As companies regroup and rebound, many have learned that transformation and change is less about major campaigns and initiatives. It takes a shift in mindset, where change is a muscle that can be developed, a skill to be deployed when and where it’s needed as part of continuous improvement. In this episode of Connected & Ready, John Munnelly from KPMG Australia joins host Gemma Milne in a conversation about developing this mindset in finance organizations, how technologies such as automation and the desire of CFOs to transform their roles is driving change, and some of the biggest challenges and most rewarding lessons from companies that have successfully transformed. Register for Finance Reimagined on February 24, 2021. Connect with finance leaders and gain valuable insight as we respond to, recover from, and reimagine the future beyond the global health crisis: aka.ms/msftFinanceReimagined Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance helps organizations monitor the performance of global financial operations in real time, predict future outcomes, and make data-driven decisions to drive growth. It empowers users to do business anywhere anytime with an intuitive user-interface personalized for their role and preferences. Request a live demo today: https://aka.ms/AA8l72b
Host Gemma Milne talks with KPMG Australia’s John Munnelly about some of the biggest recent shifts in finance organizations, maintaining momentum toward organizational change, the impact of new ways of working, and the eight facets of building a connected enterprise.
About John Munnelly
John Munnelly is the Global Microsoft Business Applications Lead and the Partner responsible for cloud implementation services for KPMG Australia. He is committed to delivering quality business solutions to customers, enabling them to streamline operations, get real-time visibility across their entire business, and make smarter, informed business decisions. John has more than 20 years’ experience in technology enablement and business systems. He has extensive knowledge of the following sectors: retail, government (health and defense), community care, education, business services, distribution, and construction.
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Gemma [00:00:05] Hello and welcome. You're listening to Connectoed and Ready, an ongoing conversation about innovation, resilience, and our capacity to succeed brought to you by Microsoft. I'm Gemma Milne. I'm a technology journalist and author. And I'm going to be exploring trends around how companies are adapting to a disrupted world and preparing for tomorrow. We're going to speak to the innovators who are bringing products, operations, and people together in new ways. In today's episode, I'm chatting to John Munnelly, who's the global Microsoft Business Applications lead and the partner responsible for cloud implementation services for KPMG Australia to take on the topic of finance transformation that lasts. As the role of the CFO and finance teams continue to evolve. Ensuring that changes are most effective and lasting can feel daunting. So we talk through how organizations everywhere can follow a proven path to embrace change, shift away from old ways of working, and drive sustainable change that enables increased performance and value. And if these topics are something you want to keep learning about and engaging with, there's actually an event that you can register for called Finance Reimagined. It’s going to be held on February 24th, 2021. You can connect with finance leaders and gain valuable insight as we respond to, recover from, and reimagine the future beyond the global health crisis. You can access the event at aka.ms/msftFinanceReimaged. The link will be in the show notes, of course.
Gemma [00:01:29] John, thank you so much for coming and joining us on the show, and I wonder if you could start by just telling us a little bit about who you are, what your role is at KPMG, and what you're currently up to.
John [00:01:38] Thanks, Gemma and thanks for having me. I'm our Global Markets of Business Solutions application lead. And that's really about my role in terms of liaising with Microsoft and sort of helping to build up our business solutions capability and also representing our clients back to Microsoft and what we think our clients need going forward. I'm also a partner in our management consulting business based in Sydney. So dealing with clients on a daily basis, trying to help them on their digital transformation journeys and helping our clients understand what's possible these days.
Gemma [00:02:08] So today we're going to be talking about sustainable finance transformation. So before we can get into the meat of the topic, it'd be great to hear, you know, in your opinion, what the biggest changes or transformations are that are taking place within finance today.
John [00:02:22] Yeah, and I suppose that's a big question. I mean, in terms of finance changes, you sort of got the changes that have occurred in terms of the role of the CFO and what they have to do these days. And there's been a lot over the last couple of years CFOs had to really change the way they used to be.
John [00:02:39] I mean, I think a lot of CFOs used to be fairly siloed in their team, in their departments. And we're finding that that role is bleeding into a whole heap of other responsibilities these days. It’s probably also the actual function of finance and what function has to offer. And I think when we talk future of finance and what we're seeing at the moment, it's all about automation. It's all about finance functions, not wanting to be the people who enter data anymore. They want to be the analysts. They want to move past the entering of data center. The finance function is getting automated wherever it can. You know, instead of having someone in finance who picks up the phone and sends you an invoice because you've lost it, we've got bots that do that for you. But you've sort of seen in the last 20 years probably the most significant change in that finance technology piece. And I often say sort of, you know, if you think back to Y2K, a lot of businesses upgraded their technology back then and it was all PC or client server. And then they sort of went through the process and seven years later, they upgraded again. And whatever the flavor was at the time, we'd moved into reporting and it was all about data and data lakes. And I think now we've moved again and it's all about the cloud. And I think what's interesting from a technology perspective now is that upgrade cycle that CFOs used to have to manage every seven years. You know, the ones they're doing now to the cloud are potentially the last ones they'll ever do. That's the last ERP upgrade you will ever do, because once you're on these cloud solutions, you're in this evolution eternal upgrade process, you'll never do what we're doing right now again. So that's an interesting place and it's actually a really exciting time to be in. And I think for both CFOs trying to make this happen and also for consultants trying to help CFOs make it happen, it's actually a really, really interesting time because you've got these things coming together.
Gemma [00:04:28] You know, it was interesting what you said there about this is maybe the last time we have to upgrade. I mean, I am often reminded that, you know, you used to have to send away and get a CD-ROM posted through the mail in order for you to upgrade your software or even a whole suite of floppy disks is kind of crazy to think about how different things are now that we are talking about clouds and talking about upgrades in a completely different way. But you touch on a lot different things there, from technology to more broad kind of themes around automation, but also the desire for roles to change. Is there a sort of central impetus for these changes? Is it a behavior change or a desire change, or is it just the technology that is kind of fueling all of this? And I guess, is it surprising that they're taking place across all industries as well?
John [00:05:11] I think it's sort of one drives the other, drives the other, right, so the technology and the advent of cloud has changed the way we have to think about the solutions and the systems. And it's forcing us to go - no longer is it the seven-year cycle of I implement, I go through a big two-year implementation cycle. I set and forget, and I'll come back to it in seven years’ time. Right. So I think the technology itself is pushing for change and driving part of that. But I also think CFOs themselves have been, you know, a little bit locked up in the technology they had. And, you know, they've always wanted to get out and be the value providers to business that they can be now rather than just being locked away, reporting, and entering data. They want to be out there in the business working with the business on strategy and what if scenarios and what does it mean. So I actually think that technology might be an impetus, but I actually think it's also an opportunity for CFOs to get out, get out of their shell and make things happen.
Gemma [00:06:06] So it sounds like this is quite a shift then in some degree. I mean, it sounds simple to say this, you know, that you'd be just want to slightly change the job role to go to this more strategic place. But really, that is quite a mindset shift and quite a shift, I'm sure, particularly in bigger businesses where things have always been done a certain way or whatever. So thinking about the idea of, I guess, change and then off the back of that lasting impact can be quite a difficult thing to do in particularly during a time of extended transformation, whether it's digital transformation or even thinking about what happened the last year, with Coronavirus and businesses transforming and all sorts of ways. What are the sort of things that hold finance teams and organizations back from building sustainable change?
John [00:06:46] I think it's that initial thing of building the muscle, you know, recognizing that these days we don't want to swallow something whole to embark on a huge piece. We are actually much better off going on a continuous improvement journey. So do what you need to do up front, but then move to continuous improvement. So I think that sort of thinking is part of it. But also, you're right Gemma I mean, I think if you think about the last year and what's happened with COVID, it's forced us to build a muscle. It wasn't - we walked in all in February last year and went, hey, we want to do all this stuff. It forced it to happen. But the really good thing is I think we've all come away and gone, actually, although we were forced that that was okay. We got through a lot of businesses got through and they're better. They set up better now. So I think in some respects, now that you've seen that, instead of planning out long, arduous, you know, months and months and months transformation journeys, let's talk about bite sized chunks and do it quicker and faster and neater. So I think it's you've built the muscle. How do you maintain the muscle? And that's going to be the next challenge. We see the businesses that have gone through this change and adopted really quickly. If they can continue to work that muscle, they'll grow and grow and grow and grow. The ones who sort of go, I did it, I'm done, I'm exhausted. I can't do any more, I sit, they're, going to struggle. So I think taking the muscle you've built in the last 12 months and sort of continuing to work it in a smaller format and in stuff you want to do rather than stuff you have to do is probably a better way of doing it.
Gemma [00:08:17] So building a little bit on that point around building muscle and doing things in bite sized chunks and whatnot, what does it take to do that in a way that makes sense for an organization? So I'm thinking, you know, is this about knowing why you're doing it in the first place or is it knowing about your current capabilities or current data you have access to, current tools that you use of the staff that you have, or is it sort of something else entirely when you think about, you know, if you talk about building muscle, you're going to have to have a gym plan, right? You're going to have to know what you're going to be doing four times a week exactly. And exactly why you're even bothering to go to the gym in the first place. And I'm curious how you think about organizations in that respect?
John [00:08:57] Yeah, and look, I think you're right. You need to add some structure to it. And I think we often talk about in these implementations of MoSCoW list. Must have, should have, could have, won't have. And that's going to be no longer a static list. That is a continuously maintained list. And again, as we're going through these implementations, the first thing we will often do with businesses is maturity assessment. Where are you on the maturity scale? You know, one is your business is pretty immature. Five is you are amazing. You are automated. It's very rare that we get Fives. But you come in and say you're a two or a one on certain aspects of your business. You will want to move up that maturity scale. So you'll build your MoSCoW list. What do we need to do to move up that maturity scale? And you'll, through the implementation, move from maybe a one or two to three or four. It's very rare that we see people going from a one to a five. It's just too much for business to consume in one hit. But the other interesting point is then so you get to a three or four in two years’ time, what was three or four in 2021 is now a one or two in 2024, right? The maturity scale has moved. So then you're in that mode of going, okay, I need to keep that MoSCoW list up to date. I need to continue to look at what are the bits that I need, what's evolving, what are the vendors releasing in the software solutions that I can start to consume and use. And so you're continuing to go back over that maturity assessment and build your MoSCoW list and then its bite sized chunks, continuous improvement. What's next in terms of priorities? Has something come up on the must have, has Microsoft released a feature that I need to consume? I've been desperately waiting for it. Well, that goes on the must have let's get that done. But then the could have should haves, we also start to look at and you do, you want to consume them in small chunks. So you are building a run team or a run and maintain team in finance that are constantly looking at this stuff and how we can adapt and evolve.
Gemma [00:10:46] Could you clarify why is it called MoSCoW have I missed something?
John [00:10:50] Must have, Could have, Should have, Won't have. So it's just a way of identifying and categorizing features and functions that your team wants.
Gemma [00:10:59] Its a framework, I guess then for trying to work out that strategy?
John [00:11:01] Absolutely.
Gemma [00:11:02] Brilliant.
John [00:11:02] And is very much about on these implementations, when you categorize every requirement that everybody wants in that sort of format, you focus on the must haves. You get those done. The could haves, should haves, move down the list. There won't haves never happen. And then you'll continue on that evolution journey in terms of, okay, once we've got that done, let's go back and have a look at the could have and should haves.
Ad [00:11:23] Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance helps organizations monitor the performance of global financial operations in real time, predict future outcomes, and make data-driven decisions to drive growth. It empowers users to do business anywhere anytime with an intuitive user-interface personalized for their role and preferences. Request a live demo today by following the link in the episode description.
Gemma [00:11:52] So you mentioned this MoSCoW, list. How do you differentiate between those, you know, in terms of choosing different items, which list they set on and how do you also sort of move past the must haves? Because I'm assuming that list is always going to keep refreshing, right. But you want to be able to keep moving down and adding new things and keeping things moving forward.
John [00:12:13] Yeah, look, and that is a really hard part of an implementation, because if you ask an individual person in a finance function for requirements, and they provide you a requirement. They're always going to say, must have, you know, every support request is always urgent. So you've really got to have a little bit of governance structure in place around assessment of those. And we do. We work through that with customers. When we're on one of these digital transformation journeys or finance transformation journeys, we will provide a sounding board. So we will often say, you know what, that's probably not a must have that could be a could have or should have. We can move that down the line. You're always considerate of people's keenness and adoption. You don't want to lose people on this journey, but you really do want to make that list as small as possible, because if you have a really big must have list and some businesses do, and we've just got to deal with it. If you have a really big, must have list and instead of that first version implementation taking six months, it takes 12 months, well then you're a couple of versions behind you starting, but that becomes the way up. So the lower the number on the must have list, the better you are. I think the other part of it is we've done a fair bit of work with Microsoft around how we add value to their offerings. And so I mentioned this Howard Enterprise methodology, Howard Enterprise solution and that for us is doing a lot of the pre configuration in the solutions that Microsoft have so that customers can get to something quickly.
John [00:13:42] We have spent a fair bit of time looking at what good looks like, really developing those processes right down to a level five in terms of process detail and actually being able to turn up to a customer and going, here's what good looks like in a finance function. This is what processing a credit should look like. Here's the process maps. If you don't already have these process maps, here they are. By the way, we've pre-configured this in the Microsoft Dynamics solution so that you can adopt that really easy, quickly. You know, it's already been tested. You can turn it on tomorrow. So we try and pre-configure as much of the must haves that we believe most businesses need. Then you're down to just the bits that are individual for a customer and that helps us accelerate that timeline. So pre-configuration in our Howard Enterprise solution helps us accelerate that timeline. And we sort of know a lot of the ones that customers are going to have as must haves.
Gemma [00:14:38] So obviously, once you've built your MoSCoW list then once you've started kind of working through that and worked out the whys and all that sort of thing, once you have this vision in mind, how would you actually motivate the change to begin? You know, what about stuff that's already started and things that have now stuck? What can be done to kind of restart or keep momentum going on a new change? I'm assuming this is a sort of a people question but I'd be curious as to how you think about this motivating change and keep the momentum going.
John [00:15:06] Yeah. And look, if we talk about the changing role of the CFO, this is something CFOs would have had to pick up right there. They're much more people, people than they used to be. They need to be thinking about not just their team, but how finance integrates and is a business partner to the rest of the organization. So I think the CFOs are doing a lot more of this people work these days than they ever have in the past. But you're right, it's a change thing and it's adoption. It's getting people comfortable. It's taking them on that journey. So as you're continuing on that journey, how do you take all your people on that journey? And there will be absolutely people in an organization who are scared about automation. There'll be a lot of people who will start to wonder, well, if my role is to provide invoices to the sales team when they call and that's automated, what does that mean for me? But I think when you get into it, most businesses are finding that it's not it's not about reducing the headcount. It's actually about directing that headcount to value adding work rather than, as I say, I keep coming back to this rather than entering in journals and crunching data, analyzing that data. What do we do next? What new businesses do we want to embark on? What new products do we want to look at? You know, what does the profitability of this? So I think CFOs are sort of taking people on that change journey. And we see the resistance is probably in that level below the surface, you know execs and the highest levels of the business, they really get it now. They understand what they've got to do and how they've got to do it. But when you get down into the business and you've got people who have been doing things a particular way for 20 years, it is challenging to get them to see another way of doing it. So we will often ask "why". We'll ask the customer, why do you need that? And we'll challenge them a little. You know, we'll get into a little bit of a discussion about is that really necessary or do you print that report on the third day of the month because the system you had 12 years ago used to drop all the transactions at the end of the month, and if you didn't print the report, you lost them. Now that's no longer necessary. So there is a lot of change behavior that we have to build. And this is all part of building this change muscle, getting us into a different way of thinking. This is not a big bang to your implementation cycle. This is let's put this in as quickly as we can. Let's try and do this in six months and then we'll change and continuous improvement over time. And the reality is this is another lever where the technology is pushing us. As all the vendors continue to release new products in a SaaS environment, if we take two years to implement a system we're four versions behind already. So we have to get these things in faster and that speed, you've got to do risk again. That's back to your MoSCoW list and just doing the must haves. Everything else needs to wait so do risking and building that change muscle, but absolutely taking people on the journey because it is very different. And the outcome at the end of one of these big finance transformation projects at the moment is going to be your organization is going to look very different.
Gemma [00:18:09] So you mentioned about blind spots, which I think is an interesting point to build on there, because we talk a lot about digital transformation. How can businesses be moved forward in whatever way makes sense and we also talk a lot about, I guess, every business being unique. And, you know, its those on the inside that have to really take stock of what's going on and trying, I guess, find the problems and then, you know, look for solutions to fix them. But if we're going to have blind spots, then you may not even know that something's a problem in the first place or not even know that a certain process or a certain rule or whatever is linked to perhaps a bigger point around whether it's optimizing processes or profit, or so on and so forth. So where can leaders, I guess, get inspiration for thinking about how they can make changes, about speaking to employees, and seeing what's not working is about going into the market and seeing what new tools there are, is it about looking at competitors. You know, how would you think about, I guess, maybe mapping even the problems and mapping those blind spots to then feed into that, that MoSCoW list that you're talking about.
John [00:19:14] Yeah. And we use the term evolution services internally because you're right. You know, a customer, it's very hard. You don't know what you don't know if you're not out in market every day seeing what else is going on, you're not really going to be able to understand. So I think, you know, one of the services we offer as KPMG these days is evolution services. We use a methodology called our Power Enterprise Methodology to get you into a new solution as fast as we can with as low risk as we can. But the evolution piece after that is, you know, in the old days, again, we used to call it AMS, Application Management Support. That's no longer enough. It's Application Management Support, plus what's happening in our target operating model, what's happening in our service delivery model, what's happening in processes. So we will often offer customers this evolution services, which, as I say, is how do we evolve the technology? But on top of that, how do we evolve our target operating model over time? And here’s a great example, I think in service delivery models of finance organizations. We've spent a lot of time over the last couple of years talking about where parts of the business should be. And so it's one of the six factors we look at in our powered enterprise, this service delivery model. What part of your business should be outsourced? What should be in-sourced, what should be done offshore? You know, where does it get done? What's the right model? And again, I think that's changing. If you asked us two years ago, we would have said, yeah, these functions you could offshore, no problem. And that's easy. And that's a lower cost environment. And that'll help your overall finance function but COVID hit and some of those things didn't work. Some of those offshore call centers were shut down. And so you're continuously looking at this and going, what does that actually mean for my service delivery model? What do I need to tweak and change? So, yeah, absolutely. I think you don't know what you don't know as a client. And so, you know, working with one of the consulting firms is out there in market and seeing what's going on. That's where we add our value. Our value is that we can bring a future of vision to this environment. And so then give you some hints of what else is happening in the world.
Gemma [00:21:21] So building as well on that point around, once you've implemented something, sort of then what, what does sort of success look like? How do you think about measuring success and tracking success and seeing, you know - Because when you're experimenting, of course, you're checking in and going, is that working? Is that not so on and so forth? But what is it that people are really looking for? And then what's the difference between doing that little experiment at the start and then going, OK, we're actually going to implement this as opposed to going, OK, we did the experiment. That's cool. Now let's just revert back to what we had before.
John [00:21:52] Yeah. And we're building that change muscle. I mean, I think the sort of idea of biting off in chunks is important because that allows you to do experiments, Test learn, test learn, and test learn. So taking it off in components, I mean, no one ever wants to fail. But by the same token, you have to be adaptable enough to tweak your approach if you're not going to. So we're back to the same sort of message of start small as you can, start with your must haves and then move into your what you're really accelerating over time. But I think it's also trying to build a little bit of a model internally about what value looks like. As you're getting these requests for tweaks, improvements, changes, as the technology vendors release a new feature or function you want to model around what value does that actually bring to the organization? Because you're not going to do everything. We can't do everything. So how do we value that? And how do you continue to ensure that that values actually created?
John [00:22:47] So I think we are seeing a lot more requests for rather than the I have to upgrade this system or I have to make this transformation journey work because my old systems out of date. When you move to the cloud, you're not going to be out of date. It's always going to be there. So accelerating that becomes a choice. It's not forced on you and that choice has to come with value. So we're seeing CFOs look at models of how do I record reports, recommend value to the board in terms of here's what we're going to do. And so I think those little run and maintain teams that serve as a starting to build, it's all about value creation of the business. We're going to do this because this creates the highest value for the business. But it's also challenging. It's one of those areas where you're doing a lot of numbers and the value is sometimes in, you know, the way your employees feel. Do they feel more connected to the business? Are they happier with the new user experience, do they feel like it's easier to get their job done? Some of that stuff is hard to actually put on paper, but we try.
Gemma [00:23:42] How do you balance business as usual day to day functions, simply keeping the business going alongside having this mindset, this change muscle, as you've referenced a few times, you know, thinking about improvement and change in momentum. How would you, I guess, advise people to be able to balance both those things in tandem?
John [00:24:02] So I think that's part of the service delivery model review. What do you do now and what does the finance function look like in the future? And this is the same for any part of the business. It's not just a finance question. And the example could be, you know, you have a dozen people who do the sending of invoices. You replace that with a bot. So you've now got a dozen people available. You want to take that investment and invest that into a run team and take those 12 heads and start looking at a different service delivery model for when you do go live.
John [00:24:34] And maybe it's not 12, but maybe it's six heads that end up in your continuous improvement team. So you're getting a benefit. You're getting some value out of implementing a new system. You've got some efficiency gains, but don't cut all that out of the business because you'll be then left with nothing to actually run with. So take some of those investments and build a run team that are there to look at those continuous improvements that are there to look at what's coming next year. Microsoft publish in advance of the solution being delivered what functions are coming down the line? You know, you want to be thinking about that, going back out to your business partners and saying, hey, we've got this great new feature from a finance perspective. It's coming down the line and we think it's going to help your manufacturing team. And we talk to the manufacturing business about the impact this might have. So for me, it's taking the efficiency gains and the benefits that you're going to get out of implementing the new system and putting some of that into a run team.
Gemma [00:25:26] Well, taking that point about shifts in how people feel and what the sort of impact has on work in an organization, how would you start categorize all the different impacts, the undergoing these transformations, you know, moving to new ways of working or trying new tools or even just completely new mindsets or implementing entirely new visions on companies? What sort of impact does that have on a finance team into the organization overall?
John [00:25:49] It's really significant because they're now not being judged on whether their results were produced on the third day of the month. They're being judged on what value they bring to the organization. So the whole business partner model, rather than having a siloed finance team, having a business partner model where you have people in your finance function who liaise with particular departments, that's important. But we also talk about the lenses of the business, thinking about your business as a whole. And this is where we talk about our architecture, about what a connected enterprise looks like. It's no longer finance teams looking at finance and finance alone. What do they look like in the complete business? What impact do you have on employees as one of the lenses? What impact do you have on customers as one of the lenses? What impact do you have in terms of stitching together the front, middle, and back office? And what does that look like? What do you do with your channels, alliances, business partners? How do you make it easier to work with the other businesses that are joint customers of yours? And what do you do around market dynamics and the perception in the market and that digital simple thinking where user experience is so important? So we sort of use those five lenses as being the sort of categories that you should look at your impact in, you know, if I'm really contributing to a connected enterprise end to end, taking that lens view of those five facets is going to help you understand whether you're helping to make the big picture happen or whether you've got weaknesses in certain areas.
Gemma [00:27:14] So let's build a little bit on what that success looks like and maybe what we can learn from those that have done it already. From your perspective in being in your role and talking to many different businesses and CFOs and finance teams who are undergoing these kind of transformations, what would you say have been the sort of biggest lessons from those that have gone through this already? What have they learned the others can use to be better prepared? What's the hardest part was the most rewarding part. And crucially, what do you kind of see as what makes for success?
John [00:27:44] We did like a longitudinal study over three or four years about this in terms of what makes a connected enterprise tick. What are the facets and I've talked about those lenses, but the sort of capabilities and we've got eight capabilities that we look at and we absolutely notice that, you know, the businesses that have a purposeful focus on those eight capabilities don't miss one, but actually look at purposely at how they've got an aligned workforce. Do they take a centricity by design approach? Are they responsive in their operations? The numbers show that they are twice as likely to succeed. So it is absolutely in black and white that businesses that focus on these sort of facets, these eight facets around building a connected enterprise and thinking holistically about their business. Absolutely two times more likely to succeed than those who don't do it purposefully. A lot of companies will do it, but maybe not purposefully, you know, not in consideration and not within a framework that makes sure they don't miss things. So that's back to the point we were talking about earlier. Gemma, in terms of you don't know what you don't know sometimes. And so a little bit of external guidance is not a bad thing.
Gemma [00:28:52] And would you mind sharing with us what those eight facets were? I'm really intrigued to hear kind of how you would categorize all these different things you have to think about purposefully.
John [00:29:00] Yes. So I think it's some insight driven strategies and actions. So using the data that you've got in the business, and that's much easier if you've got a system that helps you extract that data. Innovation in your products and services. So continuing to evolve and not standing still, what do we need to do in 2021? What do we need to be thinking about 2024/25? I mentioned the experiencing centricity by design. So making sure that that this is easy to use. If we have turnover in a business, it's got to be particularly easy to use. The responsiveness and operations and supply chain. How can we make that really sing? You know, God forbid there's another big pandemic or something that really impacts our business. How quickly can we adapt? I think I mentioned earlier thinking about your partners, alliances, ecosystems, and how your business works. A lot of companies are realizing that they're good at their bit, but they need to have partnerships and an integrated alliance sort of around making a customer happy. So making sure that you've got that is one of the facets. An obvious one is a digitally enabled technology architecture. So just making sure that you have your solutions digitized. What parts, what processes in the business are pen and paper and what can you do to digitize that. Seamless interactions and commerce, so, you know, extending off the digitization, how can we make commerce - how can we make ourselves easy to deal with so that our interactions are simple? And the last one and, you know, potentially the most important one is in the aligned and empowered workforce. So making sure your people understand your vision, where we're going and that they're part of that journey.
John [00:30:32] So they're the eight that we talk about as being the key areas that you need to focus on. And you've got to create the checklist and you've got to be looking at the impact you are having on all of those. And if you do, if you purposefully consider those and invest in those, we know that the results are there to show.
Gemma [00:30:47] Amazing, I mean, there's been so many frameworks shared in this conversation already. How do you effectively strategize and how do you effectively go away and look at these things? And already we've touched on so many different frameworks and lists and what not that hopefully listeners can take something from. But let me move on to my final question, which is focusing a little bit more on the technology side of things, thinking about, you know, moving forward into the year ahead. What sort of technology or tools should finance teams be thinking about now that will continue to be instrumental to lasting transformation this year and perhaps even the next three, five years from now?
John [00:31:22] Yes, for us right now, it is absolutely automation wherever we can, automation everywhere. Extreme automation, one might say. So rather than potentially having an offshore delivery center, what can you do to make that a digital experience? So I keep coming back to this idea of it. If you've got people answering the phone to send a copy of an invoice to a sales manager because he's going to send it on to a customer, we've missed something. We've got to automate that process. What do you do to build a portal for our customers so that they can self-service or at least internally, what do you do to build a chatbot to send that invoice to a sales team? So, automation is a theme we are seeing a lot of, but automation at that extent requires you to bring a solution that allows you to do that. So, you know, you have to be on pretty modern architecture to make that happen. I think the other thing that the technology and the cloud has unlocked is additional services that we didn't have when we had an on prem system. So, again, if we're going back in time and we're saying we used to have our system and it was on a server in the corner or in a room in the office, and everybody hooked into that with some lovely wires, that meant that was your system and your system alone. And so you didn't have to go through the upgrade cycle every six months when the vendor released a new version. But it also meant you were locked into only what was available in that room. Going to the cloud has opened up a whole heap of new services that we didn't have. So, you know, comparative algorithms, you know, you can now grab that supply chain algorithm from Microsoft as a vendor and go, I'm going to use this. And you know that they've spent a lot of time building that. And the reality is you would not have had an opportunity to do that and build that internally in your own business without a fairly significant amount of money. So those sort of services, you know, cloud services are becoming much more part of the function and that finance function as well as that automation. So all those things the cloud unlocks, thinking about automation, thinking about the new services, as I say, algorithms, those sort of things in terms of forecasting that weren't available. That is where finance transformation is headed now. Now that we've moved to the cloud and we've got it and we've got over the fact that our general ledger is in the cloud and it's somewhere on a server that I don't know where that is, but I'm happy with that. I'm comfortable with that. The security is good and solid and strong, and in reality, it's probably more secure than it used to be when it was sitting in the back room. I've got past that, now look at what that's unlocked. That's unlocked comparative technology, KPIs. I can now see how our business is performing internally, how we're performing compared to the market. So building some of those sort of things into it, that really opens it up. So thinking about what that does to your business and how you use some of those tools that are only available in the cloud solutions.
Gemma [00:34:04] Incredible, John. There's been so much in this conversation, I hope everybody who was listening, was ferociously taking notes and making lists and all these things. I think there's a lot of different, I guess, quick wins to some degree, that these frameworks that you've presented can at least start that reflective process of thinking about change that hopefully will lead to some really great work for many people. So, John, thank you again for joining us on the show and sharing so much wisdom.
John [00:34:29] Thanks for having us, Gemma. Happy to share. Appreciate it.
Gemma [00:34:34] That's it for this week. Thank you so much for tuning in. You can find out more about John's work and indeed some of the broader themes we discussed today in the show notes. If you enjoyed the episode, please do take a few moments to rate and review the podcast. It really helps other people discover the show. And don't forget to subscribe and tune in next time to continue our conversation about innovation, resilience, and our capacity to succeed.
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