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Outsourcing Rhodia's finance and accounting to a shared service center not only significantly reduced costs at the French chemicals maker, it also made Rhodia a leader in business process outsourcing.
A benchmarking initiative in 2001 revealed that Rhodia's support functions could be improved within its market. Tackling its profitability challenges would require some radical restructuring.
Rhodia needed to centralize and standardize finance and accounting processes spread across 60 locations throughout Europe, therefore it sought an outsourcing partner with the experience and capability to move its European finance and accounting activities into a single European location.
Another challenge that Rhodia faced was that it was breaking new ground by deciding to outsource this type of project. This simply wasn't done in France.
Rhodia chose Accenture because of our finance and performance management experience, as well as our deep chemicals industry knowledge and outsourcing experience. Working closely together, Rhodia and Accenture performed a knowledge transfer of unprecedented proportions moving the chemical company's disparate finance and accounting processes from more than 60 locations in seven countries into a single, new Accenture Delivery Center in Prague, Czech Republic.
Because Rhodia wanted to speed delivery, Accenture took an accelerated approach: relocating Rhodia's 15 existing ERP systems to Prague and then standardizing them, rather than standardizing first and trying to transfer the new, common system.
Rhodia was the first client of Accenture's Prague Delivery Center which now has more than 600 people providing finance and accounting services to more than 10 clients.
According to Paul Van Beveren, Rhodia's former change manager, Accenture's commitment to Prague was decisive. "They were willing to go to what was a completely Greenfield environment," he says. "No one else was."
The six-and-a-half-year contract signed by Rhodia and Accenture in March 2001 recognized the need for cooperation and flexibility. It enabled the "scaling up" of the current service to include just about every aspect of the finance function, as well as being able to share fixed costs with other center users, which would further reduce Rhodia's costs.
Services provided include: accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash management, credit and collection, as well as providing general accounting and tax services to Rhodia subsidiaries in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Slovakia.
This outsourcing arrangement was recognized by the Outsourcing Journal with its prestigious 2003 Most Strategic Partnership Award.
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