Posted by Charlotte Taylor on 23/01/18 17:46

We work with organisations both large and small from many different sectors, they start their journey with a common desire to take their planning capability up a gear.

When asked our client CFO's recognised similar frustrations which drove them to look for a solutions to improve planning reporting and consolidation. Sometimes it was more than one reason that triggered change.  The trend our customers highlighted evidenced that planning improvement affected more than finance directly.  Typically the need for change is triggered by pressure on an existing system which can't cope, but when we get under the skin of the issues, the perceived benefits and outcomes turn out to be more far reaching. 

Reason 1

Burning platform

We need it now! 

This typically kicks in when Excel can't cope. Complexity may have pushed spreadsheet planning to it's limits due to manipulating volumes of data, or the time lag to produce numbers is too long for the business to bear.  There maybe hard deadlines like a merger or new territory which adds a layer of complexity, pushing existing systems and processes to their limits. 

SDL (property management company) has grown extensively by acquisition. Their ability to consolidate was was being hampered by multiple teams working on different systems and still reporting according to different company rules. They needed to get everyone working on the same system with access to the same information and reporting in the same format. Using Adaptive Formulate built a consolidation solution which now means  teams work collaboratively as they are now able to share common data from all sites and report into one central location which is faster and more reliable. read more...

 

 

Reason 2

 

Clarity

What's the right number 

When multiple ledgers feed forecasts, from a number of source systems, the business can find it hard to make sense of the numbers.  Lack of clarity in results leads to less reliance on them to drive decision making.  When more stakeholders are added to the mix,  emphasis and weight on actuals becomes more pronounced which means murky numbers just don't cut it.

Get Living London needed a whole new way of planning. Growth and complexity as well as volumes of data were making that impossible on Excel. The CEO was demanding faster more accurate numbers from Finance, and with many ledgers measuring different parameters, a definitive actuals was proving elusive. So rather than hire another 50+ heads, they invested in a new solution and close on day 6 instead of 17. 

 

Reason 3

more Detail

Help, too much data!

Companies want to use the power of the information age to drive better decision making. In some, information is their USP. When planning, if minutiae information means you can plan and create whole new business models based on detailed data, it becomes a driver rather than a nice to have. 

National Accident Repair Services wanted to model costs, pricing and risk right down to the last washer to drive common operating model to achieve more profitability. They had the data but the volumes and formatting to make it useful was the challenge. By moving to a cloud solution with drill down and driver automation as well as integration capability they harnessed the power of that information rather than drowning in it. 


Reason 4

plan differently

When traditional cost center planning doesn't do it 

The way business works isn't always reflected in traditional planning approaches. The cost centre method doesn't work if your organisation runs on projects or is R&D driven.Excel doesn't make it easy to model over many dimensions like people, time, place alongside the usual product, pricing dimensions. So this added complexity demands a tool which can model, slice and dice data along many different axis. 

Christian Aid a global reach charity needed the capability of planning in projects. They fund projects and have to trace outcomes of funding sources in detail. They moved from cost centre structure to project based as part of a larger finance transformation and now budgeting is faster, easier and more collaborative across multiple teams of volunteers and employees, at the same time they know they can meet the reporting demands on fund raising charities.   read more ...

 

Reason 5

work together

Businesses lacks collaboration

As business grows expands and moves into new territories as well as through acquisition inevitably the data sources become fragmented. This can lead to the build up of disconnected silos, and worse still divisional silos. The first step in joining these up is being able to connect data in a meaningful way. The next is enabling people across the business to share information easily to drive better collaboration. This demands cloud technology where data becomes accessible to all faster and in real time, which supports better communication and working relations. This way decisions are made with relevant parties, and processes work for everyone. 

SES satellite giant knew they wanted to plan in a different way. It wasn't until they got all parties in a room together that they realised just how unrelated the divisions of finance, sales and delivery really were. By agreeing common parameters of measurement they were able to create a planning solution that worked. Now they work together, because through data integration information has been pulled from silo's into a central usable source. More than that, their planning matrix has been re-written which supports the way they sell and work. Only possible with a planning solution which offers integration, drill down, driver automation and cloud capability  read more...

 

Reason 6

Need for speed

Growth or change demands more frequency of forecast 

By far the most common reason for companies looking for a new solution is growth and the change that demands. The faster business expands the shorter the timeline to make decisions which impact the businesses ability to steer a new course. Getting your hands onto the latest numbers becomes crucial. Add to that investors, who need regular reports, the ability to model for acquisition outcomes or consolidate effectively then growth becomes a number one driver. Cloud planning solutions mean real time sharing and update of models is viable. More than that reports at a touch of a button and scenario modeling at the drop of a hat is a must. 

Formaplex are a high end manufacturing company. They needed to build many more scenario's to model the impact on cash flow and working capital. They implemented Adaptive Insights with Formulate and went on to use these models to win funding to further support their growth. Read more...

 

Most of our CFO's mentioned growth as a driving factor. Get Living, Inmarsat, ARM, Gelato and Real Good Food were driven by either aquisition or organic growth both of which impact finances ability to plan, report and consolidate effectively. Wider implications include lack of clarity at board level, exposure to risk and unreliable numbers.  Difficulty in producing reports which the business can access and understand was also key as well as transforming the way the business could plan together. 

 

 

 


Tags: Financial planning, forecasting solutions, FP&A, transforming finance


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