Is End to End Really the End All? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Posted On June 22, 2011

It’s all the rage. Global organizations are starting to take a more “user” centric view of process workflows and operations. As opposed to organizing their delivery capabilities around discrete functions like procurement, finance and accounting (F&A), and HR, the world’s leading firms are organizing around end to end (E2E) processes like Procure to Pay, Hire to Retire, and Record to Report. But is E2E simply a “Hail Mary” pass, a wishful attempt to find value beyond labor arbitrage? Or, as evidence suggests, are the benefits – e.g., better EBITDA, tighter compliance, and greater financial control – real and proven?

A comprehensive CFO survey IBM conducted last year clearly demonstrated that organizations that consistently outperform their peers in EBITDA do, in fact, organize and deliver their global services around principals consistent with an E2E approach. Additionally, these companies all have standardized finance processes, common data definitions and governance, a standard chart of accounts, and globally mandated, strictly enforced standards supporting these E2E processes.

Everest Group’s experience supports IBM’s survey results. And while it seems clear that every large, complex global organization should be chasing E2E in order to improve results and reduce risk, it’s important to note that doing so is neither easy nor without challenges.

To realize the benefits of E2E, Everest Group typically recommends a developing a three- to five-year roadmap with a heavy focus on building the business case, defining the target operating model, and managing stakeholder expectations and change.

Yet even the best game plan will have to address key challenges, including:

  • Fragmentation – The core of many E2E processes, F&A, is often fragmented in large companies. Finance processes are commonly distributed not only by business unit, but also often by geography. A global rationalization of F&A to understand the base case (current state) is a critical first step.
  • Vision – It is essential to document and agree on a common target operating model definition for each E2E process which details:
    • activities, standards, and data definitions
    • a common set of E2E process metrics used to measure performance, provide transparency on delivery performance, and underpin dashboard reporting
    • a framework for controls, oversight, and balance sheet integrity
    • a compelling and thorough business case that clearly defines the current state, investments, and future benefits
  • Technology – Even under the best of technology frameworks, a single, global instance of an ERP system like SAP, a further “thin” layer enabling technologies and tools, may be needed to drive standardized processes.

No, E2E is not a Hail Mary pass, but rather a sustained and balanced drive down the field for a game winning touchdown. Success will require strong leadership, talented personnel, technology, a sound game plan, and solid coaching staff to pull it all together, building momentum and confidence along the way.


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