Microsoft Wraps up Asia

As our eyes are glued on Asia––in terms of market growth but also services delivery––we ask Microsoft’s director of Financial Control for some tips. OneFinance is the unique outsourcing model that works for this software giant – and it’s being rolled out across the region.

SSON interview with , Director, Financial Control, Finance and Corporate Function, Japan Microsoft Co., Ltd

SSON: I would like to first off, take this opportunity to congratulate you on Microsoft’s Singapore team’s achievement in winning the 2011 SSON Excellence Award [Asia] for customer service. Could you outline Microsoft’s service delivery strategy for the Asian market?

NA: Thank you Barbara. That Award is surely good news for the team that worked on the BPO engagement. The original intent of our outsourcing journey started with a number of very specific drivers:

  • the need to drive process standardization
  • the need to reduce complexity, and to outsource non-strategic activities
  • the need to develop efficient compliance processes that improve the control environment
  • the need to provide powerful business insights and performance management

These drivers are consistent with Microsoft’s worldwide strategy, but the choice of location may be one aspect of the Asia strategy that is unique. We have been able to leverage the service centers in Dalian, China where we are able to take advantage of good foreign language skills, especially in Japanese, and a good supply of workers available. As BPO is a human resource driven engagement, to secure the right people for a team is vital to our success.

SSON: To what extent do the regional centers collaborate, for example, on process improvement?

NA: Our Finance Operations, which runs the BPO governance organization does the following to support collaboration
a) promotes process design based on Microsoft’s global standard and maintenance
b) manages local exceptions and modifications, and
c) supports out outsourcing partner Accenture and sub-teams to review SLAs where appropriate.

SSON: Could you describe your Service Center, and the services you provide to your customers? Who are your customers?

NA: My service center is located in Dalian, China. It supports Record, Payment and the Procurement process. The main customers are defined as
a) the external end-user, such as our vendors;
b) the internal end-users; and
c) the Microsoft Finance team.

SSON: How does outsourcing make sense for your F&A operations? Please explain your relationship with Accenture.

NA: In line with our Finance mission and objective, we aim to focus on Business Intelligence and Financial Leadership to drive Microsoft’s financial performance. And we aggressively seek the opportunity to drive Business Process Excellence with our BPO partners. This made us focus on the significant mind-set changes and the fact that we needed to accomplish this with the appropriate resource and effort allocation. Accenture manages the record, payment, and procurement process on behalf of Microsoft. In other words, Accenture supports us to create the capacity for us to focus on the Business Intelligence and Financial Leadership.

SSON: Based on your experience, how do you set up effective outsourcing governance frameworks to sustain services delivery?

NA: Our remarkable organization design for outsourcing, OneFinance, is unique in this area. We have built our outsourcing model in collaboration with the service provider (Accenture), the governance team (Finance Operations) and the Subsidiary Finance group. Those three parties are working together and maintain the process – simple, but up-to-date.

SSON: How do you sustain successful partnerships for the long-term? How do you keep them fresh and encourage the provider partner to focus on innovation/process improvement?

NA: Finance Operations and the Subsidiary Finance Team work closely with Accenture, and we both have a strong sense of fostering the Accenture team to obtain better services in the long run. For example, we discuss the key leadership succession plan with Accenture and provide day-to-day coaching when needed. Japan Assistant Financial Controller works with me to establish the rotation and back-up planning, as well as the execution of this plan. Microsoft is continuously making steady process improvements as well as modifying its tools. The Accenture team is required to implement those changes smoothly, so each individual has his or her own target skill improvement plan and runs their own projects.