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Guest blog by Eric Stine, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Financial Services, SAP Americas

The recent session at the SAPPHIRE NOW 2013 Financial Services Forum highlighted a successful global finance transformation by Zurich Insurance. Zurich Insurance is a leading multi-line insurance provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices. With about 60,000 employees, it delivers a wide range of general insurance and life insurance products and services for individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, including multinational corporations, in more than 170 countries. However, to maintain its momentum in an increasingly volatile economic and social environment, it had to do more.

Zurich undertook key initiatives focused on implementing common platforms and global processes, three of them heavily based on SAP:

  • SAP Convergence:  Implement a common SAP platform and Chart of Accounts across the globe, with focus on running projects, UK and Ireland and Santander

  • RFC:  Focus on a select number of regional Finance hubs, utilizing existing business/service footprint where feasible; in addition, lowering costs by offshoring select production activities and reducing dependence on expensive locations; introduction of global process owners and extension of standardized processes

  • IAA:  Full roll-out of the global IAA platform, including implementation of globally consistent accounting and operational procedures to agreed standards across all of Zurich’s investments

  • InsightZ:  Full roll-out of InsightZ platform, providing highly integrated and standardized planning process and a foundation for local units to connect and integrate their planning solution and MIS

What was the outcome? Zurich achieved a fully configurable solution that brings business functions closer together and enables real insight into the data and a fully integrated solution and platform that supports all regions, countries, and requirements (no “bolt-on” solutions to be maintained). Of course, there were challenges such as dealing with the strength of US regulatory bodies, entering new market and meeting the respective requirements, and understanding how to use the SAP toolbox.

Next Steps

Zurich Finance continuously builds on SAP as key enabler for standardizing processes and systems. Next steps are to foster efficiency and alignment of overall Finance Transformation team, implement and establish Governance model, hold regional blueprint workshops to finalize 5-year roadmap, finalize and implement success measurement approach, and constantly deliver on the initiatives.

Have you experienced (similar) financial transformations? If so, what advice would you give to others?