Finance Transformation is a well-trodden path. For decades companies have embarked on “Finance Change” initiatives with different levels of success and outcomes. The market is now mature and clients are slowly becoming more sophisticated in the way they try to shape and deliver programs. So it begs the question, why are so many companies still failing to execute successful programs and fully realize the benefits expected by stakeholders and the business?
Unfortunately, finance transformation isn’t straightforward and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. No two journeys look entirely the same. The myriad combination of drivers, base lines, objectives, ambitions and appetite to absorb change; means that everyone has different starting points and just as likely, different end points.
Priorities, Drivers & Key Issues
Of all the corporate functions, Finance remains under seemingly constant pressure to meet new demands on transparency, efficiency, control, and information. Increased shareholder scrutiny, disruptive technologies, which threaten existing business models, create challenges and opportunities that the Finance Function must be equipped to deal with. As a consequence Finance Function Transformations have become a routine feature on the corporate landscape.
Against this backcloth CFO’s are required to devise solutions to enable their organizations to tackle their largest strategic challenges such as:
- Meet global growth in demand for products and services
- Fact-based decision-making, data discovery and focus on master data, business intelligence and data analytics
- Exceed the demands of increasingly informed and discerning customers
- Adapt to frequently changing and diverse regulatory pressures
- Compete effectively in joined up yet diverse global markets
- Improve business processes, and contribute to revenue growth by freeing up more time to focus on innovation
Where to start?
A finance improvement and ERP project starts with the creation of a compelling business case and benefits realization plan linking the Finance function’s priorities and efforts to the business strategy. This requires on-going and visible CFO sponsorship.
The credibility of the business case can be significantly enhanced by obtaining external (by definition objective) input as well as making reference to peer group organizations that are regarded as best practice operators.
With this multi-dimensional agenda, instigating a program, which incorporates a diverse set of interdependent work-streams, needs to come from a shared vision from the Sponsor and executive team. These include:
- Design the Finance TOM and agree (subscribe) Vision
- Define your Finance Transformation strategy and roadmap for execution
- Deep-dive into enhanced control through Corporate Risk Management & Compliance
- Discover Data Governance & embrace new technologies to enable improved BI & Analytics
- Develop Finance’s role as a value adding business partner
The Resourcing Challenge
Whilst every transformation journey is unique; what can be said of all transformation initiatives is that they are both stretching and resource intensive. Typically highly visible, they can also be risky, as project teams strive to maintain ‘business as usual’ activities in the context of significant upheaval.
This project-based nature can present unique resourcing challenges to an organization, as the demand for people can be very ‘lumpy’, and the skills required can be very specific and specialized. The need to draw on scarce resources exactly when required, ratchet-up or stand down implementation teams at will, or deploy people globally normally rules out large scale resourcing from within the business. Freeing up skilled individuals from their line management roles can take months to negotiate and can simply create pressures elsewhere.
Who should you trust?
In many situations, management turn in the first instance to the large systems integrators and consultancies. Their strong reputations, global operations, and promise of skills in depth and breadth are seen initially, at least, as a low risk option.
Yet experienced independent transformation program directors (many of whom are former Big 4 Consultants) suggest that handing over the end-to-end delivery of a transformation initiative exclusively to a consultancy can be ineffective and costly.
There are numerous accounts of how badly managed ERP enabled change programs can significantly damage companies and the credibility of their finance functions. The consulting firms seem reluctant to share the risks.
Whilst consultancies may claim to have strength and depth in many areas, independent transformation leaders and Financial Systems experts cite evidential experience that the reality can be very different.
The trusted Advisor: a Tri-Partite model
Typically, our clients are courted by the top tier managing consulting firms and systems integrators who they find often work to a conflicting agenda. Organizations often don’t have incumbent expertise and experience required to select and appoint a consulting partner, negotiate, and agree contractual and commercial terms, quality, assure and validate the program scope, 3rd party deliverables, terms of reference, and manage risk by the implementation of appropriate Governance, Methodologies, and tools.
So how can you blend internal process expertise with external specialists drawn from both a consultancy & the interim market?
Independent Finance Transformation Veterans
Our clients turn to us to provide independent transformation leaders to shape, lead & effectively deliver finance transformation, whilst safeguarding their interests. From strategic intent & concept they typically help C-suite stakeholders to establish, understand, and subscribe to a common vision, translate the Finance Operating Model in to a program, and ensure appropriate governance is observed to assure deliverables. In our clients’ experience, only an independent Program Director acting as a trusted advisor to the CFO, Sponsor, and Executive Team can effectively and objectively manage the risk, marry the program objectives.
Over the past 22 years we’ve successfully delivered over 10,000 resourcing assignments across 20 countries. When we evaluate the success and lessons learned with our clients, a common theme appears. The most effective transformation programs, those which were completed to time and budget parameters, which delivered to the business case, measured ROI and those which truly realized tangible benefit were all based on a hybrid solution. The Tri-Partite model allowed them to blend internal expertise with external resources drawn from consultancies and the sub-contract market, whilst maintaining overall control of deliverables, manpower, and costs.
Pivotal to the success of the hybrid solution is having a highly experienced independent
program director who is ‘client side’ and acts in the client’s interests, and has the authority to marshal all of the consulting, subcontract, and internal resources to best effect. Their value is often realized most greatly across the following activities:
- Risk Management, Control, and Transparency – Program Governance, PMO, Program Planning & Reporting
- QA and Validation of 3rd party activity – align program objectives to business outcomes
- Managing Change – Adoption, Training, hearts and minds
- Measure success – ROI / Benefit realization
Success in transformation projects essentially comes down to the quality of the people on
the project. Good quality resources are no longer the preserve of the major consultancies and the hybrid approach offers simplified access to highly skilled, qualified, and mobile resources that are project savvy and internationally experienced.
World Class specialist Interim resource mobilized by one solution partner.
SystemsAccountants, is a global authority in the provision of specialist resourcing services specific to Finance Systems & ERP enabled Change programs. We are the trusted resourcing partner to a diverse array of client organizations, ranging from mid- market private companies, to global listed groups, public sector bodies.
SA’s program mobilization service de-risks and facilitates the rapid and accurate appointment of key positions within Finance & Digital Transformation initiatives. We have many years of experience in assembling multi-disciplinary program teams and have refined structured processes to ensure that appropriate skills and expertise are on boarded and stood down seamlessly. We proactively build our network through recommendation and referral, ensuring that we are always refreshing our talent pool with the industry’s best.
Why choose SA?
We’ve been helping companies get the best returns from their technology investments for over 20 years.
We’re a compelling alternative to Vendor, SI and Consulting engagements.
We save our clients time and money by providing the right solution quickly, first time, every time.
Our philosophy is to build exceptionally strong, trusted, long lasting & mutually beneficial relationships.
Flexible Turnkey solutions from Contract, Permanent to Staff Aug & On Demand Consulting.
SA Capability Statement
SystemsAccountants is a market leading recruitment & project resourcing company.
Our highly niche business model operates globally at the confluence of CFO and CIO Agenda’s where we specialize exclusively in delivering hybrid expertise across Financial Systems, ERP, EPM, Data Management, Change & Transformation.
Drawing on over 20 years ERP & Financial Systems experience were solely focused on assisting clients drive value and ROI from their investment in Finance and ERP technology.
We’re a private company headquartered in London, with offices in Paris and Amsterdam. The North American HQ office is based in Chicago with an operation in New York City, SA employs 60 people with revenue of over £50M (2019).
All of our contract and consulting resources are highly qualified in the selection, implementation, development, support & optimization of Financial Systems. Please find below an overview of our staff by numbers / role type.
- Project Managers
- Lead Implementation Consultants
- Technical Consultants (Interfacing, Integration, Bespoke Development etc.)
- Functional Support Consultants
- Client-Side Implementation Support
- Post Production Support | Admin-as-a-Service
- Training Consultants Adoption & Knowledge transfer
The majority of our resources are based in the United States, split between our Chicago HQ and New York City. At SA, we believe that face time with a customer and project team is critical to an initiative’s success. With this in mind, we would look to deploy resource locally and offer their availability to be on-site anywhere globally as required. Where it assists a client and project, we also utilize our deep network or talent in our global markets to augment our internal team.
Uniquely we manage an ecosystem of fully accredited applications specialists who are certified across the full suite of products.
- Independent Program Governance, PMO
- ERP / HRIS implementations and integrations
- Project management
- Change Management
- Systems/platform integration Systems upgrades
- Report development
- Business Process re-engineering and optimization
- Workflows, scripting, custom records
- Systems Check – IPO readiness for Cloud based architecture clients
- Post implementation stabilization
For full time hires our charge is 30% of salary.
For contract and consulting we engage on a time and materials basis, with per hour cost for our consultancy time, and expenses for time on client site where necessary.
Acceptance, Approval and Authorizations
SA utilizes a web-based time recording application which all of our consultants use to document their time spent on projects. This system allows clients to review where time has been spent, and via an approval & authorization workflow – confirm the work has been delivered to the expected standard. Clients will be invoiced on upon approval of this time. Payment Terms and Invoicing would be at 30 days.