All too often, insurance companies view accounts as simply a necessary administration function, when in reality the finance system holdsthe key to business information that will drive the organisation forward. An isolated finance department is, therefore, self-defeating.

Few insurance companies seem to have the vision to truly integrate their accounting function and create a culture that enables more effective collaboration between finance staff and the rest of the organisation.

And yet, properly managed, this collaboration will deliver relevant and timely information on-demand whenever the business needs it.

Companies should now be looking to embrace the time and cost savings associated with external accounts entries.

The technology exists to enable non-financial staff to input accounting information in real-time, taking advantage of user-definable rules, which mean they do not require any knowledge of accounting practices in order to post entries successfully.

In addition, many accounts postings can now be input automatically by staff. XML technology, for example, provides cost-effective communication between applications via email and can be used to securely exchange orders and invoices, without the need for manual intervention.

This cross-organisational collaboration means that business managers and directors no longer see accounts information appearing in a rigid format from a black hole. Instead they can receive meaningful business information from accounts and answer their own queries in real-time. Critically, this information also provides customers and shareholders with a true picture of the company's performance.

In these difficult trading conditions, the accounts department has the ability to deliver a competitive advantage. However, insurance organisations must first overcome traditional finance isolation and embrace external data input, real-time processes and look to change historic methods of operation.

Richard Pierce
Managing director
PS Financials

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