Defining a Captive or BPO Sourcing Strategy for Shared Services

Introduction

Outsourcing back-office processes that are often found in a Shared Services center continues to be popular as external service providers improve the quality of their services and methods for how to best transfer and manage work processes becomes routine.  Outsourcing isn’t a “one size fits all” approach, nor is it possible to flip responsibility for entire processes to a third party. 

For companies that outsource there is always a mix between captive and BPO, with varying degrees of process level and higher process ownership rights either shifted to BPO or retained, depending on each company’s circumstances and risk thresholds.  It is important that Shared Services leaders develop a strategy related to outsourcing so that they clearly understand how outsourcing alternatives fit into the overall strategy.

iPollingTM Results Review

A recent Peeriosity iPollingTM question asked about the overall strategy related to outsourcing Shared Services processes.  The results suggest that 54% of member companies follow either a captive, or a captive with selective outsourcing approach, with 12% indicating that BPO was the primary approach followed.  34% of responses indicate an even mix between a hybrid approach that was trending to more captive, and a hybrid approach that was trending to include more BPO.  Here are the details:

Regarding the primary location of service centers for member companies, 42% are in North America, 21% are in India, 8% are in Eastern Europe, and 4% are in Europe, with 25% having a broad mix across geographic regions.  This isn’t surprising, since the profile for many of Peeriosity’s member companies, where over 50% have revenue greater than $10B per year, is to have headquarters in North America with global operations for manufacturing and sales. 

Here are a few of the comments from responding companies regarding Shared Services center location:

  • A mix between US, Western Europe, Latin America and India.
  • We have four regional centers, two of which are supported out of India.
  • USA, Canada, LATAM.
  • Mix between India & Malaysia, with more than 70% in India.
  • Shared service centers in Mexico, Ohio, Czech Republic, and Malaysia.
  • We use a spoke and hub model. 70% of our resources are divided between two hubs, 40% Hungary, 30% Brazil and the remainder split between our spokes in the US, Canada, and Australia.
  • We have 3 similarly sized captive shared service centers located in the US, Latin America, and Russia. The majority of our BPO shared service resources are in India.

Closing Summary

Business Process Outsourcing is an accepted and common part of the landscape for the design and delivery of Shared Services processes, and one of the many tools available as members work to delivery high quality and cost-effective solutions for their companies.  The mix can vary between what work is captive and what is BPO, with process ownership always a retained responsibility.  Where the line splits between the ultimate process owner and front-line processing varies depending on the capabilities of both the BPO provider and the company who decides to outsource.

What is the mix of captive and BPO for Shared Services at your company?  What is your mix for onshore or offshore processing, and do you follow a regional or a global design for work process location?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

______________________________________________________________________________

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Successfully Transitioning to a New Corporate Card Provider

Introduction

While the benefits of switching to a new corporate card provider can be obvious, the actual transition can be challenging if not carried out with the appropriate levels of caution and due diligence. 

In this research abstract, we will look at the experiences of a Peeriosity member company that carried out this type of transition and learn what they consider to be the proper steps to take and difficulties to avoid during this type of project.

Company Experience

Recently a large global consumer products company was featured on a Peeriosity PeercastTM to share how they were facing significant challenges with their existing corporate card program.  Those challenges included not having a global contract with a provider, having different service providers for the North America and International regions, using different bank feeds to interface data in the financial system, and not effectively achieving their potential rebate levels.

Some of the desired attributes of their new corporate card program included the following:

  • Global penetration of banking partner
  • Local currency & central billing was possible
  • Program administrator roles can be performed centrally
  • Strong reporting capabilities of the banking partner

The Peeriosity member company faced a number of challenges while carrying out the selection of the new banking partner and the subsequent roll-out of the program.  Those included the level of card acceptance, having central billing not technically available, an inconsistent payment mode, the required documentation of the new program varied for each country and didn’t follow global contract guidelines, as well as bank system issues. 

Some of the lessons learned during the transition included connecting with Peers using the same partner to understand the process in lieu of your design, involving their local teams earlier so they understand the documentation requirement, ensuring project timelines are aligned and adhered to by the bank, and stopping at the right time to make corrections if the standard process is deviated.

Additional details regarding the feature company’s transition can be found on the Peeriosity member website, including the PeercastTM recording.

iPollingTM Results Review

The results of a poll associated with this PeercastTM provide some insight to the Purchasing Card brand utilized and the related satisfaction level of the company with that relationship.  Looking first at the brand utilized, MasterCard was the most popular, with 33% of the companies using it.  This was closely followed by Visa with 29%, and American Express with 19%.

Reviewing the results of the second poll question, 88% of the surveyed companies are either Very Satisfied (35%) or Satisfied (53%) with their relationship with their PCard provider.  Just 6% were Indifferent and another 6% said it was too early to tell.

Some of the comments related to the poll made by Peeriosity members include the following:

Non-Profit Member: We also use MasterCard. We run a global program in many countries and have not found one single provider that can service the whole world.

Computers & Electronics Member: AMEX is pretty responsive and has a lot of great features, like good reporting and generous rebates. The one issue is acceptance. Many smaller vendors push back on taking the AMEX card.

Manufacturing Member: We currently have very limited use of the PCard. In the early evaluation stage of rolling out a PCard program.

Manufacturing Member: Our company uses US Bank with a one-card account in the United States.

Consumer Products & Services Member: Our North America PCard program is with MasterCard, while our Europe/Asia PCard program is with Visa. Majority of spend is in North America vs. Europe/Asia.

Closing Summary

Regardless of the amount of upfront planning and preparation, the transition to a new corporate card provider can be a challenge for any company.  As was the case with our feature company, while the related risks can be effectively mitigated in most cases, there will be unanticipated issues that will complicate the implementation.

What is the status at your company regarding your current corporate card provider?  Is your current solution meeting your needs or is it time to take another look at this important area?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

__________________________________________________________________________

“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Effective Strategies to Enhance AP’s Relationship with Internal Customers

Introduction

Developing a solid relationship with key internal customers, such as Procurement, Finance, and IT, is important for the long-term success of any Accounts Payable organization.  During a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM, we looked at the experiences of one of our member companies as they worked to enhance these important provider/customer relationships and how they measured the success of those efforts.

Company Experience

A Peeriosity member company who is a global manufacturer of food products recently shared their efforts in improving how their Accounts Payable organization interacts with their major internal customers.   One of the first steps they took was to identify strategies to enhance Accounts Payable’s relationship, which included transparency of information, optimizing working capital, building processes or systems to prevent early/late payments or duplicate payments, creating a frustration free experience, automation of specific activities, and centralizing work for standardization.   While asking for feedback for how satisfied internal customers are is important, the first priority was to proactively enhance the relationship by taking a leadership position on issues that were the most important to their customer base.

One example cited was a project where Accounts Payable worked closely with Procurement, Treasury, and Finance to negotiate new payment terms with their supplier base as part of an overall effort to increase DPO and working capital.  Some of the experiences and lessons learned from this joint effort included the following: 

  • Finance/Treasury found new opportunities with SCF & Virtual Cards
  • Procurement found opportunities for payments made early without discount or areas of missed/lost value
  • Procurement found opportunities with incorrect contract terms
  • Accounts Payable found areas of incorrect terms in PO Lifecycle
  • All functional teams found areas to accelerate and areas of no value
  • A little bit of AP data transparency goes a long way
  • Positive outcomes from the project have created interest in additional joint projects, including evaluating Payment Terms, RPA, PO Lifecycle, and many other inefficiencies or opportunities

Additional details regarding their timeline for this effort, as well as the metrics and benefits related to it are included on the Peeriosity member website, along with the detailed discussion found as part of the Peercast recording.

iPollingTM Results Review

A recent Peeriosity poll created using the iPollingTM technology provides some insight regarding how Accounts Payable leadership keeps up to date concerning the satisfaction levels of their customers.  The first poll question looked at the frequency that the AP organization conducts customer satisfaction surveys.  The practice of measuring customer satisfaction annually is followed by 33% of the companies, with 44% indicating that they do not conduct customer satisfaction surveys for AP.  The remaining 23% of the companies utilize a variety of survey frequencies.

The second poll question then addressed who is included in the AP customer satisfaction survey population, with 80% including only internal customers, while 20% include both internal and external.

Some of the comments Peeriosity members made related to this poll include the following:

Real Estate & Construction Member: We do an actual formal survey annually; however as part of our Shared Services model, we reach out to our customers periodically to assist in improving our processes.

Consumer Products & Services Member: We have conducted internal surveys in North America for several years now. There has been some actionable feedback captured to help us improve the process. Having formal P2P structure and support is critical as more often than not issues with POs, 3-way match, price/qty. discrepancies, etc. translate into invoices being paid late. Being able to communicate the improvement opportunities and partnering with upstream process owners to deliver changes will keep survey respondents engaged for future iterations.

Real Estate & Construction Member: We don’t have a formal survey, but we request feedback in our quarterly discussions with internal customers.

Manufacturing Member: The follow up with unsatisfied customers is done on quarterly basis after the survey.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: We would like to do this sometime in the future.

Manufacturing Member: We found out the shorter the survey, the more input we received.

Consumer Products & Services Member: We actually have different surveys going on. On our AP help desk (for external vendors), they are provided with a link where a survey is available. Unfortunately the up-take is very small. There is another annual sensing with external vendors conducted by Sourcing, where P2P provides some input. Internally, we do some sensing with internal users annually as well.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: I would be interested to know if this is along the lines of a Key Experience Indicators exercise – i.e. finding out about how your customers find the process vs. the hard measurement of payment of invoices on time.

Closing Summary

Being able to effectively communicate and interact with major internal customers is critical to the overall success of any Accounts Payable organization.  While the approach may vary among companies, the need to focus on this important aspect of their operation should be a significant priority.

What is the status at your company regarding the relationships of Accounts Payable with its key internal customers?  Is this an area that should be reviewed in the coming months at your company?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

____________________________________________________________________________

“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Leveraging Open-Source Technology to Automate Shared Services Processes

Introduction

Rather than going the Intelligent Automation vendor route, some companies have evaluated open-source technology to automate their Shared Services operation.   With a significant number of viable technology providers in this space, the opportunity exists for companies to internally develop their own custom solution using these powerful programming languages.  This research abstract looks at the steps one of our member companies took to carry out this evaluation and how they are applying this unique approach to robotic process automation (RPA) in their company.

Company Experience

The Peeriosity feature company for this PeercastTM in our Intelligent Automation research area is a large healthcare company based in the United States.  As is the case with most major corporations, this company has recently begun its journey into the Intelligent Automation arena looking for the technology solution that best fits their needs and organization.  One approach that they have seriously looked into is the use of open source technology to create their own RPA/AI related solutions. 

There are a variety of open source technologies related to the automation of process areas that are available, including the following:

1) Databases: CouchDB or PostgreSQL
2) WebKit: Engine for web browser – Developed by Apple
3) PhantomJS: Headless browser (no UI) – Developed by Chromium (Chrome)
4) Json.NET: Library for conversion
5) OopFactory X12 Parser: Specific X12 for Healthcare 837, 276, 277,etc.
6) iTextSharp: Library for creating and manipulating Json to PDF files for upload or fax  
7) OpenOffice: Create templates, edit PDF properties – developed by Sun/Oracle
8) ReactJS: Toolkit to develop web application – developed by Facebook
9) Tesseract OCR: Developed by HP and Google to process scanned / fax documents

The company has developed an RPA solution utilizing open source technology that is related to their claim status process that took approximately seven months to create and implement, the details surrounding which can be found on the Peeriosity member website, including a presentation of key milestones and the automation framework for the project.  Some of the key design principles included data preprocessing and standardization, credential management, high volume transaction processing, programmatic website data extraction, and file splitting and parallel processing.

The results of the project have been impressive, with over 100,000 labor hours being saved, which results in annual cost savings of over $3 million.  With this extremely successful proof of concept now complete, they are now focusing their efforts on expanding the use of open source technology to additional areas of their Shared Services operation.

Closing Summary

The opportunity to utilize open source technology in developing custom Intelligent Automation solutions is in its early stages of adoption, but, as well demonstrated by the experiences of our PeercastTM feature company, can be a very cost-effective solution that can deliver powerful results in both cost reduction and productivity improvement.   

What is the status at your company regarding the implementation of Intelligent Automation?  Is the use of open source technology a viable opportunity for your Shared Services organization to take its overall performance to the next level?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

___________________________________________________________________________

“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Taking Enterprise Reporting to the Next Level with Integrated Automation

Introduction

A number of major corporations have recently created an Enterprise Reporting Services operation as part of their Shared Services organization.  This group provides reporting and analysis services to a variety of key areas of the company, such as Marketing, Finance, and Procurement.  This research abstract looks at the experiences of a major multi-national corporation in enhancing its capabilities in this area with the use of Integrated Automation technology.

Company Experience

During a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM a global Consumer Products Group company with over $15 billion in annual revenue shared their experiences in improving and enhancing their Enterprise Reporting Services through a focus on integrated automation, including a look at the tools they use and their level of satisfaction with them to this point.   

Having begun their journey in the Enterprise Reporting Services area in the past couple of years, they recently named it their Analytic Center of Excellence, also known as ACE, within the company. ACE serves as a single point of contact to partner with the business, represents all ACE capabilities, leads communities of practice, understands the business needs, the necessary data, and related priority levels.  The Analytic Center of Excellence provides a focused group of experts that design and deliver reporting and visualization, data science and automation solutions, as well as experts with an enterprise focus creating frameworks, best practices, tool training, data stewardship, vendor selection and business KPIs related to Enterprise Reporting.

The following are the objectives for integrated automation at the Analytic Center of Excellence:

  • Deliver more capabilities faster
  • Incorporate more detail, complexity and features
  • Delineated processes – better resource planning
  • Decreased scope creep
  • Up-skill talent
  • Less reliance on cross-functional teams
  • Broaden data sources
  • Increased frequency of analysis
  • Avoid human error
  • Prep the environment (tech and culture) for RPA, ML, AI

Some of the results realized from their business intelligence digital transformation and automation include transitioning from needing five work days to prepare 27 e-mailed reports and 285 pages of tables to having a mobile dashboard and visual story-building that is available globally on demand.  Developing new dashboards has gone from taking one week to just over seven hours, which is a dramatic improvement for the Center of Excellence.

A few of the next steps for the company in this area include expanding the reach of the Analytic Center of Excellence to support new areas of the company, drive improved governance, develop rapid prototyping, and better leverage the technology available to them.

The complete recording of the Peercast and additional details from the Peercast presentation, including the use of digital assistants, RPA, AI, and automated work flows, is available for members on the Peeriosity website.

iPollingTM Results Review

The results from a recent poll of Peeriosity members utilizing the iPollingTM technology provide an interesting perspective regarding the consolidation of Enterprise Reporting into a Center of Excellence.  Looking at the results from the first question, 50% of the companies have carried out this consolidation, with 31% that have more than three functional areas being supported, 13% with 2-3 functional areas, and 6% with just one.

The second poll question then addressed what the companies consider to be the primary challenge in consolidating Reporting Services to service multiple functional areas.  Not surprisingly, political issues are the biggest challenge for 44% of the companies, with functional managers wanting to maintain ownership of the process.  This was followed by systems issues (31%), primarily related to inconsistencies across functional and geographic areas, and a lack of executive support at 6% of the companies.

Closing Summary

The opportunity to both consolidate Enterprise Reporting Services into a Shared Services using a Center of Excellence model and then to automate it using the latest technologies is one that is compelling to many companies across the globe.  Our feature company’s experience is an excellent example of how powerful this strategy can be when executed properly and with the best resources, both human and technical.

What is the status at your company regarding Enterprise Reporting Services?  Is your current approach effective or is it time to take another look at this critical aspect of your company?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

_____________________________________________________________________________

“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Solving the RPA Puzzle: The Path to 100+ Bots

Introduction

Implementing new solutions and approaches for how work gets done using Intelligent Automation solutions can be exciting and rewarding.  It can also be frustrating and risky, unless the journey for implementation is clear and carefully managed.  While there are many advisors and vendors who will confidently give you advice and direction for a fee, the best guidance comes directly from peers who are willing to share details that are specific and factual, based on their real experiences, with a candid assessment of where they have been successful and where they have made mistakes. 

Even better is when you are able to engage in an honest conversation, with questions answered, and guidance offered, where the only motivation by all parties is to understand what is true.  These exchanges can happen informally between peers, or be part of formal best practice research community, like the one created by Peeriosity, where thousands of users at hundreds of Shared Service centers can interact and share questions and insights.

Company Experience

A recent PeercastTM discussion in our Intelligent Automation research area featured a global consumer products company with over $25B in annual revenue, discussing their roadmap for implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA).  Within one year they have been able to successfully create a scalable platform and governance model within Shared Services to serve as a template for other rollouts of RPA, with the goal of achieving enterprise-wide alignment for all RPA initiatives.

As the company transitions from zero to 100 bots, some of the steps on the journey are expected to include:

  • Pilot identified and completed
  • Internal review and opportunity assessment
  • Vendor selection
  • Infrastructure setup
  • Full-scale production with multiple bots across multiple process areas
  • Rollout to other geographies
  • Chargeback model implemented to secure funding for expansion
  • Expand to other functional areas
  • Ramp from 20 bots in 7 process areas, to 40 bots in 15+ process areas
  • 24/7 operational support
  • True multifunctional Center of Excellence
  • Large scale deployment with over 100 bots in production

In addition to providing a detailed description of their design and rollout, our feature company shared many of the lessons learned along the way, including:

1. Once you launch, move fast.  As decision makers learn about robotics, there will be interest in moving quickly.  This requires a robust operating and resource model that includes a proactive management of stakeholders’ expectations

2. For bot development, don’t underestimate system dependencies.  Get your technology team on board to ensure the impact of systems updates and changes are appropriately understood, with modifications to RPA scripts completed and testing completed as necessary.

3. Bot technology is new and evolving rapidly.  Having highly skilled developers is critical to reducing rework and avoiding production incidents.

4. Bots are often scheduled for early hours when local technical support isn’t available.  As you scale, consider shifting from local to global support, to provide 24/7 production support and incident management.

5. Work teams will reallocate human resources once a bot takes over, making it very difficult to perform the task manually if the bot fails.  Bot work-steps need to be detailed, describing the reasons for the tasks, with rapid production support response to minimize the need for manual processing, should bot work-step fail.

Additional details regarding the efforts of the feature company can be found on the Peeriosity member website, exclusively for members of Peeriosity’s Intelligent Automation research program.

Closing Summary

Moving from a successful pilot to a large-scale enterprise deployment for Intelligent Automation can be a daunting task.  While someone “needs to go first”, the best approach is to learn from the experiences of others so that you can more accurately understand the opportunities that exist and manage the associated risks. Given the opportunity, it’s much better to know the details for what others would do differently or continue to do given the opportunity, so that you can avoid the pain and cost of figuring it out on your own and go directly to the tested approaches that work.

Where you consider the path to 100+ bots for your company, where are you today?  What are the key steps on your journey, and what lessons have you learned along the way?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

_________________________________________________________________________

“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Providing Online Access to Pay Data for Terminated Employees

Introduction

In an Internet world where it seems like everyone has a smart phone, with online access to information replacing filing cabinets and paper, both current and former employees expect that payroll related records will be easily available using either a hand-held device or a personal computer.  However, the norm is for companies to eliminate system access immediately once employment is terminated, which requires information like final pay statements or annual earnings documents to be physically sent by mail using paper documents. 

Many companies are currently exploring the option of providing terminated employees with access to view paycheck history, with the possibility of also viewing year-end earnings statements and providing other self-service functionality for former employees.  While it might be a nice convenience for a former employee, the question is whether creating a solution is worth the effort, when access might take place only once or twice over a 12-month period.

iPollingTM Results Review

Peeriosity’s iPollingTM capability was recently used to understand if member companies provide access to terminated employees to view pay information, and, if yes, how that access is provided.   

The first question asked the status of providing terminated employees with online access to view paychecks.  The results show that 44% provide online access, 6% are considering the idea, and the other 50% have either decided not to provide access, or they haven’t yet evaluated the idea for doing so.

The next question in the poll looks at how access is provided.  Interestingly, none of the responding companies are providing access using either a company Intranet site, or a company-provided external website, with 100% of the companies that provide access doing so using a third-party website.

Here are a few of the comments from responding companies:

  • Currently we send a copy by mail to the terminated employees, but we are looking to give an extra month access to our HR system Workday.
  • We use ADP iPay, and terminated employees have direct access to the ADP site.
  • Our payroll is outsourced to ADP. Terminated employees are provided with information when they leave the company on how to contact ADP to set up an external account, so they may view old data.
  • This is for the US Payroll. ADP provides employees with a user logon to be able to access pay statements and W2s post termination.

Closing Summary

As the world changes, employees and former employees increasingly want to access payroll information via the Internet, with the idea of receiving information by hard copy in the mail disappearing, along with access to fax machines or landline home phone numbers.  For current employees, providing online access is common, however, for security reasons former employees don’t typically have system access.  The exception appears to be when a company outsources their payroll process, with former employees able to access their information on a third-party’s website.

Do terminated employees at your company have online access to payroll data?  If yes, is the access to company systems or via a third-party website?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

______________________________________________________________________________

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Implementing Blackline’s Account Reconciliation Solution

Introduction

BlackLine Account Reconciliations is one of the most popular solutions utilized by major corporations across the world that automates and standardizes the general ledger reconciliation process.  Some of the benefits of this type of solution include automated review and approval workflows, with proper segregation of duties; reconciliation templates and checklists to standardize processes; integrated storage of supporting documentation for easy review and audit; and a link to applicable policies and procedures for easy reference.

While the benefits of this type of solution can be substantial, as with any system implementation such as this at a large corporation, the impact on the existing processes, organizational structure, and policies can be significant.  This research abstract looks at the recent efforts of a major corporation as they went through the implementation effort to implement BlackLine Account Reconciliations.

Company Experience

During a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM, a large healthcare company shared their experiences in implementing and administering the BlackLine Account Reconciliations solution, including some of the biggest challenges faced when doing so.  One of the first things they shared was the preparations they made prior to proceeding with the implementation.  Some of those included engaging IT to help determine how data would be extracted out of the ERP and other systems and into BlackLine, identifying the administrators who would oversee the ongoing usage of the new system, setting up the system governance, identifying templates and group accounts for existing reconciliations, and identifying the auto-certification rules.  Some of those auto-certification rules included the following:

  • All balances zero or null balance and no activity
  • Sub-ledger reconciliation match
  • Bank reconciliation match
  • Intercompany difference less than threshold
  • Consolidation accounts match general ledger
  • GL balance has not changed since last user certified period and no activity
  • Journal does not require user certification
  • Recurring journal from journal master with prior use certification
  • Task completed in external system

The areas they are focusing on to improve their BlackLine system implementation are segregated into three major categories, including Refining Administration, Increasing Efficiency, and Standardization.  For Refining Administration, the focus is on increasing auto-certification, optimizing template usage, and providing education regarding software updates.  For Increasing Efficiency, they are working on rules-based administration and exploring system functionality.  Finally, for Standardization, their efforts are on the reconciliation templates, reporting, and quality control.

iPollingTM Results Review

Recently, a poll was developed by a Peeriosity member using the iPollingTM technology regarding the account reconciliation solution utilized by companies, as well as the impact of the implementation on the account reconciliation review process.  Looking at the results of the first poll question, BlackLine clearly dominates this space, with 59% of the companies utilizing that solution.  Another 11% utilize either Trintech or Hyperion, and 11% use an internally-developed solution.

The second poll question then focused on the status of companies updating the control review process of the automated reconciliation tool post-implementation.  Reviewing the results, 43% of the companies have updated the control review process and are satisfied with the results of doing so.  Another 17% have updated the control review process, but feel that it needs improvement, while 9% are currently updating the process.  An additional 13% are currently evaluating doing an update, while 9% have determined that no change to the control review process is necessary.

Some of the related comments made by Peeriosity members to this poll include the following:

Consumer Products & Services Member: Blackline tool is used for workflow & as a repository tool. We have an offline process to perform quality, after we implemented risk ranking.

Manufacturing Member: Reconciliations are made in Excel and uploaded to SharePoint.

Manufacturing Member: Blackline used as an account reconciliation repository – account reconciliations are not automated.

Manufacturing Member:  Just utilizing manual controls currently.

Closing Summary

The implementation of any automated account reconciliation solution can have a significant short-term impact on often limited General Accounting resources, but that upfront effort will have a major favorable return on investment in a relatively short time period.  Assigning the most effective implementation team resources to the project as such important decisions as process redesign, organization alignment, and accounting policy revisions are made will be critical to the initial success of the implementation and ongoing administration of the automated solution.

What is the status at your company with respect to the implementation and utilization of an automated account reconciliation solution?  Is your current approach meeting your needs or is it time to take another look at this critical technology?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

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“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Using Automation to Streamline the Collections Process

Introduction

While the vast majority of large companies are utilizing some sort of ERP system that includes basic functionality to support the Collections process, this functionality often falls short in meeting the overall needs of the organization.  In many cases, companies attempt to modify their process design to mitigate the impact of this lack of system functionality, often with limited success.  However, through the use of both third-party software packages and internally developed tools, many companies are able to augment their Collections system capabilities to a level that provides the functionality they require.

Company Experience

On a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM, the Global Director of Order-to-Cash for a member company shared their experiences in automating the Collections process.  With over 100 operating units across the globe, along with doing business in 19 currencies, utilizing over 100 bank accounts, and with multiple ERP systems, the Collections process at this company can be quite complex. 

For our feature company, the billing, cash application, and other financial transactions are tied to the operating units, while the collections and customer management activities are at the company level.  This results in the frequent scenario of having individual customers with many bill-to customer records across multiple operating units, which makes it very challenging for the Collections organization.  Even defining what a customer actually is can be difficult due to the following factors:

  • Multiple operating unit/bill-to numbers
  • Different customer names
  • Multiple currencies
  • Multiple languages
  • Multiple countries
  • Multiple bank accounts

The challenge was that the Oracle master data did not keep up or align with the way the customer needed to be managed, and they had no way to create a parent account to link everything together.  The company needed a system that aligned with the master data, since Oracle was only one of the systems of record and did not properly support the needs of the OTC team.  To address this, they implemented a Pentaho Relational Model (a business intelligence software) that integrated and managed data from Oracle, local folders (containing the parent structure created and updated using robotics) and additional sources to blend weekly and monthly reports. 

This solution is now being enhanced by the following additional approaches:

  • Combining robotic process automation and data extraction techniques in Python and R (the two most popular programing languages used by data analysts and data scientists) to consult credit agency data, D&B reports, EDGAR databases and search engine queries to automate the customer mapping and credit risk assessment processes.
  • Mapping: By using BS Library in Python and R, they can extract relevant information about the parental structure of the customers and compare it with the data collected by bots from official credit agency sources.
  • Credit Risk Assessment: The same information is later used to update statistical and machine learning models to assign the most appropriated credit limit to each of the customers.

As a result of this focused effort to apply technology in the Collections process, they have significantly improved its capabilities in this area and simplified what was clearly an overly-complex process design.

iPollingTM Results Review

A recent poll created using Peeriosity’s iPollingTM technology provides some excellent insight regarding what companies are doing in the area of Accounts Receivable Collections.  The first poll question looked at what primary ERP system companies utilize for Accounts Receivable activities.  The results are not surprising, with SAP being the dominant system (63%), followed by Oracle (21%), and JD Edwards (8%).

The second question in the poll focused on the technology utilized in managing A/R workflow specific to the Collections process, such as priority task lists, aging reports, dunning letters, etc.  It is interesting to see that 55% of the surveyed companies use just the standard functionality found in their ERP system.  Of the remaining 45% of the companies, 25% have enhanced their ERP system with additional functionality related to collector activities, while 8% have purchased a specialized 3rd-party solution, developed a solution internally (4%) or have used some other approach (8%).

Some of the comments related to this poll made by Peeriosity members include the following:

Non-Profit Member: We are starting to review advanced Oracle collection functionality.

Consumer Products & Services Member: We have different solution based on the portfolio: CARMS, SAP, and Oracle. For workflow, we also have a combo: Specialized 3rd party solution, SAP, and Oracle.

Computers & Electronics Member: We use the SAP bolt-on application FSCM (Financial Supply Chain Module) for Collections.

Real Estate & Construction Member: We have both SAP & JDE, depending on product line. Our 3rd-party solution is GetPaid.

Other Industry Member: Oracle R12 with minimal customization.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: Using SAP for the last two years.

Closing Summary

Depending on the level of complexity of a variety of factors, the standard functionality of a company’s ERP system may or may not meet the needs of the Collections organization.  The good news is that there are a variety of available options that can address the specific needs companies have in this area, including very powerful third-party solutions that address the needs of not just Collections, but the entire Order-to-Cash organization.

What is the status at your company with respect to the implementation and utilization of enhanced Collections technology?  Is your current solution meeting your needs or is it time to consider another solution in this critical area?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

____________________________________________________________________________

“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.


Locating a Shared Services Operation in Latin America

Introduction

With a wide selection of viable geographic location options in Latin America, many large corporations have chosen to locate significant Shared Services organizations in that part of the world. There are a variety of reasons for doing so, including leveraging an existing company location, a well-educated workforce, favorable labor arbitrage, a well-developed infrastructure, the availability of technical talent, tax incentives, and being located in the Americas time zones.

iPollingTM Results Review

A recent poll created using Peeriosity’s iPollingTM technology looked at the specific geographic location of shared service centers in Latin America at major companies across the world and the primary reason they chose that particular location.  Reviewing the results from the first question, Costa Rica was the most popular location with 23% of the responses, followed closely by Mexico with 16% and Brazil with 13%.  A significant percentage (39%) do not have a Shared Services operation located in Latin America.

It is also interesting to note that Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Puerto Rico were not used as a Shared Services location by any of the companies participating in the research.

The second poll question then looked at the primary reason companies selected the specific location in Latin America for their Shared Services operation.  Utilizing an existing company location was the dominant response (43%), followed by favorable labor quality and cost at 26% and a well-developed infrastructure at 4%.

Some of the comments made by Peeriosity members related to this poll include the following:

Consumer Products & Services Member: Important factors included existing company location, favorable quality, cost, and access from both North America and Latin America.

Manufacturing Member: We chose Mexico City due to the IT Oracle talent needed for the IT Shared Services.

Computers & Electronics Member: Current benefits are more related to talent, quality and innovation.

Consumer Products & Services Member: Quality of labor and time zone with the Americas also favorable.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: Our Shared Services for Latin America is in India where we have our Global Finance Shared Services.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: Moved to Costa Rica last year from multiple locations in Latin America.

Consumer Products & Services Member: Our Latin America shared service center has been in Mexico City for some time. I’m not sure what the primary reasons were for locating there. We do enjoy favorable labor quality and cost.

Closing Summary

The variety of viable geographic locations in Latin America is appealing to many companies and the migration to these locations from higher-cost locations will likely continue at a strong pace for the foreseeable future.  Certainly, having an existing company location in Latin America is a compelling reason to stand up a Shared Services operation there, but this region also offers many locations with a well-educated workforce, solid infrastructure, and the opportunity to realize significant labor arbitrage.

Does your company operate a Shared Services center in Latin America?  Is your current geographic structure effective or would the possibility of starting a Shared Services operation be an approach to start investigating?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

__________________________________________________________________________

 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.