“Novartis is seeking to devote maximum resources to serving patients and, like any well-managed company, it endeavours to identify shortcomings in order to improve”. ABBD’s work “identified the source of failings, so as to subsequently put the right processes in place”. “The audit was very positive because it enabled us to find substantial, high impact amounts,” is the approving assessment of Marc Fournier, head of financial accounting and reporting at Novartis Pharma. Over and above the financial benefits, the group’s accounting managers appreciated the working methods and independence of ABBD staff. “I was surprised to note the audit did not necessarily mean extra workload for our staff. The various stages actually took a relatively short time from start to finish, the interplay between us and ABBD was very efficient, and not at all time-consuming for us,” says Audrey Coullet, head of accounts payable, who closely monitored the audit conducted in 2016. “The file tracking the various errors was very accurate and useful, with full information on each of the errors and links making it possible to open the relevant invoice in one click.” “Collection of disputed amounts due to double payments was carried out politely and professionally,” Marc Fournier reports.
“We have never been certain that our processes are being properly followed. We wanted to check that everything was being correctly managed.” ABBD’s assignment involved a number of stages. Firstly, ABBD worked from their offices, using SAP extract files supplied by Aperam. Using data mining techniques, and their own software developed in-house, ABBD consultants analysed the data and identified potential errors in deductible VAT. The consultants then spent a few days on Aperam’s premises to check the invoices relating to these potential errors. “Our internal accounting staff were not really involved, which was important for us. I provided them with a room and PCs so they could access the SAP system, and they worked completely independently,” comments Éric Samson, European Tax Director at Aperam Group. “The audit findings were shared not only with accounting staff, but also with the Group’s top financial management,” added Éric Samson.
“We do run internal checks”, but the use of an external pair of eyes makes it possible to see things we could have missed, and identify areas for improvement,” explains Eric Estrabols, subsidiary ledgers manager at Bouygues Telecom. “ABBD consultants’ experience with SAP meant they were able to ask us specific questions about fields and tables in the extract files,” he adds. ABBD also conducted a balance confirmation analysis (circularization) by comparing Bouygues Telecom’s data with data from the accounting records of around a hundred suppliers. More than €600,000 were found this way. “Circularization also showed us that we need to pay more attention in our transactions with certain suppliers. Trust does not rule out checking, and we are probably going to conduct regular circularizations with some of them in future,” he stressed. “We have learned lessons and seen areas for improvement from each ABBD finding,” Eric Estrabols confirmed.