Some career project examples

Saving a financial management system project
The modernization of the SME financial management system had run into difficulties and needed rescue. Deployment had begun, but the transition and data conversion were in progress and the situation was confusing, and the organization’s faith was running out. I formed an overall picture of the situation, selected priority areas and built goals and a set of indicators with which progress could be concretized and monitored. I created models, tools, and processes for financial reporting and analysis. I went through the financial management processes and services with the staff, as a result of which we made several improvements and unified our operating methods.
Integration analysis for government body
Analysed the opportunities for integration and harmonisation of activities from two different government organisations. I mapped the current organisations, processes, roles, stakeholders and operating methods, and the frameworks set my information systems and legislation. I designed a proposal for an harmonised, streamlined process, that integrates the analysed processes from both organisations into a single process, greatly reduces manual work and increases efficiency, and provides a one stop shop for the customers of the process.

I also analysed the pros and cons of the proposed change, showing the change to be very beneficial. A working group from the client organisation approved the recommendation, which was then put forward to the political decision making process.

Re-onshoring services
The Group’s international shared service centers in the UK, South-East Asia and Eastern Europe were providing 25 manyears worth of services to the company. Following the sale of the company, the service had to be terminated and the work re-onshored, due to inability of the centers to provide services outside the Group. I lead a project to migrate the work back to the company’s own organisation in Finland.

I organised a local project team and assigned responsibilities according to process area. Together with the service center staff we mapped the processes to be transferred and their resourcing in the centers, created a transition plan and set up regular status meetings. Locally we evaluated the need and opportunity for re-engineering the processes in conjunction with the transfer.

The processes were migrated back according to schedule, partly ahead of the schedule, and without any disruption to the business. Many of the processes could be simplified when transferred form a global design to a locally integrated company, and some were replaced with other processes. Resourcing was mostly covered with internal transfers and implemented efficiencies.

Finance function turnaround
The global unit had a budget of a few hundred million, and 1000 employees in 75 countries. The financial control and management information had been unsatisfactory since the setting up of the unit a couple of years earlier, and the management did not trust the reporting. I took the assignment to temporarily oversee the financial reporting and control, in order to fix it and then hand back a working process to the unit CFO.

I agreed the deliverables, terms of reference and project plan with the leadership of the unit. Together with the budget owners we created a to-be vision of what the reporting should reflect. My project team then analysed the current reporting and controls with the in-country finance departments, made a gap analysis and identified and executed the necessary corrections. At the same time the accuracy of the budgets was evaluated, and budgeting errors identified. Finally the team went through the corrected results analysis and budgets with the leadership, and handed back the project to the unit’s own finance team.

The project was executed in four months according to plan. The project team made more than 500 corrections in the reporting, resulting in an impact worth several millions. In addition a significant amount of budgeting issues were identified, resulting from the previous lack of clarity. Some 40 budget owners confirmed having understood and accepted the corrected results and budgets, and management’s trust in the reporting was re-instated.

SAP implementation
Due to sale of the company, it had to be disconnected from the Group’s global SAP system, and a stand-alone ERP implemented. A separate SAP system was implemented, and the local company’s data, users and functionality transferred into it. I coordinated the transition from one system to the other, ensuring the success of the cutover and minimising disruption to daily business.

I worked in close co-operation with the various stakeholders, including the key users and user test groups of the system, and the technical leadership of the project. I recruited a resource from within the organisation to coordinate the local testing and drive the correction of identified errors, and another resource to manage the transition of production systems and data flows from one platform to the other, according to a staged schedule. I ensured that the views and plans of the different actors where integrated, and also guarded against the functionality of the local implementation being too far sacrificed due to timing and cost pressures.

The transition was executed according to plan, without any unscheduled interruptions in the cash flow, daily operations, or the accounting year-end close that took place within a month.

Re-evaluation of strategy
The company’s profitability had been poor for a long time, and together with two other management team members I re-evaluated the company’s strategy with the view of improving profitability. The assignment was to find out what can be done to improve profitability.

We analysed the operating results within the different markets, focusing on volumes, margins, costs and position in the market. We came to a conclusion that the brand was very strong, margins good and direct costs within control, but the Group’s operating model, that was focused along business lines did not fit the geographical and cultural environment of the markets, and resulted in deteriorated customer focus and increased overhead costs.

Our recommendation was to change the business model for this company, and adopt a more geography and customer driven model. The Group decided instead to divest the business that did not fit it’s model, and it was sold to a regional player who operates it as a franchise business using an operational model similar to our recommendation.

Stock management turnaround
The company was operating six oil product storage depots. Stock management for oil products is complicated by the volume of the product fluctuating according to temperature, constant vaporization, and batches with different purchase prices being stored in the same bulk containers. Stock management had long been a problem area, often causing write-offs in excess of a million dollars in the annual closing, as well as inaccuracies and swings in monthly reporting.

I agreed a procedure with the company’s Distribution Manager, according to which each depot manager was required to take a physical stock measure every day by noon, and to record it in the ERP system. If the measured volume differed from book volume by more than the tolerance allowed, the reason had to be reported within the same business day. I developed a tracking system for monitoring compliance for this rule, and based on that circulated a daily update to all depot managers as well as the company leadership, highlighted both any non-compliance and all differences exceeding tolerance, their explanations and actions being taken to rectify. Simultaneously I strengthened the Finance departments focus on stock valuation.

Within a few weeks, the daily routine took root in the depots, differences were cleared out and the follow-up could be changed from daily to weekly. Write-offs and reporting anomalies were avoided. The company’s auditors, having previously labeled the stock management process as unsatisfactory, now considered it best practice within the region.

Year end closing
When the finance services of the Group companies in Greece were migrated to a shared service center, one daughter company operating an LPG business had been missed in the planning. The finance staff of the Greek mother company had provided the service previously, but when work was migrated this service had been omitted in both the training and the resourcing. The omission was discovered a couple of weeks before the year end reporting to Group was due, at with stage the local finance staff had already left the company.

The Group reporting system had just been changed, and the small group of people who had been trained on the new system was more than busy within their own companies. A way to report had to be found, however, as not doing so on time was not within the Group culture.

I had not seen the new reporting system, and had never been to Greece. I did not know language, nor even the alphabet, and had no particular knowledge of the local business nor the LPG markets. I figured this made me the perfect candidate for the job, and took the assignment to get the reporting done.

During two days in the London head office I tried to get some sort of initiation into the reporting system. But only managed to get a brief chat and a self-study CD, as Group Reporting was fielding questions from around the world. I did manage to recruit a contact person, who promised to try and answer questions by e-mail during the process, time permitting.

Then I flew to Athens, were the CFO of the LPG company had managed to lure one of the departed accounting staff back for a few days as a consultant. During the next three days he ran reports off the system in Greek, interpreted them to me, and I translated the results into the reporting system and solved problems, partly with the help of my e-mail contact.

The reporting was submitted just in time, and without material errors. As a result, the service center even started to consider me an expert in the Greek LPG business, and I later went up to train the staff in the center on the subject, and handed the process over.

Shared service center set-up
In designing and implementing the Group’s first international shared service center, I led one of the centers three main process streams, as well as the migration of Finland as a country. The project started by defining the concept and selecting the processes in scope, redesigning them to work remotely, and negotiating the scope with countries.

The location was selected to be Glasgow, and the first 20 or so employees recruited locally. Recruitement continued as new countries came onstream and the center grew. We trained the new staff, went through an extensive work shadowing exercise in the countries, and then migrated the work one country at the time.

The four Nordic countries were succesfully migrated, after which I moved to doing a feasibility study and process analysis for the next shared service center to be set up in Kuala Lumpur.

I later came back to the Glasgow center to do some troubleshooting after some of the subsequent migrations had run into problems. Later still I was part of taking the center up the value chain by setting up one of the first analyst teams there, providing business analysis instead of transaction processing.

Today the Glasgow center has approximately 1000 employees, and is one of the six financial shared service centers the Group has around the world.