resources.

License to deliver relevant data and finance expertise to your organisation

The resources freed up when creating a more effective finance process execution and automation is often used for partnering with the business. Business processes like operational planning, KPI calculation or customer segmentation all require a solid, relevant and “available on demand” data foundation generated out of the finance function. We see more and more customers successfully engage in co-creation between the business and the finance function to identify relevant datasets to be used by the business.

That also goes for the digitalisation agenda. Very often, the finance functions are at the centre of digitalisation initiatives because business processes subject to further digitalisation often contains financial transaction, and because the finance function often is in the forefront when it comes to automating business processes.

The financial data, if structured appropriately, is one of the cornerstones in business decision- making. Data-driven businesses is a theme these days. We know, as we see an increasing demand for projects aimed at turning data insight into action and thereby impact.

Also, “single source of truth” is a theme. With clear definitions of the data source for different types of reporting, the organisation avoids the hazard of different results of the report and thereby avoid uncertainty and extra reconsolidation work.

Sustainability is yet another subject which all organisations need to have an opinion on. With SAP software you can track your carbon emission footprint from your production and from your supply chain. Going forward, the new SAP sustainability ledger will be key in capturing and managing the carbon emission outlets, waste management and other information related to circular economy. No doubt, the finance function will play a key role in setting up this new ledger and in securing access to relevant finance data.

Overall, we see an increase in finance functions being the gatekeeper of the data lakes containing financial data, both data aimed at external reporting but indeed also analytical data, statistical data and benchmark data.

License to engage as a strategic business partner

Engagements with the business eventually lead Finance to being even more proactively involved in business planning and management. Themes like Enterprise Performance Management where the finance function is at the centre of setting up organisation-wide monitoring of performance and planning methodologies like scenario planning using analysis capabilities, including data from multiple sources, is more common.

SAP also has a take on how to deal with EPM using SAP software. Together with advanced analytics and S/4HANA capabilities in general, the finance function will be fully equipped to supporting the organisation.

Like to engage in a conversation?

Would you like to engage in a conversation on how to change the way your finance organisation operates going forward? Feel free to reach out to one of our experts.

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