The evolution of Accenture Controllership
Accenture Controllership is a world-class organization powered by our people’s knowledge, shared service centers, digitization and centers of expertise.
Controllership is responsible for the accounting operations of Accenture across 50 countries. We started from the ground up with the creation of Accenture as a public company in 2001 and have since become a world-class operation powered by highly skilled and qualified professionals.
Over time, Controllership faced the challenges of evolving and adapting to Accenture’s growth in clients, employees and revenues—as well as the company’s increasing business complexity driven by a shift away from traditional consulting and outsourcing services and a significant increase in acquisitions. We also had to address an increase in complexities resulting from changes in country-based accounting requirements. These and other business events led Controllership on a multi-stage journey to regularly evolve and reimagine how we work to handle ever-changing demands.
Rich in culture and diversity, Accenture Controllership is driven by one common objective—to deliver the very best results through the aggregation of best thinking and seamless collaboration between specialized and centralized workforces while adopting leading digital solutions.
50 countries, 800+ legal entities
68%+ people in shared services locations
Key functions: Record-to-report, Requisition-to-Pay, Cash & Credit Management Services
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.
2022-present: Future enterprise
One Finance operating model. This teaming is being taken to the next level with all Accenture corporate functions, including Controllership, combining with Accenture Operations to create Accenture’s vision of a future enterprise. The future enterprise will have one integrated operating model with interconnected, technology-enabled teams—constantly ready for growth, change and 360° value creation—and simplified processes to constantly improve. This shift is an opportunity to accelerate our transformation strategy to deliver even greater value to the business, our clients and our people.
Ongoing improvement and innovation. In an ever-evolving accounting and tax world where Accenture faces new standards, legislation and increasingly stringent audit requirements, Controllership continues to seek new ways of working. Centers of Expertise, specialized teams in process and knowledge, are utilized to support complex areas such as lease accounting, taxation, and ventures and acquisitions.
Advancing innovation and unlocking the value in our existing technology portfolio are major themes in our transformation. Multi-year investments to enhance digital solutions are underway, using advanced offerings from partners such as SAP. Controllership is also looking at innovative ways of adopting digital and disruptive technology, such as artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and machine learning, to improve efficiency and reduce manual repetitive tasks. Automated invoicing and artificial intelligence-driven expense compliance auditing are two examples. Additional examples include:
ESG reporting. Accenture launched a 360° Value Reporting Experience with fiscal year 2021 results that brings together, for the first time, all of Accenture’s financial and ESG metrics, progress and performance in one place. Controllership collaborated across the organization to raise the bar on the quality of Accenture’s ESG data by reviewing policies, implementing controls and improving the overall auditability of workflows and core business processes. By leveraging Controllership’s skills and capabilities, we were able to bring the same rigor and discipline that we apply to Accenture’s financial data.
Reskilling our workforce. To operate effectively in the new digital world, we are reskilling and enhancing our workforce to stay relevant in a data-driven economy. Today’s controller spends less time using spreadsheets and more time on the development of automation solutions that deliver vast amounts of real-time data that need rapid interpretation. This new landscape requires a very different mindset. We have launched our “FinTech Academy” to ensure our people have the combination of finance and technology skills needed to succeed.
Accenture Controllership has made major strides over two decades to become the world-class operation that it is today. Keys to achieving that status have been operating with one SAP instance at scale, operating with a mature global business services network and focusing on innovation and automation. Additional success factors include promoting a culture of value creation, enabling innovation through programs, engaging with stakeholders, creating centers of expertise and leading with an end-to-end process improvement mindset.
As a result, Controllership operates with efficiency, standardization, quality and low costs, while maintaining a high level of compliance as the company grows and the accounting landscape becomes more complex. For these reasons, our Controllership journey is ongoing. We continue to build a One Controllership culture, develop nimbler execution on innovative solutions, and identify and target areas of new value.
A testament of our people's knowledge, collaboration and One Controllership mindset.
Supported the acquisition of 46 companies during fiscal year 2021.
Enabled global statutory reporting though a Workiva implementation.
Deployed new pre-close variance reporting to monitor monthly results globally and locally with automated variance analysis and commentary.
Of reconciled general ledger accounts in BlackLine.
Attaining 67% accuracy in our machine learning matching proposals and up to a 53% “hit” ratio on auto-clearing—double our original baseline.
Reviewed and verified as part of our integrated reporting experience.
Across corporate functions to enhance documentation, workflows and approvals.