We are what we repeatedly do - Reconciliations in e-commerce
New age automated reconciliations
“Just because it's what's done, doesn't mean it's what should be done” – Cinderella
Consider the speed of evolving business models – I am told in yester years one could take up to 3 months to just complete incorporating a Company. Compare that to 2 hours in Dubai, 4 hours in Singapore or a week in India now. I grew up my early years in an audit environment where the process and controls and concepts like breaking even were considered important. Fast forward to me now – I am reborn in an e-commerce era where transactions with consumers and suppliers literally happen in one click with digital parties who most times confirm with a captcha instead of a “cup a tea” that you are in fact human!
Product platforms and e-commerce companies are a great role model for focus on external customers. They live their waking moment designing, thinking, design thinking and tracing journeys of customer personas. Many of these companies do not have standard ERPs and are developed to enable agile working and ease interactions. I have one observation that the finance and reporting teams whilst being agile need to perhaps envision how they would scale up and handle volume and traffic at the speed at which the customer team evolves. My view is that they should not try to segregate finance in the traditional way that was introduced with ERPs and incur high costs of control, instead, “pause, clarify and decide” how they can keep up with their counterparts who are customer centric. Is there a finance architect missing many a time? I am millennial minded and believe that the brakes or controls are there in a Ferrari so that you can speed and stop when you want and not go slow! Is Finance only trying to fit into the earlier perfected digital mould and not thinking of what could be or is it new tech that has no time to get slowed by finance process?
Gone are the days for example when auto companies for example insisted that the feeder systems for JIT supplier or Distributors or channels implement expensive licensed products or ERPs that claim that they reduce the pain (but we know better)! Back to the future the digital world allows variation even at customer level for different products, or again at a marketplace multiple brands come in with their own systems and et Voila we find that there are endless reconciliation hours being spent in e-commerce companies. Point am making is whether old age models or rapidly evolving new ones there is a constant reconciliation of numbers SKUs sold bought dispatched, returned. You can be a puritan baby boomer and say this is what happens when you don’t plan. Huh? The plan seems to be in my mind - survive in what I would call planned chaos. Its like driving in some of the cities around the world – except the residents everyone may find it chaotic.
Humor me in this following exercise both e-commerce companies and others:
- First find 15 minutes to yourself;
- Think of the number of processes up to your third degree and segregate your team time into customer interaction (internal and external), design and architecting future, fighting current fires, supporting operations and reconciliations;
- Write down a list of descending order tasks that you would rather not have your team spend time but you need that done – I guarantee reconciling would be in the top two;
If at least two and half FTE for every 5 in your team doesn’t focus on customers and contribute to the larger architecture and design and keep up with the changes that are rapidly evolving business models inside and outside your organisation; you are bound to be focusing constantly on “urgent and importants”.
Look at this way my fellow mates in e-commerce – you are a teenager and you are writing your journey. You have in your hands power to leave behind a legacy that you have the power to create. Urge yourself to consider Malcolm Gladwell summary on impressionists in France leaving “Salon” and creating their own free exhibition. The trouble that I see is that we have teenagers being governed and architected by pre e-commerce era architects where their experience may become a blind spot to cultivate and act on re-imagining rather than running back to the old ways! I don’t mean to be over critical but want you to consider how one then architects?
The answer perhaps lies in learning from the movie “How to train your dragon” where Hiccup teaches his father and the entire Viking clan “Stoick the Vast”. He sets out to please his father by falling into the mould and cutting the heart out of a “Nightfury”. Then he changes his mind and addresses the real issue that they are scared of the change that perhaps embracing the new and co-existing with dragons was not an option. Let me assure you I am not suggesting that experienced finance architects are Vikings or automation is equal to dragons and all of us vying to be Hiccup! Closer home – in Hindu mythology, the son of Shiva, Lord Muruga actually did reverse mentoring by teaching him the meaning of the Mantra Om. He lead by example of reverse mentoring and architecting in unison. I leave you to decide how and when who should share and teach who! “It is a lot easier to be brave when you know you have no alternative”- Cressida Crowel (Author of How to train your dragon).
E-Commerce is a just in the “last teens” industry which can re imagine the way it architects human and machine interaction to make life simple for the organisation and finance who are their internal customers. I would like to call this reverse mentoring of the millennial organisations to the monolithic. “Carpe Diem” and evaluate how you can re-imagine how your employees would use their time.
In our new venture- Kriya Konsulting, we have crafted new age solutions for e-commerce companies in specific keeping the customers front and centre and breaking business models that consultants earlier used to charge. Let us architect the future with you.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney