Key insights into streamlining Finance Operations14 April 2023
A major sustainable waste management company in Western Europe, providing high-quality and cost-efficient solutions for different types of waste, struggled to maintain its Finance and Administration department organized due to multiple acquisitions in the past five years. The pressing need to improve efficiency, establish effective control, and increase cost-effectiveness arose in preparation for future growth and upcoming acquisitions.
The experience that CFO Services TriFinance has in business and operational models and end-to-end project implementation was crucial in this project and allowed Project Consultant, Ralph van den Broek to apply the bottom-up approach.
By applying TriFinance's bottom-up approach in this project, we gained a comprehensive understanding of the tasks performed by the employees, the reasons behind them, and their perceptions towards change.
Ralph van den Broek, Project Consultant, CFO Services
Mapping the finance processes
The company needed assistance from a third-party professional firm to map its current Finance Department and transactional finance processes across four locations.
'Over the last few years, the company has acquired a number of smaller companies, ' Ralph van den Broek says. 'It is planning to expand its business offering in Western Europe. The scope for this project was limited to the Belgian and Dutch branches of the company, with the possibility to extend the model to other European countries such as the UK.'
The resulting report from the mapping exercise would provide valuable insights into the Finance Department, offering clear visibility of the time spent on each activity for each employee involved in the process and its sub-processes. The primary areas of assessment would include Record to Report, Procure to Pay, Order to Cash, and Controlling
The 3 challenges
The project faced three main challenges, centered around optimizing the deployment of Finance professionals, increasing transparency of the task package for the transactional Finance team, and creating insights to prepare the organization for future growth and acquisitions.
- The first challenge involved evaluating a more specialized Finance domain structure to improve the deployment of Finance professionals. This required comparing the current structure to a functional entity structure to create a more structured and specialized department.
- The second challenge aimed to increase transparency regarding the task package of the transactional Finance team for the Business Unit team. This was necessary due to significant growth and acquisitions in recent years, where the tasks of newly acquired Finance Departments were not fully assessed and consolidated into one team.
- Finally, the third challenge aimed to create insights that would enable the organization to set up a framework for future acquisitions and growth. The framework would be flexible enough to be implemented in other expanding markets.
This project posed an added difficulty as many employees had held the same position for 10-20 years and had varying levels of seniority. As a result, they had become accustomed to performing their daily tasks in a particular manner and were less receptive to change.
“Obtaining their full cooperation was a challenge,” Ralph van de Broek explains, "But our bottom-up approach brought employees fully on board with the project and made them gladly share their own insights and frustrations and even propose improvements."
Identifying bottlenecks and opportunities to create transformation
The Financial Department's task transparency and employee task allocation were enhanced through this project. Initially, the CFO Services project consultant Ralph van den Broek, project manager, and the Finance manager of the client aligned the project's objectives and scope during a kick-off meeting. Second, a TriFinance questionnaire was utilized to gain an understanding of the organizational structure, operations, procedures, and individual job responsibilities. This questionnaire covered all relevant areas, such as Record to Report, Procure to Pay, Order to Cash, and Controlling, and provided a more detailed view of the tasks and processes. The data collected from the completed questionnaires were analyzed to gain insights. Third, in-person workshops were conducted with each team to review the data, identify bottlenecks and opportunities, and work collaboratively towards a resolution.
The workshops were successfully carried out, and all employees were cooperative, providing valuable suggestions for improvement. However, it was discovered after the workshops that the inclusion of Management Accounting in the scope was necessary to provide a comprehensive view of the task mapping of the Finance department. This inclusion would have enabled us to detect duplicate work and determine end-responsibilities. Unfortunately, the client did not approve the addition during the status meeting.
The project's final outcome was a well-defined high-level optimization roadmap to aid in the transition of the Finance department into a functional organization with explicitly defined roles, end-responsibilities, and processes. This transformation would significantly improve the overall quality, create synergies and efficiencies, and promote transparency. Additionally, the suggested organizational changes were presented in an organizational chart, and the analysis was shared in a report via Power BI with the client.
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