The need for strong financial control within any company is paramount to its success but often this control means getting non-financial members of staff to adhere to the rules of time and accuracy. Time and time again management accounts are produced on a monthly basis but a percentage of the information relating to costs has been omitted. Chasing users with requests for information from the accounts department can often be seen as not important and often slips down the list of managerial responsibility.
With SharePoint you can use a work flow utility which shows when a user is required to make a return and also shows when a user is not adhering to time set out in the schedule. Peer pressure is a very strong persuasive power in a company and if you are shown up among your peers that your monthly returns are late than you will try harder to ensure next month’s return is on time.
Companies I have worked for have had a very slack personnel expenses regime. This leads to instances where a user would not make a claim for expenses for a 6 months period (multiple claims). The ulterior motive being that when they get paid a large lump sum they can use this for a holiday or the like. This again means financial control on a month by month basis is being distorted. With its work flow utility, SharePoint can bring about a better control of expenses, only allowing a 21 day period from the month end for the user to fill in their expenses claim. There is still an over-ride whereby the finance department can agree to pay the user due to unforeseen circumstances such as long period of illness etc.
Controls such as those I have mentioned are aimed at producing accurate monthly management accounts. Many an organization has employees who at the end of the year suddenly produce invoices which need to be paid and which may have been more relevant in a different period of the year. The SharePoint model can be used to create purchase orders that ensure invoices do not get buried in the system. Once the purchase order has been created, the user has a set time to produce the invoice which pertains to the purchase order. If this invoice is not produced then the purchase order will show as an alert and the user will be required to answer the reason for the delay.
Purchase orders are seen by Accountants who are investigating fraud as the starting point for any enquiry. The patterns in purchasing can alert a manger or auditor to irregularities and with SharePoint’s clear analysis, the time effort to identify issues can be minimal. The purchase orders need to be requested by a manager who can justify the need for the purchase and then can be signed off by a manager who has the required budget for the purchase. (The value of the purchase will need to be within the capacity of the manager). Auditing after the event can be very difficult as paper trails can become compromised but with a system which is read only the information can be audited.
In some organisations the finance department is autonomous, whereas in some organisations each department has a finance element. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantage but with the above SharePoint system this can cut across department issues and with its transparency bring about an accountable finance department which is producing meaningful and accurate management accounts.