In Summary

Our client is a multinational automotive distribution, retail and services company headquartered in London. It has 15,000 employees, operates in 36 markets globally and is a listed FTSE100 company with annual revenue of £6.8bn.

The client’s vision was to transform its finance function by streamlining and simplifying its practices and introducing more stabilisation on controls and standardising processes.


The Situation

The client was evolving from a market-driven organisation with very little centralisation to become a business with unified practices and tools. The global business had 2,500 separate processes, compared to the industry standard of 95. The goal was to implement global standards while maintaining market relevance by building a shared service centre.

The Solution

To complete the transformation, streamline and standardise its processes and implement global standards, the client contacted BIE to be part of the supplier panel tasked with recruiting the key interim talent required to support it through a two-phased transformation approach.

After understanding the specific requirements of the business, BIE appointed a Global Finance Transformation Director in early 2020 - a functional expert with extensive experience in managing Finance, HR and IT transformation programmes. Their remit was to oversee both phases of the transformation and set up a strategy for a single Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and shared global service.

They were responsible for embedding project management guidelines and a strong governance methodology, including a project management office (PMO) and a regional governance board. This opened up lines of communication which was crucial in justifying why the change programme was being undertaken in each of the markets. Additionally, control gates were introduced to eliminate reporting risks, which had proved problematic in the past due to responsibility falling to local markets and not a central hub.

The first phase took 9 months to complete. Finance tools including Blackline, Coupa and a global payment system were implemented across 11 global markets and delivered immediate results. Running consecutively to this was a ‘discovery phrase’ to review existing processes and evaluate whether to implement a captive, outsourcing or hybrid model for the Global Business Service (GBS).  

The Results

Ways of working within the procurement function were standardised, which provided the client with 85% visibility of indirect global spending. Blackline provided better system tools to complete month-end. Key processes were harmonised to a regional level; a PMO, governance and structure were embedded; and seven ERPs were implemented. The number of markets with System Applications and Products in Data Processing (SAP) systems increased from 10 to 20 and the number of legacy ERPs were reduced. The global pandemic proved an enabler due to the entire workforce working remotely.

The client settled on an outsourcing model for its Global Business Services (GBS) and finished transitioning fifteen markets In November 2021 with the remaining markets completed in April 2022.

Having shifted to new systems, the next phase of the client's transformation involves stabilising and reviewing the transformation journey, based on the real data they now can produce, to make further improvements in their governance structure model.

Stakeholder engagement, particularly at executive and management levels, was crucial to the success of the project.

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