The tipping point – why these 3 organisations transitioned to a modern finance department

The tipping point – why these 3 organisations transitioned to a modern finance department

Still running your finance function on spreadsheets?
Multiple business units using multiple versions of excel docs?

Finance departments are increasingly being called upon as a source of strategic direction, not just a team for data entry, P+Ls and monthly reporting.

To meet this demand, you must have your finger on the pulse. You must be able to access the financial situation for the whole company at the drop of a hat. You must be able to run scenarios based on speculative data and turn those into meaningful insights.

And if you’re only working with spreadsheets? You’ve got no chance.

That’s why you need to modernise your finance function.

And you need the right technology and partner to make it happen.

In this article, we’ll explore three real-life stories of organisations who were where you are today.

They were at the tipping point – things were taking too long, the company had grown too fast and mistakes were happening.

Thankfully they recognised what they were facing and together we modernised their finance functions and future-proofed their strategic financial direction.

Allianz Worldwide Partners

Reason for modernising: Essential tasks and processes were taking too long

Outcome: A new, competitive edge with increased efficiency and reliability

Ian Mitchell, Regional Head of Planning and Controlling – Asia Pacific at Allianz Worldwide Partners, says their tipping point came when the finance product they were using became too cumbersome.“It was simply untenable.”

The different business units were providing information to the finance team in flat files requiring manual input. They weren’t linked or consolidated. So, each time there was a change, they had to check every file and assumption.

That’s when they knew they needed to find a solution to meet the increasing complexity of their business. They needed a solution that would help them move many lines within the P+L automatically, in-line with changing variables. Most of all, they wanted to ensure there was no ‘double dipping’ and to increase the efficiency of the finance team.

We partnered with Allianz Worldwide Partners to modernise their finance function. And the result has been clear. In Ian’s own words, if they hadn’t put in this new solution, “I wouldn’t be able to do my job.”

ALS Limited

Reason for modernising: Growth outstripping capability

Outcome: A more confident approach, greater visibility and tighter control of financial data

ALS’s rapid growth and complexity of structure was the catalyst for change. They suddenly found themselves with 13,000 people across six continents and 50 countries. The cost centres alone numbered in the thousands.

Greg Affleck, Group Financial Controller, Corporate at ALS notes:

“One of the difficulties we were facing as a business was that due to our rapid growth we had to constantly restructure, and also communicate change effectively to our stakeholders. With the old finance system we had in place, updating the reporting every time we made a change or restructure was problematic. If we made a change in one area, we had to update it manually elsewhere. We needed a solution that would automate processes so that when the changes and restructures happen, we could apply changes across the board swiftly, simply and effectively – literally at the push of a button.”

Once they knew they needed to do something, they attempted to build a bespoke solution. They soon discovered the ongoing maintenance, cost and effort involved wasn’t working either.

That’s when they engaged with us at Bistech. We implemented a solution that was dynamic, flexible and gave their finance function a more confident approach regarding what the future may bring.

“With greater visibility and tighter control of our financial data, we can make better decisions and react to market conditions more effectively – helping us keep ahead of our competition.”

Auto & General

Reason for modernising: Mistakes, errors and inaccuracies

Outcome: A record profit year and business reliability on the new information finance can provide

Duncan McInerney, Auto & General’s Business Intelligence & Analytics Manager for Finance, tells the story of how Auto & General reached the tipping point, knowing they had to make a change.

“When I first joined the company, everything was being done out of spreadsheets. There was no unification. Different business units did their own thing, building reports to suit their requirements. If we wanted reliable, group level information about how many policies we had across the brands for example, there was no easy way to do it. We would run queries in spreadsheets but it was archaic, inefficient and error prone.”

This is a story we’ve heard again and again. So many organisations have outgrown existing systems and processes as they’ve scaled. The errors and inaccuracies became increasingly frequent and worryingly sizeable. The excuse of: ‘this is just how things have always been done’ suddenly doesn’t stand up anymore and that’s when Auto & General knew they needed to modernise their finance function.

They partnered with us after searching for a Financial Performance Management partner who would:

“…provide great support, great training and great people. There also must be a strong element of trust. An FPM partner must understand the space.”

We implemented a transitional solution – an application which integrates into Excel, reading directly from a centralised server. It provided the modernisation they needed, while making it a smoother transition for their team.

Now the business relies on the information the finance team provide, and they know they can trust it.

“If nothing else, we now deliver the same reporting with more efficiency. We have seen a massive reduction in man hours. On day one of each new month everything is done by 11 am. Previously it took us five days to get information out. Early in the piece we estimated that this has saved us about 30 hours a month.”

Are you at the tipping point?

Do you recognise your organisation in any of these stories?

If you do, now is the time to act.

Read more about these organisations’ stories in our state of play report into financial modernisation.