Achieving Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations through BPM

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1 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM Easy to Deploy Technoloy Quickly Fills Gaps and Replaces Manual Processes Published February 2011 Executive Summary This paper is intended for CFOs, Controllers and other Senior Finance Manaers who want to understand how Business Process Manaement (BPM) technoloy can create dramatic operational improvements in finance departments. BPM can be used in multiple ways in financial operations. For this paper, we will concentrate on deployin BPM to address the inflexibility and process limitations of ERP systems. These challenes have spawned numerous manual exception processes which eat up resources, decrease visibility and control, increase risk, complicate audits, and lead to costly write-offs. We ll explain how BPM technoloy ets around ERP limitations throuh an example BPM financial operations process and demonstrate the dramatic results it can deliver throuh real customer success examples. Corporate headquarters 1875 Explorer Street 4th Floor Reston, VA appian.com EMEA headquarters 73 watlin street london, ec4m 9bj appiancorp.co.uk

2 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM The Process Challene Facin Finance Departments Financial operations manaers are faced with a myriad of challenes every day. Keepin up with the demands for settin up new vendors and customers, sendin out invoices, manain documents, and processin payments already exceeds many roups capacity. Some oranizations are past the breakin point and have cut corners to stay ahead of mountin backlos. (This is how the famed robo-siners in the financial operations centers of mortae processin companies came about.) Reularly scheduled additional processes such as monthend closins add an extra level of burden. This workload leaves virtually no time to respond to senior manaement pressures to achieve efficiency ains, reduce costs, improve visibility, reduce risks, and ensure streamlined audits. Despite costly ERP deployments that were supposed to provide comprehensive solutions, most oranizations still have a lare number of manual processes. Finance departments have traditionally avoided automation of these non-erp processes due to their hihly collaborative nature or hih rate of chane. But this avoidance introduces a burden of manual trackin and exposes areas of risk, leavin complete process manaement just a vision and not a reality. Some of the common non-erp processes finance oranizations continue to rapple with include: Deductions manaement for invoices that are not paid in full Exception handlin in accounts payable processin Sales order quotin and approval Connectin people and information in cohesive processes that span across internal departments and customers and suppliers outside the enterprise Collectin key metrics for Financial Decision Support Systems Finance departments that fail to address these process issues often are trapped in a cycle of reliance on inefficient and cumbersome manual processes or continual expense for costly ERP customizations. To achieve maximum efficiency, a new approach to financial processes must be found to free departments of the burden of ineffective process control. There is reat value in findin solutions to address these process challenes. In a recent study done by Deloitte of more than 1,100 companies, one of the top three barriers to improvin business performance, despite lare scale investments, was inadequate process and data standards. (1) In the public sector, more than half of the federal aencies are havin trouble modernizin their systems and implementin financial manaement processes that are up to par with the requirements of the Federal Financial Manaement Improvement Act (FFMIA) of Be Part of the Process 2

3 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM The Deloitte study underscores the importance of the finance department, demonstratin that companies with the stronest finance capabilities in place lead the pack with superior business performance. Deloitte s research not only links the transformation of the finance function to enhanced business performance, it also shows how companies that master finance processes differentiate themselves from the competition. Specific Shortcomins of ERP Systems The aim of ERP systems is to interate operations across an oranization, coverin areas as diverse as manufacturin, loistics, human resources and finance. Easier trackin of the proress of order fulfillment and other processes certainly can improve coordination between business functions and help provide a central source of information. But ERP products are often cited as too cumbersome to employ to their full extent and too inflexible for modern business needs. This limited ability to rapidly and cost effectively chane processes as operatin models chane can sinificantly hinder a company s performance. Based on a survey by PMP Research, 82% of companies need their ERP software to be more responsive. However, companies can t abandon the sinificant investments made in these systems and so they bend the business to fit these costly systems (4). One of the most visible limitations of ERP systems that companies must live with are the process aps created when a business process extends beyond the ERP system s capabilities. As an example, in a typical accounts receivable function, if the payment doesn t match the invoice amount, an exception is created which must be handled manually outside of the ERP system. The exception is now an un-audited manual process with no visibility leadin to slow resolution, redundant customer touches, increased DSO, lost staff time, and costly write-offs. ERP systems also fail to provide full coverae for many standard financial processes. As a result, the Financial Close, Budetin, Plannin and Forecastin processes are often primarily manaed usin manual updates to Excel spreadsheets shared throuh . These methods are slow, error prone and suffer from poor visibility and controls. Enhancements to ERP Systems Are Too Costly and Too Slow Extendin ERP systems to cover these process aps and limitations can be cost prohibitive or even impossible due to the very dynamic nature of these processes. Yet, not usin an effective process automation tool and nelectin these areas can be very risky. Process aps are the very place where the lack of effective controls and audits can result in unforeseen losses, customer defections, and even fraud. Be Part of the Process 3

4 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM ERP systems evolved with the idea that mainstream business functions have a deree of variability that can be handled by a confiurable systems approach. This allows much of the differences from one company s needs to another to be accommodated by confiuration techniques. The technique may require elaborate administration, but it does reduce what miht otherwise be expensive customization. Nonetheless, makin alterations to fundamental process flows in these systems can be expensive and time consumin. Assume for instance you have revenue reconition and reportin challenes because contract element risks are not bein captured, quantified and properly associated with forecast and sales data. You may well need a small team of expensive ERP specialists to modify the ERP system for new capture methods, contract review and approval steps, database interactions, reportin and other functions all tied toether with new process flows. The effort can easily require enouh elapsed time that you may find the nature of the business and your contracts have chaned to the point where the modifications done have been rendered irrelevant. BPM Easily Addresses ERP Limitations for Financial Operations A well-constructed BPM solution can overcome the challenes and aps inherent in ERP systems. BPM was desined for rapid chane, makin it easy to adjust systems to match chanes in your business. BPM stands out as the next wave in technoloy that will drive down costs and improve efficiency in finance departments. Gartner calculates the BPM Suite market reached $1.9 billion in 2009, with a projected compound annual rowth rate (CAGR) of 10.9% throuh 2014 (3). Further, Gartner s 2010 CIO survey shows that business process improvement is the top business priority (4). BPM platforms provide a more aile way for finance departments to enforce policies, track compliance, and capture performance statistics. Additionally BPM promises to free customers from expensive ERP uprades and chane cycles by providin a sinle platform for financial business analysts to quickly capture process documentation and turn documentation directly into automated enforcement in process-based applications. BPM systems do not require finance departments to abandon current investments in financial ERP systems and can be easily extended to cover processes left untouched by ERP environments. Examples of some processes often automated by BPM systems in finance departments include: Be Part of the Process 4

5 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM Deductions Manaement Improved handlin and communication for short-payments, reduced DSO Accounts Payables Processin Automatin approvals and facilitatin rapid exception handlin Order to Cash (Sales Quotin, Credit Approvals, Discount Approvals) Sales cycle reduction, process consistency, and policy enforcement Capital Acquisitions/Purchasin Adherence to policy rules, visibility into spendin, more rapid acquisitions for the business Contract Manaement Streamline review and approval process, tihten risk manaement, improve commitment visibility Budet Plannin, Forecastin Improved visibility, improved accuracy, better plannin and decision support Expense Approvals Spendin control and adherence to policy rules Financial Close Process Faster closin, reduced errors, ensure checklist items are covered Financial Audits Reduce audit and testin costs Example BPM Scenario Deductions Manaement BPM technoloy has demonstrated reat results across a variety of finance department processes. A Gartner Group study on interatin BPM workflow and document manaement into the AP function shows a 40% to 60% annual ROI (3). An example of a typical process that is a ood application for Business Process Manaement is the Deductions Manaement process. It hihlihts the need to have flexible financial processes that both encourae collaboration while enforcin critical financial business rules. The Deductions Manaement process beins with a payment that s less than the amount stated on the invoice. This will trier a number of collaborations and activities for the Accounts Receivable, Sales, and Order Processin departments. Several interactions with the customer are also required to et to a solution. Each of these participants needs to be kept well informed of the status of the process to ensure an equitable solution is reached and the underlyin problems causin the deductions are discovered. An ideal Deductions Manaement system to address this challene must include: A secure platform that allows both the vendor and customer to collaborate freely Enforcement of key financial rules and controls to ensure compliance Audit-ability of all historical decisions and information exchaned in a dispute Real-time reportin on the status of all vendor disputes Flexibility to handle exceptions and apply process chanes on-the-fly by appropriate financial business analysts and decision makers Be Part of the Process 5

6 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM BPM systems provide all the above mentioned capabilities. A complete Deductions Manaement process can be implemented quickly in BPM. Typical implementations take between 8 to 12 weeks and can produce immediate returns on investment. Durin implementation, the majority of the time is spent documentin the process and business rules that will drive the process. This differs from ERP implementations where the majority of the implementation effort comes from IT professionals creatin inflexible code chanes. BPM systems afford business analysts the ability to chanes processes based on their needs and have documentation produced immediately, bakin in flexibility riht from the start. Well-desined BPM systems include the interation hooks necessary to layer a flexible and dynamic process across existin ERP investments that store invoice and payment information. The example Deductions Manaement process hihlihts this modular interation by allowin key invoice information to be drawn from an ERP system while orchestratin process actions in the BPM environment. Real Financial Operations Success Usin Appian s BPM Suite Appian is rated by analysts as a stron leader in providin Business Process Manaement Suite technoloy. Examples of how some customers have deployed Appian s BPM Suite in their financial operations areas follow. Be Part of the Process 6

7 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM Enterprise Rent-A-Car Dramatically Reduces Effort to Process Payables Enterprise Rent-a-Car operates more than 900,000 vehicles. In the rental business, the condition and availability of those vehicles is a direct determinant of customer service and satisfaction levels. Fleet maintenance and repair, therefore, is a constant corporate focus and hih-volume activity. Enterprise examined its Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Payables process and realized it required sinificant overhaul to improve efficiency, reduce costs and better-support its corporate mission to exceed customer expectations for service, quality, and value. A sinle division of Enterprise Rent-a-Car in southern California was processin over 18,000 invoices a month with a hih amount of exceptions resultin in a hihly manual and paper intensive process with complex business rules. The manual effort in keepin up with these invoices was preventin Enterprise Rent-a-Car from supportin a strateic consolidated accounts payable initiative. Manual processes hampered our ability to consolidate Accounts Payable. Now 100% of our maintenance invoices are processed throuh Appian, dramatically reducin the labor involved and improvin visibility into exceptions. Enterprise Rent-a-Car deployed the Appian BPM platform in just 8 weeks for the first division and expanded to 12 more divisions in just 12 weeks. By David Belt, IS Manaer/Senior Analyst, Enterprise Rent-A-Car embeddin key payables business rules in Appian, 40% of all invoices are now auto-approved. The number of human touches required to process the remainin invoices has been cut from an averae of 14 to just 4. Real-time productivity reportin allows supervisors to actively manae their staffs and see where missin invoices are held up. They struled to manae without this visibility before Appian was deployed. Be Part of the Process 7

8 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM General Kinematics Reduces Time and Revenue Loss in Sales Quotin General Kinematics Corporation, incorporated in 1960, is one of the world s larest suppliers of vibratory materials handlin and processin equipment for Foundries, Steel Mills, Minin, Forestry, Food Processin, Recyclin, and other heavy manufacturin. The tremendous rowth General Kinematics experienced in recent years caused the company to bein lookin at process standardization as a key tool for maintainin quality while effectively scalin the oranization s rowth. Sales Order processes quickly rose to the top of the priority list for improvement. General Kinematics was able to quickly deploy the Appian BPM platform to handle the complete lifecycle of sales order quotin. The deployment further streamlined collaboration between business units and enforced business rules in creatin a sales order for often complex and custom made equipment for hih-end manufacturers. Results achieved by General Kinematics include 95% reduction in sales cycle time for all order development and order processin, substantially reduced overall order error rates, and elimination of revenue losses due to enforcement of enineerin and manufacturin mandates. In addition, General Kinematics CFO and Executive Manaement team have visibility into order manaement workflow they lacked before. This combination of workflow automation and visibility has delivered reater operational control over one of General Kinematics most strateically-important processes. Process standardization and policy enforcement is crucial for maintainin General Kinematics excellent level of service quality. Appian provides us a sinle point of enterprise visibility, control, and optimization over key crossfunctional processes that directly impact our customers. Ray Lunabur, Director of Process Analyses and Improvement, General Kinematics Be Part of the Process 8

9 Achievin Dramatic Improvements in Financial Operations throuh BPM Conclusion Why BPM for Financial Operations? For financial departments process automation throuh BPM delivers: Improved operational efficiencies and increased performance visibility Enforcement of compliance and minimized risk Greater speed and accuracy of financial plannin and reportin Mastery of day-to-day transactions allowin focus on strateic activities Finance departments that master tactical process manaement at lower costs will ultimately enhance their value to the oranization. As the Deloitte study of over 1,100 companies found, companies with the stronest finance capabilities in place lead the pack with superior business performance (1). Leadin companies have found that BPM is the technoloy that allows them to master financial process performance. References (1) Deloitte LLP Finance Masters, July 2008 (2) Robert Frances Group, March 2006 (3) Gartner Group Hype Cycle for ERP 2010 December 2010 (4) Gartner Group The Business Unit CIO s 2010 Aenda February 2010 (5) PM Research/CIO World News 10/19/2007 Be Part of the Process 9

10 About Appian Appian is the lobal innovator in enterprise and cloud-based business process manaement (BPM) software. Appian s combination of simplicity and power provides everythin business users need to drive transformational process improvement on the desktop or via mobile devices. Commercial and overnment oranizations around the lobe use Appian to increase aility and collaboration, and accelerate business performance. Appian empowers more than 3 million users from lare Fortune 100 companies, to the mid-market and small businesses worldwide. Appian is headquartered in the Washinton, D.C. reion, with professional services and partners around the lobe. For more information, visit Corporate headquarters 1875 Explorer Street 4th Floor Reston, VA appian.com EMEA headquarters 73 watlin street london, ec4m 9bj appiancorp.co.uk

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