As global regulators seek to increase transparency among multinational enterprises, the role of accounting and finance departments has been elevated to new heights. You know the risks associated with software that’s no longer fit for purpose and you’ve decided to develop the strategy that will get boardroom buy-in and allow you to invest in technology that will transform your processes while ensuring compliance. So how on earth do you embark on this evolution?
Firstly, you may understand the challenges you face, such as the legal obligation to file financial statements in countries around the world, but does everyone else appreciate them? Complexities around country-specific regulations make compliance a tough task. Does everyone understand, as you do, that your company’s reputation could be at risk because statutory financial reports are a matter of public record in most countries? You need to educate not just your team but the whole organisation on what is at risk and who’s accountable for mistakes or miscalculations. There are plenty of case studies where businesses have been negatively impacted by small accounting mistakes, so use them to help demonstrate why now is the time to transform your tax and finance practices.
If you’ve won the acknowledgement that some of your practices need to change then the next step is to identify the right tools and processes to better equip your finance superstars. We’ve touched on the fact that not everyone will like change, but if you’ve provided strong arguments and examples of why things need to change people should understand. And, that’s why we say get HR involved to support you and help take all the team on the transformation journey.
It’s important to have a deep understanding of your current statutory reporting processes so you know what needs to be improved and the ways in which technology can make a difference. It will certainly help you to push the point further with the board too. Keep in mind that your end goal is to develop a consistent statutory reporting process for all regions in which you do business.
When you are ready to choose a statutory reporting technology solution, look for one that offers a centralised platform to reduce the time spent on data collection, data manipulation, and report iterations. Additionally, country-specific regulations and local language requirements should be built-in, so your accounting professionals can ensure compliance in any country around the world. And, with integrated legislative updates, your team can redirect the time they’d normally spend on research, formatting and coding changes to more value-added activities, like strategic planning, data analysis, and understanding their part in executing on the company’s vision.
The benefits of transforming your finance practices are real. We found that the typical accounting team that has employed software for managing their statutory reporting process has reduced the number of drafts by up to eight times. Spread that across 30+ countries and the result demonstrates meaningful efficiency gains.
Another important point is that audit defence capabilities are significantly improved with technology. Users can easily reconcile the walk from the U.S. GAAP to local statutory, and effortlessly load general ledger data in multiple formats with audit trails for all data sources.
A longer-term benefit, that your board will certainly appreciate, is that technology supports the move to a Shared Service Centre (SSC) or Global Process Services model. Recently, both a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate and a global food and beverage company implemented a centralised technology platform and used it to develop a standard statutory reporting process. The result was full oversight and control of their global financial reporting obligations. With a solid foundation for a Global Process Services model, they consolidated core business activities like their statutory financial reporting function. In the end, benefits to these companies included a significant reduction in the time and cost associated with multiple iterations by audit teams, lowered third party costs, shortened “cycle time”, less manual spreadsheet work, the creation of a central data repository, and easy access to audit documentation.
So, whether your accounting and finance operations are locally-based, or centralised, investing in the right tools and resources will optimise your company’s ability to meet evolving regulatory requirements and give your team the time it needs to focus on planning, strategy, and analysis. It’s this shift in focus that results in better insights for you, better business decisions for your company, and greater returns for your shareholders.
Download the SSON Report: Statutory Reporting in Shared Services today.