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Digital automation in transformations

Kinetic Finance Startup for rapid, built-to-evolve capabilities

A panel of finance specialists share leading practices and insights on transforming finance in as little as six months to reduce effort, improve data accuracy, simplify finance, unlock new insights and realise value sooner.

While many organisations recognise the need to transform finance, getting started can be daunting. Digital enterprise transformation with ERP software can be lengthy, expensive, and painful. Meanwhile, the expectations for results keep growing as other business functions wait eagerly for finance to take the lead on transformation.

Digital automation – AI, machine learning, robotics – and the cloud can be leveraged to fast-forward finance transformation through a Kinetic Finance Startup approach designed to rapidly deliver “built to evolve” capabilities with the SAP® Central Finance component of SAP S/4HANA®.

Recurring themes: finance and digital transformations

Choice, total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction, risk mitigation, resilience, performance, flexibility and security – the recurring themes, John Grosshans, head of Worldwide Go to Market for SAP on AWS at Amazon Web Services, regularly hears finance leaders want for the finance organisation.

For Eric Bramley, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, those same end goals often re-emerge to define the transformation journey as well: “Leaders want to see risk mitigated in the transformation journey, costs removed, more efficient use of business resources and more agility.”

Whether the end goals are for finance or the project itself, speed and agility are paramount. Particularly under COVID-19, which Hernan Krymkiewiez, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, points out expanded the conventional working day, almost overnight. “People are working at any point in any given day, and that has driven the need for digital transformation. It’s no longer just a theory or something to consider doing.”

Unlocking exponential efficiency

While digital automation is saving time-related costs and driving efficiencies, Bramley proposes that combining it with a new approach to design, what he calls ‘guided validations’, can dramatically shorten the conventional transformation journey. With a Kinetic Finance Startup approach, digital automation builds a new SAP system, and guided validations on the live platform allow companies to course-correct much quicker. “Digital automation allows us to rethink the way we validate results so companies can focus on the outcome as opposed to focusing on the process of transformation itself.”

The Kinetic Finance Startup approach eliminates the usual barriers-to-entry for large scale transformations: Too long, too expensive. “It doesn’t take much time, but it is intensive,” says Krymkiewiez. “It's also meaningful because every single iteration generates more building blocks for the bigger solution.”

Orchestrators of learning and integration

There is no shortage of applications dedicated to solving critical finance issues, drive agility and break down silos across the organisation. Leaders, however, must become an orchestrator of learning and integration for the entire business, not just finance.

As a prime example, Grosshans offers a winemaker that was struggling to financially reconcile their transportation and delivery management across 1,200 integration points. Aiming for simplicity, the company created an integrated central hub to deliver financial details consistently across the business, end-to-end. The outcome was significant: “It enabled them to implement new standards, new processes, collapse some of the unnecessary steps and procurement processes … and deliver a real-time financial enterprise with the visibility and real-time reporting they needed to transform the business.”

Finding a North Star in a myriad of applications is essential, Bramley offers, for companies to hold true to their overall direction. As he sees it, a finance-first approach should begin with a clean SAP core that “gives companies the best platform to add on edge applications into an integrated suite.”

Progress, not perfection

Leaders would do well to strive for progress rather than perfection. Too often, Bramley says, the transformation “focuses on achieving perfection and quickly loses sight, leading to delays and effort overruns. Instead, the focus should be on the outcome and speed to value.” Better instead – as it is with the Kinetic Finance Startup approach – to apply digital automation to finance transformation and take the human temptation to over rationalise in the pursuit of perfection out of the equation.

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