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F&A and Procurement outsourcing services

The Microsoft OneFinance BPO engagement for finance and accounting and procurement services stands out as a key example of a High Performance BPO success story.

Long-term high performance

air-waves Transformational Leadership

The Microsoft-Accenture BPO partnership has not only created, but is also achieving, sustained high performance.

The outsourcing industry can learn much from those rare instances where high performance in business process outsourcing (BPO) is not only achieved in the short-term but also maintained on a long-term basis.

According to research by the London School of Economics (LSE), Microsoft’s relationship with Accenture for finance, accounting and procurement services stands out as an exemplar of one such arrangement.
While the success of this particular partnership is founded on nine key BPO practices, one over-arching finding trumps them all: transformational leadership.

One over-arching finding trumps them all: transformational leadership.

From many to one

Microsoft achieved extraordinary growth in the mid-2000s, due in part to the high levels of autonomy enjoyed by its subsidiaries.

But this autonomy also brought a high degree of fragmentation to its finance, accounting and procurement functions.

In 2007, the company sought to standardize these processes globally via an initiative called OneFinance.

The objectives of this initiative were to:

  • Reduce costs
  • Improve service and compliance
  • Focus internal roles on more strategic activities

To achieve these goals, Microsoft partnered with Accenture on an initial seven-year agreement spanning more than 90 countries and 450 individual roles.

How did we do it?

Working closely with Microsoft we developed a BPO relationship based on nine key practices:

  • Focus on benefits beyond cost reduction.
  • Adopt a partnership based approach.
  • Take a holistic approach to the scope of the BPO relationship.
  • Drive strong transformational and change management capability.
  • Contextualize data through domain expertise and analytics.
  • Emphasize the benefits of technology in the BPO relationship.
  • Don’t settle for “green” service-level performance.
  • Prioritize and incentivize innovation.
  • Acknowledge and reward the provider’s staff.
The most striking aspect of the Microsoft - Accenture relationship is the role played by transformational leaders—senior individuals, who establish strategic direction, align incentives, motivate and inspire people and deliver dramatic change.

Such leaders have been in place at all levels in both organizations to create and sustain the new reality of collaboration, innovation and high performance.
Unusual for a long-term BPO relationship, there has been remarkable stability in senior Microsoft and Accenture leadership, which has also contributed to sustaining long-term high performance.


Within 18 months, the partnership between Microsoft and Accenture resulted in:


A global set of standards implemented across 92 countries.


Improved internal controls and compliance.


A reduction in Microsoft’s costs by 35 percent.

Industry & topics highlighted

Business Process Outsourcing

In 2009, the arrangement was extended to include additional processes, leading to additional savings of 20 percent by streamlining, simplifying and/or automating key procurement and accounts-payable processes. The contract was also extended until 2018.
Five years into the relationship, the partners continue to innovate and new transformation projects are planned each year.