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Use Your Systems Like Your Smart Phone

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While undertaking a system implementation, it is important that an organization consider the impact to business processes.  Many organizations struggle with transforming and streamlining their processes to complement new systems, resulting in outdated processes that work around the new system, rather than with the new system.

As an example – consider all the benefits associated with a smart phone – ability to check and send e-mail, send text messages, communicate via voice and face-to-face, purchase merchandise from apps and pay for merchandise at stores.  The list is nearly endless and provides the end user with the convenience of performing many important tasks from one simple device. 

However, the convenience and time savings cannot be realized without modifying the original processes – waiting to use a desktop to check and send e-mail from a desktop, using credit cards or cash to pay for merchandise at a brick and mortar store or communicating with others using a landline or a desktop messenger application. The user is not leveraging the functionality of the smart phone to more conveniently conduct day-to-day activities. Instead, the user continues to apply outdated processes without benefiting from the new technology.

Similarly, introducing new technology to an organization will not provide the maximum benefit unless the supporting processes are updated to take full advantage of the new system’s functionality. 

We recently implemented a new financial management system for a publicly traded company. During the requirements and design phase, we noted that the company’s AP manual check issuance process was extremely time consuming and required a number of manual signatures prior to issuance.  The organization also required two additional signatures for checks over a threshold of $10,000.  Because of the large check volume, especially checks exceeding $10,000, the AP department spent a significant amount of time chasing executives for approval to issue checks. The manual nature of the process limited the ability of the AP team to provide valued insight into the business.

Our team interviewed key stakeholders to better understand the existing process and pain points resulting in inefficient processing and manual error.  Combining this expertise with functional knowledge of financial management systems on the market, we were able to work with the organization to identify a best-fit technology solution. 

Prior to implementation, our team worked with the organization to document a new check processing method that leveraged the technology’s ability to automate the approval process and maintain approvals within the system. As a result, we were able to help our client to leverage the new system to automate the AP system, using out of the box workflow functionality.  We also worked with the affected departments to provide system and process training to facilitate continuous improvement over future periods at the organization.

As a result of understanding and optimizing the existing processes to leverage the new technology, the company now has a more effective AP system, better data quality, and an AP team who can focus more on analysis and less on manual check processing.

Categories: Technology Finance & Operations

Neil Smith

As the Finance & Operations practice leader, Neil is responsible for assisting clients with optimizing operations, finance, and accounting functions and leading organizations through complex change initiatives. In this role, Neil serves as an advisor to executives at Fortune 500 and emerging growth organizations across multiple industries. Click here to read Neil's full bio.

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