With the world's economy still shaky, Finance Shared Services (FSS) Centres are continuously being explored by companies as an avenue to maintain cost efficiency. Thus, it is crucial to determine best practices and solutions essential for implementing viable FSS Centres.
Enterprise systems and automation associated with FSS Centres present finance function with the ability to minimise transaction processing services. With sophisticated automation technology, companies are presented with the opportunities and means to offer higher value-added services to the business and move away from specialised services and decision support which were once limited or provided on a narrow basis.
With Business Services identified as a NKEA under the ETP, ACCA organised a BizTalk in collaboration with ReadSoft Asia entitled Finance Shared Services - Reaping the Rewards through Automation Technology with the aims to share the current status of FSS outsourcing and discuss its future development.
Aside from enhancing the quality of accounting and finance professionals, automation technology is also a strategy being utilised for Malaysia to achieve its aspirations for the Shared Services Outsourcing (SSO) sector, including FSS, to move up the services value chain, focusing more on high-value export orientated FSS activities.
In his Welcome Address, Devanesan Evanson, President, ACCA Malaysia Advisory Committee (MAC), said: 'Global competition and increasing cost pressure, as well as demands for increased service quality, require more flexibility and agility from today's corporations. Automation technology has been identified as a trend in SSO and shows a high potential which has not yet been fully realised in Malaysia. Automation has a significant impact on cost structure (primarily as a result of lower labor cost); lowers the risk of errors resulting from manual intervention; improves reliable quality; and realises cost savings. Transactional processes are especially suited for automation due to repetition and high volume. Automation technology leads to shorter process flows and thus fewer errors, higher cost savings and quality improvements. All of which are reasons behind a company's strategy for implementation of SSO in the first place. Aside from the obvious to save more money it readies businesses to gain maximum competitive advantage both now and once the global economy fully rebounds'.
The event kicked-off with a brief presentation by Boonsiri Somchit-Ong, Corporate Vice President Finance and Global Services, Penang, AMD entitled Shared Service Centre Its Nature, Objectives and Strategies and its Impact on the Accounting System within the Organisation.
In her presentation Somchit-Ong stressed that, 'We're not your average accountants. We have to be different in a shared service culture because we service the world. We have to wear many hats to be able to cater to multi-cultures. We at AMD came about because of automation. Without automation, there would have been no centralisation'.
Moderated by Evanson, panellists for the discussion, Lesson Learned and Success Factors from Setting up FSSC and the Pitfalls to Avoid, consist of Tung Kam Kai, Managing Director, Readsoft Asia; Melanie Phang, Controller, Asia Pacific Accounting Centre, IBM Malaysia; and Boonsiri Somchit-Ong, Corporate Vice President Finance and Global Services, Penang, AMD.
'When it comes to accepting change there will always be resistance. The top must be able to explain to the individual why change would benefit the individual first before the organisation. The top must be able to go down to individual level in order to gain their understanding', said Tung.
Somchit-Ong concurs that, 'The decision to change must come from the top and they must never waver. It must be a top-down approach. Communication is essential when change is happening. Always keep everyone in the organization informed as information is important to adapting to change'.
'One key factor is transparency when it comes to change. It is known throughout IBM that the accountants can pick up the phone anytime to place calls overseas for information. We have a standardised system throughout the organisation and this way everyone has easy access to information', emphasised Phang.
Questions from attendees gyrate towards pitfalls to avoid, especially in terms of talent recruitment.