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Focus Week

Focus Week 2021


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Anders Liu-Lindberg

Business Partnering Institute

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Robert Brooker

PFK GM Littlejohn

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Chris Argent

Generation CFO

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Jenny Draper

Spend Matters

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Andrew Codd

The Strength in Numbers Show

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Susan Walsh

The Classification Guru

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Dan Foley

Kier Group PLC

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Liz Barclay

Small Business Commissioner

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Philip King

Former Interim Small Business Commissioner

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Duncan Jones


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Matt Evans


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Megan John

Kier Group

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Michael Ryan

Director Finance Transformation

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Daniel Cashen

FISCAL Technologies

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Lisa Blake

Marks & Spencer

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Georg Sonner


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Kevin Little


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Alan Brown


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Katrin Hamann


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Tim Pumphrey


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Gemma Durham


Control Starts with Why

Understand Your Business Needs

people blog piece whyIt seems obvious, but perhaps that’s why it can be a forgotten part of a transformation project. And that is to start from a place of “why.” And what does that mean?  Well, before you embark on any change, you need to be sure that you understand the need for it.

Include All Key Decision Makers

And that doesn’t just mean “you” directly. It means others around you, and others involved in the process. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a role where there’s a “need to know” attitude, which may end up excluding key people from some of the decision-making process.

Ensure the Buy-In of Senior Management

This is a mistake. Sometimes with the best of intentions, those in charge of the project only look for feedback from a small number of people, without taking a step back to consider up front, precisely who should be involved. Taking that approach can have serious limitations on any ROI. Sometimes this happens as a time-saving exercise and sometimes it’s because egos are not kept in check between the departments. A way to avoid this is to recognise any fears and collaborate with the various elements of the business that are likely to be impacted. And crucially, ensure the buy-in of the senior management team.

Don’t Be Afraid to Scrap Processes No Longer Fit For Purpose

As is true of a new process and technology implementation, so too is it of the challenges you hope to tackle. Have you looked at your existing processes? Have you measured your current successes and failures? Take time to consider how they tie into the wider business strategy and to sit back and consider what success would look like to you.

Be Brave – Start with Why

Without mapping a framework and timescale for success and tying that to achievable outcomes, the transformation project will run out of steam. Start with why and don’t be afraid to draw a line under existing processes that no longer serve their purpose, no matter who is involved. If you want control of your processes, you need to be able to measure them. Sometimes we need control so that we remain compliant, in an ever more complex environment, and at other times, we need to be able to fulfill our obligations as a business. In either situation, be brave, be considered and always start with why.

back to Thursday Controls Compliance

Truth, Lies and Fraud in Today's P2P

It’s comforting to think that if fraud exists, it exists elsewhere – anywhere in fact other than right now - in your organisation and your own department. And in fact, it’s that assumption which makes life a whole lot easier for those hoping to embark on a life of procure to pay crime.

fraud imageNo-one likes to think that someone they work with could be capable of fraud, and fraudsters know that. Statistically it’s likely to be “Jamie” who’s worked for the company for the last 10 years or so. Perhaps “Jamie” feels entitled after all the unrecognised hard work he’s put in. Perhaps it’s his way of righting a long standing wrong. Who knows.. but most of all – Jamie is doing it because he can. And yes, of course it can be “Janey” too. But less so.

Of the many high profile fraud cases of recent months – they have all carried some element of surprise - the trusted Finance Director for example who stole £1.4m to fund his extravagant lifestyle and the Finance Manager at a care home who defrauded the business owners who were members of his own family. Both were trusted employees with considerable access to the financial systems and the knowledge of how to navigate around them to their own advantage.

We know that an excess of trust plays into the hands of fraudsters – but in some cases there’s another set of human emotions at play too – shame, embarrassment as well as ego, or pride. Back in the 2010s, I had some involvement with an organisation who fell victim to a series of “threshold frauds” (those where the invoices sat just within the threshold for approval). Percentage wise, the amounts were tiny – but after two years – the scheme had netted the perpetrator a considerable fee. And although the employee was “asked to leave”, the matter was not taken further – in a damage limitation exercise for the reputation of the organisation. So instead of serving as a warning to others, the fraudulent activity was swept under the carpet.

As it’s unlikely, and not particularly desirable, that we decide not to trust our employees and colleagues – it makes sense to adopt practices and technologies which can allow us to indulge our natural instincts while keeping appropriate checks in place. Most of the time people conducting fraud are simply taking an opportunity – it’s not necessarily a lifestyle choice and they’re not necessarily experts at hiding their actions. For example, many fraudsters are caught because when something works once, they’ll try it again and again until they forget to be cautious. Implementing a series of automation solutions can provide many of the answers, but only if it’s placed at the centre of a tight set of thoroughly examined procedures.

Of course, a tightening of processes within accounts payable can have significant effects on areas other than just controlling fraud. If payments are being analysed for duplicates and master supplier files are being checked for erroneous entries and the AP manager has a new step by step process to follow from receipt of PO through to payment, analysing a series of pre-determined metrics along the way – then the cost per invoice goes down and the savings go up. All of which is good news for the business and great news for the long-term development of the department.

back to Wednesday Fraud and Risk

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