PwC embraces one way of working with SAP S/4HANA Cloud

All time and attention for the customer, supported by standardized systems and processes that significantly promote collaboration among colleagues within PwC Europe. To achieve this, PwC Europe opted for a large-scale migration of the entire contact-to-cash process to the public SAP S/4HANA Cloud. An interview with Maddy Kooreman, controller at PwC, and with Wouter Hoff and Saskia Hadewegg Scheffer, both partners at PwC Netherlands.

“Customer intimacy is very important to us. What we do is by definition tailor-made. That also includes a certain amount of flexibility,” says Hoff. “Projects can change within a day. You have to be able to anticipate that. At the same time, you can collaborate much easier and better if you are all on the same systems and have the same processes. Then I’m not just talking about cooperation between the different disciplines, but also between the countries that make up PwC Europe.”

According to Hoff, a good system implementation does require a unified way of working, a ‘one way of working’. “For both the three disciplines within PwC, Assurance, Tax & Legal and Advisory, and for the various countries within PwC Europe, assignments must all be looked at in the same way. For example, when it comes to pricing and the deployment of people on projects.”

The right data

“Typical of our business is that we want to spend as much time as possible with and on the client. We can only do that if we automate and standardize the administrative work wherever possible,” says Hadewegg Scheffer. “What employees experience as corvee, should take as little time and effort as possible,” adds Kooreman. “The ultimate goal is, for example, that an invoice can be sent automatically based on the right settings, without you as an employee having to worry about it.”

Hadewegg Scheffer: “We don’t want to spend time on all kinds of systems, but we do want to be able to use those systems optimally. Prior to a client visit, an advisor must be able to see at a glance which other colleagues have had contact with the client in question and what was discussed then. All this is necessary to get the most out of the customer experience, both with and for the customer. With the right data, you should be able to gain better insights and act on them.”

Co-creation with SAP

With its global transformation program Da Vinci, PwC is trying to accelerate its efforts to adopt a new way of working. An important part of this program is to harmonize and bring the contact-to-cash process to the public cloud in order to achieve a one way of working. “Within the cloud there is less room for customization but the latest technical updates and new functionalities are readily available,” Hoff says. “Also, new developments are easy to adopt without significant investment.”

As frontrunners, PwC Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, among others, adopted a module for a new system for writing hours and for travel and expense management. Kooreman: “Everything is cloud-based and has a link to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, which we have optimized together with SAP for professional services, the business in which we operate. We did implement a large number of improvements to cope with the scale of operation and to support the processes.”

“To be able to get away with it, optimizations were still needed in the area of interfacing the written hours. Together with SAP, we further optimized the product and made it even more mature. It is all still very much in flux,” adds Kooreman.

Real business transformation

According to Hoff, it helps that users are already experiencing the benefits of the new systems and the one way of working. “We now only have to enter certain data once. These all end up automatically in SAP S/4HANA. This gives us grip and insight into the management and planning on the one hand and ease of use for our employees on the other. In addition, collaboration has improved, both between the three disciplines and across borders,” Hoff observes.

“If I carry out an assignment for a client from Consultancy together with PwC Germany and the colleagues from Tax, then the total assignment is clear to everyone. At the moment we are working on drawing up business rules. We are looking at which parameters we can build in to gain insights more quickly that will help us to adjust and direct our business. This shows that this transformation goes beyond Finance alone and is a real business transformation.”

Change management crucial

The transformation of the contact-to-cash process took more than three years in total. “All in all it was a comprehensive project,” Kooreman looks back. “In the Netherlands we have more than five thousand employees who had to get used to these new systems and a new way of working. We had to get them all to agree, and that in times of a pandemic with online meetings. It’s important to maintain focus and pay attention to change management,” Hoff adds.

PwC does this by means of a ‘change agent network’, among other things. This network, consisting of professionals from the business, trains employees in the use of the new systems. Hoff: “And by showing what the changes are in practice and how the systems support the primary processes.” “But also by sharing experiences with each other, and with our customers,” concludes Hadewegg Scheffer.