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5 Ways to Drive Meaningful Process Improvements in Your Finance Department

by Brian Shannon | SAPinsider, Volume 18, Issue 1

January 25, 2017

When finance departments lower costs and increase process efficiency, these improvements ripple out across the entire organization. As best practices and technologies change, however, it is important to regularly review existing finance processes to ensure they are best serving the organization’s overall business strategy. This article outlines five ways to drive process improvements in your finance department, such as taking advantage of the cloud using SAP HANA Cloud Platform, that will add the most value to your organization. 

Setting goals for the finance team — such as improving efficiency and reducing costs — helps drive process improvements across the organization, but it is important to review these goals regularly to ensure they continue to serve the overall strategy of the business. Evolving best practices and new technologies can make it necessary to revisit outdated processes and shift the focus on value. Here are five ways that companies can drive meaningful process improvements in their finance departments.  

1. Improve Speed and Accuracy of Information Capture

Reducing paper remains a goal for companies that continue to receive a significant portion of orders and invoices through the mailroom. Think about focusing instead on how to improve the speed and accuracy of information capture. Existing scan and capture technology can be expensive, error prone, and out of date. Newer solutions, such as vendor portals and other electronic invoicing methods, are faster and more accurate, and provide additional two-way communication capabilities that significantly improve processes.

2. Use Intelligent Automation

Automating workflows increases the speed of processes but not the overall efficiency. Recent advances in smart applications and robotic process automation make it possible to do both. Look for applications that use artificial intelligence to learn from user actions and leverage them to eliminate repetitive or redundant work. These simple, automated improvements can save a significant amount of processing time, allowing users to focus on more complex and valuable processing tasks.

3. Focus on User-Centered Design

Improving processes can require a lot of change management if users are left out of the design process. User-centered design ensures that process improvements meet business and technical requirements as well as users’ wants and needs. Today’s users want flexible access to solutions over the web and on mobile devices with a clean, modern user interface that can be personalized to their role. Consider implementing SAPUI5 for SAP Fiori apps to introduce more user-focused process improvements quickly and easily.

4. Move to the Cloud Where It Makes Sense

Cloud-based solutions are appealing due to their flexible pricing and modern design; however, it’s important to move to the cloud where it makes the most sense for your organization. On-premise systems are best suited for applications that require integration and data security, which is why core financial processes often remain in on-premise systems. Look at moving processes that are relatively self-contained; consumer-, process-, or content-centric; and focused on work tracking or approvals to the cloud first. Use SAP HANA Cloud Platform to ensure seamless connectivity between on-premise systems and these new cloud components.

The best process improvements reduce costs by delivering greater efficiencies and increase value by making processes more effective.

5. Value Is More Important Than Cost

Reducing costs is important, but it cannot be the only factor in deciding how to improve processes. The best process improvements reduce costs by delivering greater efficiencies and increase value by making processes more effective. For example, digitizing processes doesn’t just reduce processing costs; it also makes it possible to avoid late payment penalties and take advantage of available supplier discounts. Be sure to look beyond simple efficiency gains and cost savings, and determine how changes will make the process more effective and deliver better value to the company.

Learn More

With these five methods in mind, organizations can ensure that they are using current best practices and new technology to drive meaningful process improvements. When the focus is on value, organizations can see the benefits throughout the finance department and beyond. For more information on Dolphin’s process solutions for SAP systems, visit

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Brian Shannon
Brian Shannon

Chief Strategy Officer
Dolphin Enterprise Solutions Corporation

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