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Compliance-Driven Finance Innovation: Putting the Pieces Together

Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 01:09 PM / by David Fellers

Today’s corporate finance professionals face an accelerating set of new challenges, changing compliance requirements and global competitive pressures that threaten to overwhelm the inherent limitations of their existing legacy finance and ERP systems.

Most conventional finance management technologies have been in existence for decades and, while they offer a familiar environment, they have significant limitations when it comes to keeping pace with today’s complex and dynamically changing corporate challenges.

Some of the chronic challenges that arise from these limitations include:

  • Too much time and energy spent on inefficient month-end & year-end close processes
  • Difficulty acquiring and accessing accurate data for financial reporting
  • Time wasted reconciling reports based on conflicting data sets
  • Inability to extract timely ad hoc data for operational decision-making

Layered on top of these enduring issues are new challenges driven by major changes in the compliance and regulatory environment.  These include:

  • Revenue Recognition Changes (ASC 606 and IFRS 15)
  • Lease Accounting Changes (ASC 842 & IFRS 16)
  • Financial Instruments Impairments & Disclosures (IFRS 9)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for companies doing business in the EU

Of course, the overarching challenge facing CFOs is their responsibility to handle all the above issues while also providing strategic and tactical leadership to meet their companies’ business goals for growth, market share, and profitability amid increasingly dynamic and globally competitive environments.

In working with a wide range of companies, across multiple industries, our Bramasol team has seen a variety of mindsets on the part of C-Suite decision-makers when it comes to addressing these issues. 

Most people thankfully have now abandoned the “head in the sand” approach and are actively grappling with the reality that the need for compliance-driven changes can’t be ignored. 

But the majority of CFOs and CEOs can do more to fully embrace the new compliance regulations as an opportunity for driving transformative changes across the organization.  Many of these companies are attempting a piecemeal approach to compliance based on ad hoc point solutions, spreadsheets, and other short-term fixes. Ultimately, this limited-scope mind-set almost always costs more and delivers less than can be achieved with a broader and more integrated approach.

On the other end of the spectrum are proactive forward-looking company leaders who see these external compliance-driven change-drivers as major opportunities for truly transformative finance innovation.

As part of our efforts to serve the whole range of companies’ needs, from those that just want to put their toe in the water and comply to those who are proactively committed to financial transformation, we’ve focused on creating targeted purpose-built solutions for compliance that that also can readily integrate with big-picture financial transformation initiatives.

We fundamentally believe that Compliance Innovation lays the foundation for Finance Innovation.

So how does a company go about getting targeted cost-effective compliance in the near-term along with a transformative path forward to overall Finance Innovation?  Well, for those companies that are already invested in SAP technologies, the answer is S/4HANA and S/4HANA Cloud.  Looking at the SAP roadmap, it is clear that S/4 HANA will be the future for all SAP-based companies and that virtually everyone will undertake migration projects to implement S/4 HANA over the next two to three years. 

Given the near-future reality of S/4 HANA as the core SAP technology platform, coupled with the excellent and cost-effective S/4 HANA Cloud functionality available right now, we believe in charting a path that takes maximum advantage of today’s compliance-driven requirements to usher in tomorrow’s financial transformation.

Our immediate compliance activities have been focused on integrating purpose-built applications such as SAP Revenue Accounting and Reporting (RAR) for revenue recognition (ASC 606 and IFRS 15) along with SAP Lease Administration by Nakisa and SAP Real Estate (RE/FX) for lease accounting (ASC 842 and IFRS 16).  We augment these specialized applications with pre-packaged solutions such as RevRec Disclosure Reporting, Lease Data Extraction/Abstraction/Migration, SAP Cloud Analytics, Cloud for Planning and flexible integration tools that span existing ECC and SD environments with future-leaning S/4 HANA capabilities.

This forward-looking journey to the future with S/4 HANA and the digital core can effectively unify and integrate these four key arenas 1) Cloud-based technologies, 2) Data unification, 3) Mobile access everywhere and 4) People-oriented usability and personalized processes.

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You might say we’re betting the farm on a future built around S/4 HANA, but in truth all companies that use SAP software today have already made that same bet.  They just may not have given the future much thought as they grapple with the pressing issues of today.  But, if we all stop and take a look ahead, it’s clear what is coming – and it is S/4 HANA, either on-premise or in the cloud (or both).

Those companies that acknowledge this reality today and align their near-term compliance efforts with an S/4 HANA enabled future, will reap the benefits by putting all the puzzle pieces together to not only Comply but also to Improve Customer Engagement, Increase Profitability, Better Manage Inventory and Assets, Streamline Operational Processes, and Optimize Cash Generation.

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In summary, by creating Compliance Innovation solutions for today with built-in Finance Innovation and migration opportunities for tomorrow, companies can cost-effectively leverage a highly extensible technology-stack that limits any dead-ends or throw-away implementation efforts along the way, and positions them to grow and be nimble in a competitive environment while addressing new complex regulations.  A company cannot achieve Finance Innovation without mastering regulatory compliance in a streamlined and strategic manner.

To learn more about these opportunities.

 

David Fellers

Written by David Fellers

New eBook: S/4HANA is the Future: Understanding Why and How to Get There Download Now
Download the eBook: Transitioning to ASC 842 using the Portfolio Approach to Group Leases

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