The Modern Finance Leader

34 Ways Your Finance and HR Clouds Need to Connect

By Steve Cox, Group Vice President, ERP and EPM Product Marketing, Oracle

Did you know that 35 percent of companies plan to create a shared finance and HR function within a year? That’s the result of a new MIT Technology Review global survey

The impetus for the switch? In a word, strategy. Nearly one-third of respondents see an opportunity to spend less time doing low-value work, freeing them up to focus on strategic priorities such as predictive analytics and hiring the best talent.

Forward-looking companies are taking steps to expand finance and HR skill sets within the next 12 months. Among the plans cited:

  • 43 percent plan to bring IT people into finance and HR to help employees take advantage of new technologies
  • 42 percent will provide management skills training to help employees break out of their traditionally administrative responsibilities
  • 42 percent plan to automate administrative and low-skilled roles
  • Nearly 40 percent plan to build their team’s data science and statistical analysis expertise

To accomplish these plans, finance and HR must not only work more closely together across lines of business—they must share technology and a common cloud framework. Otherwise, teams will be mired in manual work, integrating or even re-entering data from HR systems into finance and back again.

In fact, the difficulty of integrating cloud apps from different vendors is now the top hurdle to cloud migration, according to the MIT Technology Review study. 41 percent of finance and HR line-of-business respondents cited cloud integration challenges as the top barrier. Among IT respondents, the number was even higher: 51 percent said the difficulty of integrating separate clouds, from different vendors, is the main barrier to cloud adoption.

34 Touch Points Between Finance and HR

Think about it—every time you make a change to an HR policy, there is a reciprocal impact on finance. In 2015, my colleague Jim Lein published an article identifying 29 individual touch points between finance and HR—and we have recently identified five more (see the tables below).

So, if you’re looking at either a finance or HR cloud, I’d advise you to consider a complete suite that joins both functions together in a smooth, productive relationship. The integration barriers cited above are not a concern when you select a joint HR and finance cloud in which both applications run on a single data model.

And the higher levels of automation achieved will free up team members to build new skills—skills that will help them identify and recruit the best talent, analyze performance, and advise the business on where to go next.

Finance

Practice Name

Scenario

Budget to Approval

Organization Change Impacts Budgets. Your company has decided to increase the number of sales personnel to capitalize on new products in the marketplace. New departments and budgets will need to be created and approved.

Asset Acquisition to Retirement

Organization Change Impacts Asset Management. Your company is on an expansion path.  You need to plan for the acquisition of assets such as furniture, real estate, and computer equipments to accommodate the growing organization and how best to take advantage of the depreciation schedule.

Bank Transaction to Cash Position

Organization Change Impacts Cash. Your company has decided to set up branch offices and production facilities in new countries to better serve the expanding local clientele. Cash reserves in local currencies have to be set up to meet the new payroll requirements and accurate HR personnel data is key to effective cash allocation.

Expense Report to Reimbursement

Policy Change Reduces Expenditures. The office of the CFO found travel costs to be considerably over budget after an analysis of expenditures. Adopting a new travel policy across the entire organization—one which requires video conferencing first or a travel justification and management approval second—will reduce unnecessary travel. The new approval policy is put in place based on the HR managerial structure and the policy takes effect immediately.

Supplier Invoice to Payment

Organization Change Impacts Supplier Payments. The office of CFO decided to consolidate supplier payment activities to the regional level instead of cutting checks from the local offices. Payment to suppliers is maintained during the responsibility shift so the company does not lose any payment discounts. 

Daily Close to Financial Forecast

Organization Change Impacts Approvals. A regional CFO is promoted to a global responsibility; it's important from day one that the new global CFO has access to dashboards that cover the entire operation. Simultaneously, the regional CFO replacement gains access to appropriate dashboards and gains approval privileges that reflect their new role.

Period Close to Financial Forecast

Organization Change (Acquisition) Impacts Closing. It is the first quarter-end close to incorporate financial reporting from a recent acquisition. The accounting staff from the acquired company needs to have access to data and reports to resolve the open transactions for speedy resolution and better consolidation.

Period Close to Tax Provision

Personnel Change Impacts Tax Reporting. The new hire in the tax group should be included in the report preparation and review tasks. To be productive from day one, he needs have the right access based on his position to process transaction records, prepare/review reports, and receive notification and assignment.

Tax Provision to Statutory Filing

Organization Change Impacts Tax Reporting. Your company has opened a subsidiary in a country that has adopted BEPS regulations. For the upcoming income tax filing, your tax group needs to collect business activity data, including number of employees, to comply with Country-by-Country Reporting (CbCR) requirements.

Customer Invoice to Receipt

Personnel Change Impacts Performance. You have streamlined your billing process by automating standard transactions but you still need the accounts receivable staff to address exceptions swiftly in order to minimize days sales outstanding. AR should have the right data access to research disputes and review/approve adjustments based on their position hierarchy from the day they join the group.

Customer Statement to Collection

Personnel Change Impacts Productivity. The collections department is in the middle of following up past dues from a group of high-priority accounts while experiencing unexpected personnel turnover. Managers need up-to-date HR data to ensure assigned tasks are followed through during such transitions.

Report to Forecast

Personnel Change Impacts Forecasts. HR leaders have conducted workforce trend analysis and prediction techniques; they recommend increasing headcount in the sales department by 5% over the next 18 months. Collaborating with their finance counterparts, they create insightful and timely financial reports, rolling forecasts, and sandbox "what-if" scenarios to discover potential business unit growth issues and determine the best course of budgetary and financial planning action.

 

Procurement

Practice Name

Scenario

Insight to Smart Sourcing

Organization Change Hinders Contract Negotiations. To reap the benefit of smart sourcing, there are many departments involved: purchasing, subject matter experts, contract specialists, and accounting. Any personnel/organization changes in these departments can hinder the effectiveness of negotiations. Up-to-date organizational records allow review and approval routing to be executed without a hitch.

Requisition to Receipt

Policy Change Impacts Compliance. All purchases of a certain category—say, for contingent labor—must be subject to VP-level approval within the accounting function. If HR and finance are in sync, any new policy is immediately reflected in the approval routings without the need for manual intervention. The appropriate authorities can review/approve the requests through e-mail notifications or on their dashboards.

Contract Creation to Spend Compliance

Organization Changes (New Hire) Impacts Approval. Any revision of/deviation from standard terms and clauses requires approval.  The speed of approval can impact contract negotiation because often you have to respond within a specified time frame. 

Supplier Registration to Supplier Performance

Organization Change (New Hire Knowledge) Impacts Supplier Management. A new hire in the purchasing department has access to dashboards to collaborate with the right people with the right knowledge: recipients of purchased goods and services for feedback on supplier performance, subject matter experts for qualification criteria, and production managers for purchase order distribution. The configured workflow approvals synchronize with HR, so she is sure to reach the right people.

Supplier Return to Settlement

Organization Change Impacts Supplier Settlement. Employees new on the job can view return orders on their dashboards to work on follow-up actions.

Supplier Invoice to Payment

Organization Change Impacts Approval. The ability to resolve disputes quickly and pay suppliers on time helps organizations take advantage of any payment discounts, and leads to favorable terms for future contacts. New employees in the payables department gain access to dashboards and necessary approval privileges to resolve disputes and process payments.

 

Projects

Practice Name

Scenario

Opportunity to Project Approval

Resource Capacity Impacts Project Decisions. To put together a proposal, a project manager needs to know the skill set and availability of the staff. She needs to know whether new staff have the skills needed to meet project commitments, or whether or the existing staff needs new skills training.

Resource Analysis to Utilization

Organization Change Impacts Project Resources. When resourcing a project, the manager needs access to detailed talent profiles to determine the best-suited project staff. An up-to-date picture of the talents in the organization is critical to project staffing and resource efficiency.

Project Methodology to Delivery

Resource Availability Impacts Project Decision. The manager of your upcoming online commerce project needs to decide on the technology to connect the web store and fulfillment. She reviews the projected resource demand/supply and chooses the technology with most abundant talent to minimize project risk.

Task Detail to Plan Adjustment

Personnel Change Impacts Productivity. It is not uncommon that team members are reassigned or replaced during a project. New members need to gain the right system access to perform project tasks and collaborate with others to reach full productivity as soon as possible.

Project Costs to Accounting

Organization Change Impacts Project Costs. Project members need to get the right level of access to record and approve project activities and view status to reflect project costs accurately.

Billing to Revenue Recognition

Personnel Change Impacts Revenue Recognition. A project admin is on leave of absence. Access to dashboards is available to the new assignee to ensure milestones and work completions are recognized for revenue reporting.

Grant Award Funding to Closeout

Organization Change Impacts Award Distribution. The composition of a project team may change the direction of the project and how the project is funded.  Award administrators need to adjust funding accordingly.

 

HR/Talent

Practice Name

Scenario

Recruit to Onboard

Business Objective Impacts Recruiting. Your company is building a new team to focus on promoting and selling through digital channels. HR utilizes social media and internal succession pipelines and talent pools to source candidates and conducts intelligent screening using multitiered assessment tools. HR needs to advise business managers for budgeting purpose, bring in the right candidates to fill talent gaps, and streamline the on-boarding process. The new hires or transfers go through an on-demand orientation process and easily access company systems on their first day, from anywhere on any device.

Benefit to Payroll

Business Activities Impact Benefits. HR needs to offer competitive pay and benefits to attract and retain the right talent. Offering comprehensive benefit packages and streamlining administration are critical in meeting operational objectives, delivering operational efficiency, and supporting business activities.

Payroll to Payment

Business Activities Impact Payroll. Your organization decides to open a new country office to serve a growing clientele. HR needs to ensure payroll processing complies with local regulations.

Time Collection to Payroll

Business Requirements Impact Time Reporting. As employees are assigned to a project, the project information should be available for time recording. To prepare for the busy season, your organization uses analytics to identify historical time reporting trends and overtime costs to determine seasonal labor requirements. These seasonal employees are granted access to time reporting so they can record their time from their start date.

Goal Setting to Performance

Business Objective Impacts Goals & Evaluations. A key objective for a new product is to target midsize companies. The performance goal for the sales staff is adjusted to encourage more selling in the midsize segment.

Career Planning to Development

Business Requirements Impact Performance Measurement. Your organization decides the key to customer wins is to influence them early in their decision-making process. You work with the head of marketing to add online media competency, rating definitions and rating criteria into the performance measurement of the marketing staff.

Talent Review to Succession

Business Needs Impact Talent Requirements. Your organization decides that digital media is key to reach your target customers. HR tailors on-demand learning offerings on this topic for different roles and responsibilities, reviews talent profiles of the marketing, sales, and service teams to identify which employees are lacking this skill, and updates corresponding career development plans accordingly.

Absence Planning to Continuity

Business Needs Impact Absence Planning. Your organization works to improve vacation scheduling across groups supporting critical customer activities to ensure fluid staffing coverage. You implement an approval rule where vacation time requests from these groups must be submitted and managerial approval obtained within a specified time period prior to the desired vacation start date.

Employee Insight to Work-Life Alignment

Employee Engagement Improves Resource Capacity and Recruiting Budget Savings. When organizations build engagement with their employees, not only do customer loyalty levels improve but so do employee turnover ratios. With happy and engaged employees, an organization reduces the need to "buy" talent to fill gaps and opens more opportunities to retain and re-deploy top talent. Reduced hiring needs are seamlessly reflected in your financial forecasts and plans, while savings from the recruiting budget are reallocated to shore up other operational budgeting needs.

Employee Separation to Workforce Analysis

Employee Termination Impacts Requisition Approval. When employees voluntarily or involuntarily leave an organization, requisitions in their approval queues need to be rerouted to a substitute or next-level approver based on business rules. Better insight into turnover rates and factors help you update staffing budgets and financial plans.

 

Want a more in-depth look at finance and HR together? Download the MIT Technology Review research.

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Comments ( 1 )
  • Natarajan Saturday, September 9, 2017
    Good to be a part of this discussion.
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