New Webinar: Excellence is in Order (to Cash)

600px-shutterstock_169847765Finance is in a state of flux. Processes that once served F&A have become outdated. If businesses want to keep up, they need to leverage new technologies and new transformative processes wherever possible.

Today’s CFO understands the need to focus on big-picture strategy and to continually reassess and revamp operations. For that reason, most CFOs list achieving finance operations excellence as a top goal for 2017.

The time has come to embrace data-driven finance by putting Big Data, analytics and robotic process automation to use. Leveraging these tools, in conjunction with rethinking end-to-end processes can help to optimize revenue, reduce risk and drive cash flow.

Discover how to free up your staff to focus on strategic thinking and higher-level outcomes.

Webinar: Data-Driven Finance for Achieving Excellence in Order-to-Cash Operations

On Thursday, February 9, 2017, join Sutherland’s Jon Sunthimer, Vice-President, Finance Transformation Practice, for the webinar Data-Driven Finance for Achieving Excellence in Order-to-Cash Operations. Continue reading

Location Strategy: Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

For finance professionals, it might be surprising to learn that the three hardest words in business don’t involve terms like “KPIs,” “reconciliation” or even “regulatory.” In fact, for most F&A leaders, the hardest words to grapple with are, “I don’t know.”

No one likes to admit they don’t know the answer to something. It can signal vulnerability or a lack of authority. But the best leaders are open to different perspectives and willing to benefit from others’ experience. It’s essential that they have the confidence to look elsewhere for answers when they can’t provide them on their own, because eventually, even the savviest of CFOs will need input from someone else.

So the question is this: What issues or challenges have you thinking, if not saying, those three big words?

Location, Location, Location

If you’re like many businesses evaluating or looking to increase your global footprint, you might be asking yourself: “Do I have the right resources in the right locations around the world?”

It’s a fair question. As branch offices continue to expand, business functions like Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable are grouped together across a few key hub locations to reduce costs. And although companies need to be wary of the costs of setting up shop in metropolitan cities, there is the danger of moving so far out that skilled F&A labor becomes scarce or is unwilling to commute. Continue reading

The Weekly Roundup: Financial Predictions in an Unpredictable World

F&A weekly roundupChange is afoot. From new standards within finance, to economic and political turmoil across the globe – not to mention digital transformation – accounting professionals face a steady stream of challenges. Yet finance leaders must find a way to move forward during these unstable times; if they don’t, they risk falling far behind the competition. For this week’s roundup, Sutherland’s Editorial Team presents a selection of articles that explore some of the issues and try to predict what F&A can expect in the coming months. Enjoy the reading! (Feel free to tweet us or follow us @Sutherland_iBPO to continue the conversation.)

Robot Revolution? Fear Not, F&A

David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics and associate head of the MIT Department of Economics, recently gave a TED Talk about how technological advancement impacts employment. This AccountingWEB article outlines key takeaways from the research paper that informed Autor’s talk, and explores how they will apply to F&A. One of the main messages is this: Accountants won’t be replaced; they don’t need to fear a hostile robotic takeover. Continue reading

Cash Management Not Managed Well Enough?

rising costsIs your company debt going up even though cash on hand is stable? You’re not alone. A recent study by The Hackett Group brought to light some serious challenges in cash management. The study followed 1,000 US-based companies and noted that the cash conversion cycle (CCC) performance declined by 2.4 days, or 7%, from the prior year. The 35.5-day CCC average is now higher than it’s been at any time since 2008.

But averages can hide bigger issues. Consider this: Median companies are seven times slower at turning capital into cash than leaders. Cash is collected more two weeks slower than top performers: 43.5 days (median) vs 25.1 days (leaders). When it comes to paying suppliers the median group shelled out two weeks faster at 41.1 days as opposed to 59.4 days for leaders.

The study says that, by not following the best practices of leaders, this middling group left a whopping $1.07 trillion on the table. Continue reading

The Weekly Roundup: Technologically Speaking

F&A weekly roundupCloud technology, artificial intelligence, automation, cybersecurity, the Internet of things… When it comes to technology trends, there’s never a shortage of issues to explore. Here, Sutherland presents a few select articles that dive into the tech side of finance – plus a little bit on tax risks for businesses. Enjoy the reading! (Feel free to tweet us or follow us @Sutherland_iBPO to continue the conversation.)

Changeable Cloud: Weathering the Storm

It’s one thing to be aware of the advantages of cloud technology. But like everything in today’s fast-paced world, the cloud is constantly changing. Staying on top of the latest evolutions can be a challenge – albeit one that’s necessary to meet. This Accounting Today article highlights the three key cloud changes that accountants should get familiar with. Continue reading

Eyes on the Horizon or Rearview Mirror?

rearviewImagine you are merrily zipping along a highway in your car, pulling into the fast lane to pass the slower vehicle in front of you. You’re alert, you check your side and rear-view mirrors and quickly look ahead to watch the road in front of you. Suddenly, there’s a resounding BANG! as your front hood unexpectedly opens, flips back and covers your front windscreen.

Without a clear view of the road ahead, and only a rearview mirror, you are driving blind. In the fast lane.

While no harm comes to our hypothetical driver —who manages to pull off to the side, tie down the broken front hood and drive slowly to the nearest garage—this harrowing tale can be seen as an analogy to F&A departments around the world.

Too many finance professionals are relying on information that stems from backward-looking, often incomplete data. Traditional finance departments run the risk of being hobbled while more agile, digitally savvy competitors pull ahead.

At a Tipping Point

The quality of decision-making information can be a tipping point, one that is critical to organizational success and differentiation. Finance is the nexus of information, pulling in data from all silos—operations, marketing, HR and supply chain, etc. This enterprise-wide overview enables the finance department to partner with a number of diverse internal functions to deliver greater insights and value.

A recent Gartner trend report for 2017 underscored the need for bold innovation, the ability to navigate the fast-paced waters of technological change and the pursuit of higher quality, forward-looking information. Continue reading

Setting Goals, Meeting Targets: KPIs for the Win

qualityIt’s a fierce business world out there. The stakes are getting ever higher, with growing competition and an increasingly integrated landscape. It’s essential that companies have key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help drive operational improvements, accurately assess performance across all levels of the organization and deliver long-term value.

The only way to achieve all that is to have an effective process for selecting and monitoring KPIs.

The KPI Uncovered

These indicators show how a company or group is performing on its goals, measuring specific activities against a set target or benchmark. Remember, if a measurement doesn’t directly influence the achievement of business goals, it’s not a KPI; it’s merely a metric. Continue reading

The Weekly Roundup: By-the-Numbers No More

weekly roundupAccounting practitioners and finance leaders have their hands full this year, navigating new standards, changing expectations and even some surprising trends. Here are a few articles that explore the evolving world of F&A. Enjoy the reading! (Feel free to tweet us or follow us @Sutherland_iBPO to continue the conversation.)

Accounting for Tomorrow

This February, the most powerful leaders in the accounting profession will gather in Indianapolis for the 2017 Thought Leader Symposium. The annual event is hosted by CPA Practice Advisor and brings F&A thought leaders together to discuss emerging trends, technologies and workflow practices. “This exclusive event provides a unique opportunity for key members of the accounting profession who are taking the reins and moving the profession forward to share ideas and insights, consider changes and trends in the profession, and discover new and innovative ways in which they can work together to education and improve the profession as a whole.” Continue reading

If Time Is Money, Where Are Your F&A People Spending It?

office-sceneIt’s Friday, and, dear F&A professional, look around. As F&A offices around the world wind down for the weekend, there’s an uncomfortable truth lurking under that general sense of weekly accomplishment.

In a 2015 assessment of 832 companies’ finance organizations, “How Finance People Spend Their Time,” APQC asked finance leaders how much time they spent on transaction processing, control, decision support, and management activities. The survey revealed, that regardless of company size, approximate half (49%) of the workday is taken up by routine transaction processing.

Lost Time, Lost Human Ingenuity

Over the course of a workweek, that means that from bright and early Monday morning until Wednesday just around lunchtime, your highly paid F&A people are just keeping things ticking along. Paying bills, reconciling accounts, and doing all those other tactical tasks that keeps a company in good standing.

Necessary work, no doubt, but work that does not add value to the company as a whole. What finance professionals and CFOs want to see are for their teams to be focused on initiatives that drive revenue and profitability—initiatives that are aligned with strategy. Continue reading

The Case for Convergence in F&A Transformation

600px-shutterstock_149939726In today’s globalized world, many companies have F&A departments spread throughout a range of geographies, including the Americas, Europe and Asia. Such widespread corporate presence opens the door to markets across the map. But international access presents its share of challenges—especially when it comes to managing cash.

When we’re asked to address client challenges like improving working capital or delivering higher quality, timely reporting, many times one of the first root causes is the “run your own shop” approach to regional and global F&A departments. It’s not uncommon to find each finance function operating its own processes and technologies. As a result, many globalized businesses suffer from significant – and costly – F&A disruptions, needless repetition, undue human error and frequent reporting delays.

The Transformation Essentials

You hear a lot these days about business transformation, in the finance department and throughout any organization. Usually the conversation is in terms of digital transformation. The idea of the F&A function requiring minimal technology is going by the way of the dodo. Business leaders know that automation is key to all areas of success, including the formerly paper-heavy, manual finance function. Continue reading