Millennium Consulting continues expansion by moving to new UK head-quarters

Millennium Consulting continues expansion by moving to new UK head-quarters 

March 24th, 2021

Next week on Monday 29th March, Millennium Consulting will be moving to new head-quarters in the former NatWest Bank building in Hythe, Kent, England. Since 2017 the building has been empty following the closure of the branch however an extensive refurbishment/modernisation program has taken place in recent months and the building is now ready for occupation.

“We are looking forward to moving to this beautiful Grade 2 listed building at the heart of the local Hythe community. Our Kent employees live in Hythe and the surrounding areas and we expect the new office will become a dynamic collaborative hub for the business. We are excited about the team and infrastructure we are putting in place as we prepare for the post-pandemic era.” Philip Keet, Millennium Consulting CEO.

In 2020, Millennium Consulting celebrated 25 years supporting clients with Finance Transformation and Regulatory Change programs. Having started out in 1995 as a specialist finance systems consultancy, the wider challenges of Y2K were soon recognised and attention switched to transitioning a diverse range of clients to new Y2K compliant software. Based initially in the City of London, the company relocated to Hythe in 2009.

Today Millennium Consulting is an international management consultancy that supports clients with the deployment of next generation financial and operational technology. The company works globally across multiple industry sectors and has teams located in Italy and the US.

In 2020 Millennium was awarded Elite Partner status by Dutch ERP software vendor Unit4. The Unit4 global partner program launched in June 2020 operates across three levels focusing upon capabilities, contributions and customer satisfaction and Elite status is the highest level within the partner program.


New appointments

New appointments

February 24th, 2021

Millennium Consulting is delighted to announce the appointments of Sam Guilding, Jeremy Lucas, Adam Leach, Chris Peal, Lucy Keet and Sam Keet.

Sam Guilding has been appointed Head of Marketing with responsibility for on and offline. She joined Millennium with over 10 years experience working within PR and Social Media across multiple sectors.

Jeremy Lucas has been appointed Director of Professional Services & Consulting and has assumed overall responsibility for client program delivery. He is a senior financial market professional with over 20 year’s Banking and Management consulting experience.

Adam Leach has been appointed Principal Technical Consultant to play a key role in developing the Insurance market sector consulting operation with particular focus upon accounting rules engine technologies such as Aptitude to support IFRS17 regulatory compliance. He is an experienced Senior Developer and Data Analyst with a successful record working as a consultant within the Insurance, Banking and Telecom sectors.

Chris Peal has been appointed Project Manager with responsibility for managing cross- industry projects across multiple technology platforms. He joins bringing a successful record of project delivery focussing upon data science and supporting businesses modernise their data landscape.

Lucy Keet has been appointed Social Media Manager with responsibility for delivering the Millennium message across multiple social media platforms. Previously she worked as a Marketing Executive within the Retail sector.

Sam Keet has been appointed Client Services Executive within the marketing department to enhance client communications.  Prior to joining Millennium, Sam worked within recruitment in the City of London.

We are excited about the team emerging at Millennium as we put the foundations in place to prepare for the coming post-pandemic era.


Five Solutions to Streamline your Accounting Process

Five Solutions to Streamline your Accounting Process

February 12th, 2021

Even with the power of Unit4 Financials at your fingertips, there are still several ancillary processes that exist within the finance ecosystem that can benefit from greater automation and streamlining.

From invoice matching to document scanning, discover the modules and add-ons that can drive efficiency and reduce operational risk in your finance function.

1. Purchase Order Processing (POP) / Purchase Invoice Matching (PIM)

Unit4 Financials Purchase Order Processing (POP) and Purchase Invoice Matching (PIM) enable you to better understand, control and manage costs.

The modules provide improved invoice matching, budgetary control and cash flow forecasting to help you:

  • Approve costs before incurring them
  • Enhance internal controls
  • Take committed costs into account
  • Consolidate your costs
  • Improve your reporting output

POP and PIM enable you to make better decisions and increase project profitability across your finance function.

2. Billing

Fully integrated with the core Unit4 Financials framework, the Billing module simplifies your invoicing process – removing the need for integrations with third- party billing systems.

The user-defined product catalogue, with individual item characteristics and rules, ensures accurate, complete and up-to- date data in your invoices and general ledger.

You can also easily design invoice templates, define invoice layouts and statements.

The module provides you with:

  • Item Catalogue for Purchasing & Selling
  • Drag and drop functionality to design and customise the layout of screens
  • Configurable data entry screen

3. MBilling Icorp

For firms that require complex functionality (or need to send out high volumes of sales invoices), a comprehensive sales invoicing/ billing solution is essential.

Seamlessly integrated into Unit4 Financials, MBilling powered by Icorp supports high-data volumes and contains powerful billing / sales invoicing functionality – including a comprehensive rules engine, smart algorithms and data bridging.

Transform your accounting processes with intelligent software that can extract information from any source system, reducing operational risk and improving efficiency.

4. Invoice4 Document Scanning & OCR

Transform your approach to the Accounts Payable process with Invoice4, enabling you to receive 100% of your invoices electronically from day one.

By directly receiving purchase invoices (whether paper, PDF, email, XML or EDI), Invoice4 introduces a new starting point. It allows you to view accurate, cleansed electronic invoices from your existing Unit4 Financials system without the need for extensive data entry and associated errors.

Fully integrated and certified, the solution provides the lowest risk and most cost-effective means of capturing purchase invoices, giving you a great head start in processing invoices with the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness.

5. Digital Invoicing

Digital Invoicing gives you an efficient method for transmitting and storing invoices – streamlining your Sales & Purchasing processes.

It also helps you to reduce the use of paper and the associated costs of printing, shipping and storage.

The module allows you to produce, transmit and store electronic invoices in XML format – giving you greater control over the elements contained in each document.

It provides you with the ability to map and post incoming invoices into Unit4 Financials, while producing XML files from outgoing invoices.

Contact us for further details


Want to find out more about how to streamline your accounting processes?

For further information or to book an online demonstration, please complete the form and a member or our team will get back to you shortly. Alternatively call us on +44 (0) 845 604 4262


Delivering Finance Transformation: A pandemic shouldn’t mean pushing back

Delivering Finance Transformation: A pandemic shouldn’t mean pushing back

February 10th, 2021

As of early 2021, the backdrop for a major finance office transformation project could hardly look more challenging. Organisations remain in recovery and stabilisation mode. Roles have been amalgamated, workforces are largely scattered and budgets are under pressure. So does this mean that transformation ambitions are being put on ice for the time being? Far from it.

According to Deloitte, 73% of organisations were using automation, machine learning and similar technologies at the end of last year, up from 58% prior to the pandemic. These capabilities certainly proved their worth, with two thirds (68%) of business leaders using automation to respond to the impact of Covid.

This is exactly the time when legacy systems and processes could benefit from an injection of efficiency. But if the finance department is grappling with organisational disruption, how do you go about getting your plans off the ground?

Here’s a closer look at the Covid-related barriers to finance transformation execution, and how to overcome them.

The Challenges

Competing Priorities

According to your original plans, 2020 may have been your year for overhauling outmoded finance processes and updating your reporting capabilities. However, once the pandemic arrived, priorities shifted. CFOs frequently take the strategic lead on transformation, with considerable input from IT. Inevitably though, IT departments suddenly found themselves having to devote time and resources to the rollout of technologies such as video conferencing, VPNs, laptops and printers for home use, as well as the provision of remote support. New tech for finance may have got pushed to the back of the queue.

By now, the initial technical set-up woes linked to the sudden shift to home working are largely behind us. But if IT is still focused on things like cloud architecture, the introduction of new collaboration software and enabling blended home/office working, it could be that the implementation of specialist finance technology remains pretty low down the priority list.

A reduced workforce

When the staffing budget is under pressure, the office of finance is not necessarily immune to cutbacks. And if team members are furloughed or let go, it usually means a larger workload for those remaining.

Against this background, the focus may very well be on keeping the lights on: i.e. while focusing on core tasks with a skeleton staff, the feeling is that there simply isn’t the bandwidth to devote to transformation projects.

Scattered employees

Typically, a finance transformation strategy covers a review of organisation-wide reporting processes, a review of your data sources and architecture and side-by-side analysis of possible new solutions to adopt. Next comes implementation, migration, training and optimisation. It’s a lot – and it usually involves multiple stakeholders from across the company.

Effective communication is key to the delivery of any project; especially if you have to coax busy people into action! In normal times, when everyone is in the same building, all of those ad-hoc mini-meetings and impromptu watercooler moments can actually go a long way in keeping things moving. If interaction is currently mostly limited to your morning Zoom meetings, it can be hard to build any kind of impetus.

The Solution: Getting Finance Transformation Back on Track

Restate the business case for transformation

You can characterise technologies as either ‘business critical’ or ‘nice to have’. And right now, many organisations are focusing solely on the former.

This is the time to restate the case for office of finance transformation, not as a luxury, but as something that’s absolutely critical to building business resilience. By way of illustration, here’s a rundown of what’s typically expected of the finance department in the current climate, and at how transformation projects can directly address these critical requirements:

We expect finance to ‘do more with less’. New capabilities such as automated close and consolidation, budgeting and forecasting will help reduce the huge amount of resources expended on routine tasks. Regardless of any staffing pressures you may be facing, your regulatory and compliance burden remains stubbornly real. Specialist solutions to address specific compliance issues (for instance, lease accounting and revenue received) will go a long way in helping you stay on top of your obligations.

We need finance to be more involved in strategy. Updating your reporting capabilities will reduce the time needed for manual-heavy tasks, freeing up time to devote to strategy. Also, for your input to be of real value, you are going to need the ability to track, measure and analyse key metrics and deliverables.

We need to predict future events and respond quicker to change. Volatility and unpredictability are likely to be permanent features on the landscape. When Gartner asked top CFOs to list their priorities for 2021, “Advanced data analytics technologies’ came top. To us, this comes as no surprise. Weathering the storm demands the ability to model for a range of scenarios, to analyse rapidly changing conditions in real or near-time, and to pivot quickly: something that’s very difficult if you are still struggling with Excel for modelling.

As a CFO, you may currently be experiencing board-level pushback to transformation due to budget restraints or staffing limitations. If so, it’s worth stressing that if the finance function is to deliver the type of business-critical insights expected of it, it is imperative that processes, workflows, reporting and analytics capabilities are rendered fit for purpose.

A new approach to management

With authorisation to proceed with your transformation strategy in place, it’s important to consider the practicalities of execution.

If you have led internal change projects in the past, bear in mind that this one may require a slightly different approach. Remote working means that short-notice, face-to-face roundtables may no longer be an option. The same goes for being able to pop your head around colleagues’ doors to check on progress.

Tip: in addition to regular video-con updates, where multiple stakeholders have designated tasks to complete in order to progress the project, a simple project management tool such as Trello can make all the difference in keeping matters on track.

Also, when it comes to actual implementation, beware of false assumptions on what is and isn’t possible remotely. You may be pleasantly surprised here. For instance, Millennium Consulting’s experts are routinely able to manage and execute all aspects of new finance technology implementation remotely. This includes scoping and planning, right through to migration, installs, configuration and training.

Filling in the skills gaps

Even in ‘normal’ times, managing and executing finance transformation is not easy. It demands expertise in data management and architecture, reporting best practice, an eye for the right technology to avoid making expensive mistakes, the know-how to configure it correctly and put it to work, together with project management experience to bring everything together.

The skillset may seem daunting: even more so if Covid-related budget restraints make it difficult to hire new talent. This is where external input can prove invaluable. Rather than the ‘hard sell’ on favoured technologies, or rigid, needlessly expensive support packages, what you really need is unbiased expert advice and targeted input to complement your own internal resources.

Ready to get your finance transformation project back on track? Speak to Millennium Consulting today.

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AI replace human decision-making

AI replace human decision-making

February 4th, 2021

Myths Busted: AI is no Replacement for Human Decision Making

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now firmly within the mainstream. Microsoft recently found that 56% of UK organisations are using it to some degree. The same research also pointed to a clear competitive advantage linked to AI, with businesses already using it performing an average of 11.5% better than those who are not.

For forward-thinking businesses, technologies such as machine learning, national language processing and predictive modelling are helping them make sense of potentially vast amounts of data, reduce error and boost output.

But what happens when the machines go one step further? It is one thing for algorithmic analysis to flag up a problem. The controversy arises where the system automatically generates a solution, decides on a course of action and executes it, eliminating the need for human intervention.

It is easy to see why individual employees may push back against this type of technology, and how this could be a very real barrier to transformation. After all, why would you actively welcome a new tool, if it threatens to make your role redundant?

Meanwhile, last summer’s exam furore over predicted grades demonstrates that algorithms don’t always get it right. Taking into account issues such as accountability, regulatory oversight and company reputation, businesses themselves are right to be wary of relying solely on AI for important decisions.

So how do you get it right? As we’ll see, the most effective uses of AI within the workplace don’t actually replace human decision making. Rather, they enhance it. Here’s how…

AI frees up bandwidth

What do we want from our departmental managers, finance team and other key staff?

Almost certainty, if you can possibly help it, you do not want highly-skilled employees bogged down in routine, transactional tasks. You want them to put their expertise directly to work, solving business problems and driving strategy.

This actually dovetails with what employees themselves want. Direct involvement in the decision-making process tends to boost engagement. And as Gallup demonstrated, highly engaged employees tend to produce better outcomes.

So where does AI fit into this? The fear is sometimes that the software will end up doing the decision-making for you, resulting in reduced scope for human input. In reality, most businesses find that the reverse is true.

AI lets employees process and analyse data much faster and more accurately than they would otherwise. Take your accounts department, for instance: through machine learning, they have the potential to process transactions, to automatically unearth and address irregularities in record time, and with the minimum of human intervention. The time and input required for routine reporting is dramatically reduced.

Meanwhile, with solutions linked not just to finance but also to areas such as manufacturing, logistics, marketing and customer care, AI concepts such as natural language processing are being put to work. For example, it’s becoming possible for employees to execute all manner of routine tasks simply by asking a voice-enabled communications assistant.

Businesses are increasingly finding that AI is reducing the time required for necessary but routine work. These are precisely the type of tasks that eat into employees’ time and prevent them from taking a more active role in decision making.

PwC found that in forward-thinking firms, 75% of business analysts’ time is spent on developing insight. In simple terms, if you want humans to bring their experience to the table and become more active in decision making, AI is pretty much essential technology.

AI delivers the full picture

What do customers really think about our brand? Where is the next big trend coming from? How can we tell when a client is about to leave for a competitor, or a piece of machinery is about to malfunction?

Conventional performance management solutions and other types of business software are fine for basic number crunching but isn’t always capable of answering these kinds of big questions.

Humans are much better at interpreting nuance. Trouble is, we cannot be expected to read absolutely everything that may be relevant to business decisions, and we can’t be on call 24/7.

An estimated 73% of company data goes unused for data analysis. Often, this is because certain datasets are too difficult to interpret: data is unstructured, or else there’s just too much of it.

AI happens to be extremely useful at sifting through and making sense of data that would otherwise be out of bounds to decision makers. Examples include sentiment analysis tools that can constantly scan swathes of content on social media platforms to pick out insights, or finance regulatory tools that can ‘read’ complex documents and flag up compliance issues. Over time, a manufacturing plant monitoring tool can ‘learn’ to recognise the various combinations of readings that might indicate performance issues. When these circumstances arise, the issue is automatically flagged up.

In these use cases, AI opens up data streams that might otherwise be difficult to interpret in large quantities. It doesn’t have to make the role of human decision makers redundant. Rather, it picks up on insights that would otherwise be missed and makes sure you are in possession of the full facts before deciding what action to take.

Looking to the future

What about AI’s role when it comes to day-to-day processing decisions?

Take decisions linked to consumer credit, for instance. Where individual employees are left to decide what credit options should be made available to customers, it’s easy for bias to creep in, or for inconsistencies to emerge. If you have an AI-based tool that’s able to process a customer’s details and assess their risk based on set rules, there’s the potential for much more consistent decision making across the business.

But of course, any AI solution is only as effective as the algorithm behind it. To avoid bias (along with risky approvals), continued human oversight is essential. Otherwise, you risk systemising into the decision-making process the very things you want to avoid.

At its best, AI disrupts the human decision-making process. With the ability to read and interpret vast quantities of data, it has the potential to put relevant information at your fingertips faster than ever before.

A recent estimate for the banking sector suggests that we can soon expect decision-making processes to be 34% informed by machine algorithms and 66% by human judgment. This is probably a realistic interpretation of what the future holds: AI will have a big part to play in informing decisions, but the final decision will remain with people.


Millennium Consulting Awarded ISO27001 & ISO9001 Certification

Millennium Consulting Awarded ISO27001 & ISO9001 Certification

February 2021

Millennium is proud to announce that during December 2020 we obtained ISO27001 & ISO9001 certification.

While adhering to ISO guidelines in recent years, in 2020 the decision was made to formalise this via accreditation. After an intensive 9 month period, we are delighted to announce that this goal has been accomplished.

By gaining ISO 27001 & 9001 certification, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to providing quality service, effective cost management and timely delivery to our customers while at the same time anticipating their demands. In future we will continue to review our management systems, policies and information security management processes to achieve our ongoing objective of providing the highest quality service to our clients. Finally, to maintain our ISO status, we will continue to invest in technology, development and processes so we can best serve you, our customers.


Daisy Keet to run SPAR Budapest Marathon

Daisy Keet to run SPAR Budapest Marathon

10th – 11th October 2021

We are delighted to announce that Daisy Keet has signed up to take part in the Budapest Marathon this October and is fund raising for one of the UK Autism Charities.

Fundraising for the National Autistic society: https://www.autism.org.uk/

NAS are the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families. Since 1962, they have been providing support, guidance and advice, as well as campaigning for improved rights, services and opportunities to help create a society that works for autistic people.

They help the 700,000 autistic people in the UK and their families. Be it running specialist schools, campaigning for improved rights or training companies on being more autism-friendly, they are dedicated to transforming lives and changing attitudes.

Daisy is fundraising by hand painting prints and selling them via Instagram.
@daisy_print https://www.instagram.com/daisy_print/

Every print is unique and hand painted, you can request which size you would like from A5 to A3. Prices range from £12 to £20. All profits going towards the National Autistic Society.

Daisy has launched a JustGiving page to help reach her target of raising £990 for the National Autistic Society, which helps transform the lives of people living with Autism, through providing support, guidance and advice for them and their families.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/daisy-keet 

All donations will be greatly received and will make a huge difference to the lives of many.


Finance Transformation in focus: how to deliver added value in 2021

Finance Transformation in focus: how to deliver added value in 2021

January 11th, 2021

Finance Transformation in focus: how to deliver added value in 2021

To deal with the continuing COVID-19 fallout, the pressure is on CFOs to shape business strategies for survival, stabilisation and recovery. So, are businesses equipped to handle what lies ahead? A year ago, strategic transformation of the finance department was something to aspire to; in 2021, it is business-critical.

COVID-19: the great transformation accelerator

Has COVID changed anything fundamentally? Arguably, when we look at things like the fall of high street names and the rise of flexible working, a more accurate assessment is that the pandemic has accelerated trends that were present already.

This certainly applies to finance transformation. Long before COVID, the function of the finance department was shifting. Being a keeper of the books and an overseer of reports is no longer enough for any CFO. Businesses want a truth-teller, a first-responder and a course-corrector.

Above all, they want a value creator; a role that the vast majority of CFOs are more than happy to fill. Faced with continued workplace disruption and market uncertainty, the need for CFOs to take a major strategic role has never been greater. Trouble is, if you are grappling with day-to-day reporting, oversight and compliance requirements, there just isn’t enough time to focus on value-added
strategy.

This is where finance transformation comes in. We are not talking about adopting new tech for the sake of it. Rather, it’s about process, system and cultural change right across the organisation, with two key aims in focus:

  • Streamlining, simplifying and optimising existing processes. This frees up bandwidth, enabling you to expend fewer resources on transactional processing and reporting.
  • Increasing your decision-making capabilities. By leveraging your data and boosting your analytics capabilities, transformation enables the CFO to become a strategic business partner.

Research from Grant Thornton shows how the events of 2020 have inevitably led to increased pressure on senior finance executives to focus on strategy. But at the same time, 62% of businesses say that the COVID crisis has meant that finance transformation projects have had to be delayed.

It is unfortunate – albeit somewhat inevitable – that many businesses have had to step back from their transformation plans right at the time when the need for change is at its greatest. Right now, a workable, affordable strategy for transformation is essential: one where your business can reap the benefits from the outset. If this is your aim for 2021, then these are the areas to focus on…

Automation

Corporate finance teams spend an estimated 80 percent of their time on gathering, verifying and consolidating data. This leaves only about 20 percent for value-added tasks such as analysis and decision-making.

To transform your focus, you firstly need to redress this balance. Here’s a broad roadmap for achieving precisely that:

Carry out a resource audit. Simply put, this involves working out where all your department’s time goes. Common culprits include operational and regulatory reporting, requesting (and chasing up) data from various parts of the business, consolidation and reconciliation. These are the areas that are usually ripe for transformation via automation.

Look for ‘easy wins’. Deploying a transformative solution for a particular business problem does not always have to mean ditching the technology you have already. Let’s say, for instance, that your department is currently grappling with the recent rules changes relating to lease accounting and revenue recognition. Dedicated compliance solutions mean you can automate complex calculations, keep your general ledger up-to-date, and keep regulators at bay, thanks to a clear audit trail. Even better: with a best-in-class compliance solution, it is usually possible to reduce your reporting workload, without a complete overhaul of your existing accounting technology stack.

Explore your optimisation options. You are already invested heavily in financial management and accounting software. Despite this, your team still seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time on routine, transactional tasks. So what’s going wrong? Often, we find that there are certain business-specific processes that are creating the stumbling block.Through targeted help such as a custom automation solution designed specifically for the process (or even just through expert reconfiguration of user dashboards), we are able to make a huge difference.

Data analytics

Once you have freed up resources, you can focus on delivering strategic business support. This is where data analytics comes in. From setting realistic budgets through to identifying your organisation’s most profitable product lines, data analytics gives you the ability to answer key business questions – and to do so with confidence.

To enable effective transformation, your data analytics project needs to cover the following:

Integration. Business leaders will be looking for you to deliver the full picture on organisational performance. This is why you need to ensure that all relevant data is integrated from across the organisation.

Timely access to insights. In 2020, we saw just how quickly the market landscape can shift. When conditions are altering day-to-day, the idea of quarterly or even monthly budgets seems hopelessly out of date. In fact, one survey showed that when employees require data-based evidence to take action, just 3% have access to it. For 60% of staff, acquiring the data takes hours or days. For effective transformation, focus on solutions that deliver the ability to monitor performance and budgets in real time.

Forecasting and modelling. Faced with the need to make savings, should you make across-the-board cuts, or focus on specific departments? What will be the impact of an exchange rate shift, a supply line delay or a price increase? You need the ability to model “what if” scenarios with ease, to stress-test possible courses of action and reach evidence-based decisions.

Big Data and AI

In sectors as diverse as banking, logistics, manufacturing and retail (to name just a few), data is generated at every turn. Your business almost certainly has a growing number of devices, systems and applications in play. So how might this benefit the finance department?

It links back to the need for rapid insight. In particular, forward-thinking CFOs already recognise that if you want to provide business decision makers with the most up-to-date insights, you need the ability to capture data produced on the shop floor and beyond. Once harnessed, you need to be able to connect this data, analyse it, and translate it into insight.

‘Big Data’ analytics has the potential to deliver insight from across all operations, giving CFOs the potential to react quickly to rolling events and identify inefficiencies. So how do businesses put this capability to work? Here are the areas to focus on:

Data architecture and integration. To make use of large volumes of machine-level data, you need a ‘Big Data-friendly’ solution for extraction, migration and integration. Technologies such as Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) or Oracle Data Integrator provide the foundations for even the most complex data initiatives.

Advanced analytics and AI. With robotic speed, advanced analytics solutions incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) are able to mine vast amounts of data for insights, automatically recognise risks and flag up events, assess thousands of variables, spot problems and highlight opportunities.

What next?

For CFOs committed to adding extra value to their organisation in 2021, the three key questions to ask are as follows:

  • Do we have the potential to streamline routine processes and free up resources?
  • Can we deliver the right insights to the right people at the right time?
  • Are we making the most of the data that exists in the organisation for more accurate insights?

Contact us for further details


For targeted help in addressing each of these questions, submit your details and one of our experts will be in touch.


Rules engine and subledger technology: what every CFO needs to know

Rules engine and subledger technology: what every CFO needs to know

November 24th, 2020

Transform your processes and liberate your finance team 

From revenue recognition through to the treatment of leases – not to mention a raft of sector-specific rules and standards, the compliance burden faced by CFOs is growing year by year. Managing it requires effective internal controls, auditability and of course 100% accuracy.

Added to this, the routine reporting workload remains as relentless as ever. Familiar tasks such as reconciliation and final report preparation continue to consume a huge amount of time. In fact, currently, 87% of finance professionals are still obliged to work overtime in the run-up to the financial close.

Expectations of the finance department are also changing. With high volumes of valuable data at their fingertips, there is growing pressure to put this data to work and to use it to generate solutions to business problems. CFOs themselves are keen to find new ways to add value to their organisations. The trouble is, without streamlining routine operations there is rarely time for finance to contribute more fully and help formulate corporate strategy.

A subledger system integrated with an accounting rules engine can help overcome this deficiency. With this type of technology, transactions can be stored, processed and posted automatically to the general ledger. For the finance department, this means less time spent on manual tasks, increased accuracy and greater compliance with standards. It also frees up internal resources, providing more time to focus upon added value tasks and strategy.

This guide aims to provide an insight into the use of subledger technology, its benefits to the CFO, how it can help address specific compliance requirements and what should be looked for in a subledger.

Part 1: Subledger technology explained

The general ledger is the foundation of a company’s accounting system. As a key reference point for the finance team and other business insiders, keeping it accurate and up-to-date is essential.

For any large organisation however, hundreds or even thousands of weekly accountable transactions are not unusual. Many will be straightforward, while others will need to be processed in a particular way to comply with internal policies and with general accounting principles and standards.

Manual processing of these transactions can be both resource-intensive and subject to error and therefore an automated subledger approach offers more efficient processing.

Key characteristics of subledger technology:

• The subledger provides a database for logging, storing and processing a subset of double entry accounting records.
• Subledgers can be set up for any areas of the general ledger e.g. accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, product inventory and purchasing etc.
• An automated system allows multiple subledgers to be connected to the general ledger.
• Transactions are automatically generated and posted to the general ledger.

Transactions however are not always straightforward and it’s not always enough to merely summarise a group of transactions and post them to the general ledger.

This is where a rules engine can help. A rules engine is essentially a software tool that automates the steps that make up a business process. With a subledger solution, you can apply specific rules to determine the way in which transactions are processed (before they are posted to the general ledger) to comply with all relevant accounting principles and standards, internal policies, as well as handling what can often be complex multi-entity, multi-currency calculations. Rules can be set and then applied to ensure transactions are processed correctly.

Part 2: The benefits provided by using a subledger

More effective use of time and resources

Especially in the current climate, businesses demand up-to-date insights and new ideas. From workforce and asset deployment through to analysis of product-line profitability, they need to drive efficiency and identify new commercial opportunities. In all these areas, the CFO has an important role to play.

However, if the finance department is spending time mainly on routine tasks such as transaction processing, reporting and compliance, then there simply isn’t the bandwidth to devote to adding value to the organisation. What can be automated to deliver greater efficiency? This is the key question to be addressed by any finance department seeking to become more strategy-focused.

PwC highlighted the fact that in areas such as management reporting, tax and general accounting, there’s the potential to free up between 30 and 40% of time by introducing automation and process efficiencies. By dramatically reducing the time needed for manual transaction entry and reconciliation, subledger technology goes a long way to help the finance department become a valuable and trusted partner to the business.

Greater consistency and fewer errors

Subledger technology allows transactional data to be processed and automatically posted to the general ledger according to pre-defined rules. With large organisations and groups, it’s especially easy for processing inconsistencies to arise. Through universal rules, processes are rationalised, eliminating manual-entry error and inconsistency, providing increased confidence in the integrity of the financial results.

Enhanced compliance and auditability

Regulations such as IFRS15, IFRS16, IFRS17 and LDTI require finance departments to ‘show their workings’; to have their underlying operational data available for disclosure in order to demonstrate adherence to regulatory standards. Using the right subledger solution, allows drill down to the general ledger at transactional level and provides a full audit trail. Likewise, the rules set for data processing and accounting are transparent and easily verifiable. In the event of any regulator queries a solid foundation for compliance can be easily demonstrated.

An up-to-date financial picture

During the current year, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how quickly market conditions and expectations can change. The general ledger provides the foundation not only for accounting, but also for rolling budgets and forecasts. To provide the most value, it needs to keep up with what’s happening on the ground. Subledger technology reduces the time and manual input required for transactions to be fed to the general ledger. It helps transform the general ledger from a periodically revised accounting tool into a reliable and up-to-date information asset.

Enabling analytics and generating insight

The subledger’s primary purpose is to allow automated processing and data feeds directly through to the general ledger. But the general ledger doesn’t need to be the only destination for this data. Depending on the specific rules set, the rules engine powering the subledger effectively cleanses transactional data and ensures that data from multiple sources is processed in a consistent manner.

This helps the creation of a ‘ledger-certified’ foundation not just for statutory accounts but also for management reporting and analytics. As well as connecting to the general ledger, a feed can be set up directly from the subledger to data analytics or business intelligence tools of choice.

Part 3: Compliance troubleshooting: Subledgers and accounting standards in focus

Here is a closer look at how subledger technology can help tackle the compliance challenges raised by specific accounting standards and principles.

IFRS 15

The challenge

The ‘revenue recognition’ standard determines how revenue should be recognised and reflected in an organisation’s financial statements and balance sheet. It sets out a standard five-step model for recognising revenue effectively. For high volumes of long-term contracts with multiple elements, there is a considerable challenge in making a distinction between the different elements in the contract, recognising revenue for each of them.

The solution

At what point should revenue from a particular contract be recognised within the profit and loss and balance sheet? A subledger with a suitably configured accounting rules engine can help manage data processing, calculations, reporting and an automatic feed to the general ledger, complete with a clear audit trail. This ensures that consistent revenue recognition policies are applied, keeping the general ledger up to date, while also providing the ability to drill down into individual contracts to check data regarding, for instance, contract balances, performance obligations and contract costs.

IFRS 16

The challenge

IFRS 16 marks a once in a generation shift in the categorisation, calculation and presentation of leases for financial reporting purposes. The most obvious impact concerns the layout of financial statements: specifically, a wide range of financial liabilities that were previously held off-balance sheet as operating leases must now be shown on the balance sheet.

Behind this presentational change, there’s a significant and ongoing data management challenge. As a start, you need to identify and classify all leases that come into play within the business. For the relevant calculations, data must be standardised – often filling in the gaps arising from incomplete information. It can prove particularly resource-heavy where the information needed is spread across different departments and formats and these is extensive reliance upon spreadsheets.

The solution

A dedicated lease accounting subledger helps ensure that all relevant leases are appropriately accounted for on the balance sheet. The lease subledger will also need to include sections covering areas such as discounting of future lease payments, ROU asset depreciation and liability amortisation. This information needs to be accessible when needed without the general ledger becoming cluttered by detailed entries for each lease.

A subledger solution preconfigured for IFRS 16, allows automation of complex calculations (e.g. asset depreciation and applicable interest). It also means that all relevant information such as changes in rates or terms, extensions, renewals or impairments can be easily managed, without the need for multiple data entries.

IFRS 17

The challenge

The stated aim of the new reporting standard for the insurance industry is to provide greater transparency concerning an insurers’ financial position, performance and risk exposure. For insurers on the ground, this means collating and processing potentially enormous amounts of additional data, such as historical policies and an increased number of calculations. Given the volumes of data involved, the complex interplay of different categories of actuarial and accounting data and the calculations required, the sole use of a general ledger for accounting becomes practically unsustainable.

The solution

What’s needed is a subledger and accounting rules engine specifically configured for IFRS 17 compliance. The standard requires regular recalculation of the performance of applicable insurance contracts over their lifetime. A subledger solution can allow this to be carried out automatically, giving the ability to store the calculation results at each measurement period – and provide a fully auditable data trail.

Part 4: Choosing a solution

Start with your specific problem. If you already using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system such as SAP or Oracle then you are likely to find that it has a subledger component. A good example is the S/4 HANNA-based subledger for SAP which provides a ‘catch all’ solution aimed at handling the regulatory and reporting requirements for financial institutions, insurance companies and similar enterprises.

Such solutions may carry impressive functionality, but because they are designed to handle a range of compliance needs, they often demand a considerable degree of bespoke configuration for them to address the problems to be solved. If there is the need for a quick implementation with a minimum of technical input, an out-of-the-box subledger solution configured for specific compliance requirements may be a good option.

Examples include the IFRS 16 lease management solution provided by Legerity and the IFRS 17 insurance accounting subledger from Aptitude.

Aim for seamless integration

Adopting a subledger solution does not have to mean a complete overhaul of your existing technology stack. Millennium Consulting specialises in helping equip you with the type of subledger technology that addresses your specific requirements, while ensuring full integration with existing systems.

Supporting wider transformation initiatives

Compliance is often the primary driver of subledger adoption however organisations may require a more efficient system to handle the increased data processing and calculation burden that the new standard brings. A compliance challenge may also be the springboard to achieve additional business benefits. The subledger provides a way to harness potentially enormous volumes of granular data and provides the opportunity to consider how else this data may be put to work for the purposes of analysis, forecasting and delivering timely business insight.

What next?

Starting with your specific goals and operational and requirements, Millennium Consulting can help you implement best-of-breed subledger technology and processes. To keep on top of compliance, assign finance team resources to more profitable use and to build the foundations for stronger business insight, speak to Millennium Consulting today to discover how we can support you.

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Millennium Consulting Elite Partner of Unit4

Millennium Consulting Elite Partner of Unit4

November 3rd, 2020

Millennium Consulting has achieved Elite Partner status from Unit4.

The new Unit4 global partner program launched in June 2020 operates across three levels focused on capabilities, contributions, and customer satisfaction. Elite level partners have achieved the highest level within the Unit4 partner program.  This level is awarded to partners that have consistently demonstrated the ability to meet the highest level of success with Unit4 and our joint customers.

Partner levels are determined through product certification, client references, successful new business sales including SaaS, plus client feedback via Raven Intel which analyses recent Unit4 Financials implementations and associated support. Aspects such as customer satisfaction, team quality and performance, scope and precision in the implementation process are evaluated. Additionally, Unit4 evaluates whether each partner is a specialist in their respective market.

To date, there are only ten organisations with elite status globally (only three of them in the UK) and we are one of only two Unit4 Financials Elite Partners globally.

Malc Coton, Partner Manager UKI at Unit4 congratulated the Millennium team:

“Well done for achieving this in just over 4 months since programme launch, it’s quite an accolade and a badge to wear with pride for sure! It’s a huge milestone for Millennium in the UK and I’m proud to have been your Partner Manager on that journey with you.”

Beata Wright, Global Head of Partner Ecosystems at Unit4, successfully introduced the world class Global Partner Program to give partners the resources to transform the way people work and help their clients deliver an exceptional people experience to their customers. This program was part of the strategic concept of “People Experience”. Connecting and transforming all aspects of the work experience is key to personal inspiration and organisational success was a vision, from the champion of People Experience, Mike Ettling CEO of Unit4.

With Millennium, for 25 years, we have built a reputation for quality, value, and delivery. We provide global finance transformation and data management consulting, solutions, and services across the world’s most demanding industries, with customers in finance, logistics, construction, and manufacturing.

We call it the Millennium advantage…