Our operating model and processes evolved through five major stages, progressively building our capabilities to meet Accenture’s continually changing accounting needs. We developed new approaches in collaboration with key Accenture Finance stakeholder groups and the Accenture Global IT organization.
In the early years, Controllership was decentralized, highly transactional and not standardized. The need for streamlining processes was clear and the response was to centralize activities, starting with the United States and Europe. The first two shared service centers were created in Chicago and Dublin. Controllership then went through an expansive transformation journey of offshoring, building more centers and centralizing more work.
A major initiative of this stage was the deployment of a single global SAP system instance for core business functions, including Finance, Human Resources, Forecasting, and Governance, Risk and Compliance, starting from a clean slate. Global IT worked with the business to carry out a comprehensive and rigorous business process standardization effort supported by the introduction by Finance of the concept of process ownership.
The outcome was one set of global business processes and a global data model to enable the single-instance ERP that provides the business with access to consistent, highly accurate information to this day. Another outcome was the elimination of multiple local applications. Standardization and rationalization set the stage for greatly reduced redundancy and complexity going forward. This streamlining also allowed Controllership to react with agility on future process and technology enhancements.
Operating under a standard set of processes and one ERP was the catalyst for further expansion of shared services into Accenture’s Latin America and Asia Pacific geographies, driving significant benefits and tapping into rich talent pools.
2010–2016: Process excellence
Transformation during these years focused on enabling process excellence. Controllership and Global IT led the introduction of BlackLine’s cloud-based software, focusing on account reconciliations. This deployment significantly reduced risk through tighter controls, quality, efficiencies and improved visibility of open items globally.
Recognizing the expertise that Accenture Operations delivered to clients, Controllership transitioned Accenture’s internal payables process to Accenture Operations. This partnership brought improved process and controls and unlocked technology expertise in our payables process.
An emphasis on continuous improvement through formal methods such as Six Sigma training and execution continued to drive incremental benefits. It also enhanced Controllership’s ability to respond to Accenture’s fast growth and to the challenges that growth and the addition of new types of businesses brought. At the same time, we experienced more complexities in accounting, particularly in addressing local tax legislation changes and requirements. We continue to lead with an end-to-end process improvement mindset today.
2017–2021: Reimagining Finance
This stage focused on reimagining Accenture Finance, including Controllership. Controllership’s global, local and shared services teams were brought together as “One Controllership,” working as one unit, using common language and driving the same objectives and goals, including fostering a culture of value creation irrespective of location or team.
This stage of our journey involved organizational redesign, supported by process reengineering, reskilling of Finance professionals and the introduction of the latest advancements in technology.
The introduction of leaders supporting Accenture’s three markets, supported by 18 market and market unit controllers, set the tone for driving the change. Finance added an innovative concept, that of assistant country controller in shared services, who “sits at the side of the desk” of the country controllers to strengthen relationships and support seamless end-to-end delivery. This operating model supports the One Controllership mindset through enabling collaborative and effective teaming between centralized shared services and country and global controllership.