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case studies

case studies

Illustrating the issues and approaches we have employed to support wider business change.

featured article: closing accounts
training the job
new policies
new metrics
new systems
published articles
read our article on credit training at Lambeth
This article first appeared in the July 2005 issue of Credit Management, journal of the Institite of Credit Management, and is reproduced with their permission

featured article: closing acccounts

Annual accounts closure can be a major pain for public sector entities. It is a time to ensure working papers are collated, audit trail exists, reconciliations have been performed, miss-postings corrected and accruals made. Much of this work will be performed by people who do not see finance as their day to day priority, yet a poor accounts closing can have a big impact on performance. In this case study we describe how we have helped one local authority to tackle their accounts close.

The year end financial accounts closure process at this council had been identified by both the senior management and external auditors as being in need of improvement with deadlines being missed and material errors picked up during the audit process.

The council asked maltway to develop a programme to raise the knowledge and skills of the staff involved in the year end close process to:

  • Improve the quality and efficiency of the accounts closure process
  • Make the financial accounts more accurate
  • Develop communications between the central and departmental finance teams.

We responded quickly to develop a programme that had a clear focus on improving the outcome of the process as well as helping the council meet its statutory responsibilities. The clear priority was to ensure that all staff involved in the process knew what their roles and responsibilities were and were able to produce quality information and evidence on a timely basis.

This was achieved through a combination of a one-day training event supported by improved communication and planning between the Corporate Finance team and the departments. The training covered not only the accounts closure process within the council and but also included sessions aimed at improving the participants' skills, particularly in relation to working papers and evidence to support accruals and reconciliations (which had been highlighted by the auditors as a particular weakness).

In the second year of our involvement the training audience was split into 2 groups. Those new to either the council or the process received foundation level training to ensure they were equipped with the essential knowledge and skills, whilst for more experienced staff the emphasis was on further improving the quality and efficiency of the process, for example through better review and resource management.

The training received exceptional feedback and the results were transformational. In the first year of our involvement a significant improvement in the quality of working papers was noted by the auditors and by the end of our second year, far from being an area noted for improvement the quality of supporting information was seen as a positive strength. For the first time no material errors or adjustments were made by the auditors.

training the job

A leading wholesale bank wanted to develop the skills of its corporate credit recovery officers. What made us unique was our ability to root the "softer" skills development within a finance and business case study, which comprised:

  • Business strategy, strategic positioning and financial statement analysis (of their client in difficulty)
  • Leadership and management team qualities and capabilities (both for personal assessment and to assess the ability of the management in their clients to turn their businesses around)
  • Communication and influencing skills (how they work with their own management team and their client to "sell" their turnaround strategy)
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution skills (for inevitable, difficult, client meetings).

Using a real business case study as a foundation to the course participants were able to think themselves into the role plays later in the course when they needed to play both the client and themselves in difficult meeting situations.

This case illustrates how maltway can blend technical and softer skills in one effective package. Try using a similar approach to develop your finance analysts into true internal business consultants!

new policies

An expanding multinational group needed to ensure that its financial reporting was aligned to UK GAAP from around the world and complied with its own accounting policies and procedures. Past experience showed that sending out paper based accounting policy and procedures manuals did not work, either they were not referred to or they became out of date or they were incorrectly applied. Training was an essential enabler of the solution.

The manual was put on line, accessible to all and always the current version

On-line tutorials and examples were created that linked to the manual to back up those areas that were most frequently misapplied

A clear communication path was established for resolving queries

A series of briefings for local finance units were run on the usage of the on-line manual and a series of courses in how the group applied UK GAAP.

more case studies
View a selection of case studies relating to our work with Local Authorities

finance training curriculum

anti-fraud awareness

financial management of childrens centres

financial management for new managers

procure 2 pay

risk management

value for money

budget management

closing accounts

multi-disciplinary project teams

business processes for managers

new metrics

A leading PC manufacturer redeveloped its scorecard to include shareholder value metrics. The business analysts in each division were required to understand how those metrics could be used to drive value, how to influence management to take value based decisions and how to use new planning tools introduced to support the programme.

During the needs analysis it became apparent that training would be required not only for the business analysts but for the divisional management teams and that those divisions had distinct cultures and differing training needs. We rapidly trained the business analysts in time for their business planning cycle using a combination of pre-work, hands-on planning exercises and discussion of the impact of the new metrics and the people change issues.

At divisional management level two approaches were delivered depending on the culture and preferences of the division:

We worked with the divisional finance officer to host a workshop to explore in a live environment how the new metrics would influence the divisional executive team's decision making, planning and results

We hosted a series of road-shows to introduce the functional management teams to the new processes and success stories of the early implementers.

comment & feedback
"Learning is a continuous process. I am taking away with me much more than I actually anticipated to get from the course, the turnaround strategies, importance of leadership, communication skills, influencing and negotitating to mention but a few." Participant feedback

new systems

Few systems implementations fail because of the hardware or software. However, the human element still frequently lets them down. Training is often added on as an afterthought rather than included within the solution planning and often concentrates on systems features rather than business benefits. Areas of focus include:

  • Are management teams bought in the solution?
  • Is communication strategy in place to support the change?
  • Do implementation timetables allow sufficient time to train critical mass in use of the systems prior to cut-over?
  • Is assessment planned to ensure users can use the system?
  • Will training focus on functionality or will it identify how people will perform their new, improved jobs?
  • Does training embed the use of new business processes and use of support materials such as procedures manuals?
  • Does training make the best and most appropriate use of delivery mechanisms - hands-on simulation, use of e-learning, discus on groups and road-shows?
  • Has the business identified and planned for the who, when and where of training delivery?
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