INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
INTERVIEW WITH MR RENE DORTMUNDT,
Shared Service Center Manager,
International Game Technology PLC
What are some of the transformation trends in the finance function within large enterprises? In what ways are these contributing to better company performance?
Having worked for the past 17 years in Brazil for multi-national companies, with a focus on the South American region, but mainly on Brazil, I find that the major transformation trends in the region are related to either a complete finance transformation or are focusing on digital transformations. There are still a good number of companies initiating their shared services roadmap by implementing projects from the scratch, where they are including the Finance, Procurement. HR, IT and other processes into a centralized SSC structure in the country/region.
Another large focus of many companies in the recent years is into taking their SSC organizations to the “next level” of maturity. After having set-up an established and successful SSC organization, with a continuous Improvement mindset, the next step for these organizations is initiating their digital transformation, where they start focusing on process automation by implementing RPA tools and Robots. There is a very active shared service center community in Brazil, where companies come together in events and/or discussion groups to learn from each other, and with the help from expert service providers the digital transformation is initiated.
If a company follows the “traditional steps” of implementing a shared service set up by setting up a SSC organization and focusing firstly on “doing the basics right” and then moving forward on their maturity path with a continuous Improvement mindset and afterwards starting implementing process automation tools, the results can be very positive. It allows the basic transactional activities to be improved in timeliness, quality and control, allowing more time for in-depth analysis and moving into a Center of Excellence structure as organizations mature further. This allows for interesting cost savings, guaranteed quality processes, as well as a solid controls framework. This in turn will lead to opportunities for further transformation, like adding scope within a local organization or initiating the move to regionalization or globalization of the SSC structure.
What is the role of the CFO in the context of such transformations?
In my view the CFO plays a vital role in ensuring that finance or digital transformations are implemented successfully. As a key stakeholder in the end-to-end processes within a company, the CFO is definitely instrumental in sponsoring transformation projects. By having a positive buy-in from the CFO, the likelihood of a transformation project being successful increases significantly.
I also believe that as a key stakeholder within a company, the CFO should guarantee a continued focus on “People” throughout any transformation project, because people are a key element in my opinion to make things happen. Implementing centralization within a company by setting up a shared service center, or automating processes in an organization can definitely lead to demotivation in people impacted by these changes, when they fear being “replaced” due to centralization or by tools or robots. A CFO places a vital role in clearly communicating change and searching for possibilities for the impacted resources, to maintain a focus on the end goal of these projects within the company, whilst not forgetting the “People” aspect of any transformation project.
How is technology contributing to accelerating the pace of such transformations? Do you also see this resulting in better execution?
I believe that technology allows companies to improve processing quality, timeliness and control in general. By standardizing processes and automating repetitive activities, enterprises increase quality & control as well as reduce time needed for the completion of these processes. This eventually give companies the opportunity to move forward and start working on the implementation of a regional SSC or a GBS or start looking for a BPO opportunity to outsource the transactional activities.
I feel that technology can accelerate a transformation project within a company and that it can significantly improve the overall process execution quality/control by automating the core transactional processes. This results in the possibility of enterprises starting to focus on a Center of Excellence structure, with a higher focus on more value-add analysis for a company. So by guaranteeing that the basics are being done right, with a solid SSC organization focusing on People, Processes and Technology, it can progress towards a Regional SSC or GBS structure as well as including CoE’s within its organization, which will then in turn continuously guarantee process quality and control at the right cost.
Do you believe there will be significant skill gap in the future as a result of such transformations? What if any, will be the kind of skill gaps?
I feel that even when transactional activities and other key processes are being automated, we still need “People” within each organization to make the difference. Machines do not work without people, and critical within any SSC environment is the focus on your customer. Customer focus needs to be done by “People”. While machines can make things easier in terms of availability of information, speed in which relevant information is available for example, “People” are vital in “sitting together” (Face-to-face) with our customers understanding where the SSC can help in improving the end-to-end processes.
So as an SSC professional I have always been a firm believer in promoting professional growth within the organization, where people can grow from a transactional role into more strategic roles and in giving opportunities first to internal resources before looking in the market place.
If companies do not focus on professional growth of their resources, no fully integrated or automated process will maximize the expected outcome of a transformation project.
Having worked in shared service centers since 1995, and having been given the opportunity to grow professionally throughout these years, I believe strongly that by starting “at the bottom” and allowing people to work their way up the ladder leads to very positive results while maintaining a highly motivated team at all times. If managers monitor their team’s growth closely, they will be able to prepare the right people for the right functions.
As an SSC leader, I have always focused on my teams professional growth, basing their career paths within the organization on their personal interest, as well the overall growth path of the SSC (regionalization/globalization, increase in scope, automation, etc.) to actively work together with them to reach their potential and individual goals.
By actively pursuing this, by establishing clear objectives within the teams and regular evaluations by the managers, you ensure you will always have the right skills within your organization at all times.
Could you share some of the transformations that you have undertaken at your previous organization and IGT ? What business benefit has this yielded?
I started at IGT in mid-January of this year, where I have had a main focus on evolving the companies support structure in the BPO environment with a special focus on process Improvement, project Management and business Analysis. I will be working towards the advancement of the current outsourcing standards at IGT, for which transformation projects will be the key to deliver the expected objectives as set by IGT.
In the previous experiences I have led SSC implementations from the ground up, as well as managed these organizations, as part of the large global finance transformation projects. I have also participated in a number of technology transformations, like implementing a global ERP (and replacing a worldwide legacy system), reducing the number of ERP’s used in a company or implementing a new ERP as part of the SSC implementation. Besides this, within the natural progression of the SSC’s maturity, I lead sponsored additional technology projects, such as implementing metrics tools, accounts reconciliation tools, vendor invoicing automation within SAP, SOX controls tools, service desk ticketing tool, and a number of process automation robots for PTP, RTR and OTC processes.
I would say that for all those projects, the main objectives were to firstly centralize the finance, procurement, controllership and service management structures into a shared service environment, including the implementations of ERP’s and process automation tools. After setting up the organizations and reaching a stable environment, delivering on the agreed upon SLA’s for our internal customers, initiating a focus on continuous improvement efforts within the organization and expanding automation over time.
These steps benefited the organization in terms of large cost savings for the organizations, improved quality and timeliness of the processes in scope, as well as better control of the processes from an Audit or SOX perspective. And last, but certainly not least, I believe that we managed to improve our customers experience and their satisfaction with the processes carried out in the SSC organizations I have led over the years.