Financial transformation comes in many forms and for some organisations, the cost and the complexity of their existing environment means that a “rip out and start again” approach is not a viable option. 

James Woodhead, COO, Orchard House, shares how finance leaders are approaching agility, complexity and transformation in some unique ways.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many finance organisations – out of necessity – made accelerating their digital transformation a priority. Financial management, scenario planning and guiding other business leaders, all remotely, was elevated to the top of the C-suite priority list; agility became the phrase du jour for finance leaders.

The pandemic has pushed agility even further into the spotlight for finance, but what kind of technology and cultural challenges have CFOs and their teams faced in the last 12 months?

We saw, even before the pandemic, a variety of technological, social, economic, and political factors were already building a perfect storm for disruption. These forces continue to challenge the way organisations think about doing business, raising many questions about what the new normal will look like when we eventually get there.

I also think that as we explore automation, artificial intelligence and integration, new ways of working will redefine how organisations manage and measure risk. Even under more normal circumstances, agility has become a defining characteristic of businesses that are better than most in their ability to anticipate what’s coming. In my experience, these businesses can act quicker when faced with change, and by acting decisively can respond to the demands of customers, the market and their competitors.

Discussions continue around transformation and moving to the cloud, but complexity in current environments can be a major barrier to embracing innovation and new technologies, can’t it?

Absolutely. We see some finance teams, particularly those businesses that dominate regionally and nationally, saddled with multiple systems consisting of rigid data models, disparate architectures, and static siloed data. Many manufacturing and supply chain businesses who have made the jump to achieve necessary maturity in the cloud, are now able to swiftly add integrations to extend and connect with their logistics partners in order to reduce the number of staff in the warehouse. It’s not savings that are driving change, it’s about keeping people safe.

CFOs and CIOs are looking more and more at improving their existing operational enterprise resource planning (ERP) investments, forcing finance teams to consider innovative ways of reducing workloads. Connecting e-commerce sales Channels like Amazon, eBay and etsy with your ERP is transforming the customer journey and simultaneously improving customer experience.

Can you share the Orchard House approach to meet customers where they are in their digital transformation journey?

We believe by connecting anything to everything, organisations deliver transformational control through a common architecture: the answer isn’t rip and replace; it’s about providing a digital core and then a CONNECTED Enterprise to allow today’s leaders to unlock the power of their data and make the most of their time and resources. Our strategy is somewhat unconventional, we choose best in class solutions and then using our innovation platform CONNECT, join up the value processes.

As an Engineer I understand the importance of great foundations and by using SAP Business ByDesign as the digital core we’re able to deliver a complete finance transformation. The cornerstone of any successful corporate finance function is delivered by providing meaningful business insight and greater agility to plan for what’s next. 

We’re seeing digital acceleration come in different forms, and for many organisations, replacing legacy systems all at once isn’t an option. Business ByDesign is different to Workday, NetSuite and S4/HANA because it’s truly a Suite, and whilst that means some of the functionality is reduced when compared with best-in-class solutions, its unparalleled strength comes when you CONNECT best in class solutions to ByDesign to give you utopia and a single source of the truth.

With our approach we empower finance teams to produce global consolidated financial statements, deliver trusted business insights, and strategically plan across existing, multi-system environments with minimal disruption. Customers can retain their operational ERP systems for industry-specific processes such as merchandising, supply chain management, or manufacturing, while transforming their finance functions and taking control of their business data. 

Historically, we focused our solutions on helping customers achieve everything in Business ByDesign and, on reflection, it was a bit like pushing water uphill at the extremities. We now have customers across a number of industries getting incredible value. We lean in to meet those customers’ requirements and then collaborate to deliver the benefits of digital transformation. Our solution allows customers to make real strides towards a more data-driven intelligent enterprise without sacrificing user experience.

Are there other use cases for the SAP Business ByDesign enterprise solution?

A key area of focus today is empowering multi-channel businesses like ooni and Morphsuits. Whilst Amazon manages all of their customer facing logistics, the ability to know stock levels of products globally helps minimise delivery delay and maximise sales volume. Helping organisations spin up new channels means they can adapt to rapid shifts in market models without huge investment.

We are also seeing M&A, divestitures, new ventures: they all require creating new entities on demand, and there’s broad acceptance that we’ll see a great deal of this kind of activity in 2021. 

Organisations may spin up a new business unit to take advantage of emerging opportunities, make acquisitions to solidify its position in a consolidating industry, or choose to divest a non-core business to maximise shareholder value. In these scenarios, the SAP Business ByDesign enterprise finance solution can be quickly deployed to meet shared targets with an improved time-to-implement, in stark contrast to the delivery of many traditional legacy solutions.

Business leaders may be at different stages of their transformation journey, and operating at varying degrees of complexity, but all are united in their need for good quality data to make better, faster decisions. 

Visit the Orchard House Business ByDesign webpages to learn more about how we’re meeting our customers no matter where they are on their digital transformation journey.

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