Using SharePoint to Become More Efficient
In this cost-conscious environment, finance executives in our network are seeking new ways to become more efficient, more flexible, and save money. We recently profiled the tax team at Terex Corporation for their efficiency improvements in the tax provision process. Our latest study found that using software that is flexible and easy to understand can make your department more efficient. We invite you to use the comment box below to tell us how you use SharePoint too.
One way for your finance staff to improve collaboration is to create a SharePoint web site. We recently profiled the Terex Corporation, a global manufacturer of industrial equipment, for its tax department’s use of SharePoint. From 2006 to 2009, Terex used standard Excel-based process management tools to monitor the tax provision process. This provided a single, consolidated view. The spreadsheet helped, but managers lacked control over key process steps and could not make mid-stream corrections during the filing season. People across the department lacked visibility into performance metrics and changes as they occurred.
The team at Terex remedied this situation by evolving from an Excel-based process management tool to a SharePoint tool. This change generated five major improvements for Terex:
- Process Consistency and Enforcement: Staff members could not ignore, avoid, or delete process steps.
- Better Management Visibility: SharePoint allowed staff members to drill down into the specifics of each process step and related task.
- A Real-Time Scorecard: The Terex tax managers could monitor progress and see how the process compared year over year.
- Help for Staff: There was an automatic escalation of process delays and problems.
- Document Version Control: Critical forms and templates in the process were kept in a controlled location and the latest document version was always available.
In moving this process to SharePoint, the team minimized delays, document version confusion, and unnecessary errors. They were able to incorporate insights learned by the front-line staff into process upgrades. Both staff members and managers benefited from the new platform. While managers can define tasks, team members are able to self-highlight delays (and other problems), reassign tasks among themselves, and redefine deliverables based on changing customer needs.
The costs involved were surprisingly low. There was labor involved from team members, but the licenses for the software were easy to obtain because SharePoint was already in use at other areas in the company. The team found the software easy to learn and use. There was very little dependence on IT staff. Terex did not need to hire outside consultants or programmers. Staff members self-learned details for creating the system from books and self-help guides. They just purchase a few books about SharePoint. Staff members told us that the software is intuitive and anyone can use it.
The Terex team cited two positive results from this new system:
- A 10% reduction in delays during the close process
- A 21% reduction in hours worked per week during the close process
When describing their success, the Terex’s team attributes it to four main components:
- Securing approval from major stakeholders by highlighting the benefits of the tool.
- Using an internal implementation team and self-teaching staff members’ details of SharePoint from self-guide books.
- Working toward a well-defined goal: performing all their tax provision activities on the SharePoint platform.
- Using one common platform as the basis of problem identification.
Terex isn’t the only company using SharePoint to make Finance processes more efficient and Tax is not the only function where it can be helpful. We observe SharePoint being used in areas such as:
- Bank Account Management
- Investor Relations
- Transfer Pricing
There are many opportunities to make your finance department more efficient using collaboration software. Feel free to contact your account manager if you’d like to learn how finance departments are using simple tools, such as SharePoint, to become more efficient and reduce costs.
What We are Doing for Our Membership
To help you become more efficient in your tax department visit these Tax Director Roundtable (TDR) resources:
- Use TDR’s Anatomy of a World-Class Tax Department to compare and benchmark tax processes against other companies.
- Take our Tax Risks Hot Spots Survey to understand how other companies are assessing and mitigating risks for 2013.
- Click here > to view process improvement cases from companies such as The Home Depot, Pfizer, and Praxair.
We’d like to hear how you use SharePoint in your Department. Please use the comment box below to cite the tasks that you’ve migrated to SharePoint and any workflows that you anticipate moving onto SharePoint in the future. We’ll keep our network informed as we continue our research.
To find out more about how CEB can help you build greater efficiency and flexibility in your team, please contact your account manager.
- Additional research by Anuj Arora