Like many business seeking to keep up with the rapidly changing market, both Burberry and Itsu Groceries are looking toward automated technologies to improve the finance function.
With the opening of its new shared service centre in Leeds a little over a year ago, Burberry performed what Ian describes as a “lift and shift”, transporting the businesses finance functions alongside HR, IT, Customer Services and Procurement. Using the move as an opportunity to transform and optimize existing processes through the introduction of automation technologies including Robotic Process Automation and AI, a current focus of the business’ finance function is to improve operational efficiency while freeing employees to perform more value added work. However, Ian reveals, automation is not leading factors in the businesses thinking.
At Istu Groceries, Camila currently heads a small finance team of three. In it’s short life span, the business has grown from a £6 million enterprise to what they predict to reach £19 million in 2019. To manage this growth, Camila explains that the business it setting its sights on the introduction of automated processes. “We want to remove the paper trail and cut down the time spent on processing transactions while creating a better control and record of those transactions. This will provide more time for those in finance to help the business with analysis and understanding.”
As each business goes undergoes a phase of transformation, the role and expectations of the their finance professionals are changing.
As the existing processes are transformed and improved within the shared service centre, those in Burberry’s finance function are gifted with the time to offer the business more value added services. Over the next 12 to 18 months, Ian explains that efforts will be turned toward “stepping up” the business partnering aspect of finance. This will largely comprise of developing the soft skills necessary to execute this expanding dimension of the role with success. “There are a lot of great people here and they have the soft skills to do this, I just don't think they've been able to deploy them as much.”
“In 2015, we were a business of 13, this year we’re 27 and next year, we’ll be looking at the mid-30s. We’re a start-up but moving towards the league of a smaller sized business” explains Camila. Itsu Groceries started as an entrepreneurial off spurt of the widely recognised Itsu restaurant chain, and as such, its small cohort of employees have become accustom to an environment that provides the freedom to pursue ideas and initiatives with little need for permission. But, as the company grows, a more ridged structure will come into place which brings its own challenges.
While Burberry and Itsu Groceries have identified and are executing a strategy to address the future of their finance function, some challenges still prevail.
As a FTSE 100 company with a market capitalisation of over £8 billion, Burberry is an undeniably substantial enterprise. As a result, it is presented with the challenges of managing obligations to governments and compliance alongside its other stakeholders and shareholders. “We have to ensure that we can deliver against all those stakeholder requirements at the same time as providing good business services,” says Ian. However, one of the biggest challenges currently being tackled by Burberry and its finance function is the transition from its legacy systems into the next stage of finance.
As a small business, one of Itsu Groceries greatest challenges is maintaining its momentum while remaining relatively small in size and status in highly competitive market. “When you’re a small business, you really have to work together, and you can’t afford not to be friends with the people in sales or the people in supply chain. You have to make sure you’re on board, working towards the same goal and understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing,” shares Camila. “Additionally, as a small brand, we’re still establishing ourselves and we don’t have the power within a supermarket as big brands do.”
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START UP VS. HERITAGE:
WHAT FINANCE LOOKS LIKE
Follow the link below to for more insight into Burberry and Itsu Groceries' greatest challenges and how they intend to confront the future of finance.
THE FUTURE OF FINANCE & CFO SUMMIT 2019
Senior Vice President, Group Finance, Burberry
In an opening Keynote, Ian will discuss Burberry's finance transformation strategy and how finance is supporting a business-wide transformation.
International Director & Finance Director, Itsu Groceries
Camila will be hosting a session for those seeking to develop a successful partnering programme framework to realise the true value of finance.
Future of Finance & CFO Summit
11th - 13th February 2019, London
Meet like minded professionals and gain expert insight into how your business can ready its people, process and technology for the future.