Imagine having to create the controllership function for a global company, basically from a clean slate. How would you do it? And how would you make it world class?

This was precisely the challenge Accenture faced when we became a public company in 2001.

Fortunately, looking back on Accenture Controllership’s journey, I can share with you our story along with five factors to our success. These are the things we learned as Controllership took shape and evolved to become the leading organization that we are today.

These success factors include:

1. Focus on value creation

One constant theme over the years in Accenture Controllership is to promote a culture of value creation. We relentlessly focus on pursuing value in all possible ways no matter the location or team. We are always asking ourselves: how can we drive value across the function? One way is by being driven by one common objective. And that is to deliver the best results by bringing together top thinking and seamless collaboration between our specialized and centralized workforces.

2. Embrace innovation

Introducing and embracing the latest advancements in technology is a key to success in today’s world and for Accenture Controllership. We look to advance innovation and unlock the value in Accenture Finance’s existing technology portfolio and through other solutions. One solution includes BlackLine’s cloud-based software for account reconciliations. It has helped to greatly reduce Accenture risk through tighter controls, quality, efficiencies and improved visibility of open items globally.

We’re also making multiyear investments in other technology solutions. A few include advanced offerings from SAP and BlackLine. Controllership is also looking at innovative ways of adopting digital and disruptive technology, such as artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and natural language processing, to improve efficiency and reduce manual repetitive tasks. Two such solutions that are relatively new are automated invoicing and artificial intelligence-driven expense compliance auditing.

3. Engage with stakeholders

Engagement with stakeholders is critical to efficiently address the needs of the business. To help us do this well, we are keen about promoting a One Controllership culture. Our entire organization operates under a “One Controllership” model where we work as one unit—instead of focusing on our separate areas. We use common language and drive the same objectives and goals in serving our stakeholders and the business.  

Another step we’ve taken to enhance stakeholder engagement is with a new role we’ve created, that of assistant country controller, within centralized shared services. This person “sits at the side of the desk” of our country controllers to strengthen relationships and support seamless, beginning-to-end delivery. This approach supports the One Controllership mindset by supporting effective teaming between our centralized shared services and country controllership. Everyone works with a focus on co-collaboration and business advising.

We relentlessly focus on pursuing value in all possible ways no matter the location or team. We are always asking ourselves: how can we drive value across the function?

4. Create centers of expertise

The accounting and tax world is constantly changing. For Accenture, this means having to continually address new standards, legislation and increasingly stringent audit requirements. For Controllership, in turn, we need to respond in new ways. One way has been the establishment of Centers of Expertise. These are centers with teams with specialized knowledge that support complex lease accounting, taxation, and ventures and acquisitions.

5. Improve processes end-to-end

We have come to learn the importance of leading with an ongoing, end-to-end process improvement mindset. While Accenture Finance has made tremendous progress in rigorously standardizing and improving business processes, there is always room to do more. In Controllership, we are always looking to improve through simple and formal methods such as Six Sigma training. These efforts enhance our ability to respond to Accenture’s fast growth and to the challenges that growth and the addition of new types of businesses bring.

These five success factors have served Controllership at Accenture well as we have gone through major stages of growth and evolution to become a world-class organization today. I hope what we have learned can help accelerate your organization’s controllership journey. I invite you to learn more about our journey by reading the full story here.

Melissa Burgum

Corporate Controller

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