Transformation delivered: stories from the front line of finance transformation

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Our highly experienced Business Consulting team work closely with our clients as ‘one team’ to deliver better and more sustainable business results through transformation.

In this Q&A, we talk to Kunjal Haria and Mitul Patel, both part of Eton Bridge Partners’ Business Consulting team, about their extensive experience in delivering successful finance transformation, and some of the lessons learned along the way.

 

Kunjal Haria & Mitul Patel profile photos - Business Consulting - Eton Bridge Partners

 

Kunjal Haria has been delivering Finance Transformation for over 20 years and has worked with Eton Bridge for 10 of those years. An ACA accountant, he spent the first half of his career at Ernst & Young, IBM and Accenture. He’s currently leading a global finance SSC/GBS and ERP programme for Eton Bridge Consulting.

Mitul Patel has over 20 years’ experience delivering Finance Transformation. A qualified Accountant he’s delivered complex finance transformation and ERP for global clients including Takeda, Westcon, and Cushman & Wakefield. He was an Executive Director at UBS and a Management Consultant at Ernst & Young.

Mitul has worked with Eton Bridge for 6 years, most recently leading an international GBS restructuring programme and implementing a Finance TOM for a global EB Consulting client.

 

Q: What’s the best advice you could give anyone starting a finance transformation?

MP: Delivering great outcomes is always more complex than originally anticipated; it’s more about the ‘way’ you execute as opposed to ‘what’ you’re changing. Invest your time and effort early on in identifying the core performance metrics you need to influence – if you can’t measure it, how can you change it? – and don’t underestimate the impact that delivering the transformation will have on your best people.

KH: I agree – also, starting with the end in mind and work backwards has always been my outlook, and be clear on your “why”.

 

Q: When organisations are considering how to make processes more efficiency should they lean towards continuous improvement or reengineering/ redesign?

KH: It depends on the expected outcomes – it is possible to do both at the same time for different processes.

MP: I agree – both are possible. In my experience, redesign is often quite hard to implement, especially when the business requires stakeholders across the business, and usually, technology investment. Although it takes more time, establishing an overall framework and mindset for driving continuous improvement is ultimately more impactful and is less disruptive.

 

Q: What’s your advice for finance leadership teams to get the most of finance transformation and accelerate results?

KH: Fantastic question! There’s an awful lot to think about in Finance transformation. For me it comes down to being clear on four key aspects:

  1. What makes your organisation strategically distinctive (invest)?
  2. What makes your organisation operationally effective (simplify, standardise, automate)?
  3. Make sure you have the right people on the journey from the start; and
  4. Make sure the transformation is business-led and tech-enabled – not the other way round!

 

MP: Really good points Kunjal. I’d add that you also need to set your teams up for success and supplement key roles with experienced practitioners that have direct experience of the transformation you’re trying to drive. Be prepared to make tough decisions in a timely manner. Set the tone on urgency and quality from the outset otherwise it’s very difficult to achieve the results you expect.

 

Q: What personally motivates you to keep delivering really complex, difficult transformations?

KH: I’ve delivered a lot of transformation over the years; it’s often very challenging and sometimes frustrating, but I always come back to one key reason; it’s the opportunity to work with smart people to deliver tangible results that will make a sustainable difference in how clients will operate going forwards.

MP: I enjoy both the satisfaction and intellectual challenges that come with helping clients navigate their most complex problems and deliver real outcomes.

 

Q: When moving to a new SSC or GBS environment, what determines the migration approach (e.g. lift and shift, lift and improve et al)?

KH: I believe that there are a few ways to determine this, you need to ask yourself:

  1. What is the business trying to achieve in terms of scope and in what timeframes?
  2. Is the leader of the new SSC/ GBS entrepreneurial or more of steady state operator?
  3. How supportive are the leaders of the retained teams to “let go”?
  4. Is there going to be any change in technology being implemented as part of the program?

 

MP: I think it’s a combination of different intertwined factors. generally driven by decisions in three key areas:

  1. Time – How much pressure are you under to transition to achieve a key business outcome or realise a business case.
  2. Quality of existing processes – Where there are robust, well documented processes operating on stable systems lift and shift is obviously easier. Many businesses make the mistake of selecting this approach when processes and technology need vast improvement.  This results in disappointment when efficiency savings are not realised.
  3. Commercials – Some BPO partners may build in process improvement efficiencies into their business cases, but I’ve seldom seen this work as they often struggle to overcome the inertia and noise that comes from inheriting very poor processes. Equally, many BPO businesses will migrate current processes/systems and then improving these may prove very costly – you can never expect to solve a problem through outsourcing alone!

 

Q: What’s your view on the challenges most organisations face during transformation?

KH: At the start of transformation, I’ve often worked with clients who are striving to be best-in-class in all areas which is not really required. It’s been said before, but take people along with you on the journey – do it with them not to them.

Finally, get your data transformation journey started as soon as possible – it’ll make all the difference as you approach testing and go-live stages.

MP: It often boils down to either capacity or capability. You need to manage both levers effectively to drive results, and it’s very rare that any organisation embarking on a transformation journey will already have what they need from the outset. So, make sure the business case isn’t underestimating these two areas.

 

Q: You’ve worked for some of the most prestigious consulting companies; how does Eton Bridge Consulting’s approach differ?

MP: The EB Consulting approach has been really refreshing as the teams are so experienced. Everyone has over 15 years’ experience, and many of us have worked at an executive level. This has meant that we’ve been able to drive great outcomes for our clients in a quick and cost-effective manner, that I haven’t necessarily experienced with other organisations.

KH: You’re right, I’ve worked with lots of Consultants and Advisors over the years, but the big difference with Eton Bridge is that there’s a relentless focus on putting client interests first. We’re absolutely committed to delivery tangible outcomes rather than simply talking about it!

 

Q: How does it feel when you’ve delivered a successful transformation project?

KH: It’s a great feeling – I get a sense of pride and personal satisfaction that I was able to make a small contribution without worrying about who gets the credit!

MP: I enjoy playing my part in helping EBP bring to bear all the different areas of expertise across both consulting, interim and search to help clients solve problems they aren’t geared up to address on their own.

 

Get in touch with Matt to hear more about Business Consulting and how we work with our clients to deliver more sustainable results through transformation.