Challenge

Accenture today is a $43 billion company operating in 52 countries with 513,000 people that is growing both organically and through an ambitious focus on strategic acquisitions. Accenture’s Finance organization has been a key player in this growth.

With Accenture’s ambitious growth plans, the business needs will only continue to increase in scale and complexity. For Accenture Finance, the imperative is clear: transform today to meet tomorrow’s needs for the business. This imperative is driving a journey of a reimagined Accenture Finance function—one that is focused on delivering value, developing the organization’s people and becoming even more effective advisors to the business.

Accenture Finance by the numbers

5

days to close Accenture books globally, 4 days locally, 6 days to deliver final management reporting

1

financial system of record, global instance of SAP

600K+

client invoices annually

$1B

expense payments processed annually

135K

contractual records processed annually

67%

of finance activities performed in shared services locations

Strategy and solution

Accenture Finance’s transformation began when Accenture went public as a company in 2001. A vision was set to deliver world-class finance capabilities to drive value and support accurate, consistent and compliant financial reporting. The initial building blocks included establishing an independent Finance structure, a new operating model, a single global system instance of SAP and centralized key processes. A strong partnership with SAP enabled standardization that brought increased rigor to underlying financial processes and transactions.

This foundation set the stage for two decades of continuous improvement and further transformation built on global shared services, self-service digital solutions, enhanced core competencies, process excellence and collaboration tools. Centralization enabled improved control of cash globally and enhanced treasury solutions that optimize cash positions and mitigate counterparty risk. Shared services helped drive best practice and innovation within core processes, while investment in self-service tools freed up capacity to develop greater business advisory capabilities.

Today, the 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, the strategy has been updated and now reflects the needs of a growing and ever-more-complicated Accenture organization—in an ever-changing regulatory environment.

Vision

The Accenture Finance vision is to drive further value for Accenture, for its clients and for its people.

The vision statement brings together two themes—investment in Finance people and the application of innovation and digital technologies. By investing in people, building a culture of innovation and deploying digital solutions, Accenture Finance seeks to unleash the potential within its teams and deliver world-class financial and commercial services. As a result, Accenture Finance intends to provide its people with rewarding career experiences, as well as support and help drive Accenture’s long-term growth.

Technology

The strategy to implement this vision involves two key levers.

The first is to reimagine policies, reinvent processes and invest in automation and digital technologies to streamline—if not eliminate—manual tasks. Although the activities of “transact, account, control, comply and report” remain critical, this transformation holds the potential for Finance to expend less of its valuable human capital in these areas than in the past. Importantly, transformation is not just through automating how things are done today, but is achieved through rethinking what is required, against the backdrop of the future needs of Accenture.

The second lever is to invest in parallel in the skills and capabilities Finance people will need as they shift to the higher-value activities of “plan, analyze and advise.” Not only does this investment position Finance to provide the most effective insight and support to the business, it also creates more opportunities for the Finance team to learn, pursue interests and help career advancement.

An 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.

Elements

Six elements characterize how Accenture Finance works today. These elements remain critical as Finance transforms into the function of tomorrow. These elements are, in effect, the “DNA” of Accenture Finance. They are:

Focus on fundamentals

Maintaining an unwavering focus on service, compliance, process excellence, risk management, cost and efficiency

Digital enablement

Using existing and new digital technologies as key enablers to streamline service and free up Finance professionals to focus on higher-value work

Innovation

Applying innovative thinking—large and small—to drive better customer experiences, employee engagement and operational performance

Insightful solutions

Applying expertise, analytics and solutions to drive new business reporting, tools and insights into business performance

Agile business partners

Moving away from recording and reporting on results to working alongside the business in new ways to add new value

Dynamic talent and culture

Creating a dynamic workforce and culture by moving from a focus on accounting and controlling to learning and supporting the business as key advisers

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Transformation

Bringing the vision and strategy to life

The vision, strategy and elements form an enduring foundation from which Accenture Finance is driving its transformation. With this foundation in place, Accenture Finance is working to confirm that the strategy is implemented in a tangible and meaningful way. It has set long-term targets across the organization to help monitor and manage progress toward its vision.

Accenture Finance has developed an integrated road map of high-impact strategic programs that complement the many other major projects and local initiatives. It has developed a communications program that celebrates innovation within local teams as well as cascading global messages. Finally, the organization has established a strong governance structure to sustain momentum and adapt the strategy as needed.

The journey to reimagining Finance is innovation-led but also builds on a robust and enduring foundation. The journey is a multi-stage, multi-year program, with a path that reflects the specific needs and context of the overall Accenture business.

Results

The Finance transformation has already contributed to a reduction in Accenture’s overall general and administrative costs from 9.8 percent to 6.1 percent of revenues since FY05, leading to more than $1.5 billion in annual savings in fiscal 2019. However, the benefit is much broader than just the impact on finance cost to serve. As Accenture Finance continues to evolve from traditional finance activities to an intelligent finance operation, it drives further value, insight and risk management across Accenture as a whole, enabled by new processes, digital technologies and a transforming workforce.

Accenture Finance will continue to focus on identifying and targeting areas of new value across the business. Its strategy will evolve further to help position Accenture as a leader for today and tomorrow, supporting an economic engine that continues to increase stakeholder value by:

  • Driving market-leading revenue growth
  • Driving strong earnings growth, including sustainable margin expansion
  • Driving strong cash flow, with smart and disciplined capital allocation

Highlights of Accenture Finance achievements include:

Implemented SAP S/4HANA; SAP BW running in the cloud on HANA

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

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Meet the team

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