The making of Accenture Finance digital services
Reimagining business needs to better manage, sell and deliver client work demands the digitization of Finance business services
Accenture Finance has been on a journey of continuous evolution to drive further value for the company, Accenture clients and our people. Guiding Finance initiatives today is a strategy that involves reimagining processes, investing in automation and digitally enabling the business. One area targeted for transformation was business services for Accenture client account and management teams.
Before the transformation program, client account teams managed, sold and delivered services to clients using siloed processes and applications that frequently required multiple manual handoffs with support teams. Client account teams performed redundant data entry and made key business decisions using different versions of data. Business units were managed with different types of reporting and relied on the Finance organization for reports and analysis. This environment caused delayed decision making that was often based on outdated information.
The lack of online, end-to-end management processes, reporting and insights was impacting company growth and profitability. It was clear that Accenture was missing the opportunity to better integrate data across applications to drive greater insights and directly assist the business. Accenture Finance joined with Accenture’s global IT organization to develop a solution.
Accenture Finance partnered with global IT to create digital solutions for several of the key business processes, such as opportunity management, pricing and forecasting. A key foundation for this was ensuring a shared understanding of how all the tools and processes connected. The teams aligned the scope and solutions on a common, end-to-end, user-focused “manage-sell-deliver” framework.
The manage-sell-deliver framework provides a structured way to consider everything that an Accenture sales lead, delivery lead, or account and portfolio lead would need from Finance and other corporate functions—whether from teams or technology. Thoroughly understanding process flows across teams and digital applications as well as capturing end-user expectations was crucial for shaping the overall business solution.
Finance and IT worked with other corporate functions to build an entire digital business services suite of applications that fundamentally streamlines client account services and business management at Accenture. Our global single-instance SAP S/4HANA® enterprise system is leveraged by all business applications and provides full data integrity and a “single source of the truth.” With SAP S/4HANA and the manage-sell-deliver framework as our foundation, Finance and IT were able to then build comprehensive integration and automation solutions that all center around business end-user needs.
The breadth of the manage-sell-deliver framework is extensive, and from an IT perspective, it now encompasses 20 applications and a digital “super structure” on top of Accenture’s SAP S/4HANA enterprise system. It is the foundation that helps individual applications align across entire processes and integrate effectively without undue manual effort.
Finance digital services applications
Accenture’s core applications developed across the contract life cycle process to simplify and improve how teams perform their work include:
Outcomes of the new digital business services are highlighted in the following examples:
Manage myBusiness is an enterprise-wide business performance management platform that brings together real-time financial and operational data from other digital applications. It allows executives to interact directly with their business data to assess historic and projected future performance. The application aligns business teams and Finance around a common set of metrics and establishes “one source of the truth” for all decisions.
Client business projection
Client account teams use a new forecasting solution, Client Business Projection, which integrates with Accenture’s enterprise applications. It brings sales and revenue data together to facilitate a new online, automated and forward-looking forecasting capability. For Finance and business unit leads, it improves forecast quality and provides instant visibility and consolidation.
Automated sales booking
Using the manage-sell-deliver framework, Accenture developed a new solution that allows client teams to complete their entire sales booking process without Finance support. Automatic flow of data and system validations eliminate redundant work and provide a holistic, end-to-end solution without handover between support teams. The booking of new sales and surrounding processes have been reduced from days to a matter of minutes.
A digital automated invoicing solution supports billing production requests for more than half a million client-facing invoices each year in a single, cohesive flow across Accenture platforms. The solution successfully streamlines activities by avoiding non-value-adding handoffs and radically reduces the production time involved. Today, Accenture has reduced the average invoice production cycle from three days to under 10 minutes, achieving significant cost efficiencies and improving the company’s cash flow.
The Manage myPrice platform digitally facilitates pricing, drawing on data from integrations with key applications and other data sources. Rather than simply automating a pricing tool, the deployment of Manage myPrice significantly changes the pricing approach from being based on cost-plus and target profitability to instead aligning with competitive market rates and value delivered to Accenture’s clients.
The creation of digital business services has been truly business-led with Finance, IT and other corporate functions working closely together with business counterparts and continuously aligning direction and priorities with Accenture’s top leadership. This approach has supported full business sponsorship and support for global adoption campaigns.
The digital business services applications have been a major investment, use leading technologies and provide entirely new ways of working. For busy Accenture client account teams and senior leaders, the new applications meant having to let go of their familiar tools, learn new ways and new practices, and change behaviors.
For these reasons, adoption, enablement and learning were important parts of our program. A change team designed and developed a program that drove enablement for a range of people with many different needs to adopt the digital tools and change behaviors. As Accenture people effectively use the tools, they find that they are more efficient, use people’s time more strategically and make better decisions to grow Accenture’s business.
The journey to creating digital business services was one of reimagining the way things are done to develop new solutions. The focus was on building holistic solutions based on end-user needs and achieving efficiencies across processes and teams. This approach uncovered significant potential for automation and limited redundant handovers between business and support teams.
Digital business services has enabled an operating model where Accenture client teams are supported with efficient business processes, financial management tools and forward-looking insights that integrate across support functions. Client teams and business leads have instant access to real-time data for decision making with a greatly improved user experience.
These improvements have driven better commercial awareness across the business as well as significant cost efficiencies. For Accenture Finance, digital business services has transformed the organization away from being report producers and data owners to an organization focused on analyzing and advising the business.
"Accenture’s digital transformation is breaking down barriers of internal inefficiencies and unleashing the power of digital technologies. By aligning and more effectively integrating our technology and the support our corporate functions provide, our client account and management teams can now better focus on the direction, growth and profitability of Accenture’s business."