Achieving the continuous close at global manufacturing services firm

Saved time

by eliminating repetitive manual tasks

Greater consistency

through standardization

Company Overview

Jabil is a global manufacturing services company with 100 sites in 30 countries. Its services include design engineering, manufacturing and supply chain services for the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and consumer industries, as well as materials technology services. Jabil serves customers across the aerospace, automotive, clean technology, computing, consumer products, defense, healthcare, instrumentation, life sciences, storage and telecommunications industries.

Business Challenge

Jabil set out to improve the efficiency, speed and accuracy of its record to report (R2R) function. An evaluation of its R2R processes found that while world class, they were also repetitive and manually intensive, which added both time and cost. To eliminate this repetitive work, the company has embarked on a program to automate all manual intensive processes across R2R. A time study of the R2R process across some of Jabil’s sites revealed that there was not only a lot of repetitive manual work involved but also a lack of standardization and consistency in how it was being carried out. Staff would have to download data from SAP® into spreadsheets. What’s more, each site did it slightly differently and there was a lack of a true workflow from an approval process. From an audit perspective, it was also costly. Jabil’s initial focus was to improve its balance sheet certification process, which falls in the middle of its heavily regulated financial close process every month end. Any delays or errors in this process can therefore have an impact on meeting its overall close and reporting deadlines. This will then be extended to also automate journal entry, intercompany and the financial close cockpit.

Solution

The finance digital transformation team within Jabil looked at different automation solutions that would help standardize balance sheet certification and eliminate the repetitive manual tasks in the process. It evaluated several robotic process automation (RPA) products but concluded that most used basic screen-scraping methods that require a lot of work to develop and implement any changes. It also discounted best-of-breed balance sheet certification point solutions due to the lack of automation and their high cost. Jabil also wanted to use automation to reduce its audit costs by consolidating everything into one area rather than having information spread across different systems.

After an evaluation process, Jabil chose to go with Redwood’s Finance Automation solution for its ability to automate not only R2R but also other finance processes beyond R2R. One key reason that Jabil selected Redwood for the balance sheet certification process is that it is a single system that allows preparers and approvers to go in and do their work with the press of a button. As an additional benefit, all its balance sheet certifications are now aggregated within the Redwood solution and can be easily accessed by auditors.

Results

For the first part of the project, Jabil has implemented Redwood for balance sheet certification within the group. By automating balance sheet certification with Redwood, Jabil has achieved four key benefits:

  • Time savings by eliminating repetitive manual tasks
  • Greater consistency through standardization
  • Better quality of data
  • Potentially reducing audit fees

The Redwood solution also allows users to quickly pull in data, and to re-validate and re-approve if something does change. The time savings mean finance staff can now focus more on deeper analysis and being proactive, instead of on the repetitive, manual inputting of data.

We’re saving five hours per company code during the close process and that’s a big saving, especially given where balance sheet certification sits in the close process and that it has to be done by a certain business day.” Scott Barone, Director of the finance digital PMO, Jabil

Future Goals

Jabil is now looking at the next stage of the project beyond balance sheet certification to consider other manual-intensive processes that could be automated. It is now kicking off the project to automate Journal Entry followed by Intercompany with the goal to automate the complete close process. One key advantage of Redwood’s Finance Automation solution is that it is system agnostic – this will help Jabil automate Intercompany postings across its multiple instances of SAP and automate intercompany reconciliation.

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