Microsoft IT accelerates financial close and compliance process

April 2015


The Microsoft finance team improves efficiency using a centralized dashboard to gain insight into the financial records close and compliance process, reducing time to close and enabling cost savings through business process outsourcing.


Executive Summary

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Microsoft finance teams used a mix of internally developed and external applications to manage their accounting processes and end-of-period financial records close. The use of multiple applications hindered a comprehensive view of the close process as the necessary data became fragmented across the application stack.

Microsoft IT developed the Controller Workspace to provide financial controllers with one location where they can oversee their financial close processes. The solution provides a real-time dashboard for key financial workflows, including journal entries, reconciliations, close checklist, tax; and sign-offs for profit and loss (P&L) statements, commissions, and head count. This allows finance teams to monitor policy compliance, close processes, evaluate built-in metrics, and drill down to details. The solution helps solve a critical challenge on how Microsoft maintains quality in the financial processes for a large and growing organization while containing costs by breaking down the barriers of legacy infrastructure and siloed internal resources.


Microsoft worldwide business with multiple layers of geographic subsidiaries and business entities generates large data volumes that overwhelmed manual update processes, created standardization issues, and increased costs as the business grew.

Every month, 16,000–17,000 manual journal entries are created across more than 150 business entities using several corporate accounting line-of-business (LOB) applications. LOB applications include individual tools for managing:

  • Journal postings and journal reviews.
  • Account reconciliations.
  • Statutory and tax compliance across business entities.
  • Close checklist process for monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks.
  • Journal entry checklist process.

For a financial controller to be on top of their accountability across their entities, they needed to use all these tools to sift through all the manual journal entries and drill down to get to those specific to a subsidiary in order to gain insight into the status of month-end close. A high level of effort was required to answer even basic questions around that status of journal entries, account reconciliations, corporate income taxes and/or value-added tax (VAT) close tasks.

Lack of visibility into close status necessary to ensure compliance with securities laws and capital markets standards prevented Microsoft from taking advantage of the cost saving benefits of outsourcing accounting, accounts payable, and procurement business processes.


Microsoft IT created the Controller Workspace solution to enable the finance teams at Microsoft with a more efficient means of accessing and analyzing financial close status. The solution addresses the following key business needs.

Improved insight and accountability

The Controller Workspace consolidates data from several corporate accounting LOB applications into a single dashboard, improving the oversight of monthly close processes and enabling accountability from top to bottom across the various close activities.

The dashboard provides quick insight into the status via stoplight color coding (green for all good, yellow for coming due, red for past due) to help the finance team quickly see status across all
financial workflows.


Figure 1. Controller Workspace dashboard and map views.

Real-time role-based views

The solution provides a single role-based view into upstream financial LOB applications. Previously, users needed to access a variety of individual applications and portals, each of which were configured separately. With Controller Workspace, there is a single profile configured to set preferences for all upstream LOB applications based on the user's role. The role-based view reduces reporting and updating cycles up and down the finance management chain as financial controllers no longer have to meet with their managers or skip-level managers to see where they are in the close process. Instead, through the dashboard, the financial controller can see the entire process that is relevant to their responsibility chain.

Increased productivity

Financial controllers can monitor progress and drive completion of monthly close processes and tasks. The Controller Workspace informs users where to focus their time to drive close activities to completion. Drill-downs provide actionable insight into where in the process the problem exists, and a hyperlink to process the owner's or task owner's alias streamlines contact (the virtual "rap on the knuckles").

Increased efficiency

The Controller Workspace provides fast access and visibility to month-end close and compliance processes. A single dashboard allows financial controllers to manage profit and loss (P&L) sign-off from a single, integrated dashboard.

Improved accessibility

Users can access the Controller Workspace from a variety of devices from the location of their choosing. The Microsoft SharePoint Onlineportal and the Windows 8.1 modern application require only Internet access. By enabling the Controller Workspace for Internet access, it can be reached by users anywhere (airports, hotels, coffee shops).

Reduced costs

The Controller Workspace enables outsourcing of accounting, accounts payable, and procurement business processes though visibility up and down the finance management chain as well as the insight needed to ensure compliance with securities laws and capital markets standards.


The Controller Workspace is a custom application designed and built to meet the enterprise's unique business needs with their existing data and technology footprint. Microsoft Services creates these applications by assessing customer business needs and processes; evaluating their data and technology footprint; creating the custom application, and integrating that application into the enterprise. For additional information, contact your local Microsoft Services representative.


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For More Information

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