All companies must close their books at the end of every quarter and fiscal year. Historically that’s been a painful, time-consuming process. Help is on the way with ServiceNow® Finance Close Automation, recently previewed during the Knowledge 2019 keynotes in Las Vegas.
We also held breakout presentations on the conference show floor to discuss this new technology, which will be available in our next product release – New York – in the third quarter of 2019.
So, what is it and what does it do?
As Investopedia reminds us, an organisation’s close period is the time between the completion of a listed company's financial results and the announcement of these results to the public. Typically, the close period is the month preceding the release of a company's quarterly results, and thetwo-month period before the release of its annual results.
Tedious & time-consuming
Most organisations use a series of electronic – but essentially still manual – processes, including emails and spreadsheets, to manage each of their financial close periods. Largely because of these disconnected platforms, applications and information streams, the month end financial close period is often one of the most tedious and time-consuming aspects of modern work.Our product is ServiceNow Finance Operations Management, and Finance Close Automation is the first application to come from it. Built specifically for the office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Finance Close Automation is designed to reduce risk, accelerate the whole process from start to finish, and increase team satisfaction.
The solution is a natural extension of our digital workflows, built on the capabilities of the Now Platform. In an enterprise technology stack, it sits alongside a company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system as a complementary toolset.
NowX concept developments
Our Chief Product Officer (CPO) CJ Desai has explained the inspiration for this innovation.
“The idea for Finance Close Automation was conceived by our former Corporate Controller, Amir Jafari, when he envisioned harnessing the power of the Now Platform to improve our manual finance close process,” said Desai. “Jafari led a team that began innovating the Finance Close Automation app; this team paved the way for NowX, our internal group focused on developing new concepts for products."
Finance Close Automation is the inaugural product coming to market from NowX. In addition, Amir now leads our business unit responsible for Finance Operations Management.
At ServiceNow we do eat our own dogfood (I would prefer to say that we drink our own champagne). We used the Finance Close Automation app forour own quarter- and year-end close processes throughout its developmental phase. By using the app, we were able to validate it and augment its functionality.
PayPal proof of concept
Digital payments leader PayPal is an early adopter of this technology and has already seen positive results.
“The ServiceNow Finance Close Automation app is an innovative new solution that brings together all aspects of the finance close process, enabling simplification, transparency, better controls and greater efficiency,” said Aaron Anderson, PayPal’s Chief Accounting Officer and Vice President. “With its entry into the finance arena, we believe ServiceNow will make a meaningful impact on finance departments acrossindustries.”
Deloitte, the lead launch partner for the product, also shares our passion for innovation and acceleration of operational efficiencies.
“Working with ServiceNow, we’re helping clients drive digital transformation across their organisations. We are particularly excited to help mutual clients like PayPal realise the potential of enterprise service transformation by extending workflow capabilities to the finance close process,” said April Slovensky, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
I want to be a lion tamer!In Monty Python’s famous accountancy sketch, the accountant wants to become a lion tamer because he’s bored with office work. Today, accounting pros want to be able to fulfil their fiduciary responsibilities without struggling with cumbersome, poorly engineered processes such asconnecting emails to spreadsheets to financial reports and back to financial close reports.
ServiceNow Finance Close Automation may not enable finance professionals to spend more time taming lions. However it will allow finance departments to consolidate knowledge, policies and processes. In turn, that will free up resources that companies can use to build innovations that will help them compete in the marketplace.