Guest post by David Haimes, Sr.
Director, Oracle ERP Cloud Development
Picture this: You’re a controller in a finance group that
prides itself on following modern best practices and not being just a bunch of
bean counters. On Friday, your boss sent you an email with a spreadsheet
listing amounts that potentially need to be written off as bad debt. You forward
it to your team, asking for updates and supporting documentation.
First thing Monday, you pull up your email and there are 35
emails in response to your Friday email—‘Fwd: Fwd: Re: Re:’. It’s a complex thread and many of the
responses have multi-MB attachments for documentation. It’s a mess, especially
maintaining version control for that spreadsheet, but you sort it out by the
end of the day. The good news is that homeward bound traffic is light at 7 pm.
On your drive home, you replay the day and think there’s got to be a better way.
The better way would have been to log into your finance
system, pull up the bad debt transactions, and then securely share each as a
social object—an attachment—directly to your company’s private social network.
There, you would tag a list of the right reviewers, provide guidance, and ask
them to review the transaction as necessary. Conversely, if you’ve participated
in a conversation on our social network, you can preserve that as documentation
by attaching it to the appropriate record in the finance system.
On Monday, you would have logged into that social conversation
and seen that everybody had provided their input using that one object as a
single version of the truth and provided documentation as attachments to the
conversation. No version control required. No emails clogging your inbox. You
would have made it home long before the Monday Night Football kickoff.
It really can be that simple.
Shedding the ‘No
Social for Finance’ Stigma
Deservedly or not, finance departments often gain
reputations for being set in their ways—skeptical of newfangled methods of
doing their business. But at Oracle we believe that finance should be free to
exploit enabling technologies—cloud, social, mobile—just like the folks down
the hall in sales, marketing, HR, and the like.
A good social network complements the most stringent finance
practices and regulations and is just as secure—maybe even more secure—than
your email system.
Social Supports the
Way Finance Works Today
Everyone knows that teenagers and Millennials won’t use email
unless they’re forced kicking and screaming to do so. If I need to contact one
of my kids, I don’t call or email. I text or send a message on Facebook
Messenger. (No SnapChat for me yet).
Well, I hate email too. Most likely you do too, irrespective
of your generation. Many working groups within Oracle have adopted a no-email
policy. All collaboration is conducted through our Oracle Social Network (OSN).
Users love its capabilities and can’t imagine going back to the old ways of
emails and workspaces.
When adopted and embraced, with leadership buy-in, an
internal social network can:
- Enable finance departments to collaborate within
a secure business environment
- Accelerate decision making with real-time
information access via web and mobile
- Involve the right people in the right decisions
at the right time, and
- Make conversations available for review and
audit from the business object.
For example, in the scenario I presented above, let’s say it’s
a year later and the auditor says, “Where’s your documentation for your bad
debt journal entries?” With the old way,
you’d stand on a chair, reach up on a shelf, pull down a big fat report binder,
rifle through it, and eventually find the right stuff. All the time, you’re
hoping that you remembered to print out the email chain generated during the
review process and put it in the report. Yes, problem solved but it makes me
tired just thinking about it.
Wouldn’t you rather simply click on the social conversation
from within the finance system and show it side by side with the corresponding
record? And, by the way, you could click on that object and drill down into the
finance application if additional context is required.
Feel free to imagine all the scenarios, keeping in mind that
Oracle Social Network:
- Extends contextual collaboration within finance
to any employee(s) across all job roles and functions
- Is fully integrated to our Financials Cloud user
- Is (of course) fully mobile across a full range
When you add someone to a conversation, they have
instantaneous access to the entire history of what’s been going on. Everything
that’s been said; every document in its latest iteration. They can pick and
choose what they need to review to get up to speed based on their unique,
individual background, skills, and familiarity with the topic.
Social (Network) Security
Email security varies based on what you use, so I don’t know
how secure or not your system is. But if
you’re sending sensitive information via email, what’s to keep someone from
sharing it—maybe even accidentally—with others outside your company? As with
all Oracle Cloud applications, Oracle Social Network is designed to meet corporate
demands for security, privacy, and information protection by providing each customer
and their users with an independent and private instance for collaboration with
configurable retention and audit policies for traceability. I know this sounds
like technical jargon but what it means to you is that your information is kept
separate from other customers’, protected with embassy-grade security, and
you’ll always have the audit trail you need.
Within Oracle Social Network, you define and control who shares
and collaborates on available information, but within the restrictions placed
upon them by your company’s uniquely-defined enterprise security policies. No company is better than Oracle at providing
enterprise application security to their customers.
How To Make Social
for Finance Happen
Whereas the majority of your finance team may yearn for
social, it’s not going to happen until the person at the top says so.
A couple of years ago, I posted our Oracle OpenWorld Demo
Grounds finance booth schedule to OSN. I flagged everyone by announcing, “The
schedule is posted here. Please review it and let me know if you have any conflicts.
If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume we’re good.” I had 100% success rate in
having my team review the schedule. No excuses like, “I missed your email. My
daughter has a piano recital that day. Is it too late to change?”
I guess what I’m saying is that this is stuff people want
and have been waiting for. They just want the endorsement and guidance of
Beauty of Social for Finance
Oracle Social Network is fully available and free to all
Oracle Financials Cloud users (Release 7 and beyond). The value proposition for
social in the finance function is clear. It supports the way people want to
work. It eliminates roadblocks and errors associated with the email flood. It
simplifies life in finance.
When it comes to internal collaboration, I can’t imagine a
scenario where email is better. Whether it’s for status updates, project
management, meeting notes, or you name it. It just works better. And, the game
changing benefit with Oracle is the ability to drag and drop a social
conversation directly to business objects in your Oracle Finance Cloud and our
other ERP applications.
Finance professionals seeking to adopt Modern Best Practice
don’t try and figure out how to make 20th century email work better.
They stifle the flood at the source. They exploit enabling technologies, not so
much to make life easier, but more so to increase efficiency and reinforce the
strategic value of the finance organization.
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