Do The Math: SMBs + Finance Efficiency = Competitive Edge

Michele Boyer

Mounds and mounds of data: That’s what financial execs typically report as their main obstacle to performing sound planning and effective analysis. Data comes at them from all directions: GL, order-to-cash and procure-to-pay source systems, and many others – and it all has to be reconciled. Who has the time to do anything else productive with so much time spent crunching numbers and verifying checks and balances?

It’s a problem across the board, from large enterprises to small and midsize businesses. And for the latter, in particular, decision-makers simply cannot sit around waiting for the finance team to deliver the analysis they need. Opportunities there today are gone tomorrow. The pace of business is just too fast for the flat-footed.

What I mean here is that finance has historically spent most of its time on compliance and inefficient processes using spreadsheets and dealing with manual efforts. That adds up to less time available to focus on business performance and influencing strategy. Sound familiar?

Capitalize on digital solutions

Today, however, there are digital finance solutions available – and economically accessible – that can flip that equation around. Take a look at this pyramid, and I think you will see my point.

Effort Triangle - BetterThese digital solutions allow finance to eliminate confusion, delays, and inefficiencies across all areas and instead spend their time on proactive management. The basic tasks of finance – reconciliation, manual balancing, tech processes, aggregating tables, and so on – are gone, reducing the time required to “keep the lights on” in order to be compliant.

Calculate the impact with what-if modeling

As a result, finance teams can focus additional effort on optimizing business performance and the strategic financial management of the organization. They can evaluate different corporate strategies and assess the potential financial impact of each business decision with what-if modeling. Should we run three manufacturing lines 24×7, or open a new plant? Should we hire a new rep for the Northeast sales territory or have the existing rep concentrate only on a certain target market? Should we make a bid to buy a competitor’s product line or amp up our own offering?

With in-memory computing, finance can quickly aggregate massive amounts of data from different sources for real-time on-the-fly reporting. A customer deal is on the table, but the sales rep needs better insight to negotiate. Is the customer profitable? Are invoices paid on time? What’s the typical order volume and frequency? What’s the cost of delivery?

And that’s how the finance team truly becomes a strategic partner to the business.

Check out a few real-world metrics

Let me give you a few examples of how companies have improved efficiency with digital finance solutions:

  • 50%–100% reduction in financial forecasting error rate with dynamic planning and analysis tools
  • 40%–50% reduction in days to close annual books with instant profit-and-loss insights and real-time cost control, a single universal journal, multidimensional reporting on the fly, and integrated regulatory and managerial reporting
  • 25%–35% reduction in unnecessary capital requirements with real-time actual-to plan cash management
  • 10%–25% reduction in accounts receivable management costs by simplifying, harmonizing, and improving collaboration in operations; buyer-supplier integration with business networks; and improved budget and spend tracking
  • 25%–30% reduction in management and compliance costs with smart strategies for fraud prevention and integrated controls 

If you think these real-world examples are only for large corporations and conglomerates, think again. In fact, small and midsize companies have the huge advantage in that they usually run less complex system landscapes. This agility allows them to consume technology much faster than anyone else, and by consequence, have much shorter time-to-value cycles.

There are accessible, affordable solutions designed specifically to meet the needs of SMBs, along with advisors to support you with evaluation, implementation, industry-specific functionality, and ongoing services.

For more information, please visit the SAP S/4HANA Partner Packages site.

Michele Boyer

About Michele Boyer

With over 30 years’ experience in the IT application software industry, Michele Boyer represents the SAP analytics portfolio of enterprise performance management (EPM) and governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) solutions, and the SAP finance line of business including SAP S/4HANA Finance and SAP S/4HANA Finance Cloud. She is responsible for supporting the SAP partner ecosystem globally to better sell and implement SAP solutions. She holds a degree in industrial engineering from the University of Toronto.