The community for leaders in finance shared services
Keywords: shared services, finance shared services, shared systems, ACCA, CFO, Jamie Lyon
Monica Mina | News | 8 May 2012
With many businesses branching out into new countries, the benefits of having a shared service organisation to centralise financial operations are coming to the fore.
However, in pursuit of cost savings and standardised processes, it appears some companies are finding it difficult to get the most out of changes to their operations.
Jamie Lyon, the head of corporate sector at ACCA, the global body for professional accountants, believes that while many chief finance officers have high hopes of achieving greater efficiency through shared services, the aims are more difficult to achieve.
He told CFO World that research recently undertaken by ACCA shows shared solutions, such as purchase-to-pay, are a "work in progress" and that CFOs must focus on all areas of change to bring about true benefits to operations.
"Managing the change process continues to be a huge challenge for many businesses, and connecting the different parts of finance to make them tick perfectly together remains problematic," Mr Lyon explained.
"One particular area of difficulty is in articulating the role of the 'retained' finance function, shifting its focus to become a business 'partner' and providing oversight; rather than carrying out many of the finance processes."
However, he did note that it is good to see so many finance leaders focussing on changes to their operations in pursuit of cost savings and efficiency gains.
Furthermore, Mr Lyon highlighted the importance of looking at the smaller details when introducing shared services, including explaining the changes to staff, to ensure its success.
It is not just businesses that are making this transition. The New South Wales government said last month that it will be looking at its own shared services organisations - BusinessLink and ServiceFirst - in the coming months to see where greater value could be gained.
Finance minister Greg Pearce claimed that the previous government had overdesigned the system and therefore limited the benefits that could be made.
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