Client: Global Media & Advertising Firm
Function: Finance Department
Project: Conduct Process Standardization Workshops
Overall Project Mission
A global market research business wanted to implement standardized processes across its European Finance teams to create a consistent way of working to create best practices, simplify Financial controlling and enable greater interoperability of employees.
It was agreed to run a series of workshops with Country Finance teams to identify where processes needed to be changed to follow a standard approach in line with a Finance process model developed by Intellilink covering Procure to Pay, Order to Cash and Record to Report activities.
There were 17 countries in scope within Europe, most containing multiple Operating Companies (OpCos) with different ways of working, and in some cases different systems, per OpCo.
Countries varied significantly in scale of operations, maturity of processes and systems, and local business regulations and norms, and were used to largely being left to define their own processes, within SOX control requirements.
The process standardization initiative was to take place during an already intensive period where Finance teams were still adjusting to reductions in headcount and changes to the global Finance operating model.
A proposed schedule for workshops was agreed with the Regional Controller for Europe. The schedule was designed to run dedicated workshops for the larger scale countries (France, Germany, Spain) with bigger Finance teams and more OpCos, and shared workshops to cover clusters of smaller countries. Clusters were organized to bring together countries which were geographically close and with similar business and regulatory environments – for example a Nordics cluster and an Easter European cluster.
Introductory calls were then held with the Country Financial Controllers to confirm and adjust the workshop schedule to fit with other commitments, explain how the workshop sessions would operate and to provide an opportunity for the Controllers to ask any questions.
Draft agendas for the 2.5 day workshops were issued to country controllers and adjusted if needed to enable the relevant local experts to attend the relevant sessions, and workshop materials circulated in advance to participants to enable familiarization. Meeting rooms, catering and hotels were organized well in advance.
The Intellilink team running the workshop prepared by reviewing information on each country’s company structure, Finance systems and any issues identified from the most recent SOX audit, to enable these areas to be focused on during the workshop.
Six workshops were held covering Spain, France, Germany, Nordics, Eastern Europe and Central Europe.
Over the course of the 2.5 days of each workshop, participants were taken through walkthroughs of around 70 processes across Procure to Pay, Order to Cash and Record to Report, looking at the associated process steps, supporting systems and key controls.
Gaps and variations from the standard process model were discussed and captured during the workshop sessions and circulated at the end of each day to allow participants to review and comment as needed.
As well as highlighting variations from the standard process model, the workshops provided an opportunity for Finance staff in different OpCos and countries to understand their colleagues’ ways of working and led to identification of additional process improvements and sharing of best practices. Feedback was sought after every workshop and materials continuously improved and updated between each workshop.
Action Prioritization and Tracking
The actions identified to move to the standard process model were validated with the workshop participants, and any local legal requirements and systems dependencies noted. The Intellilink team then devised a proposed prioritization for the actions and set up calls with the Country Controllers and Finance teams to review and finalize these. The agreed actions were uploaded to an online RAID Log tool and individuals from each country granted access to enable easy tracking of progress. Regular calls facilitated by Intellilink and the Europe Regional Finance Management Team were established to manage the delivery of the actions and to provide the country teams with additional information and guidance where needed.