Digitisation of Finance at Fujitsu
Digitising the finance function with solutions from Basico’s CFO Toolbox can bring many benefits. The digitisation of processes is not only about reducing costs, but also about increasing quality and freeing up time for value-creating activities.
Technology is now available that can help streamline a variety of processes; both inside and outside the finance function. This article is about Fujitsu, which has successfully embraced the new technology for itself and energized a number of work flows. This has resulted in substantial gains in terms of time savings, lower costs, improved documentation and more efficient work processes in the finance function.
In this article, Fujitsu’s CFO Martin Tørnes explains why the company recently chose the TASK MANAGER and BALANCER solutions from Basico’s CFO Toolbox.
TASK MANAGER: A complete solution for process flow
After a morning meeting at Basico, Martin Tørnes became aware of Basico’s CFO Toolbox. Initially it was TASK MANAGER that caught Martin’s interest. This was inspired by a case study from a pharmaceutical company that applied this system to handle extensive internal controls (J-SOX*), which has reduced the time spent on the approval process. This was one of the primary reasons why Fujitsu wanted to look more closely at TASK MANAGER: a system that would prove to be more complete and more advanced technically than alternative systems; including their current solution.
Martin Tørnes explains: “The system fits like a glove into our dynamic and international business model. We will, for example, continue to have employees in both Estonia and the UK who will take an active part in our financial processes. In this respect, TASK MANAGER is an ideal solution since all parties involved can access the system wherever they are located, and thus follow the status of all relevant tasks”.
In the role of CFO Martin Tørnes is responsible for finance, accounting and compliance. Many employees at Fujitsu’s finance function work remotely, which means that he is responsible for ensuring that work tasks are followed up – tasks performed by employees with which he is not in face-to-face contact. This requires a system that provides implementation, transparency and adherence with proper procedures and processes related to compliance work, among other areas.
“The whole TASK MANAGER system is ideal for creating an overview of responsibilities and process flow associated with our J-SOX reporting, as well as ensuring that we have met all compliance requirements,” says Martin Tørnes.
TASK MANAGER is a versatile system that can be used in many situations; for example, also in obtaining documentation for completing year-end accounts. Martin Tørnes explains: “When collecting documentation for an audit we previously used completely basic folder structures. The problem with this approach is that it is virtually impossible to get everything stored properly, as there are many people involved in the process, which increases the risk of “something getting lost on the way”. Year after year we have therefore lacked oversight into the collected material and its quality. By using TASK MANAGER, we can solve these problems. There is a clear process for preparation, collection and approval. We store the material, get it approved and documented and have access to it 24/7.”
TASK MANAGER is for the whole company; not just finances
At Basico, we find that many companies are facing challenges keeping track of recurring processes across departments, companies and countries. Martin Tørnes nods in agreement. This is why Fujitsu is now working to introduce the TASK MANAGER system in the other Nordic countries. Besides achieving the same benefits as in Denmark, this will also make work processes more integrated and efficient and ensure transparency across national borders.
* J-SOX is the version of SOX with which Japanese listed companies have to comply.
But TASK MANAGER is not just for the finance function. There is great potential in using it to streamline and document processes throughout the organization. Martin Tørnes agrees: “I see no restrictions on the use of TASK MANAGER; it has the potential to be used in many areas in our company. We are currently looking at the possibility of using it to support our sales processes.”
Fujitsu has long had a desire to include more work processes into the electronic work flow, to free up time for value-creating tasks. Martin Tørnes elaborates: “We have had a hard time finding a flow system that can support our daily work flow and meet our other user requirements. With TASK MANAGER we have found the complete solution, with which alternative solutions simply cannot be compared.”
BALANCER: Streamlining the period-end closing process
Although many companies are of the opinion that they handle month and year-end closing reasonably well, the truth is often rather different. For most companies, the processes related to of month and year-end closing involve a tangle of spreadsheets, ring binders and countless folders containing files.
This was also the case at Fujitsu, which sought a digital solution that could provide a complete overview of the status of each task in the entire flow. It was therefore only natural to look at other products in Basico’s CFO Tool Box; and our attention was quickly drawn to BALANCER.
BALANCER is a program for balance reconciliation and month-end closing. In real time, it provides users with a complete overview of the entire reconciliation process. It is particularly suitable for month-end closing processes involving extensive reconciliation and the need to document these as well as the checks carried out. This is a solution that all involved employees can access, be it from a computer, phone or tablet; and it can handle everyone being on the system simultaneously.
Martin Tørnes elaborates: “BALANCER has been found to be an indispensable system – not only for our accounts department, but also for auditors. For example, by using BALANCER they are also able to keep track of whether we are meeting our goal of reconciling our balances on a continuous basis during the year. Furthermore, we have reduced the risk of errors and are experiencing a lot more confidence in our numbers than previously.”
Most of us prefer well-known processes and systems. Having to deal with new digital solutions and new working practices often meets with scepticism and resistance from the employees involved. Martin has therefore made a point of including his colleagues in the process from start to finish; both in order to become acquainted with their needs, and to ensure a common understanding and recognition that new technological solutions can improve the outcome of their work.
Fujitsu implemented both TASK MANAGER and BALANCER at the end of 2015. “Both systems are very user friendly; for example, they both provide a rapid overview via the built-in dashboards. The implementation was equally effective; it required only a few days of workshops and a bit of training. We thus rapidly integrated both systems into our working day, which of course was a big advantage,” says Martin.
At Fujitsu, they have already experienced the many benefits of choosing the digital solutions in CFO Toolbox; the main one being significant time savings. Business processes have become much more efficient and all employees now have the overview they wanted so they can follow the status of work tasks. In addition, the systems have also been well received by the auditors, who appreciate the improved documentation and having this accessible online.
Cooperation with Basico
Martin Tørnes says: “The implementation of TASK MANAGER and BALANCER has been a valuable investment for Fujitsu and we are very happy with the advice we get from Basico’s consultants who have a deep understanding of the areas of compliance and finance. Basico meets us on an equal footing and its consultants are service-minded and proactive. They are there when we need help. Previously we had to communicate by email with an American support function. We were therefore often left with the feeling that we could not take full advantage of the system. It was important to have a partner who has extensive and solid knowledge of both our field of work and systems, and is thus well placed to help us succeed.”
At Basico, we also focus on sharing knowledge. We provide technical expertise, advice and a professional network so that our customers have the opportunity to spar with each other on matters related to system use; which is something that has also been appreciated by Fujitsu.
“We’re not just selling an IT solution. Our CFO Toolbox solutions are implemented by consultants who themselves have a background in financial management and compliance. This ensures much stronger knowledge sharing between consultant and company, since we speak the same language. We are not IT people that implement an IT project, but rather financial people who operates a financial management and compliance project,” concludes Morten Bille.
Fujitsu is Japan’s leading ICT (Information and Communication Technology) company and offers a complete portfolio of technology products, solutions and services. Around 156,000 Fujitsu employees support customers in more than 100 countries. For the year ending March 31, 2016, Fujitsu Limited had total revenues of USD 41 billion. In Denmark, Fujitsu is one of the five largest suppliers of IT to the public sector; its primary focus is targeted at municipalities and regions where it has supplied applications and operational services for over 30 years. In Denmark, Fujitsu has around 250 employees who primarily operate out of two locations in Ballerup and Aarhus.