an insurance policies enterprise listed in the Fortune 500, introduced in new reporting technology and other tools to lessen the sum of time its finance staff commit on info entry and consolidating transactions.
which has a tiny extra than 500 men and women in its finance business, is operating towards slashing the time allocated for guide processing responsibilities to 20%, down from about 50% at this time.
Chief Financial Officer
talks about how the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based firm got rid of spreadsheets, what he wishes job candidates to bring and why finance chiefs engage in an significant function in marketing automation endeavours. This is the fifth component of a series that focuses on how CFOs and other executives digitize their finance functions. Edited excerpts observe.
WSJ: What are the key ways you took as a firm to modernize your finance operate?
Mr. Zabel: The to start with phase we took was around some of our actuarial cash flow types. We make the most of these to do pricing and forecasting and definitely everything close to [financial performance]. We commenced that back again in 2013 and we’ve now cycled by means of all of our products and solutions and bought [them] on a reliable platform. Then, in 2017, we implemented two things which had been seriously useful. We brought in a new typical ledger and we set in a [configurable reporting technology]. We do all of our monetary reporting off of that.
What that permitted us to do is at the corporate degree get rid of all the consolidation, all the spreadsheets. Phase two has been to now search at the accounting procedures that we have and begin to apply extra particular automation technologies.
WSJ: What are your vital goals?
Mr. Zabel: There is a several points, [including] the high-quality of the function that our persons are accomplishing. It is them [having to] shell out significantly less time compiling information and facts for the reason of making journal entries and also compiling facts just to do fundamental reporting. So shifting them from that type of get the job done to much more examination and doing the job with our item traces. It is a quite competitive natural environment for expertise. What ever we can do to make it a extra fulfilling experience for personnel is heading to support us in the long operate.
WSJ: Is there an estimate how a lot time your workers conserve with these new systems?
Mr. Zabel: I have a large amount of purposeful areas beneath me and some of them are a lot more concentrated on the genuine financial reporting and journal entries than some of the other folks. On average, people locations most likely spent 70% to 80% of their time just finding the transactions carried out and then obtaining the details back out of the ledger to be in a position to analyze [them]. We’ve now moved that far more toward 50/50. What we’d like to do is absolutely flip that [to] in which they only invest possibly 20% of their time in fact processing transactions.
WSJ: How are you assisting them do that?
Mr. Zabel: How we’re approaching it is we’ve brought in these applications and we have started off to clearly show [our employees] what the applications are, but also give them circumstance reports of how they’ve been used.
WSJ: What is remaining to be done just before you strike the 20% target?
Mr. Zabel: There is a number of locations that we nonetheless have to have to perform on. 1 is information. Any time you start off a digital transformation, it all commences with the information you have. Some of our information is in definitely fantastic condition. [For] some of it, we continue to have some do the job to do. So I imagine there’s some foundational places in which the details requirements to be in a improved type, but then it’s just generating the bandwidth for our groups to teach by themselves on the applications and produce the ability for them to be ready to utilize them.
WSJ: What is your head rely in finance, and do you anticipate it to shrink as you automate additional?
Mr. Zabel: We have just around 500 individuals suitable now in the finance group, out of a overall worker base of in excess of 10,000. What we’re seriously hoping to do with driving efficiencies is not so much acquire head depend out, it’s extra about redeploying those people resources to resolving more business enterprise issues for our business companions. I have no plans to lower head count within just the organization. I would relatively invest all those assets and redeploy them to assistance the organization expand in distinct approaches.
WSJ: What are you searching for when you evaluate prospective candidates?
Mr. Zabel: It’s extremely vital that we have folks that have a great complex basis. We have a ton of formally qualified accountants and actuaries within just the business. We also have folks that have a real info science history. Going forward, what we’ll will need a lot more of are folks that can translate enterprise processes into [automation opportunities]. [For] a ton of the applications that are offered now you don’t truly have to be that tech enabled in your formal history. They are very configurable.
WSJ: How would you explain your job as CFO in this?
Mr. Zabel: You surely have to be an advocate for it. Getting the option each time you can to highlight and acknowledge when we have those “ring the bell” times the place people today have applied technological know-how to strengthen their company processes is truly significant. I consider the other point is just remaining plugged into what we’re doing with our digital method additional broadly. I’m tied at the hip with the man or woman that runs our [information technology] office and also our electronic change agenda.
Write to Nina Trentmann at [email protected]
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