The Art & Science of Data-Driven Finance

office-sceneYesterday, Sutherland’s Jon Sunthimer, Vice President, F&A Global Technology Leader, co-hosted a webinar with Veena Gundavelli, the Founder and CEO of Emagia Corporation. The topic? Data-driven finance.

More than ever, finance organizations need to eliminate data silos, turn data into insights (and decisions), and digitalize and automate the Order-to-Cash (O2C) cycle. Finance executives are under increasing pressure to improve performance, with key drivers for finance transformation boiled down to the “4Cs”:

  • Cost
  • Control
  • Compliance
  • Cash flow

After an introduction by Ms. Gundavelli, Mr. Sunthimer pointed out that transformative is imperative. Digital technology isn’t limited to the domain of high-tech companies. Today, every company is a digital company, and those that aren’t have a limited shelf life.

Mr. Sunthimer elaborated on how today’s hot commodity is data. Companies sit on massive amounts of structured and unstructured data, and there is a strong desire to turn that mound into usable, actionable knowledge.

What’s needed is a data-driven model that combines automation and analytics.

Mr Sunthimer went on to explain how Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can not only enable automation of step-by-step activities but also help solve complex cases based on historical patterns across multiple complex data sources—for example, unstructured text, speech recognition and video data.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can remove much of the manual keying in, as well as the searching for and collating of data that is so rife in the O2C function. The benefits of RPA are numerous—from reducing fraud to improved management of financial and business intel. But a word of warning from Jon, “Automation does not improve a process, nor does it break it – it just brings process issues to the surface.”

When viewed through a holistic end-to-end lens, automation helps reduce errors, transactions times and operating costs. He predicts that in the near future, in the O2C process flow, achieving a +90 percent rate of “untouched perfect orders” without any manual intervention should be a reasonable target.

However, the disruption doesn’t end there.

With RPA accelerating transaction times, improving data quality and increasing the capacity to process higher volumes of information, companies are seeking to capitalize on this with robust predictive analytics capabilities.

Our brave new connected world enables marketing, finance and operations to share information that will impact revenue and the customer experience. We are now seeing how leading companies use predictive analytics combined with online store data and internal marketing insights to automatically generate sales orders. This contributes to greater on-shelf-availability and realized sales at a lower operating cost.

He also cited the ability for Collections departments to make informed decisions on which clients should be called immediately based on past payment history rather than relying on a simple, traditional model of targeting all collections by date.

In fact, higher than average DSO or bad debt expense, the need to improve cash forecasting, the need to reduce risk and lower operating expenses play a key role in an organization’s decision to wrap its arms around the Order-to-Cash function. Unfortunately O2C can be difficult to wrangle. There are numerous departments, disparate groups and disconnected processes. Financial hubs can be scattered around the world, each supported by its own system/infrastructure.

He outlined how, in Sutherland’s experience, a best-practices approach can accelerate and increase the success of transforming O2C. This involves:

  • Defining the service strategy. This helps companies to align service quality according to customer segments’ requirements, reduce the cost-to-serve, and increase internal flexibility and discipline
  • Establishing the organizational structure, often with new specialized roles, and ensuring buy-in
  • Evaluating centralization and partnering with a process transformation company as key levers to improve flexibility and decrease costs
  • Connecting end-to-end processes and align neighboring functions’ activities towards the common goal: customer satisfaction
  • Incorporating the latest appropriate technology (digital and analytics) that will enable predictive insights

Before any RPA initiative and analytics program is implemented, it’s best to conduct a thorough process discovery to examine, rethink and streamline the end-to-end O2C processes.

Missed the webinar? Contact us for more information or for a copy of the presentation. Or, if you are looking for data-driven finance transformation, speak to one of our experts.


Be Sociable, Share!
Sutherland Editorial Team (386 Posts)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *