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The Digital Finance Organization. Where Should You Start? How Do You Start?

In today’s world, real time data and data driven decision making is crucial for organizations to stay ahead of the competition. But, how does that apply directly to the office of finance and the CFO? Two words: Finance transformation.

In this webinar Robert Kugel, SVP & Research Director at Ventana Research and Marco van der Kooij Managing Director and Modern Finance Transformation Solution Architect at ForSight Consulting, discuss why using the right technology is essential for successful Finance transformation.


Hi everyone and welcome to the webinar.

Today's webinar is the digital finance organization brought to you by Ventana, CCH Tagetik and ForSight.

I'm Leslie Cant, director of product marketing for CCH Tagetik and I'll be the MC of the webinar.

So what we're going to go through today? We're going to go through a brief overview of CCH Tagetik, then we're going to get some insights from our top leaders from both Ventana Research and ForSight Consulting, what the digital finance organization is, how we can go above modern finance transformation and then as well top question by you that we've seen through the finance from both how we do and also in CCH Tagetik for embracing and engaging the finance transformation.

How do you start? And also where should you start? I hope you'll find these tips possible for you.

So first of all we have Robert Kugel from Ventana Research, he is the SVP and research director focusing on CFO and business research practices, specifically the application of IT to finance and business process optimization and on continuous planning and continuous accounting, control systems and analytics and price and revenue management and he has many years of career experience at other firms as well.

Next we have Marco Van Der Kooij who is managing director and also a modern finance transformation solution architect with ForSight Consulting.

Marco has over 25 years of experience in the enterprise performance management field with previous experience with CCH Tagetik and other consulting firms across the broad spectrum of implementation, sales, consulting, research and everything.

And who are we? Wolters Kluwer has been around for over 180 years.

We have publishing, healthcare and tax & accounting as well as software.

We have over 19.000 employees worldwide.

We have 90% of the world's top banks and 93% of the Fortune 500 companies as well rely on Wolters Kluwer either consulting or products.

CCH Tagetik specifically, we have over 20 years of experience, we have over 1000 customers worldwide which have over 2.500 applications.

As our software is addressed to industries that we have across all industries here so including banking, insurance, manufacturing services etc.

As CCH Tagetik what we provide is a unified solution, what we mean by that? It's that we have a platform for which we have consolidation, budgeting, planning, reporting, disclosure & regulatory all in one.

As well what we're doing there allows you to streamline your processes, reduce your cycle time and also align finance, operations and business across the organization.

As well on the planning side there we offer strategic financial and operational and everything.

As well we have analytics too so that you're able to combine more granular data into your solutions with your consolidation, planning and forecasting so that you have a better view of your organization overall and which it makes better insights and better decisions.

Just to go in, here there are our top customers or customers' communities across all of their industries here.

So we can see clients here including Aegon, Daimler, Danone, Randstad and many more.

After that I will pass the word to Robert to introduce the digital finance organization.

Thanks Leslie, the idea of transforming the financial accounting department is decadal.

Finance transformation, more recently digital transformation, refers to a long-standing objective to shift the focus of the finance department from transaction processing and an emphasis of what just happened to a more forward-looking analytical organization that serves as an advisor to the rest of them.

Research that we've done confirms that 89% of industries says that it's important, very important for their finance department to assume a much more strategic role in the management of the company.

Yet for all the talk of all these years about getting finance to digital transformation achieving this goal remains elusive.

Some companies have made progress but the majority of finance professionals still spend too much time and efforts on the mechanics of day-to-day operations.

And I think technology is being an important missing ingredient behind this.

The technology wand isn't going to magically transform the department that phrase is necessary but insufficient applies here.

Technology has brought us a long way.

And it put vision in the perspective that when it comes keeping books by hand, recording information and those works in journals and ledgers, just keeping the books occupies most of the department time.

The rest of the time is devoted to generating reports about what just happened and creating financial statements.

You now, really dealing with the basics.

And all using mechanical adding machines and paper spreadsheets, it wasn't that long ago.

Accessing data was difficult because everything was in paper documents and a lot of times in metal file cabinets.

You could talk about your strategy but companies were mostly guided by a project that was mostly a typed strategy and often there was a reaction to what just happened.

The limits of what the department could do were defined by the available technology.

Unfortunately in many aspects that are still true today but technology also is about to change everything.

Over the next 10 years I-tech technology is going to have more a profound impact on what financial accounting departments do and it has over the past fifty.

Now to be sure it's not going to happen overnight but it will all happen.

So unless you're expecting retire in the next 10 years I think you need to be sure that you're ahead of the curve, you need to start the process of change, you need to be part of that.

Now if you've been around for just a little while you've heard of a lot of claims about technology from vendors, consultants, analysts, others that you really have the knowledge all transformed.

This time it's about digital transormation.

Now I'm skeptic and as a skeptic it pains me to say this but I think this time is going to be different.

We're on the cusp of the third nature digital evolution of accounting made possible by a set of diverse technologies.

The first stage occured with the beginning of the information age in the 50s and 60s.

People's intensive funcions such as billing and transaction processing were, you know, steadly ordinated by the features they used.

We got a lot of basic efficiency by automating book keeping.

The second wave occured with the adoption of client-servers and ERP systems in the business intelligence tools in the nearly 1990s.

The systems were one more integrated and could manage finance and accounting processes.

Beyond an analysis, important increasingly easier and more powerful and over the 1990s departments became substantially more efficient and, you know, the evidence there was that there was a 42% decline of the number of finance and accounting department's employees for million dollars revenue over that decade.

Next stage of the evolution of finance and accounting departments it's going to transform the nature of working on accounts and people involved in there.

New technologies give finance executives greater flexibility in managing their departments processes.

The familiar monthly and quarterly cadences of the accounting cycle are just s tradition, they really stem from the limitations of paper-based book-keeping.

The timing of task balanced the cost of taking book-keepers offline to summarize what to type increasing journals and ledgers against the need for financial control.

So it was a lot of time in order to do all of that, you know, kicking in time but you had to do that once a month, once a quarter to be able to remain in control and make sure that everything was working properly.

Surprisingly until recently computers changed very little of that because ERP systems, designed for mid-sized and larger companies, they had to operate in batch mode.

This is an important limitation because it can't be taken offline to summarize reconciled data overnight or at month end and windows to avoid interrupting operations.

Today we have in-memory systems, we have in-memory data processing and advanced database technologies that eliminates this need for batch processing.

So what once took days or hours now it accomplished really in seconds.

Operating continuously it's possible to balance workloads.

In the department over a months or a quarter you don't have to do things, you know, and bunching everything up at once.

You can be doing it day-to-day or week-to-week.

Over the coming decade much of the tedium now associated with the accounting we'll be eliminated by technology.

The core values of the finance and accounting deparments won't change, but the attitudes and skills of people in the department will.

The next stage in the advance of the application of Information Technology to finance and accounting is something they are calling "robotic finance".

Robotic finance is not about putting robots in charge of the department, it's not taking the tedious robotic work out of finance.

The objective in transforming the department is to significantly shift the work done by the finance and accounting department from transactions processing to more analytical support of the business.

So back saying, in the 1930s corporations had a lot of book-keeper that tracked what had just happened: transactions to journals and ledgers, creating invoices and bills, keep track of payments, all that stuff.

Consolidating books at the end of the month was a huge chore because work with reconciling accounts in different paper ledgers and journals and transposing entries on multiple ledgers, all that stuff, required a lot of people.

It needed the bulk of book-keepers just at the end of the month.

About the 1960s at least in the largest companies.

The first computers were being used to generate bills and do some accounting functions and this sent out the number of people working in the department.

It was a great ability to do analysis, putting an emphasis on management and accounting.

And even so the bulk of the work done was transactional.

On the other hand, you know it, wasn't unusual spend most of the month closing your books, putting together hand reports, closing your books and doing all of that work.

And that was even in a period where, you know, your annual reports were just, I don't know, ten or twenty pages and you only have two pages of what counts, even then you know that was a lot of work to get those.

By the turn of the century a lot have changed.

Fragmented financial management and accounting systems built on proprietary software awaited ERP software that could manage processes within and across departments.

There were consolidation systems that reduced the amount of efforts needed to close books.

The AI systems placing intelligent systems brought together a lot more data than before and were affordable analytical tools for planning and budgeting for management accounting, for all sorts of processes.

And in that period departments were downsized So there was a shift in the balance between analytical and transaction work but transactions still account for majority of the work being done by the department.

Now over these next 10 years I think that's going to change because of technology finally it's going to deliver on its potential to shift the balance work to a more forward-looking analytical process.

Artificial intelligence using machine learning is rated things like basic accounting because just like with chess there is a lot of ambiguity in basic accounting situations like say a self-driving car worked with vehicle drive licence.

These are examples.

There are a few implementations of what to do next, so even within the constraints of having to apply guided learning to teach systems to do useful things technology is pretty close to being capable of removing a substantial amount of the department work that occupies the department.

Already for example we're getting up to 90% accuracy in invoice matching at the first task.

I'm skeptic and as a skeptic I have to say that even if the technology is available it doesn't mean that departments are going to embrace it.

Even if your organization isn't keeping it, you know your accounting records and paper binders really how up-to-date is it.

What is the attitude to technology? How ready and willing is it for change? Because technology is going to drive a change.

If you want to have a future in finance and accounting you need to ingress technology.

Finance transformation and the goal of making the finance and accounting department more of a part of the rest of the company, you know, that's have people nodding their heads "Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah exactly, right" for a long time and everybody supports that.

But there's just one snag: our research still finds the same problems that have been plaguing the department for decades reinforce that stereotype, you know, the backward-looking accounting not ahead of the curve.

We assess your overall performance formalizations.

Our research has found that about half of the finance departments operated the lowest tactical level of performance and just 10% have the highest innovative level.

Similar in terms of introduction to technology which is part of that.

So where are all the good intensions out there? And people saying it should be great, departments continue to do the same old things in the same old way.

Their performance is hurt by an interrelated set of people processing information technology issues.

There's a part of major cultural issue too that seems to be getting in the way because accounting is about doing the same thing over and over again exactly in the same way.

So what are the challenges that a finance executive faces? Getting the organization to increase, a cultural continuous improvement, because all this consistency is crucial.

Overtime changes are absolutely necessary to address all these challenges.

It's not so much the business challenges change because companies always need to attract and satisfy customers.

It's the tools that businesses use that change and those tools gives a competitive advantage to organization that can use those tools first.

It's easy to see that in manufacturing and in hardware.

I think it also applies to finance departments.

"We've always done in this way" are the six most expensive words in running the department and I think this is going to be absolutely apparent over the coming decade when technology upends how the department can operate and how the really competitive companies operate the finance transformation.

Again, even though I'm a skeptic this time it's different because the technology won't just bring incremental improvements, way it's really been for decades, it's transformational technology that will change how you and your department work.

So getting to the title of this webinar: where do you start your path on the finance transformation? Well, let me talk about three areas for I think most of financial departments are going to find out how to improve in their performance.

One is the accounting close, second is improving the business value and the third is pumping your gain in analytics.

So let's start with the close, you know, it's just like the theme of finance transformation, there have been a lot of talk in the past 25 or 30 years that shortening the close process will complete it sooner.

But despite that only 40% of companies that we observed complete their quarter within 6 business days.

The best clean close is widely acceptable.

Why? Well, because one thing companies that close sooner have is financial and management information sooner.

Our research shows that 75% of companies that complete their close within two business days say that the information produced by financial organization is always timely.

By contrast only 20% of those, working come to take 7 or more business days to get the information.

I should mention that it isn't just the fast close, it's a fast clean close.

So, if your company closes in a week, you know in week 1, and you're still making material corrections of journal entries into weeks 2 and 3 that's not a clean close.

That 43% of companies that are closing sooner because they automated more and use fewer spreadsheets are all a fewer selection.

and then the 60% takes more than a week.

When we ask people why they want to close sooner, the most frequent answer is to have more time to analyze results, implement any changes they need based on those results, make them sooner and get financial and management accounting data to executive managers sooner so that people always have timely information.

I think there's another really bigger reason to focus on accelerating your close, because you know usually it's not just one thing that prevents companies from closing within one week, I just got anything that's a business issue.

The closes are some sort of an interplay of people processing information and technology practices.

And you usually can't focus on just one of those factors, and get kind of results you should compared to using a holistic process.

So back to the close process it doesn't exist in a vacuum whatever it is that's prolonging the close whatever it is behind those delays, inconsistent execution, unreliable data, too many spreadsheets all of things probably emblematic, other problems in your department, and it's probably affecting every other process Finance and Accounting department is doing, probably actually applies the entire company the time to close is an useful performance indicator and I mean a fast clean close.

Whatever you do to accelerate the close and to get it done cleanly is probably going to happen multiple of times.

Of course technology and software specifically won't magically solve all the issues behind a too long close but trying to shorten the close without using the right technology is either difficult or impossible and given all the evidence you've probably seen over the years why not to do it in the right way? Our research confirms that automation accelerates the companies close.

131a A number shows that corporations that use a high degree of automation in their closes are more likely to close within 6 business days, than those in which doesn't use automation only in some parts of the process or little or no automation.

71% applies a high degree of automation and closes within 6 days, almost double the 41% that uses some automation and almost three times, the 21% that uses little or no automation.

Yet only 11% by our numbers use a high degree of automation in their close so it's still a small percentage.

So what is the reason why focusing on the closes as I said it's a useful metric or just about a lot of other things that are going on in the department.

All companies close their books.

Our research consistently finds that companies with exactly the same characteristics close books in very different rates.

Company A for example closes books in 3 days while Company B, exact same industry, selling identical and very similar products, about the same number of employees, they take 11 days to close.

Well that's three days vs eleven days, why? Technology isn't the only answer but it's critical to any companies efforts to accelerate the close process and technology is going to be increasingly the source of innovation and disruption in the finance organization in the coming decade.

it's a jump from going to adding machines or from post binder paper to where we are today, in probably less than 10 years.

So we are going to the second topic which is planning.

We've been using a lot of different terms for this but continuous planning is the term that will be using to describe high participation, collaborative action-oriented types of planning built on frequent short planning sprints.

The reason to do this it's that improves accuracy because refinements to the planner can maybe shorten the analysis.

145a Short planning cycles also make companies more agile in responding to market and competitive exchanges.

It also means continuous across the entire organization having an ongoing collaborative dialogue that brings together finance, business managers and executives.

And because it is a high-participation planning and not silo based all of this comprehend greater accountability coordination in operations.

Continuous planning promotes a forward-looking action-oriented mindset in planning and reviewing that is focused on performance improvement.

And continuous planning is integrated across the company.

It's not just finance.

Companies do a lot of planning, they plan sales, products and services they're going to offer, that they're going to charge, they plan the headcount they need to run the business to organize distribution in their supply chain.

They also produce the budget which is a financial planning.

The process of planning involves discussions about objectives and the resources and tactics that people need to use to achieve them.

Planning, when it's done right, is the best way to get everyone onto the same page and ensure that the company's well organized and how it executes the planning.

By the way that's along with its strategy that means coordinating planning.

Setting in adjust the company's course requires coordination.

Information Technology has the potential to make business planning much more useful for the entire business enabling it to improve company's performance and increase its competitiveness.

And there's another technology-related aspect in continuous planning.

Financial planning and analysis group spends too much time on repetitive mechanical tasks that have little value.

Our research found that 68% spend the biggest portion of their time doing data preparation, only 28% spend the bulk of their time doing what they're most qualified to do and payed to do, and that is analyzed.

Continuous planning is an approach that uses Information Technology to significantly reduce the need for data preparation so that business analysts in all parts of the business can do the more valuable analytical work.

And just like accelerating the close, we were talking about changing budgeting and planning, a majority of companies still do it the old-fashioned way.

There's a lot of manual effort going into collecting data, pulling it together, massaging it and analyzing it and doing multiple iterations of plan or budget and then when it comes to compare actual results of plan handling the data from multiple systems and trying to identify what happened and why: all of this is very time-consuming and not a lot of that work is as productive as possible.

Doing things by hand the artisanal way may be great for bread or business suits but not for budgets and plans.

So ideally your company should be doing all of its planning and budgeting on a single platform, one that allows each planning unit exactly the way it's doing its planning today but also enables other parts of the company to see the latest published plans and create life links between those publishing when it is necessary.

So there's one individual or business units plans updated made available to the rest of the company, those numbers are going to instantly be available to update individual plans and update the company business.

So the forecast of sales and revenues doesn't take hours or even minutes.The impact of a change in benefit-cost can be seen instantly because the HR, departments, plans are linked to everybody else's headcount.

Now a big benefit of automating those lens is that the company can quickly run multiple simulations of what to do next in a very short period of time which makes planning more agile and forward-looking.

This calls back to the close.

The actuals are available sooner and you can run through an analysis sooner and examine the impact of a range of changes to respond to things that didn't go to plan sooner.

Your company is going to be probably able to improve its performance.

The main thing stopping you from doing this today is that you're not using the right technology, technology that's affordable, practical and available today.

So our research has shown that there's a strong correlation between how all companies' planning processes work and the degree to which plans are integrated.

Our research found that two-thirds of companies that have planning information directly linked, also have a planning process that works well or very well.

Only 40% of those left copy and paste data from one system to another.

Just 25% of those have no linkage at all.

There's a lot of business value to continuous planning, everybody planning and budgeting on the same platform, everybody having the same date available sooner for analysis and for reviewing analytics.

Analytics are a third way to start transforming your finance organization.

There are a couple of dimensions to advancing your views of analytics.

One is to do more and by that I mean using a much wider set of data without resorting to higher mathematics of a good financial analyst is compulsively dividing B into A see if there's something useful in the operation.

Our research confirms that the majority of corporations performes a wide range of financial and performance analysis but many fewer of them routinely perform analysis, you know, that are related to things like customer and product profitability to do analysis of benchmarking your performance compared to other companies to all forces, their forces just doing the same forces as us, and doing predictive and prescriptive kind of analysis.

And then they often spend so much time on the task of assembling accurate and consistent data that there's little time left for analysis.

To eliminate this unproductive use of time the process must be automated.

Where did you use data cuts down on time-consuming manual processes, achieve the benefit of data preparation tools it is being able to do that and mostly people who participate in our data preparation research, you know point of that is important benefit.

And more than two-thirds of our companies in our next generation finance analytics on research still spend the most of time, as I said, on data preparation tasks, with only a little bit more than a quarter, 28%, they spend the most of the time on anlytics-related work.

Organizations are to spend more time on analysis that has got to be easily available and ready to use.

To eliminate the distraction that conflicting data causes the data needs to be from a single authoritative Source platform that's used by everyone.

I can talk about predictive and prescriptive analytics and all the snazzy ways it is used in artificial intelligence and in analytics but I think you know if we're trying about where to start most companies just need to get the basics.

Our research into the preparation of financial analytics has found that almost no organization is fully satisfied with the analytical processes that are used there by the finance department.

Back, a majority of participants in our Office of Finance department research, 58%, said their analytical processes need significant or major improvements and another 34% said some adjustments are necessary.

But fortunately organizations can take that to improve the efficiency of their analytical processes and increase the efficiency so that the business analysts in their role can spend most of their time on submit analysis.

The advantage of self-service dataprep is that deals with existing issues of data accuracy and timeliness because they are no longer a trade-off.

Our research has found that a large majority of companies agree that analysis produced by the finance department is accurate.

But a majority also said that on balance the information isn't timely so the reason is you spending so much time fooling around with spreadsheets that by the time the information gets to people in the show that it's accurate it isn't timely anymore.

Also by combining operational and financial data companies can improve their situational awareness across the organization because it's a combination of operational and financial issues.

It is enhanced by connecting operational data with financial results so that FP&A groups can more accurately measure the relationship between business decisions and financial outcomes.

Analysis have to be based on both sets of data because it gives managers and executives much of broader set of information understand both their current conditions and the actions that they can take that will have an impact on their goals and objectives and using this data to provide a range of operations and financial key performance indicators it helps focus managers on the most important factors that affects everyone.

And in this respect combining multiple sets of data and produce more insightful analysis with greater business values.

The numbers are just accounting numbers, they are business numbers too.

And to have that you have to have a single data platform, a single authoritative source platform.

Here there are a couple of interesting data points from our Office of Finance research that support the idea that automation is the engine that drives transformation.

Research shows that 70% of the participating finance organizations that have automated a significantly portion of their routine processes also play an active role in the management of the company, one of the objectives of finance transformation.

That's compared to less than a half haven't automated it, less than half of those people that play a role.

And so similarly more than two-thirds of companies that have automated processes actively promote process and analytical excellence.

Compared to less that a third that haven't.

Again that's, you know, how you have you transformed in your organization with processing and analytical excellence.

The research suggests that time-consuming task with limited business value the time organizations can devote to make necessary changes to enhance the strategic value of the performace of the department.

Enhance department transformation requires top to bottom change management, a commitment to becoming more strategic from the top of the organization.

And then crucially I think freeing up staff time by eliminating unnecessary work or work that can be easily automated it's promote a necessary change from the bottom up.

Transforming the department starts with using fewer spreadsheets you shouldn't be using spreadsheets as much it probably you know that.

Spreadsheets are absolutely necessary in the finance function, it is a stuntly growth as a personal productivity tool, they are absolutely the right choice for product analysis.

but they have inherent technological defects that make them the wrong choice for any collaborative, repetitive process in the deparment.

There are two dimensional grids that make it hard to manipulate data for analysis and reporting in multiple dimensions like customers, territories, products, time, all of that.

I've been using electronic spreadsheets for nearly 40 years now.

So I say it from experience that a lot of the skills you've acquired as a spreadsheet jockey aren't true, are just ways of adapting to really a awful technology, not a true productivity tool.

So what tool eliminates unnecessary spreadsheets in the close, eliminates them in planning, eliminates them as much as possible in the repetitive analytics that you do? If you want to achieve finance transformation, spreadsheets aren't the answer.

And with that I'll hand it back to you Leslie.

Thank you very much Robert and now, well, I go on to Marco Van Der Kooij.

Thank you very much Leslie, I've been working in this area for more than 25 years I've seen a lot of the things that Robert was just addressing and especially what I've seen apparently also lately is that responsibilities of the CFO office continue to expand and not only, of course, they need to close the books faster as what we were saying and make sure that they meet the regulations and especially on that side there were quite some changes lately especially for the financial services, insurance companies and Solvency II, banks concerning FinRep Corep, especially in Europe there was a lot about that but also in lease accounting a lot of changes in regulations took place and that took a lot of efforts and the responsibilities to be done by the CFO office.

On the other hand what we are seeing and speaking about that also for more than 20 years in this area is that the CFO office is expected to be much more of a business partner and also to provide much more forward-looking information.

The big difference however, compared to over 20 years ago, is that technology is really now in the position that it can really help companies and especially the CFO office to perform so much better in that area.

Not only we see that in the analytics and also with budgeting and planning and forecasting but more specifically we see that in the sustainable value creation because actually that's where all about for company is to make sure that they create value in a sustainable way over time and in order to do so you need to know much more about your operations.

And I will come back to that later on that as well.

But overall what you can see over here is that on the one hand side a company needs to make sure that they close the book faster and be compliant at the same time but also they need to make sure that they can support their business in a much better way with both insights, actionable insights that's what I was saying it as well.

but also make sure with forward-keeping information so they can really take decisions about what's coming from all that data.

So what I still see in the market today is that companies have a lot of disparate systems which means that it's still very process-centric oriented in the finance office which means that there are separate application for consolidation, badgeting and planning.

it's mainly about structure day.

Because you know what you need to capture for both configuration that for your birthday and the disclosure internal data while there's no need for getting external data into a so it's also only focused on the important data only because also managing all kind of different systems we need to make sure that everything reconciles because there are multiple copies of the data That is where a lot of effort is going to make sure that the reconciliations are there and management meetings is not about the figures and how figures are compiled together, it's about taking actions.

In order to do so as what's the big change I see lately is that companies need to implement the so called "data hub" and that supports multiple processes into the organization.

So how you see on the right hand side also in the disclosure, profitability, again, what was really needed is a data information-centric foundation where both financial and operational data can be combined together and I put it in this way over here because then from the same source you can support all the process within the CFO office but at the same time also combine operational information into that because one of the great things about the finance organization is that they are really used to work in a very structured way with validated data so the data quality is quite good.

And also what I see lately is that text is getting so much more importance not only for compliance research because from your commercial balance when you are doing the consolidation you can't arrive of course the fiscal balance but also that information is needed later on if you want to do, for instance, personal profitability to the economic profit level.

So that's why it is also important to capture that data and based on that same foundation you can do all kind of analytics which I will discuss later on a as well.

As it is really important to bring both financial and operational data together and also internal and external data of all types bring them together in one platform because if you want to be a business partner, if you want to be compliant at the same time and provide forward to the information then the technology is really there to accommodate that.

So CCH Tagetik is providing a financial information platform which is really really unique in its form and not only it's providing and supporting all the different processes in the CFO office for the financial close, budgeting & planning, profitability, analysis, all kind of regulation like the legal, lease accounting, reporting and so on but it provides that in a unified platform where you can combine both financial and operational data at a very high quality so which means that there is confidence in all the data that is collected into the data hub and can be shared across the organization for all kind of business purposes.

Moreover what's important is that the technology is agnostic, so it's not only based on a single server like Oracle, but also CCH Tagetik is the first one to provide this kind of solution on SAP Hana platform and SAP Hana provides, for instance, in memory technology but also all kind of predictive and prescriptive functions which you can use when you bring together all that financial and operational data and how it was in the past that you could only do that on parts of the software, how you can see I can check if a certain hypotesis it's true yes or no, nowadays with the new technology you can do all kind of analytics on the entire dataset server which is really important if you want to do, for instance, customer profitability and life-time value management of customers and you want to do the segmentation to know which customers are most valuable to my company and I will explain later as well about this so how can you do that because that's a question I get quite a lot, it's okay, it's nice that there is technology it's nice that also for more than 20 years we're speaking about the CFO office being a business partner on the other hand we are dealing with much more compliance all the time so how can we really achieve that? And for that it's really important to put a dot on the horizon about what is the vision as a finance organization, where do you want to go to, that's really important.

But you can only establish that once you know what are the company's value drivers and so what makes the company working for a really great dataset, what do they do need for providing this value to the company and based on that the strategy is derived.

There are all different kind of stakeholders, so the CFO office really needs to see and think about how they can contribute to the company strategy and make sure that they addressed all the stakeholder's information needs.

So once you have that vision and also what I said earlier is that the finance organization is in a unique position with the way of working within the organization, being everywhere as a finance organization but also be able to work in process that really have good quality data, validated data etc.

That is a big benefit to the entire organization if you also start to speak about operational data which also needs to be of good quality if you take important business decisions.

Also if you start with the finance transformation you need to make sure that you have the dream team of the people and who can really help you inside this process, and it's not only about this kind of person, it's also really important in nowadays market that you keep your people but also that you're able to attract finance top data and you can do this by providing them great tools.

Another aspect in the finance transformation roadmap is to simplify processes and if you want to close faster you really need to simplify because is not technology it's also the process that need to be improved, as saying for the planning process, The methodologies, like I said, speak about fiscal profitability or life-time value of the customer, you really need to make sure that you apply methodologies like activity-based costing or value-based management and because if you want to go to the economic profit of the customers they need to make sure that you can allocate all the relative costs to it and make sure that you are taking the right decision based on that.

An another aspect I've seen quite a lot is that companies are still struggling to align strategy with the operations, that's always also important for instance to implement a strategy map or making sure that a strategy map is better aligned with the key initiatives of the company, with the key performance indicators based on value drivers.

Then one thing I think it's really important for modern finance organization and that's also what Robert spoke about, it's that everything is getting more digital.

So there is a lot of data available compared to marketing and sales and my experience it's also for creating data warehouses of out web analytics etc.

So there we are speaking about really a lot of data but still compared to that, I'm out of data and I'll go into finance, it's of course, much more than it was in the past but a company needs to be really data-driven and I think the best way to accomplish that is to implement a single data point model, which means that data is collected only once but can be used for multiple purposes.

To provide an example of that is, for instance, if you have fulltime equipment and you have the information that you've collected only once from your HR department but you can use the same data to calculate all your key performance indicators based on employees, and at the same time use that also in your budgeting & planning process and on the other hand also use that to integrate reports if you need to report about the composition of your workforce.

The technology innovation, Robert spoke a lot about that, I think technology now is there in order to make this all happen As it was not there a while ago that's really can make a difference and also Robert told as well that companies are really innovating, they are the ones who can make the difference and otherwise it will be so much more difficult.

And last but not least one of the things that's still really important is the quality of the data, as I said before, but also if finance is also getting much more operational data then finance really needs to make sure that they have stewardship about that data, so not only operational data but they are still making sure that the data is used in the right way.

So that is the approach that I'm thinking with my customers and when we start to discuss and start to implement finance transformation roadmap in order to outcome sustainable value creation, for that I have a great example, currently I'm working at a services company who really wants to enable as a first step of customer profitability and later on life-time value management because they really want to share the business as a partner but also they need to be compliant at the same time.

So what I did at that company is first we defined the finance transformation roadmap so what I said earlier is that with the finance organization we looked at what will be the dot on the horizon, what do we need or what do we need to accomplish that.

As a second step redefine the requirements and we start to design the solution, of course this is as soon as CCH Tagetik's customer and one of the things we discussed during the the requirements is that we really want to have the data at a contract level, as we are really speaking about, very detailed data but the contract level data is needed in order to have a very good understanding about the customer profitability.

So based on that we also decided to implement SAP Hana because we also speak about a lot of data and also they want to leverage that contractual level of data which they have about their customers about using that to later on defining what will be the life-time value of the customer.

So not only the profitability at a certain point in time but also what will be the life-time value.

For that it's really important also to do customer segmentation and for customer segmentation much more operational data is needed in order to do so, because if you want to understand why is this customer really profitable and we want to take a closer look at what are the characteristics of that customer to see if you can find more of these and how come it can be that companies with the same kind of characteristics are not as profitable as this customer is, so we can create opportunities for upselling and cross selling.

But to come back to this customer again, we are implementing it by a base approach because they need to be compliant It's part of a are very large organization but they need to make sure that they can close the book on time and forget it and we are helping them to fix the processes and make sure that they collect the right data for that and at the same time by doing so we make sure that we have to data model already available so they can do later on the real customer profitability and life-time value management up to the economic profit so that's why there's also a step in between, is that we need to implement a tax application in order to have all that information available as well to do so.

And then the last step that we will do over there is a further optimization of the processes, allocations, rules etc.

to do so, a right profitability and life-time so you banished miscalculation.

And then what they also want to achieve is that they want to improve all the forward-looking capabilities also for cash-flow planning.

This is really a great example of what we have done in the survey for the modern finance transformation in order to create a roadmap and that's the next step in order to implement data.

Thank you very much Marco, so where do you start? Robert do you have anything to add on to what Marco already said about where do you start? I guess a way to start is, we are short on time here, I think that like with any of these sorts of projects you want to be able to show progress as quickly as possible so you're really looking for find things that are going to show easily obtainable measurable improvements, you want to have executive-level results on all of that.

A easy way here of getting results is reduce the number of spreadsheets you use, certainly the worst spreadsheets that you're using.

Marco do you have anything to add to that? Yes, what I think is important is to put a dot on the horizon, to really think as a finance organization and where do we want to go to and how do we really want to support the business, and that's really important whithin the organization, to know where you want to head to, to have a picture of the state in mind.

That's really important because based on that you can peel it down to where are we today and from where we are today, how do we get there where we want to be.

Great, thank you.

Marco, so how and where do we start? What is the business case we should prepare to begin this transformation? As you can see over here the impact of such a program is huge and there are a lot of people who can benefit from it, so it's not only the CFO of course who can have much more time for instance for forward-looking, to connect strategy to drive and improve operational results that's what I was saying, making sure that the alignments of the strategy execution is much better but also using benefits from the controller, if you are using better tools and you reduce the needs for data reconciliation if you implement that within a single data point model, because a whiting a single data point model all data is reconciled by itself because you captured the data only once.

Also within the other parts of the organization, for instance, for IT you also see that there is a platform available to advance for further innovation like predictive and prescriptive analytics.

And moreover for the CEO what is really important is that there is a platform to support the entire management team so that they can really better coordinate all kind of decision-making and make sure that they can trust on the information that's provided to them.

Thank you.

Well, Robert, do you have anything to add? Well, here's a very comprehensive list of things you can achieve.

One of the challenges in doing these kinds of business cases is that very few instances you're going to see cash-on-cash returns for the kind of traditional financial analysis so maybe the best way to cast where the return is, what is the cost to put in a system like this? What is it cost in terms of the equivalent of full-time equivalents, you know, that is one, is it two, or three? If three people could accomplish all of this, wouldn't that be great? Just one thing I would add to that.

So Robert, I will ask you best practices for a successful finance transformation.

Since we're here at the top, just a kind of quickly say, a continuous improvement mentality is absolutely essential as a best practice, you're not going to change unless you have support for change within the organization.I think limiting spreadsheets, looking for ways to eliminate spreadsheets is dealing with a big jump in technology issues and look for a self-service, wherever is possible, you know you shouldn't be spending lots of your time as an FP&A professional doing a lot of busy work, find ways to automate, make things easy for people to get to that information and I just leave it at that.

One of the things I really would like to add and that's what I like from one of the slides I saw also from Robert, is automation drives transformation.

I really think that technology right now is an enabler for that change and in order to do so I think it's really important to address change management in a really good way because technology is one of the priorities with change management is about people, processes and technology and I think you need to make sure that you keep a close eye on all these three aspects and if you do so than you will have a successful project.

One of the other things I also think it's really important and that's what I also learned from some of the implementation ideas is that it's really important to have a close relationship with a software vendor because we are at the edge of doing new things and when the software vendors are really close by they can really help you in order to make sure that you use the software in the most optimized way or if some functions are missing they are close by in order to help you in providing a new functionality in a very very short way and that's something I learned especially from CCH Tagetik that are really close to that.

Alright, thank you both, in this webinar I've learnt a lot about how I should go above my finance transformation and I hope that you out there in the audience have learnt that as well and thank you very much Robert and Marco for participating and thank you all for attending our webinar.

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