Want to add value to your organization? Take a close look at the concept of
financial shared services, but be prepared to become not just an agent of change
but also education. During the past two to three years, my company DENTSPLY has
been enjoying a significant growth spurt, both internally and through
acquisition. With more than a $1 billion in sales, we had 14 separate divisions
in North America alone, handling everything from the selling and distribution of
dental products to manufacturing, each with a fully staffed financial accounting
department headed by a controller. Our operating margins were strong, even with
each unit having its own version of receivables, payables, payroll, fixed asset
tracking and travel and expense reimbursement. Nobody's numbers looked that much
out of line, but each unit and each units financial management clearly had a
unique set of priorities and were achieving widely differing standards of
efficiencies because of it.

Nothing was broke, but let's just say we weren't getting the mileage out of our
resources that we should have been. Couldn't we do better if we eliminated some
of the obvious duplication of effort? Still, on the whole managers enjoyed this
level of autonomy.

That's when we embarked on a mission to convert not just the systems at DENTSPLY,
but, more importantly, the way our team of financial managers operated and
thought. Initially, some were reluctant. Since no one was falling that far short
in numbers, they held to the old adage: Why fix it?

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