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John O'Rourke | Sep 19, 2018

Aligning Financial and Operational Planning with OneStream

The increasing the pace of change in business is putting more pressure on Finance organizations to improve agility in planning, budgeting and forecasting, and to better align Finance and operational plans.  Yet many organizations relying on spreadsheets and legacy applications continue to manage based on static budgets, and have difficulty aligning financial and operational plans.

Those organizations who have implemented more modern planning, budgeting and forecasting applications are better equipped to adopt dynamic planning techniques and to align plans and forecasts across the enterprise.

This was the focus of a recent webinar sponsored by OneStream Software, featuring several domain experts in planning and multidimensional analysis.  Moderated by OneStream’s CRO Craig Colby, the speakers included Cameron Lackpour, Principal Consultant at OneStream and author of “The Truth About CPM” blog as well as Nick Blazosky, Solution Consultant at OneStream.

Here are the highlights from the webinar.

An Extensible Solution for Dynamic Planning

This webinar was one of the most popular OneStream has hosted, with over 550 registrants and almost 300 attendees.  After a brief introduction to OneStream by Craig Colby, Cameron Lackpour took over the controls to provide an overview of the key advantages of OneStream when it comes to planning, budgeting and forecasting.  Included here were:

  • Guided Workflow for simplified planning, budgeting and forecasting
  • Dynamic web forms or Excel-based data entry
  • Extensible Dimensionality® supporting more detailed operational planning and forecasting
  • What-if and driver-based planning
  • Powerful, flexible budgeting and forecasting allocations
  • The ability to view, manage and compare actual vs. budget instantly in one application
  • Complete transparency to every cell change for the budget and forecast
  • Specialty Planning Solutions for People, Capital, Sales, Cash and other planning requirements

One of the most powerful capabilities covered by Cameron was OneStream’s Extensible Dimensionality®.  This is the unique ability of OneStream capture more or less detail, by scenario, to support corporate requirements, while providing more detailed planning and reporting across operating units and departments.  Mr. Lackpour commented that this capability is unique to OneStream, no other vendor can do this in the same elegant way.

You can see this in the example below, where data about Operating Sales or Returns and Allowances is captured at a detailed level in the GL, then is mapped to summary accounts in the Budget, then abstracted at an even higher level in the Forecast.   The power of this is that the level of dimensionality in accounts, or other dimensions, can vary across scenarios and divisions or departments across the enterprise.

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This makes life easy for the users in navigating the system and providing the level of detail they need for reporting, planning or analysis – while not bogging down the system with granular details across every scenario and at every level of the enterprise.

Mr. Lackpour highlighted several other key features of OneStream that make financial close process and operational planning easier.

  • The Data Entry 123 solution from the OneStream XF MarketPlace helps users generate dozens of data entry forms quickly & consistently, with no coding.
  • The Spreadsheets in Dashboards feature combines the control and “look & feel” of Dashboards with the power, flexibility, and end-user familiarity of Excel spreadsheets
  • Custom/Dynamic Calculations allows users to perform simple entity consolidations “on the fly” during data entry for instant reporting

Lastly, Mr. Lackpour spent some time reviewing the Relational Blending capabilities of OneStream, and the Specialty Planning solutions available in the OneStream MarketPlace, which are critical to performing effective Revenue, Cost of Sales and SG&A Planning.

The Power of Relational Blending

In describing Relational Blending Mr. Lackpour highlighted that most budgeting and planning solutions support “cube-based planning”, which provides consistency and standardization across plans, and efficiency in calculations.  But there is a lot of detailed information required for planning that doesn’t belong in a cube, and it better handled in relational tables.

OneStream handles this challenge through its Relational Blending capabilities which are leveraged in our specialty planning solutions.  These solutions enable customers to capture very granular, dynamically-changing plan detail data in relational tables, which are summarized into planning cubes – with the ability to drill from the cube back into the relational tables.  This approach provides the scalability required for operational planning, as well as high performance on complex calculations – and lets the data reside where it belongs.

Mr. Lackpour then provided an overview of OneStream’s specialty planning solutions which leverage this Relational Blending capability:

  • People Planning
  • Capital Planning
  • Sales Planning
  • Thing Planning (e.g. projects, travel, rental properties etc.)
  • Cash Planning

Because these solutions are available as optional downloads from the OneStream MarketPlace, customers can choose to use them or not at their discretion.  But customers that have deployed these solutions are able to eliminate disconnected spreadsheets, handle large volumes of rapidly-changing planning data, and easily link operational plans to financial plans and forecasts.

Seeing is Believing

Mr. Lackpour’s wrapped up his introduction to planning in OneStream by reinforcing the key point that OneStream is a unified platform, that provides multiple solutions in a single scalable application, that maximizes reuse.  The OneStream MarketPlace works just like an “app store”, where users can download, configure and deploy new solutions rapidly – and without adding technical complexity.

His introduction to the planning capabilities of OneStream was followed by a detailed demonstration by Nick Blazosky.  Mr. Blazosky’s demonstration covered all the key capabilities highlighted by Mr. Lackpour, as well as others such as:

  • Budget Manager’s dashboard
  • Drivers and global assumptions
  • Embedded end-user training videos
  • Excel integration and Spreadsheet in Dashboard feature
  • Rolling Forecasts
  • Revenue forecasting and “what-if” modeling
  • People Planning
  • Strategic Planning and Cash Flow Forecasting

The live demonstration was followed by a Q&A session where the speakers answered a few questions that were submitted by attendees during the webinar.  If you missed the webinar or would like to provide your colleagues a chance to view it, follow the link to the webinar replay below.  And if your organization needs help in aligning financial and operational planning, please contact us.

John O’Rourke is Vice President of Product Marketing at OneStream Software. With a background in accounting and finance, John has over 30 years of experience in the software industry, including 20 years of experience in product marketing at Hyperion Solutions, Oracle and Host Analytics. He has worked with many customers and partners on financial reporting and planning initiatives and has spoken and written on many topics in corporate performance management. John has also held positions in strategic marketing and product marketing at Dun & Bradstreet Software, Kenan Systems and Decisyon.  Find me on:   

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