implementation of financial controls
financial and operational reporting and analytics
accounting functions (including cost allocations, consolidation, purchasing, payables, and project controls)
improved resource allocation and use
full visibility into and control over processes and data
ability to easily adapt to significant events (such as mergers and acquisitions) and changes
Success Strategy #1: Improving Use and Allocation of Resources
Ask any CFO, financial manager, or comptroller to point to the prime cause of operational inefficiency, and they’ll tell you it’s unnecessary duplication of effort—in other words, entering the same data into multiple, disparate systems (such as purchasing, accounts payable, etc).
Inevitably, these separate systems lead to a lack of process coordination across departments, maintenance of duplicate data, and users who are relegated to using ungainly spreadsheets to reconcile and report across the separate systems.
Such inefficiencies can make month-end closings a real headache, with accurate information needing to be wrested from your front-office systems into your accounting packages (back-office systems); from your order management applications into accounts receivable; from purchasing into accounts payable …
Inefficiencies such as these not only open the door to increased errors, they also lead to the loss of valuable time, as you sift through and attempt to reconcile disparate information.
So, you’ve got one system to handle X, and others to handle Y and Z. The problem is, these systems don’t necessarily know how to talk to one another.
You can reduce the need for manual intervention and awkward data reconciliation efforts by ensuring users have access to a unified view of data. One approach is to integrate systems by unifying disparate data with service-oriented architecture (SOA)–based applications.
SOA is an IT infrastructure that enables seamless integration between disparate systems. SOA-based applications help you automate data validation throughout multiple systems, thus enabling you to reduce the inefficiencies associated with duplicate data entry and processing.
One of the key benefits of SOA is that it allows you to integrate business processes and systems—without having to recode after upgrades or patches. This is vital for any organization with mission-critical solutions already in place, and can be a determining factor when selecting a new application.
Note that nonintegrated systems can penalize your organization by making it more difficult to share information between applications (meaning that the likelihood of errors increases).
Another headache faced by many CFOs, financial managers, and comptrollers is the prospect of a looming audit, whether for compliance to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), or to any other regulatory compliance effort. Integrated systems can help you address such issues, not only by reducing manual intervention, but also by allowing you to implement tighter controls to ensure that important data isn’t modified.
The Key Benefits
elimination of errors introduced through duplicate data entry and processing
automated SOX controls
the ability to reallocate human resources previously devoted to intensive duplicative efforts