A programme to transform Absa’s finance and procurement processes as part of its digitisation journey has made significant progress as its Kenyan operations switched to an integrated, fully cloud-based solution last month.

The programme will go live in South Africa next.

The programme, named Owari (signifying interconnectivity), is an initiative to ultimately standardise and transform Absa’s financial reporting and procurement processes across the 14 countries in which the group operates.

“Financial reporting and vendor processes are typically complex and onerous processes for multinational companies with legacy systems,” says John Annandale, Absa’s group financial controller.

“We are migrating all Absa entities onto a back-office finance and procurement template solution on fully integrated platforms, enabling us, longer term, to standardise and automate these processes,” he says.

Absa Group’s primary ledger as well as group reporting and consolidation will ultimately move to the new solution, improving controls and reducing risk by consolidating all financial data across finance, risk, and treasury functions.

The Owari programme delivered an integrated general ledger solution by integrating a SAP S/4 HANA enterprise resource planning system on AWS with Coupa, a Software as a Service (SaaS) spend management solution, in Kenya. The end-to-end solution is fully cloud-based, rather than residing in on-premises data centres. This means that the solution can be accessed online at any time from any location.

Absa is increasingly adopting cloud-based computing in lieu of on-premises data centres, based on scalability, cost and efficiency benefits.

“Establishing the new integrated solution, and as a fully cloud-based service, was a great challenge,” says Ebrahim Samodien, CIO in the Absa Group technology office. “Many companies have struggled to transfer finance processes to the cloud as it is challenging from a data, technical and regulatory point of view. Owari was successful in Kenya as a result of the approach we took and the software and technology choices we made.”

This article first appeared on IT Online.