In a business, it eventually boils down to the financials. What does? The job of keeping track of money, which constitutes the bloodstream of an organization and allows it to function, and eventually determining whether the business is making or losing money. In other words, whether it is a worthwhile enterprise at all. Hence, the Finance and Accounting (F&A) function can be considered to be a central function in any organization. Not only does it safeguard money and keep track of it and ensures it is used wisely through its involvement in employees getting compensated correctly and in a timely manner, contractors and other suppliers being paid fairly and in reasonable time, keeping track of accounts receivables and raising red flags where required, and many others, it is pushing for a position for itself at the high table with its ability to delve into the large amount of financial information it collects, and draw out insights that can facilitate strategic decision making.
Why does F&A not get its due when it is time to innovate?
Each company has a business and business model through which they seek to add value to the world and, in doing so, make profits that can be returned to the business owners. Some provide insurance, some dig for coal, some operate shipping fleets, some run hospitals and some make furniture. The list is endless. Through one or more of these activities, which form its core business, a company generates revenue which enables it to meet the costs it incurs and leave enough over as profits. The primary focus of the company is on revenue generation which translates to greater focus in terms of senior management attention as well as priority for investment dollars. In order to run a business, it needs to carry out several activities that could be called operational or support functions. Some support functions are in the nature of compliance, with the need for adherence to the laws of the land, such as filing income tax and other returns, while others are competitive activities that need to be carried out because the company is a participant in a competitive business environment. Resource hiring is an example of this, where many companies might be vying for the same resources. Traditionally, support functions have lagged revenue generating functions in the attention of top management as well as in their ability to attract investment dollars. So, while F&A is not singled out for this step-brotherly treatment, it does form a part of the functions that end up with the raw end of the stick. The result? F&A is often left to navigate the complex lanes of business with legacy systems, mostly operating with on-premise or on-site hardware and software, while the world is racing away to cloud technology. There is often a price to pay. The F&A teams struggle with the demands of an ever-changing world, struggle to integrate data with other applications, struggle to report and struggle to meet changing requirements of regulators. Manual work increases. Errors creep in. Eventually, it is a cost to the business. oWorkers remains one of the most reliable partners for data-based support with its ability to attract and retain talent, a key requirement for any BPO
. As a preferred employer in each of its delivery locations, oWorkers attracts walk-in talent which provides it with a choice that few others have. This also results in lower costs as it does not have to advertise to attract talent, which eventually reflects in the pricing.
F&A on cloud can change this
Cloud solutions have emerged in all spheres of activity. F&A is not an exception. However, the adoption of cloud solutions in F&A have so far been led by the objective of cost-saving, and hence has been limited to what might be referred to as minor automation and process improvement initiatives. And this may well be a legacy of F&A being classified as a support function in the language of business. If the function manages to overcome this mindset, opportunities seem to abound, especially for innovation in the function that will, eventually, benefit the company that uses its services. However, the frame of reference may need to change. Instead of looking for processes within the function that can be considered as ‘ready’ to move to the cloud, which might be a blinkered approach and limit adoption, function leaders may need to look inwards from the outside. In other words, they need to look at what the cloud has to offer, and then identify the functions and processes that they ought to move in order that the function and company benefit. It must be borne in mind that today’s cloud is not the same as yesterday’s cloud. It has also evolved. For one, the security issues that seemed to be the bugbear of cloud, now seem to be a thing of the past. In fact, the shoe is on the other foot now. Many experts opine that the cloud today is safer and more resilient than on-premise tools and technologies. Whether on cloud or any other technology, the requirement of people processing remains. With volumes unpredictable, oWorker’s ability to cater to short-term peaks remains a standout ability. It is able to provide almost a hundred additional headcount within 48 hours, saving substantial money for clients who would otherwise need to retain extra staff in anticipation of some volume surges.
How the cloud can help F&A
F&A leaders are moving ahead with cloud-based strategies, to create a comprehensive, standardized solution for their function, instead of adopting a piece-meal approach and taking one small step at a time. How does the cloud help them?
Brings the enterprise closer to deliver better outcomes
With the help of a comprehensive, or transformational, move to the cloud, the company gets a centralized, automated system that tears down efficiency-impairing walls between different sub-functions and allows data to be used in its fullness. No longer do you need to painstakingly piece together information from multiple sources to create a picture. Now, all data being available at a single source makes the process of drawing upon it to reveal insights a much more straightforward task. Moreover, depending upon what else the enterprise has on the cloud, it becomes that much simpler to weave in even multi-functional data for the insights. Within an organization, F&A is often looked upon with suspicion. Other departments feel that while they do all the work, F&A just churns some numbers and tells them why they are not doing a good job. Effectively, moving to the cloud can help bring the F&A function closer to other stakeholders in the organization with the eventual goal of delivering superior business outcomes. With all centers able to work a 24×7 schedule, oWorkers is available when a client, or their customers, need them. This further expands the clients’ ability to deliver superior outcomes.
Advanced cloud computing makes it easy
Moving to the cloud is tantamount to moving to a higher plane of technology. It delivers all that one expects technology to deliver, such as automation, process improvement, better experience for people interfacing with it, such as employees and customers, and then some more. Today’s cloud is delivering even more. It delivers a unified experience that on-premise technologies were not able to. It is enabling insights and forecasts to be made more accurately than ever before. It is delivering a wholesome experience for the business and for the function while being flexible in terms of output formats as well as its ability to personalize the experience. It is all available for F&A to leverage and deliver. With super secure facilities & protocols for your data security, further strengthened with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015), oWorkers is an ideal partner in your journey. What is more, oWorkers is also GDPR compliant.
It facilitates work-from-anywhere
The Covid-19 pandemic has made some fundamental changes to the way we live and work. Work-from-home, which was a chimera till then, suddenly became a possibility and a reality. Perhaps, necessity being the mother of invention was never as well understood as it was when it became impossible to work from physical office locations and work-from-home, and even work-from-anywhere gained wide acceptability and currency. There was no choice. Period. If the world had stayed wedded to on-premise solutions, it is not very difficult to predict that companies would have been severely handicapped in their ability to continue operations, which they were able to, fairly seamlessly, with on-cloud installations. Companies are acknowledging reaching new levels of efficiency and employee satisfaction with the new cloud-based operating model that permits seamless collaboration and constant availability in a secure environment. A virtual cloud-based workplace lends itself much more easily to supervision than a physical workplace, making it a more efficient arrangement when compared to traditional solutions. For F&A, it could make the difference between errors and accuracy. With a multi-cultural and multi-national workforce, a conscious strategy, oWorkers is able to provide multi-lingual support across its three delivery locations. This enables support for not only clients and their customers but also for employees since the hiring locations have expanded across the globe.
Self-learning and self-healing, gives cloud the edge
Advancing technologies often feed off each other. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the cloud are a good example. The cognitive capabilities that AI is able to embed into cloud solutions, enable self-correcting action on part of modern systems, including triggering alerts to their human minders when they see some roadblocks coming up. This is a sea change from yesterday’s technologies which normally turned out to be an analysis of why something had gone wrong. In the hyper-competitive world we are in today, innovations are often pushed through without adequate proof of their readiness to deploy. The self-healing cloud infrastructure is giving confidence to decision-makers to push these innovations through, limiting the damage and allowing for repairs and corrective actions before it all goes belly-up. With tech company relationships that have been forged over a long period, oWorkers is in the unique position of accessing and deploying the latest technologies for client projects.
Doing it faster, doing it big
Speed is of the essence. When you see a competitive advantage, you have to move in quickly and mop up before anyone else has had an opportunity to react. Take theater releases for movies as an example. A few decades back a movie would get a limited number of shows and the popular ones would keep running for months and years till interest finally waned. Cut to today. Movies get massive releases and number of shows. Everyone who has interest could potentially watch it in the first couple of weeks after which it just vanishes for the next big movie to do the same thing. Mop up while it is new and then make an exit. Cloud is enabling F&A teams to react to market and regulatory changes at unprecedented speed. With operational functions like reconciliation and reporting being efficiently handled by the cloud, the smart minds that populate many F&A teams get a chance to exercise their gray cells in the direction of value creation, growth, innovation and transformation. With clients from around the world, including unicorn marketplaces and a large number of technology companies, oWorkers has the experience to do it fast and do it big. Our clients, especially the ones from the US and Western Europe, testify to savings over 80% when they outsource to us.
How about automation of controls that would normally be handled by people? With the cloud you can; embed rules, alerts and checklists and such like. And why not? At some point even controls become routine and may be automatable. This releases the human minders from the drudgery of controls and lets them move to focus on strategy and decision-making and charting out a path for the future success of the business. Cloud technologies might even be able to involve the human minders when a decision is needed. Our leadership team, that has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, knows a thing or two about control and leadership. They are hands-on without being hands-on.
From an operational and regulatory support function, F&A has evolved into a hotbed of strategic analysis and direction-setting. The insights it is able to generate are awaited by the CEO. The CFO is one of the closest allies of the CEO when he seeks to mine financial information in a bid to set the strategy and direction for the company. The faster CFOs are able to transform their functions with the leveraging of cloud technologies, the faster they can hope to move to the strategic roles many of their counterparts in large corporations are already playing.