November is traditionally the time for budget rounds. At this time, the central functions (or the second lines, in GRC jargon) also look beyond everyday activities and begin their big-picture, overarching planning with regard to the further development of their processes.
Common questions asked in this planning are:
- Where do we stand with our current level of maturity? Where should we go?
- Which steps are realistic in the coming year? How much leeway do we want to give for the unforeseen?
- What priorities need to be set? Which general conditions have to be considered?
- What resources will we need for this? What does this mean for budget planning?
- How do we get the required budget through the approval process?
Particularly in times when budgets are under pressure, savings are often made with regard to the acquisition and introduction of supporting tools. Common reactions are to assess existing tools that have already been used with regard to their suitability (often unrelated to the subject), to develop something “quickly” themselves or to continue to maintain manual processes. It is of great importance, especially in turbulent times, that highly qualified specialists leverage their expertise to assess in a qualitative manner and help steer the company safely and sustainably through these challenges. All too often however, we experience that valuable time is spent on unnecessary and manual administration.
Based on the importance of continuously improving the degree of process maturity, we have put together a few thoughts that can be helpful in budgeting.
Have a clear definition of the objective
A convincing argument requires a clearly defined goal. On the one hand, this is important in order to be able to allocate resources in a targeted and focused manner, apart from everyday processes. On the other hand, measurements can only be made against a clear understanding of goals where proven successes can be reported. Even if the project encompasses different use cases, we recommend a gradual implementation that builds on one another in order to be able to quickly achieve initial results in these individual phases. Expected improvements should be formulated explicitly and tailored to the process in question. One perspective here can be to simplify the activities of those involved in the process. In this case, it should be stated which user groups are involved, how many users need to be reached with the improvements process, and which simplifications need to be achieved. From the central function’s point of view, the objective can, for example, be based on time-saving, avoiding errors caused by manual activities and, last but not least, improving the quality of reporting.
Time to Value
The times of long implementation projects and exorbitant costs are over. Most areas can report sprawling IT projects, some if not many of which failed and were subsequently canceled as an outcome. Neither the time invested by the department to facilitate the implementation, nor the delay in benefit and value-realising are acceptable. In addition to making adjustments to the software, a lot of time is often spent training the individual user groups. Here, for example, it is important to map out the process faster and in smaller slices using a more agile approach, and to train the users according to their current tasks. The agreed procedures and priorities must be clearly and comprehensively guided by the added value for the user.
Based on the objective, the time component should therefore be considered right from the start and it should be specifically defined when the central function itself and those involved in the process will benefit from the investment. Experience has shown that time-to-value is one of the first questions, even for smaller projects. We therefore recommend highlighting this aspect in the consideration of a new tool.
Make qualitative use of the human resources and time gained
Of course tool-side support frees up internal capacities, but it is advisable to back up this statement with a detailed plan of how the time gained can be put to good use.
The starting point for this can usually be found by looking at the processes relating to risk management, internal controls and related assurance processes. Unfortunately it is often at this stage that acceptance is decided on by the respective business areas, making it all the more important to be able to hold content-related discussions and to establish yourself as a trusted sparring partner. Examples of this include the closer examination of identified risks and their assessment, or the joint development of action plans for further improvement.
On the one hand, this applies to the often understaffed central departments and on the other, applies equally to those involved in the business areas and affiliated companies. Here, one can often argue that the many necessary queries, surveys and evaluations take away valuable time from the actual business.
In addition to the evident relief and simplification gained through automation, a noticeable improvement will also be achieved in the quality of processes. In addition, a more pleasant collaboration, characterised by partnership, will be forged in parallel.
Consider the total cost, including the fixed ones
In order to support the assessment of the total cost to business, we work often with our customers in using Alyne’s specially developed Business Case Builder. The starting point here is the precise consideration and description of the respective application, with regard to its effect on “People”, “Process” and “Technology” in order to include all relevant aspects. In addition, concrete assumptions are specified and stored in order to adequately map not only the project phase, but also the subsequent everyday operation. We use various types of costs calculated over a comparable time frame in order to achieve real transparency. Internal costs, such as allocated expenses for using your own IT infrastructure, or the time spent on manual tasks are also taken into account. With Alyne’s Business Case Builder, we have already achieved surprising results for our prospects and customers, and have been able to put arguments such as “there are no further license costs” to bed.
So, to all second Lines: Let's tackle it together!
Learn more about Alyne’s cost saving benefits for your organisation and book a meeting to build your business case with an expert in your region.