"Board is an integral part of our digitisation strategy"
KPMG is a corporate network with a headcount of more than 189,000 across 152 countries. KPMG is also one of the leading auditing and consulting companies in Germany, with around 10,200 employees based at over 20 locations. Its services include the divisions of Audit, Tax, Law, Consulting and Deal Advisory.
Audit focuses on auditing the annual financial statements of organisations, Tax covers the tax advisory activities of the business, Law combines legal expertise and specialist knowledge in a global, full-service law firm, and the Consulting and Deal Advisory areas provide high-level technical expertise on business, regulatory and transaction-based topics.
KPMG specialises in cross-divisional topics for key sectors of the economy – combining the experiences of experts from around the world in order to further enhance the quality of their advice.
Digitisation and the workplace of the future are today's shape-shifters for every sector and division. They come with some extreme challenges and risks, but they also offer enormous opportunities for companies and employees.
In 2016, KPMG’s Finance team launched the Finance 2020 program to address future requirements and shape the role of Finance in the company. The scheme deals with increased process automation, radical process optimisation and a repositioning of the division's role, which is shifting towards a skilled, engaged, professional and objective Finance Business Partner.
Accepting the new landscape in 2016, it became clear which obstacles needed to be overcome in the planning process to implement these ambitious plans:
- High procedural costs: Employees considered previous planning processes to be over-technical and complex. There was a feeling of constantly being stuck in the planning process.
- Lengthy approval processes: Planning processes always required strong personal exchanges and numerous rounds of discussions. Due to the level of detail and process dependencies, steering-relevant information always seemed to come too late.
- Top-down or bottom-up planning: There was a need for flexibility in planning. It was not possible to combine top-down and bottom-up planning.
- Obsolete technological islands: Many of the planning documents were created in stand-alone programs such as Excel and PowerPoint, preventing any rapid exchange of information. The opportunities for new technologies in the field of planning were not fully exploited and the existing systems landscape had met its functional and capacity limits.
- Individual calculations: Different departments often had a different planning focus, which again made it difficult to standardise and unify plans across the business. The wide-spread planning landscape created a lot of work in terms of testing interfaces and migrations.
Throughout the planning process there was too much focus on the detailed recording of financial figures. For example, any budget deviations could only be analysed after comprehensive gathering of facts in intensive exchanges with the specialist departments. As a result, decision-relevant discussions would often come too late. This was also the case for the forecast process, which focused on the detailed collection of quantitative information twice a year. A number of resources were involved in the collection, coordination and evaluation and this lengthy process meant that there was little scope for control options until the discussion of content and clarification.
To design a solution that would overcome these shortcomings and act as a reliable platform for the future, the Corporate Controlling (Planning) team started looking at what they wanted from a planning landscape. The result was a list of key points on which the future-oriented system architecture should be based, which helped to form the requirements for the new solution:
- Top-down and bottom-up planning: Flexible and agile planning and planning strategies require a combination of top-down and bottom-up planning approaches.
- Simulation: By integrating value driver models and supporting predictive models, different scenarios can be played out as early as the planning phase.
- Automatic approvals: The future solution is designed to support and guide the coordination processes in the best possible technical way.
- Full integration: By fully integrating the planning tools into the existing system landscape all the planning processes can be interlinked in the most effective way.
- Ad-hoc reporting: A high level of instant data availability is needed for flexible, modern and agile reporting, so reporting data can be consolidated without delay.
The Board Solution
- Consider a POC (Proof of Concept) solution. This is the best way to formulate your core requirements in detail and to try out the system for your individual requirements.
- Define a clear target image and set precise project goals! It's the only way to successfully implement ambitious projects.
- Focus heavily on your project team and use the expertise and experience of external colleagues. This will contribute significantly to sustainable and long-term project success.
“With the help of Board, KPMG has come closer to its goal of creating a planning system landscape that is perceived at all levels as an enrichment rather than an obligation, and we are now exploiting all of its interactivity and data prognosis capabilities."
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