Keen to strengthen the links between finance and operations and to overcome unsustainable process and system complexity, Veolia turned to Workday to provide a centralized cloud-based solution that would not only improve efficiencies and simplify HR processes, but also improve forward planning within the group. The initial focus was in the UK and Ireland and, with the help of the Workday support team, the group successfully deployed Workday to the region’s 14,000 employees. Despite the critical nature and complexity of the project, the transition to the new way of working benefitted from meticulous planning and all processes worked as planned from Day One.
The successful adoption of Workday Financial Management, Workday Human Capital Management (HCM), and Workday Spend Management led to the subsequent introduction of Workday Adaptive Planning. The benefits of a fully integrated solution have been considerable as all data is now in one place and is readily accessible. The finance team, for example, is now working as a business partner for operational personnel, and there is much greater data sharing and collaboration in budget preparation and forward planning.
The group has now further extended the transformation program to include the reporting, processing, and management of expenses. The introduction of Workday Expenses has streamlined all expense processing functions. This has benefited individual members of staff, as it is so easy to use, and is also providing more accurate and timely accounting and reimbursements as well as more effective control of employee spend.
A seamless transition to easier and more efficient expense processing.
Planning for the introduction of Workday Expenses, Veolia’s Finance Transformation team took the opportunity to review and reinforce the group’s existing expenses policy as employee compliance with the policy was not high. Steps were taken to establish a policy that worked for everybody followed by several weeks of testing and a preliminary soft launch to a limited group of users while the old system was closed out. A phased communication program ensured all potential users were aware of the imminent changes and were prepared for the new procedures. Once launched, users had the benefit of virtual training through videos and drop-in sessions as well as FAQs and periodic reminders.
According to Peter Keery, the company’s finance transformation director, the trickiest challenge was to get the coding and defaulting right on the new system, accounting for cumulative mileage and ensuring users were familiar with the process and rationale for new mileage claims. An added complication was a change to the HMRC mileage rate on the day Veolia launched the new expenses system. “Such challenges were pretty quickly resolved,” Keery says. “There have been no major issues and, importantly, users have adopted and taken to the system very well.”
Expense claims vary in value and frequency from one individual to another, so it was important for the system to be easy to use, provide procedural consistency for all types of claims and enable prompt approvals and reimbursement at all times.
Peter Keery, Finance Transformation Director
Savings and efficiency gains matched with global capability.
The introduction of Workday Expenses enabled Veolia to dispense with the former third-party system, providing an immediate saving of £0.25 million. Today, all expense data is entered, processed, and managed within Workday without any separate user management or bank account management and without any need to integrate the expense claims. Everything is in one place, and it is easy to drill through from the P&L to the expense claim and see the associated receipts.
“The new system has greatly simplified the expenses process and there is far greater compliance with the approved procedures,” says Keery. “The efficiency gains have been significant, and not only has it made life a lot easier for the company’s finance team, but it is also helping to minimize any delays in expense processing, authorization and payment. All of the information is quite literally at your fingertips, and having such a responsive and effective reporting function really has made a huge difference.”
Designed as a global expense management tool, Workday Expenses takes full account of different tax rules, currencies, customs, languages, allowances, and regional reimbursement requirements. Following the successful introduction of the system for its UK and Ireland operations, Veolia has now rolled out the system in Finland and is about to do the same for its operations in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
A single source of truth overcomes the challenges of scale and complexity.
With 14,000 UK, Ireland, and Finland staff, the management, processing, and reporting of financial data within Veolia is not only complex, but also on a massive scale. The benefits of having consistent data all in one place has made a huge difference for handling expense claims. It has been a similar story for the company’s OTC process.
The company has six or seven front-end systems to manage all customer relationships and billing arrangements, but was unable to find an appropriate solution for migrating all cash management across to its former SAP system. Customer data was potentially replicated on each system, with data entered at different times, on different systems, and from different site operations within the group. This made the complexities of the reconciliation process even more daunting, frustrating, and time-consuming.
Workday has helped Veolia overcome these challenges and now provides all customer records in one place. Following intensive volume-based testing of 700,000 invoices, the invoices from the front-end systems are now forwarded to Workday, which generates the PDF, implements email distribution, and handles all cash collection processes.
The Workday team has supported us throughout and helped us to make the most of such an integrated and versatile system. Having a single source of truth in all areas of financial management really has made such a difference to us in so many areas.
Peter Keery, Finance Transformation Director