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Implementing business process standardization

To promote effective federal financial management for high performance

Overview

The United States Department of the Navy is committed to fiscal accountability through the institution of efficient, sustainable business processes that promote effective financial management. Accenture supported the Department of the Navy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Financial Management and Comptroller Office of Financial Operations (ASN FM&C FMO) to perform business process transformation and risk mitigation activities to support this goal in an environment of evolving accounting and management information systems.

Accenture recognized the need to document, standardize and communicate business processes in a consistent yet adaptable manner to engage a variety of Commands and organizations, while considering the importance of reaching target dates.

The standard process documentation delivered by Accenture provides the Navy with tools for financial transparency throughout the organization. The detailed process documentation, internal controls identification and adherence metrics are currently in use to train Command stakeholders.

These items promote consistency across the Navy in executing financial events that comply with relevant regulation and policies. Additionally, the documentation can be used to explain Navy processes to external auditors, reducing the total cost of audit.

Background

Under both the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and U.S. Department of Defense mandates to achieve audit readiness for Statements of Budgetary Resources (SBR) by the end of 2014, the Department of the Navy is working toward a full audit in fiscal year 2017. The Navy’s finance organization faces a rapidly changing environment of evolving systems that requires improved performance while also lowering costs. Both the administration and Congress are demanding more value-added insight, and regulatory bodies and the public want greater transparency and accountability about how tax dollars are being spent.

The challenge is even more difficult in the current economic climate. To meet the challenge, the Navy needed to identify and transform its business processes with financial impact. Its goal: enable faster, better decision making and more effective oversight of taxpayer dollars with more timely, reliable and accurate financial information.

A complex hierarchy exists within the Navy that includes several layers within organizations and functions, various partners and service providers, and leadership structures that may vary based on funding or mission. Variance exists at each of these levels within a given financial process, from systems to execution to terminology. This environment needed to be understood and considered when a strategy to implement the process standardization effort was developed.

Analysis

A key component of enabling an auditable Navy without increasing staffing and cost is to establish standard financial processes across the 21 major organizations. To help the Navy transform its financial business processes, Accenture applied a field-tested framework to bring rigor to the effort.

Accenture’s Business Process Standardization Approach Strategy aimed to incorporate existing process documentation, organizational goals and objectives, governance and compliance requirements, and leading practices to develop a baseline standard process with the associated financial controls.

In collaboration with Navy leadership, Accenture scoped financial processes into segments, using terminology familiar to process stakeholders. The team developed:

  • An actionable plan.

  • An execution timeline to evaluate complexity.

  • Initial measures for monitoring progress of the effort and quality of the submitted documentation.

Recommendations

Applying a field-tested framework

To accomplish standardization of the financial segments and due to the size and complexity of the Navy processes, the Accenture team executed the framework in segment iterations. For each segment the team led a three-day workshop to address the major financial processes, worked with Commands, service providers and Navy leadership to gain consensus from key stakeholders and developed a detailed training guide to support the updates and maintain the documented standards.

Unique collaboration requirements across tasks and contractors

A unique aspect of the business process standardization effort is that it requires collaboration across multiple parties external to Accenture and the client. Constant collaboration allowed Accenture to identify challenges, resources and Department of the Navy subject matter experts prior to speaking with the organizations to ensure valuable use of time and effort.

Delivering process transparency

Accenture delivered Navy-wide standard financial processes, agreed to by all key stakeholders and capable of meeting the rigors of financial auditability. Some of the Department of the Navy’s key processes now include:

  • Funds receipt and distribution.

  • Contract and vendor pay.

  • Financial statements compilation and reporting.

  • Hire to retire.