International Accounting Global Business Services Evaluation and Design
ScottMadden was engaged to evaluate and design a global business services model for international accounting and finance functions of a Fortune 20 telecommunications company with more than $100 billion in revenues, more than 180,000 employees, and customers in more than 150 countries. As a component of its overall global strategy, the company had launched a strategic initiative focused on streamlining its finance and accounting support in order to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and standardize policies and processes. To increase focus on end-to-end processes, it named global process owners across major financial processes, including account-to-report (A2R), billing-to-cash (B2C), accounts payable (AP), payroll and commissions, and financial, planning, and analysis (FP&A), and elected to consolidate its core domestic financial activities into one of two locations. While domestic activities within its A2R global process were being largely consolidated into a single location, the company wanted an independent evaluation of its international A2R activities to determine the best model that accounted for the country-specific regulations and requirements. ScottMadden worked with the client to evaluate and design a service delivery model that was in sync with its global strategy, enhanced the delivery of its accounting services, decreased operating costs, and improved internal controls while keeping in mind the unique legal requirements and idiosyncrasies of different countries.
The client wanted to align global policy and process standardization efforts, co-locate international and domestic activities where feasible, improve efficiency of existing processes, and deliver operational cost savings. Historically, the company had an inconsistent finance model across international and operated through four distinct regions with varying finance models and functional footprints. Different regions had disparate processes, including a decentralized audit process for 79 audits leading to costly and inefficient operations. Significant and varying regional responsibilities for non-accounting functions, such as tax, FP&A, AP, and B2C, and several layers in its organizational structure, added to the overall complexity and inefficiency. Also, regulatory and legal compliance requirements were an integral part of the responsibilities of the international accounting team in several countries. The lack of standardization and burden of non-core responsibilities limited the department’s agility, hindered its ability to efficiently integrate operations, and made it difficult to realize cost savings.
How We Helped
ScottMadden worked with the client team during three key phases of implementing global business services:
- Assess and Plan: strategic planning, benchmarking, leading practice assessment, project planning
- Design: current state analysis, business case development, service delivery model design, organization design, technology evaluation, implementation planning, functional role alignment, in-country service requirements, outsourcing considerations
- Build: project management, policy and process redesign, performance metrics and service-level agreements (SLAs), change management and communications
ScottMadden combined its proven methodology, leading practices repository, tools, templates, and its collaborative approach to develop a solution that was customized to the client’s business requirements.
Assess and Plan
During the Assess and Plan phase, ScottMadden assisted the client in determining the strategy and value proposition for global business services. This phase provided a baseline measurement of costs, productivity, business drivers, and customer satisfaction, compared the company’s performance to industry peers, and provided a foundation for the Design and Build phases. Specific steps and activities are shown below:
The results of this phase provided the justification to proceed with the design and implementation of international accounting global business services.
During the Design phase, ScottMadden worked with the client to determine the detailed future state infrastructure, quantify benefits of global business services, and develop the operating model. The project team organized separate work streams, as outlined below. ScottMadden assisted with each work stream throughout the Design phase.
The Design phase produced the following key infrastructure elements:
- Detailed international organization structure with distinct positions, detailed job descriptions, job grades, locations, staffing numbers, and alignment with U.S. roles, where appropriate
- Documented high-level model for services that will no longer be owned by international accounting in the future model
- Current state assessment of international FP&A operations to help inform future state strategy
- Documented information on in-country legal and operational requirements
- Framework for outsourced accounting model
In the Build phase, ScottMadden provided ongoing project and change management support required for the pre-implementation planning of the future state operating model. As in the Design phase, separate work streams were identified. Key work activities are listed in the figure below:
With ScottMadden’s help, the company successfully designed a global business services operating model based on leading practices. As a result, the company will realize the following benefits:
- Harmonized policies and processes enable consistent and accurate service delivery and allow the company to leverage its scale.
- The new organization, which is structured based on the type of work performed, provides international service hubs and career paths for employees.
- A robust metrics and reporting framework give greater visibility of performance.
- Standard processes, performed in consolidated service centers with in-country presence on an as-needed basis, provide simplified internal and external auditing processes.
- Defined functional accountabilities provide greater visibility to compliance risk and ensure implementation of proactive mitigation strategies by SMEs.
- Supporting technologies provide greater automation, increased efficiencies, and accessible self-service.
- The new delivery model increases the agility of the company by streamlining processes required to integrate newly acquired companies.
The new global business services model will improve the company’s competitive position and is projected to save millions of dollars annually. Additional benefits include improved levels of service, stronger controls, and a platform to accommodate future growth.