ABSL Diamond in the Customer Initiative category: SAP Services and the Finance Run Better Together project

20.10.2016

The prize for best customer project was awarded to the SAP Services Company. Its project called Finance Run Better Together reduces its customers’ costs as a result of the maximum effectiveness of individual financial processes.

“Simply said, this is an international transformation project, which transfers a significant part of the financial administration from individual branches of the SAP Company to a single centre in Prague. As a result, these process can be handled with greater efficiency,“ Thomas Dietmar Schulze from SAP Services explains and adds: “Thanks to this step our financial directors can devote time to financial planning, strategies and key clients, and do not have to burden themselves with routine tasks. Several patented innovative technological solutions, which support effectiveness and automate routine activities play an important role in this.“

SAP Services – a pioneer in utilising the most modern technologies

The SAP Company’s Prague services centre assures personnel, financial and administrative processes for both in-house and external customers, from countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The SAP Company chose Prague as the location for its centre after a thorough analysis of twenty other European countries. Prague had the advantage of competitive costs, in addition to the high quality of human resources and available services. Over 500 jobs have been created since the launch of the Finance Run Better Together project in Prague.

“The services centre concept is actually not new,“ says Thomas Dietmar Schulze. “The first services centre began operating in the nineteen eighties and nineties in the United States. However, within the terms of our project we did not want to focus on just reducing costs and centralising processes in a single location – we also wanted to be pioneers in application of the newest technologies and endeavour to achieve operating perfection.“ And this goal has been successfully attained– for example in 2015 we managed to fully standardise the final accounts process, thanks to which 2,721 tasks are fully automated and another 6,514 tasks only require monitoring. Excellent results were also achieved in the field of invoice processing (Account Payable) in the same year. Using automation, and completely without human intervention, it was possible to process over 312,000 invoices and only partial supervision was needed to settle another 180,000 invoices. It took just under 4 years from the initial concept to achieve these results.

Communication towards understanding changes

Most projects in any company also usually necessitate any resistance to changes to be overcome. The Finance Run Better Together project was no exception in this aspect. “To make promotion of changes easier, we created an organisational structure supporting management of changes and we also kept all possible communications channels open. As well as standard meetings, we also held quarterly optimisation meetings and organised a number of exchanges of relevant employees so that they were able to better share know-how and come up with suggestions for improvements,“ Thomas Dietmar Schulze explains, saying that all these steps led not only to comprehension of the entire project across the organisation, but also to increased involvement by employees, which exceeded 90%.

The roles of CFOs are changing

The roles of financial directors of individual SAP branches changed significantly at the time the services centre assumed responsibility for effective operation of financial processes and improvement of operational support. Not only can they now fully concentrate on supporting business and subsequent financial planning and analyses, they are also actively involved in business and partner activities, which has a significant impact on the business results of the entire SAP Company.

Benefits today and tomorrow

“Thanks to our intensive work on standardising our processes, we are capable of achieving a higher level of automation than was possible in the previous de-centralised system. And due to the higher degree of automation we are capable of increasing the effectiveness of our work and providing higher added value to our in-house and external customers,“ Thomas Dietmar Schulze states with pleasure.

This successful project for establishing a financial services centre has also become an example for other sectors, even those in which it was assumed until recently that a services centre would not be of benefit. Contract creation processes (Legal Contracting) are currently in the migration phase for example.

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