Finance Transformation Delivers ‘Monumental Impact’

May 31, 2023
4 Minute Read

Hikma is a $2 billion global pharmaceuticals company founded to transform people’s lives by providing the quality medicine and support they need every day. Until recently, all their finance and accounting processes were managed through spreadsheets and email, requiring the F&A team to manually process hundreds of GL reconciliations every month. With RGP’s support, our client transformed their processes and implemented BlackLine automation software, enabling increased standardization, timeliness and enhanced oversight of the close process.

RGP partnered with Hikma during a time of significant organizational change, providing expert consulting solutions, leading and industry practices, and lessons learned throughout their Finance and Accounting functions. As with any transformation, the software itself was only one part of the journey. We began with an end-to-end close optimization assessment, which enabled us to recommend improvements — and, ultimately, to help our client set up a Finance PMO.

Key assessment findings:
  • Inconsistent processes (e.g., reconciliations)
  • Lack of a centralized close calendar
  • Utilization of non-standardized spreadsheets and other tools
  • Stressed and over-capacity resources
Key recommendations:
  • Design the future state to streamline, simplify and standardize close processes.
  • Reduce employee stress and turnover.
  • Select and leverage a close optimization solution that would meet immediate needs and scale to company growth strategies.
  • Develop, utilize and communicate your roadmap.

Based on our findings and recommendations, we collaborated with our client to prioritize areas to target and developed an execution plan, including a multi-phased implementation roadmap.

Increasing Efficiencies and Controls While Shortening the Close

In the first phase, we addressed one of the highest-priority finance transformation needs: optimizing the close processes through standardization and automation. So far, Hikma has implemented Task Manager, Account Reconciliations, and Compliance, and they’re already experiencing the benefits:

  • Automated 60 monthly GL reconciliations instead of processing all 350 of them manually.
  • Moved low-risk and low-activity reconciliations — about 15% of the total — from monthly to quarterly, freeing up additional time for the team.
  • Achieved a 20% reduction in close labor and 60% auto-certification in the first month.
  • Enabled 100% visibility and oversight of SOX controls and controls testing.

Partnering to Co-deliver a Successful Transformation

While an optimization project involves a lot of technical configuration, success also hinges on elements such as communication, experience and enhanced training. Hikma’s Associate Director of Technical Accounting Matt Kroll joined us at BlackLine’s Global Beyond the Black conference, where we explored how these “soft” yet critical success factors helped ensure adoption and benefits realization. (Watch the session on demand.)

Accounting for People, Processes and Systems

Change is never easy, especially when people are “at capacity.” Sponsorship, communications, and a clear, shared vision of the future state are critical for everyone to gain understanding and buy-in: The future state is going to be better — because the current state is not sustainable.

1. Leading by example creates excitement for change.

We all know change is hard. It’s only human to feel apprehensive about what’s coming—especially when there’s apprehension that you’re going to get automated out of a job.

So, how do you reassure your team, ease resistance, and get them excited about the benefits of a transformation?

Based on his experience with Hikma’s transformation, Matt says the first step is getting to know people as individuals and understanding why they’re reluctant. For example, some people may be anxious that they’ll be automated out of a job. So, it’s important to reassure them that this will be a change for the better.

Additionally, says RGP’s Steve McKechnie, VP Finance Transformation, you can help them get excited about having more free time to do what they love. “I’m an accountant. I want to be that numbers detective. I don’t want to have all my time spent on the administrative side.”

RGP was a great champion in this journey. I loved their ability to provide real-time education and training and different ways to think about things.

Matt Kroll, Associate Director, Technical Accounting, Hikma Pharmaceuticals

Matt agrees, saying that once his team saw their daily job was going to improve, they were able to embrace and accept it. “This is about changing the way we look at things from transactional to analytical. I think it’s all about communication—it’s about upfront coaching and training and knowledge sharing,” noting that RGP worked hand in hand with his team to manage the change.

2. Process and control set a tone for success.

A system implementation is only as good as the strength of the underlying processes and knowledge of what you want to address. You and your team must come together and share your collective knowledge of the process so you can redesign the process to be more efficient and effective.

Of course, you need to do the legwork before implementing any system. And while Blackline has a lot of automation functionality, if you don’t understand your current process and where improvements can be made, you’re just going to move a manual process into a system—and you’ll still have that same process you used to do manually.

“I’ve seen mediocre teams flourish, and I’ve seen exceptional teams flop, all because there was or was not a processing system in place that was efficient and effective,” Matt says. “A big picture mindset is good, but if you’re not detail-oriented, there is execution risk.”

For Hikma, that meant detailing the monthly close process step-by-step to truly understand its DNA before redesigning the process for automation functionalities.

3. Lean into the system and unlock the efficiencies.

Success does not come without diligence, which requires preparation and documentation of the approach and a road map for executing the plan. Uncertainty and change aren’t easy, but with that roadmap, you can set expectations for what’s happening now, what’s coming up, and what the pace of change will be.

“The implementation is the fun part,” Matt says. “I had everyone from the CFO to the controller to the staff accountant and other teams to make sure that we were all on the same page. Corporate supported us, but they also wanted to use this as the base case before we expanded the transformation globally.

Finally, Matt advises choosing a third-party consultant like RGP with the expertise and extensive track record with Finance Transformation and BlackLine implementation.

“RGP was a great champion in this journey for us to implement BlackLine,” he says, citing the team’s positive energy, robust knowledge, and technical expertise. “What I loved about them was their ability to provide real-time education and training and different ways to think about things.”

Matt describes the impact as “truly monumental,” noting that since they’re not spending as much time on manual tasks, they’re now able to focus on more analytical, value-add tasks.

“It’s unbelievable,” Matt says. “The team loves it. I love it. The CFO loves it.”

Hikma Pharmaceuticals is currently in the midst of a global expansion, rolling out the BlackLine implementation into more countries.

RGP and BlackLine: Silver-tier Partnership

As a BlackLine Alliance Silver-tier and certified implementation partner, we’ve helped more than 200 clients on over 500 BlackLine projects. Our Finance Transformation team can help you streamline, automate or eliminate activities, standardize processes, and adopt or enhance business systems.

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