THE ACADEMY OF BUSINESS STRATEGY
BUSINESS SUSTAINABILITY BLOG
Rizwan Asghar (CBS) DBA MBA M.Com B.Com CPA CMA
Few years back I started my path towards professional qualification. On my first day with my training institute, my senior gave me an assignment to write up cash book for a client. I was not guided how to write cash book. I recalled my knowledge learnt during my studies, remember during those days computers were very rare and expensive. I have to write manually on paper book. I took three complete days to write the cash book. I was excited to show my performance, my senior saw the book. His face was flat and was not happy. He returned saying that I wasted my time. I have to write the book again in a particular way.
I just want to share this story only to express how the life was difficult few years back. In early 90’s computers were very heavy and were unable to cater huge data, processing was very slow. I will say 90’s decade is the revolutionary period for technology. Technology changed rapidly which impacted our life styles. Now we moved to cloud computing from 1.3mm diskettes. This revolution impacted current business. Now business keeps their records electronically instead pile of papers. Software companies especially engaged in business applications development invested enormous amounts to enhanced / develop new applications.
Finance is one of the functions, mostly companies prioritize to automate. When we talk about finance function to be paper less, this is very hard and difficult, but is achievable. I briefly say, automate / paper less finance functions has both pros and cons. Its pros weighted than cons. Once your functions are automated, you get benefits like less processing time which tends to staff efficiency, accurate and timely availability of required information, technical data analysis, better decision making, enhanced management reporting, drill down to right information in less time, easy to understandable dash boards for executives, multi-level approval flows, digitizing the documents and accessible to concerned personnel’s as and when needed, data security and so on.
When companies start going paperless specially finance function, mostly do some common mistakes. Like from day one; trying to go completely paperless, trying to digitize all conventional files, not having a proper plan, not having a proper work flows, resistance and lack of participation, trying implementing without team lead, lack of training, insufficient or completely having no backup plan.
I am outlining the process of going paperless as. Firstly talk to stake holders, what currently and how they are doing? What they think to reduce the papers? What processes they want to automate or paperless? Those are just initial questions than start compiling their requirements. Pass those requirements to a software developing company and ask them to present their products focusing on requirements and also demonstrate additional functionality they can provide. Also ask them to provide a brief intro on best practices. Actively involve stake holders during demonstration and get their feed backs and evaluation. Once choose an application, appoint project sponsor and project manager. Prepare clear scope of work. Identify roles and responsibilities. Clearly outline the project and detailed down to minor tasks (WBS). Form project implementation team. Assign resources at task level. Adhere to plan and start implementing the application. Prepare a clear communication plan. Do a critical path analysis. Time to time review the progress and advise implementation team accordingly. Try not to deviate from the critical path; otherwise you will not be able to finish the project on time. Update the stake holders time to time about the progress. Prepare a risk register and record all risks. Transfer risk to proper stakeholders and reach on conclusion to resolve the risk. Develop processes and work flows and integrate with application. Most developers deliver standard report. Financial reports are very critical and changes business to business. Develop tailor made financial and analytic reports as per stakeholder’s and business requirements. Do unit testing. Prepare comprehensive test scenarios and test the application two to three times. Document each and every task. Prepare training manuals. Train people. And hit the “GO GREEN” button.
In conclusion, going paper less is a great idea and time saving. All companies must go as early as possible. I also recommend add adequate time for planning. Less planning or poor planning always tends to failure. Invest sufficient funds. Return will be slow but defiantly high as future value. Involve stakeholders actively. Assign sufficient time and resources for staff training. Give ample time to change the human behaviors and processes. Sufficient data backup plan. Not go completely paperless from day one start going “less paper”. And at the last but not least, make day one as starting point.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rizwan Asghar (CBS) DBA MBA M.Com B.Com CPA CMA is an approved Certified Business Specialist (CBS) with the Academy of Business Strategy and his specialist subject is business sustainability. He has achieved a DBA and MBA from the European University, a M.Com from Preston University and a B.Com from Bahauddin Zakariya University. He is also a Certified Management Accountant and a Certified Public Accountant. He has been employed as a Senior Financial Analyst, Chief Accountant and Consultant for various companies and has experience within the healthcare, electric and electronic manufacturing and textile industries. His clients or employers have included Sidra Medical and Research Center, New Mowasat Hospital, Super Asia MDS (Pvt) Ltd and Agrarian Seeds. He has geographical working experience in Qatar, Kuwait and Pakistan. He speaks English and Urdu. His service skills incorporate financial planning, analysis, ERP implementations and business sustainability.