By Mark Vivian, CEO, Claremont
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic hardship has left some businesses and their CFOs in dire need of streamlining their internal processes whilst also cutting costs. Finance departments in particular have not only been challenged to make their own processes more efficient, but also more agile.
Take the HMRC’s furlough scheme for example; finance departments were faced with the need to ensure that their organisation’s employees were paid correctly and on time, while also having to make sure they adhered to the Government’s specific regulatory requirements. At the same time, cash needs to be collected, invoices still need to be paid and the day-to-day needs to be kept up.
To add to the finance department’s woes, research from Gartner has found that finance processes are on average a business’s third slowest operating function, leading 73% of finance workers to claim they are under pressure to deliver faster results from their superiors when it comes to processes such as reporting and tax returns.
So, what can finance departments do about it? The answer may lie in IT. By choosing the right finance system and optimising it with a managed service provider, organisations can go a long way toward increasing both their finance department’s agility and efficiency.
Choosing the right finance system
When choosing the right finance system, there are number of important considerations businesses should take into account when it comes to boosting agility and efficiency, which will be largely centred around functionality.
For instance, when it comes to efficiency, businesses should consider whether there is a finance system available that provides them with a wide ranging set of integrated business applications, such as HR, Payroll, and CRM. Oracle’s E-Business Suite is a great example of this.
As part of their functionality consideration, businesses will also need to consider their specific use cases. For example, is the requirement to have a finance system capable of supporting global organisations working in multiple territories, with multi-currencies and multi-languages, and also local country legislation?
In terms of boosting agility, businesses will also need to consider whether they are happy to adopt largely standard “best practice” business processes, which usually necessitates business change, or whether to use customisation to the standard product so that it reflects the way your business works. In order to find the finance system that best suits their specific needs, businesses should look to consult a managed service provider (MSP).
Partnering with a Managed Service Provider
Partnering with an MSP will help enable organisations to get the most out of their IT environment, including their finance system. Software deployments are complex and will require a team of engineers, each with specific skill sets, to optimise. Finance directors have enough on their plate without having to worry about their finance systems under performing.
Managed service providers will work closely with both your finance and IT teams in four main areas:
- Incident Management: MSPs will provide “fix on fail” support when issues with financial applications occur, which will typically be against a Service Level Agreement for both responding to and resolving the Incidents.
- Problem Management: Here MSPs will get to the root of the problem that caused the Incident and resolve it so that the same Incidents don’t reoccur.
- Change Management: MSPs will also make sure that your finance applications are up to date and will make any necessary modifications that businesses may require as their needs change overtime, or new legislation is introduced.
- Optimisation: A good MSP will be proactive and make recommendations on how businesses can optimise their financial applications, highlighting were efficiencies can be made and costs reduced.
At Claremont, we were able to help the National Trust respond to the unprecedented changes that have taken place since March 2020 and develop a fully functional furlough solution within their Oracle financial applications. The National Trust naturally wanted to take advantage of the government furlough initiative to support their staff and protect their organisations as their sites began to close.
The solution was deployed rapidly and automatically calculated the rebate amount for each employee, gave each employee a professional standard of notification, and required minimal payroll intervention. The first payroll runs of the month began on the 16th April and by the 25th April the National Trust had successfully processed over 14,000 employees through their payrolls.
Obtaining peace of mind
The COVID-19 pandemic has put increased pressure on finance departments to boost operational efficiencies, cut costs and adhere to new legislative requirements. The last thing they need to be worrying about is insufficient IT systems. By partnering with a managed service provider, organisations, their finance departments and their IT departments can gain peace of mind that their finance systems will be optimised to suit their needs – leaving them to focus on their day jobs.