From transactional to strategic
Julie Schwendimann, vice president of global shared services at Stanley Black & Decker, quickly saw the benefits of the new operating model when the global pandemic hit and her team kept closing the books and paying the bills on time—while delivering timely insights to manage customer service. Schwendimann joined more than 150 business and industry experts at Accenture’s Future-Ready Forum and discussed what successful leaders are doing differently to thrive in this time of compressed transformation.
During this Forum fireside chat, Julie discussed how Stanley Black & Decker, a $14.5 billion global diversified industrial leader with 56,000 employees in more than 60 countries, approached moving to intelligent finance operations. In particular, she talked about what it takes to transform the core finance activities to optimize business performance and the strategic value delivered using data-driven insights.
Schwendimann’s view is confirmed by Accenture’s global research that reveals that organizations with highly mature operations are considered “future-ready” and are, on average, 1.7 times more efficient and 2.8 times more profitable. They also improve their talent mix, customer experiences and ecosystem relationships. Yet only 5% of finance leaders say they have future-ready operations while 35% want to be there in three years.
Simplify and standardize
Schwendimann knew that she needed a strong foundation to build resilient finance operations that tapped into the right technology and talent. She also knew it would be critical to have good quality data and that it would be tough to get there. She’s not alone. According to the research, 27% of finance leaders say that inconsistent, inaccurate or inaccessible data is preventing them from realizing their full potential to drive strategic change.
Schwendimann was facing quite a challenge. At Stanley Black & Decker, continuous innovation and a series of acquisitions had led to fragmented finance systems and processes across the globe. With operations in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, decisions and data analytics were laborious and time-consuming. Manual processes, tasks, and gathering and reconciling data across systems left no time to analyze the insights and have thoughtful discussions with the business about budgets, plans and forecasts.
Schwendimann and her team began by reinventing business analysis and reporting. This included rethinking everything from data strategy, governance rules, the common finance language and key performance indicators. It meant that 70 plus disparate ERP systems needed to be connected to one centralized, simplified global environment, and standardizing finance data across all of business units and geographies to create a single version of financial truth.
Use technology to free your team
The next step was to adopt digital technologies like automation and artificial intelligence (AI) for transactional tasks. This would free the team for more strategic work such as advanced financial modeling to forecast future risk or predict demand that supports the company’s growth agenda.
According to the research, today 60% of traditional finance tasks are automated at least to some extent. Add to this a rethinking of how work gets done and the impact is magnified.
For Schwendimann, putting data, digital technologies and the right infrastructure at the heart of finance operations made all the difference when COVID hit. It gave the team the agility and scale it needed to keep pace, continue to close the books in just four days, pay invoices and deliver timely reports—all while working from home. In addition, the team was able to gain richer data insights that allowed a better focus on the customer experience.