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When we became a public company, Accenture transformed our own finance function to bring it in line with US Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP).
Accenture tapped the deep skills of our own global professionals and our strategic business partners to develop an integrated financial management system that will power a stronger financial model and build a base for future growth and high performance.
As Accenture prepared to become a public company, our leadership realized that transition to a publicly held corporate structure demanded a more integrated approach to financial management, one that would provide Accenture's shareholders with information needed to comply with GAAP. Accenture was also eager to align our internal operating goals to the metrics used by investors and analysts.
The legacy financial management systems impeded development of the strongest possible operating model. For example, without the ability to aggregate accounts payable information quickly, Accenture was missing opportunities to leverage our substantial global buying power.
The legacy financial systems were also challenged to adapt to the company's increasingly diversified range of services. And as the volume of business and the complexity of business contracts grew, finance professionals had to spend an increasing amount of time bringing new businesses online. The manual effort required ate into the time they could spend on analysis and decision support.
Accenture took a fresh look at our own financial processes. The Finance organization, with assistance from professionals in Accenture's Finance and Performance Management group, defined best-in-class financial practices for key business processes, including requisition to pay; time and expense; order to cash; record to report; and financial reporting and analysis.
To enable the new financial processes, Accenture sought an advanced, Web-enabled enterprise technology solution, one that offered greater flexibility, centralized control, robust reporting and analysis capabilities and the ability to integrate the Finance organization with Human Resources and other critical corporate functions.
SAP's business technology was the logical choice because it offers features that align well with Accenture's existing business processes. SAP also enables customization to meet Accenture specific requirements. And SAP's financial management system is equipped to handle myriad currencies and accounting requirements, which are essential for Accenture's global operations across more than 50 countries.
Accenture implemented the SAP R/3 and Business Warehouse applications, both of which were later upgraded in 2009 and 2007, respectively.
The SAP system was implemented using the Microsoft Enterprise technology, including Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Server (since upgraded to SQL Server 2005). The choice of SAP on a Microsoft platform followed naturally from an earlier decision to migrate Accenture's core technologies, including e-mail and collaboration tools, to Microsoft. The result is better integration across our entire financial environment and reduced technology costs.
An ambitious undertaking, the implementation is among the largest SAP implementations in the services sector. It also stands as especially unusual because Accenture brought live the whole system at one time, rather than in a more traditional phased approach.
Accenture used our industrialized, global delivery approach to realize the transformation. The global delivery model brought together skilled, multidisciplinary professionals who played critical roles at the right stages in the program.
The teams leveraged proven assets such as the processes, methods, tools and knowledge capital to jumpstart the SAP project and move it forward. This industrialized approach enabled Accenture to complete the build for the quality solution in fewer than 18 months.
The transformation from disparate finance applications to one SAP integrated solution necessitated the Finance organization playing an integral role. Finance professionals around the globe, including professionals in service centers in Dublin, Dalian and Chicago, worked side-by-side with the IT organization to design processes and design and test the applications.
Read about Accenture’s transition from Lotus Notes to Microsoft.
By the time Accenture's SAP financial management system went live in September 2004, more than 2,500 core finance users were trained and ready to use it. The training was part of a comprehensive transition strategy for enabling higher productivity and efficiency of systems users, which clearly paid off.
With the system up and running, Accenture sees the organization-wide change we envisioned at the inception of the project. Centralized processing of expenses and invoices provides more insight into and control over cash flow.
Automated processes relieve the executives from manually calculating taxes for client invoices that often encompass several countries, each country with a unique tax code. Efficiency and accuracy are two key benefits.
The integrated system will make it possible for Accenture to centralize some of our financial processes and leverage our own outsourcing capabilities to handle our growing volume of business.
The ability to change the system and have that change instantly reflected is a quantum leap forward from the days of rolling changes through 200-plus finance applications. Moreover, the new system gives Accenture's chief financial officer and his team new insights into the organization's accounting behavior.
By evaluating trends over time, the Finance team can implement best practices that will drive the company toward even higher performance and efficiency in the finance area.
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