Finance teams today are working harder than ever before to contribute to strategic planning for business support. The continually evolving global and digital economy means that financial functions not only need to keep pace with the rapid changes, they also need to deliver real time performance analysis and regular forecast to generate data required for important business decisions.
Given these disruptions, finance teams need to ensure that all members are ready to embrace new approaches and technologies to mitigate potential risks in our environment. Hence, it is more important than ever for organisations to be able to respond and adapt quickly. With this in mind, Air Liquide in Asia began its journey of Finance transformation in 2016.
Delivering transactional finance through standardized and efficient processes
Our Finance Shared Services Centre (FSSC) in Kuala Lumpur was established in early 2017 to lead the changes. The Centre, which would oversee transactional finance across 10 countries in Asia - a significant geographical coverage, was the first bold initiative of its kind in the Group.
The FSSC started by first taking over the transactions related to Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivables and Collections as well as General Ledger. While this took place, the team also worked on the standardisation of processes to ensure that the highest efficacy is attained.
Progressively increasing expertise through automation and innovation for higher efficiency
Centralising financial processes is complex. We need to consider a variety of factors from business climates and regulations across countries to mechanics and cost of processes. As such, backed by a highly experienced group of finance personnel, we have initiated Continuous Improvement Projects that leverage on new and emerging technologies as well as automation to drive operational and cost efficiencies, while progressively increasing expertise to enlarge the scope of activities such as reporting and IFRS 16 implementation.
Increasing competency within Finance, driving standardisation and enhancing internal control
With processes increasingly reliant on automation and digitalisation, internal controls need to be reinforced. In this regard, the priority is on refocusing resources and developing the right balance of competencies so that the FSSC is able to leverage on its strong internal controls to strengthen compliance and separation of duties, while driving standardisation of processes.
Enable Digitization and Finance transformation to create a mindset of business partnering
The biggest step Finance has to take is its evolution into a value creation organisation - one that enables the business to continuously adapt and thrive in response to constant market shifts.
For this to occur, we would have to shift from a strict compliance-and-reporting model to one that paves the way for business partnering. We know advanced technologies like data analytics underpin the ability to better analyse data, forecast performance, and develop investment strategies. We embrace them so as to enable Finance to drive greater value and foster effective collaborations with other functions to become a far-sighted and strategic organisation. After all, change is the only constant.
'Finance Shared Services: The Future Of Finance is Strategic' is contributed by Varthini Larue.