10Minutes on finance & accounting shared services

February 2009
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Finance & accounting shared services

At a glance

How can organizations minimize, offset, or capitalize on the business consequences of a global economic slowdown when deciding to implement or re-evaluate their current shared services centers? Here we give our view.

Today, companies are trying to balance a new wave of cost-reduction imperatives with long-term planning initiatives. For many executive teams, this focus involves determining exactly what expectations they should place on financial shared services centers (FSSC).

The answers aren’t always obvious. Companies with a center in place may believe they have already realized—or are well on their way to realizing—the results targeted in the center’s original business case. For other companies—including those in the midst of planning a center—recent economic trends demand a careful re-examination of assumptions, dependencies, and implementation schedules.

For companies who understand their FSSC-related risks and opportunities, the rewards, not just now but later, could be significant.

Highlights

  • Finance and accounting shared services centers are now “mainstream.” Before the downturn, the number of companies deploying FSSCs more than tripled, from 14% in 2005 to 50% in 2007.1
  • Historically, companies expected FSSCs to reduce finance and accounting costs by 20% to 40% over three to five years.2
  • Companies with FSSCs seeking to offset the risks of the current downturn should focus on two priorities: realizing near-term savings and efficiencies and making decisions that will yield long-term value.
1 PwC and The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. 2008. 2007-2008 Offshoring Research Network Survey.
2 Ibid.