SharePoint and the F.O.S.H. Life – Finance (part 2 of 4)
F.O.S.H. Stands for Finance, Operations, Sales and Human Resources and denotes four areas in an organization where SharePoint can have an immediate impact. SharePoint is a tool that can be tailored to any business to enhance communication and automate repetitive business processes within and across departments.
In ‘SharePoint and the F.O.S.H. Life – Human Resources’, we discussed how SharePoint can enhance and optimize HR processes, exemplified by the Employee Life Cycle. This blog, which is the second in a series of four, will focus on how SharePoint can help streamline some of the various Finance functions within an organization.
Finances are pervasive throughout every organization and it is important to ensure that standardized auditable systems exist across the entire company. By using SharePoint to manage finance related business processes, an organization can ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, streamline work processes and provide a platform for collaboration on internal financials.
Billing Forms and Workflows
For most organizations, it is an essential need to have a centralized location for managing the billing process. If your debtors don’t pay on time you are losing money, and if you bill inaccurately you will likely lose revenue or customers or both. By integrating a custom built InfoPath form into a SharePoint environment you can quickly create a system that meets the specific needs of an organization. This form can capture all of the important information for a billing statement, allowing users to select the client to bill, specify custom billing codes, provide explanations for the bill and have the system automatically calculate any credits or charges for a specific billing period.
Once the bill has been created a workflow can route it for approval to ensure its accuracy before the client ever sees it. Using customized workflows SharePoint can determine the role of the user that created the billing statement and route it to the next level of approval. When the statement has been approved an export of the file can be created and uploaded to a billing system or sent directly to the client.
One of the cornerstones of SharePoint is collaboration which makes the system ideal for creating and approving departmental and enterprise level budgets. When it is time to create the yearly budget, the Finance department can upload budgets from prior years to provide a point of reference for the next budgeting cycle. A proposed budget can be placed on the same site to allow all participants in the budgeting process to view and interact with the proposed budget. By providing insight into the budgeting process SharePoint eliminates confusion over what the current version is and; therefore, enhances the overall budgeting process.
This collaborative process can help department heads understand why other departments’ budgets are approved and provides all participants with the ability to justify and defend their proposed budget. Different versions of the budget will automatically be stored in SharePoint allowing everyone to see who made what changes and when they were made (with the ability to revert to a previous version if needed).
Compliance, Auditing and Regulatory Reporting
In the modern business environment most organizations have obligations to comply with and report on federal, state and/or local regulations. Internal Compliance Programs can be integrated into SharePoint to help streamline the process of maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements, improve auditability of compliance documentation and assist with the regulatory reporting process.
By using SharePoint workflows, the system can be set up to alert when specified employees need to take some sort of action to maintain or document compliance (without documented proof of compliance there is no compliance!). Once the employee has taken the required action s/he can log it into the system (either via an action log or through uploading a document).
This documentation can then be routed for review and approval which will provide an audit trail showing who was involved in the documentation and providing evidence that the required people approved it.
Due to the Federal Paperwork Reduction Act many regulatory agencies have started accepting electronic documentation as evidence of compliance. By collecting and maintaining this evidence in SharePoint, an organization can ensure the security of these important documents and assist auditors in finding them. The search features in SharePoint provide a robust experience allowing users to search not only document titles but specified scopes and even within documents for specific terms. By allowing an auditor controlled access to a SharePoint environment, s/he will be able to quickly find and view the history of the required document.
This blog post is the second in a series of four focusing on the advantages of SharePoint within the F.O.S.H. areas. The first blog exemplified the many advantages of using SharePoint from an HR perspective and future posts will discuss how SharePoint can improve and streamline business processes and collaboration in the fields of Operations and Sales.
Josh Jackson, Senior SharePoint Consultant
Posted by: Jakob Bechgaard