Accenture today is a $44 billion company operating in 120 countries. With more than 500,000 people, the company is growing both organically and inorganically through an ambitious focus on strategic acquisitions. Accenture Finance has been a key player in this growth and is part of our overall vision to drive further value for Accenture, our clients and our people.
We began our journey to reimagine the Finance function by establishing an independent Finance structure, a single global system instance of SAP and centralized key processes. A strong partnership with our global IT organization and SAP-enabled standardization brought increased rigor to underlying financial processes and transactions. This foundation has been critical, setting the stage for two decades of ongoing improvement.
As Accenture’s business faces growing scale and complexity, our Finance organization continues to transform to meet tomorrow’s demands—focusing on delivering value, developing our people and becoming even more effective advisers to the business.
“As a finance organization, we are continuously reimagining and rethinking how we work to drive value for Accenture.”
— MELISSA BURGUM, Chief Accounting Officer and Corporate Controller
Our vision, to drive new value for Accenture, involves the application of innovation and digital technologies and investing in Finance people, such that we:
Reimagine policies, reinvent processes and invest in automation and digital technologies to streamline—if not eliminate—manual tasks. Although the activities of transacting, accounting, controlling, complying and reporting remain critical for transformation to succeed, Finance must expend less of its valuable human capital on these areas than in the past. Success is achieved not only through automating how things are done today, but also by rethinking what is required, against the backdrop of the future needs of Accenture. For example, in Controllership we are using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and automated commentary to free up our people to do more value-add work.
Invest in the skills and capabilities Finance people need as they shift to the higher-value activities of “plan, analyze and advise.” Not only does the investment in our people position Finance to provide the most effective insight and support for the business, but also it creates more opportunities for the Finance team to learn, pursue interests and help their career advancement.
A further important part of the Accenture Finance strategy is to think outside traditional functional boundaries—enabling better collaboration within Finance and with other corporate functions, and putting the business and Finance user experience at the heart of process change. We have built global shared services that have helped drive leading practices and innovation within core processes. We have introduced self-service digital solutions that have freed up capacity to develop better business advisory capabilities. And, we have enhanced core competencies, process excellence and collaboration tools. For example, in Treasury, centralization has enabled improved control of cash globally and enhanced treasury solutions to optimize cash positions and mitigate counterparty risk.
We now take less time to close the books—five days globally, four days locally and six days to deliver final management reporting. And, we perform 67% of finance activities in shared services locations.
Today, our Accenture Finance journey is still anchored to this same foundation—relentlessly pursuing value everywhere, unleashing human+ potential in everyone and everything Finance does, and always delivering the right service. Although the focus on value is enduring, our strategy now reflects the needs of a growing and increasingly complex Accenture organization that is prepared to handle the pressures of an ever-changing regulatory environment.
Six elements—in effect, our “DNA”—characterize how Accenture Finance works today. These elements remain critical as Finance transforms into the function of tomorrow.
Focus on fundamentals
Maintain an unwavering focus on service, compliance, process excellence, risk management, cost and efficiency.
Use existing and new digital technologies as key enablers to streamline service and free up Finance professionals to focus on higher-value work.
Apply innovative thinking across the finance realm in advising the business, enhancing employee engagement and improving operational performance.
Apply expertise, analytics and solutions to drive new business reporting, tools and insights into business performance.
Agile business partners
Move away from recording and reporting on results to working alongside the business in new ways to add new value.
Dynamic talent and culture
Create a dynamic workforce and culture by moving from a focus on accounting and controlling to learning and supporting the business as key advisers.
A valuable difference
Accenture Finance has set long-term targets across the organization to help monitor and manage progress toward our vision. We have developed an integrated road map of high-impact strategic programs that complement other major projects and local initiatives. We have launched a communications program that shares our Finance story across the world and encourages innovation within local teams. Finally, our organization has established a strong governance structure to sustain momentum and adapt the strategy as needed.
The Accenture Finance transformation has already contributed to a reduction in Accenture’s overall general and administrative costs from 9.8% to 6.4% of revenues since fiscal year 2005, leading to more than $1.5 billion in annual savings in fiscal year 2020. Using one financial system of record—a single global instance of SAP—we can operate better, faster and more cost-effectively. For example, we are able to process annually $900 million expense payments, 135,000 contractual records and more than 618,000 client invoices.
Benefits are broader than the impact on Finance’s cost to serve. As Accenture Finance continues to evolve from traditional finance activities to an intelligent finance operation, we drive further value, insight and risk management across Accenture as a whole, enabled by new processes, technologies and a digital workforce.
Accenture Finance continues to identify and target areas of new value across the business. As our strategy evolves further to help position Accenture as a leader, we support an economic engine that continues to increase stakeholder value by driving:
Market-leading revenue growth
Strong earnings growth, including sustainable margin expansion
Strong cash flow, with smart and disciplined capital allocation
Highlights of Accenture Finance achievements include:
Investing in the skills of our Finance and business practitioners to drive profitable growth.
Implemented SAP S/4 HANA and BW on HANA in the cloud.
Industrialized mergers and acquisitions capability.
Expanded adoption of digital tools and dashboards, accessible on demand.
Perform 67% of Finance activities in shared services locations.
Became early adopter of automation.
Enable continuous auditing and risk assessment by analytics and technology.
Implemented analytics-driven time and expense controls.
Deployed a centralized, secure digital repository for financial contract documentation.
The journey to Finance transformation is a multi-stage, multi-year program. But if it is innovation-led, builds on a robust and enduring foundation and is tailored to the specific needs of the organization, it can not only reimagine the Finance function, but also be a value driver for the business.