Organizations everywhere rely on data to make informed decisions and improve the bottom line through data management. But with the vast amount of data today, things can quickly get out of control and spawn data gremlins (i.e., little pockets of disconnected, ungoverned data) that wreak havoc on the organization.
Remember those adorable creatures that transformed into destructive, mischievous creatures when fed after midnight in the 1984 comedy horror film Gremlins? (see Figure 1)
In the same way, data gremlins – aka “technical debt” – can arise if your systems are not flexible to enable finance to deliver. Effectively managing data to prevent data gremlins from wreaking havoc is crucial in any modern organization – and that requires first understanding the rise of data gremlins.
How do data gremlins arise, and how do they proliferate so rapidly? The early beginnings started with Excel. People in Finance and operations would get big stacks of green bar reports (see Figure 2). Don’t remember those? They looked like the image below and were filed and stacked in big rooms.
When you needed data, you pulled the report, re-typed the data into Excel, added some formatting and calculations, printed the spreadsheet and dropped it in your boss’s inbox. Your boss would then review and make suggestions and additions till confident (a relative term here!) that sharing the spreadsheet with upper management would be useful, and voila, a gremlin is born.
And gremlins are bad for the organization.
Data gremlins are not a new phenomenon but one that can severely impact the organization, leading to wasted time and resources, lost revenue, and a damaged reputation. For that reason, having a robust data management strategy is essential to prevent data gremlins from causing havoc.
As systems and integration got more sophisticated and general ledgers became a reliable book of record, data gremlins should have faded out of existence. But did they? Nope, not even a little. In fact, data gremlins grew faster than ever partly due to the rise of the most popular button on any report, anywhere at the time – you guessed it – the “Export to .CSV” button. Creating new gremlins became even easier and faster, and management started habitually asking for increasingly more analysis that could easily be created in spreadsheets (see Figure 3). To match the demand in 2006, Microsoft increased the number of rows of data a single sheet could have to a million rows. A million! And people cheered!
However, errors were buried in those million-row spreadsheets, not in just some spreadsheets, but in almost ALL of them. The spreadsheets had no overarching governance and could not be automatically checked in any way. As a result, those errors would live for months and years. Any consultant who experienced those spreadsheets will confirm stories of people adding “+1,000,000” to a formula as a last-minute adjustment and then forgetting to remove the addition later. Major companies reported incorrect numbers to the street, and people lost jobs over such errors.
As time passed, the tools got more sophisticated – from MS Excel and MS Access to departmental planning solutions such as Anaplan, Essbase, Vena Solutions, Workday Adaptive and others. Yet none stand up to the level of reliability IT is tasked with achieving. The controls and audits are nothing compared to what enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions provide. So why do such tools continue to proliferate? Who feeds them after midnight, so to speak? The real reason is that these departmental planning systems are like a hammer. Every time a new model or need for analysis crops up, it’s “Let’s build another cube.” Even if that particular data structure is not the best answer, Finance has a hammer, and they are going to pound something with it. And why should they do their diligence to understand the proliferation of Gremlins? (see Figure 4)
The relationship can best be described as “complicated.” ERPs and data warehouses are secure, managed environments but offer almost no flexibility for Finance or Operations to do any sophisticated reporting or analysis that has not been created for them by IT. Requests for new reports are made, often through a ticket system, and the better IT is at satisfying these requests, the longer the ticket queue becomes. Suddenly the team is doing nothing but reporting, and that leaves Finance thinking, “How the heck is there a team of people in IT not focused on making the business more efficient?”
The answer suggested by the mega ERP vendors is to stop doing that. End users don’t really need that data, that level of granularity or that flexibility. They need to learn to simplify and not worry about trivial things. For example, end users don’t need visibility into what happens in a legal consolidation or a sophisticated forecast. “Just trust us. We will do it,” ERP vendors say.
Here’s the problem: Finance is tasked with delivering the right data at the right time with the right analysis. What is the result of just “trusting” ERP vendors? Even more data gremlins. More manual reconciliations. Less security and control over the most critical data for the company. In other words, an organization can easily spend $30M on a secure, well-designed ERP system that doesn’t fix the gremlin problem – emphasizing why organizations must control the data management process.
Effective data management enables businesses to make informed decisions based on accurate and reliable data. But controlling data management is what prevents data gremlins and reduces technical debt. Data quality issues are perpetuated by the gremlins and can arise when proper data management practices aren’t in place. These issues can include incomplete, inconsistent or inaccurate data, leading to incorrect conclusions, poor decision-making and wasted resources.
One of the biggest oversights when dealing with data gremlins is only focusing on Return on Investment (ROI) and dismissing fully burdened technical debt (see Figure 5). Many finance teams use performance measurements like Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and ROI to qualify that the solution is good for the organization, but rarely does the organization dive deeper – beyond the performance measurements to include opportunities to reduce implementation and maintenance waste. Unfortunately, this view of performance measurements does not account for hidden complexities and costs associated with the negative impacts of data gremlin growth.
Technical Debt is MORE than the Total Cost of Ownership
Unfortunately, data gremlins can occur at any stage of the data management process, from data collection to analysis and reporting. These gremlins can be caused by various factors, such as human error, system glitches or even malicious activity. For example, a data gremlin could be a missing or incorrect field in a database, resulting in inaccurate calculations or reporting.
Want proof? Just think about the long, slow process you and your team engage in when tracking down information between fragmented sources and tools rather than analyzing results and helping your business partners act. Does this drawn-out process sound familiar?
The good news is that another option exists. Unifying these multiple processes and tools can provide more automation, remove the complexities of the past and meet the diverse requirements of even the most complex organization, both today and well into the future. The key is building a flexible yet governed environment that allows problems and new analyses to be created within the framework – no Gremlins.
At OneStream, we’ve lived and managed this complicated relationship our entire careers. We even made gremlins back when the answer for everything was “build another spreadsheet.” But we’ve eliminated the gremlins in spreadsheets only to replace them with departmental apps or cubes that are just bigger, nastier gremlins. Our battle scars have taught us that gremlins, while easy to use and manage, are not the answer. Instead, they proliferate and cause newer and bigger hard-to-solve problems of endless data reconciliation.
For that reason, OneStream was designed and built from the ground up to eliminate gremlins, including the need for them in the future (see Figure 6). OneStream combines all the security, governance and audit needed to ensure accurate data – and does it all in one place without the need to walk off-prem while allowing the flexibility to be leveraged inside the centrally defined framework. In OneStream, organizations can leverage Extensible Dimensionality to provide value to end users to “do their thing” without having to push the “Export to .CSV” button.
OneStream is also a platform in the truest sense of the word. The platform provides direct data integration to source data, drill back to that data, and flexible, easy-to-use reporting and dashboarding tools.
That allows IT to eliminate the non-value add cost of authoring reports AND the gremlins – all in one fell swoop.
Finally, our platform is the only EPM platform allowing organizations to develop their functionality directly on the platform. That’s correct – OneStream is a full development platform where organizations can leverage all the platform resources of integration and reporting needed for organizations to deliver their own Intellectual Property (IP). They can even encrypt the IP in the platform or share it with others.
OneStream, in other words, allows organizations to manage their data effectively. In our e-book on financial data quality management, we shared the top 3 goals for effective financial data quality management with CPM:
Data gremlins can disrupt business operations and lead to severe business implications, making it essential for organizations to control their data management processes before data gremlins emerge. By developing a data management strategy, investing in robust data management systems, conducting regular data audits, training employees on data management best practices and having a disaster recovery plan, organizations can prevent data-related issues and ensure business continuity.
To learn more about how organizations are moving on from their data gremlins, download our whitepaper titled “Unify Connected Planning or Face the Hidden Cost.”
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As organizations begin their evaluations of potential enterprise performance management (EPM) software vendors, industry analyst reports are a great resource for identifying viable solutions. Some industry analyst reports are based on analyst opinions of the various vendors built through briefings, demonstrations, and customer references. Others are based more on customer surveys and reviews, providing a clear assessment of how actual customers view the software vendor and the value they are getting from their solutions. This is often referred to as the “wisdom of crowds.”
A good example of an industry analyst report that is driven mostly by customer reviews is the recently published Dresner Advisory Wisdom of Crowds® 2022 Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Market Study.
The 2022 Wisdom of Crowds® EPM Market Study builds on the previous seven years of Enterprise Planning and EPM Market Studies published by Dresner Advisory and reflects the shift in the market towards a more holistic approach to performance management vs. relying on individual point solutions.
According to Dresner Advisory, an enterprise performance management system is a key element of performance management. It allows an organization to plan for the impact of various internal and external factors on its future performance and business outcomes. This includes strategic, operational, and financial planning and forecasting. EPM systems also include reporting and analytics capabilities that allow organizations to set goals and objectives and monitor performance against those objectives.
EPM software systems can vary significantly in complexity and automation capabilities, from relatively straightforward spreadsheet replacements to sophisticated multi-user systems that support collaborative planning, provide a wide range of analytics, and use advanced technologies such as in-memory computing and machine learning
This year’s report highlighted several key market trends, including the following:
What’s unique about this study is that the results are based 100% on surveys of customers using EPM software. Vendors are evaluated based on 33 criteria covering:
This was OneStream’s fifth year of inclusion in the Dresner Advisory Wisdom of Crowds Study and, once again, the results were outstanding. Each vendor was evaluated on 33 criteria, and as you can see in the spider chart below, OneStream Software is substantially above the overall sample for all measures, best in class for 9 measures and we received a perfect “5” recommend score.
Dresner Advisory provides two models to help clients understand the EPM market. Their Customer Experience Model positions vendors based on their combined scores on Product/Technology vs. Sales and Service metrics on two axes, positioning vendors into one of four quadrants.
Their Vendor Credibility Model considers how customers “feel” about their vendor, plotting value for the price paid against the integrity and recommending measures, creating a “confidence” dimension. The upper-right quadrant in both models contains the highest-scoring vendors, and those considered leaders in customer experience and vendor credibility.
Based on our scores, OneStream was positioned as an Overall Leader in both the Customer Experience and Vendor Credibility models. Here’s a view of how the various vendors are positioned in the Customer Experience model.
Commenting on OneStream’s results in the study, Howard Dresner, Founder and Chief Research Officer at Dresner Advisory Services said, “In 2022, OneStream received outstanding results across virtually all measures and is an Overall leader in the Customer Experience Model and Vendor Credibility Models. Customers rank the company best in class for sales professionalism, responsiveness, flexibility/accommodation and business practices, product robustness/sophistication of technology, reliability of technology, integration of components within product, ease of upgrade/migration to new versions, and technical support time to resolve problems and responsiveness. Additionally, it maintains a perfect recommend score. We applaud OneStream on their 2022 rankings and their continued recognition in our annual market survey.”
Making every customer a reference, one success at a time is the mission of OneStream Software and is our top priority companywide. Being named a leader in Customer Experience and Vendor Credibility by Dresner Advisory Services validates our approach and recognizes the ability of OneStream to address the advanced planning and performance management requirements of global enterprises.
To learn more, download a copy of the 2022 Dresner Advisory Enterprise Performance Management Market Study.
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If you work in Finance, odds are that you’re hearing about how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will forever reshape your organization. Despite limited talk about use across Finance today, excitement fills the air as Finance evolves to include AI and ML.
To assess what’s fact and what’s fiction, modern CFOs are evaluating how to optimize the benefits of these technologies. Many are asking the same question: Is the future of Finance new technology or new people, or both? This question was the main topic for a recent webinar with OneStream Software and Ventana Research.
Ventana Research Senior Vice President Robert D. Kugel recently joined us virtually for How Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming FP&A: A Practical AI Strategy for FP&A – a webinar focused on aligning artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) to maximize results. Rob—along with our very own Scott Stern, Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy—did a deep dive in this fascinating webinar to highlight ways to leverage AI and ML for FP&A.
To set the tone for the webinar, Mr. Stern shared findings from Accenture’s 2020 CFO Global Research1 showing that speed is becoming a differentiator for top CFOs. Here are a few of the key areas of consideration for top-performing Finance teams:
These types of pressures can push many leaders across the enterprise into “scramble mode,” pushing them to find more data to make faster decisions. Unfortunately, this effort can become overwhelming and offers little value. And in the most extreme cases, the drive for more timely data can run Finance teams right into a brick wall. To avoid overheating, top-performing CFOs are creating agility with curated data to create flexibility in the planning process – but in a governed way that provides control for organizations to handle large, diverse volumes of data.
What if you could finally break free from the routine by combining all the functionality of your existing applications for enterprise planning and reporting in a single, unified platform enriched with artificial intelligence? Would you consider the opportunity?
What’s Stopping FP&A From Adopting AI-/ML-Infused Insights?
Mr. Kugel opened the webinar with some thought leadership about the AI hype – fact vs. fiction.
As Finance leaders, we have all felt the pain of failed technological advancements that had promised to make life easier for the Office of Finance. That “hype cycle” is engrained in our DNA, regardless of whether we want to admit it. Luckily, Mr. Kugel defined five artificial intelligence myths that demystify the “hype cycle” that so many Finance leaders fear:
Myth 1: We need a Data Scientist to make use of AI/ML.
This myth frequently surfaces for a simple reason: market noise and confusion. For complex solutions, a data scientist is clearly needed, but for most Finance uses, a data scientist isn’t a necessity. Why? Because software vendors are building “no code” or “low code” capabilities into solutions to make AI/ML practical and useful for Finance.
Myth 2: AI/ML is a long way off in the future, so why make plans now?
AI/ML has been at work for decades in all other parts of the business beyond Finance to improve performance in functions like determining credit scores, detecting fraud, invoicing and identifying needs for preventative machine maintenance.
Myth 3: AI/ML is just a “black box.”
Partially true – what remains unknown about AI/ML can be viewed as a “black box,” but successful solutions will build in transparency that allows users to certify the insights.
Myth 4: AI/ML is unthinking and robotic.
No, AI/ML is just the opposite. It offers a way to train models.
Myth 5: AI/ML takes humans out of the loop.
It’s true that humans may not be needed other than in repetitive situations where the consequences of being wrong are low. AI that uses machine learning can cut the time required for humans to do mechanical work. That saved time in turn allows humans to concentrate on using their experience, expertise and judgment to make better decisions and increase organizational performance.
Pragmatic Use Cases Will Foster Success
AI adoption in Finance is low. Why? Well, a myriad of debatable reasons exists, but Finance should look beyond the why and think about AI/ML as another tool in the FP&A tool kit – think about AI/ML in a pragmatic way to incrementally drive the right dialog without losing credibility. Here’s the real question Finance leaders should be asking: How do I make AI/ML work for my organization?
To help answer this question, Mr. Kugel highlights six use cases (see Figure 1).
Laying the FP&A Foundation for AI
Mr. Kugel then focused on why a dedicated data store, or “data pantry”, for FP&A is essential to the success of AI (see Figure 2). Here’s a list of the reasons:
As FP&A teams start evaluations to support AI and ML forecasting, Mr. Kugel highlights the following key considerations:
Introducing Sensible Machine Learning (Sensible ML)
Mr. Stern then closed out the webinar by showcasing OneStream’s Sensible Machine Learning solution. While leveraging OneStream’s planning and data quality, Sensible ML provides time series ML forecasting without the need for a dedicated data scientist or additional software to accelerate time to value for critical planning processes. By leveraging Sensible ML time series forecasting, Finance leaders can now quickly and accurately address multiple use-cases based on available data (see Figure 3).
AI and ML are here to stay, and the Office of the CFO should now be looking to take advantage of these advancements in technology. What do FP&A leaders have to lose by adding another point of view or enriching their insights with the help of AI and ML? You guessed it: nothing.
Here are the key takeaways from this webinar for a practical AI/ML strategy for FP&A:
At OneStream, we call this Intelligent Finance.
To learn more about how FP&A teams are leveraging AI/ML for FP&A, please watch the replay of the Ventana webinar.
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1 Accenture CFO Global Research – CFO NOW: Breakthrough Speed for Breakthrough Value
Finance leaders continue to face ongoing challenges and economic disruption in 2022. From inflation and supply chain challenges to the war on talent stemming from The Great Resignation, finance teams are tasked with navigating a constantly changing landscape. Using the right tools for their organization’s unique needs can be the make-or-break factor to drive long-term success and differentiate from the competition.
But there is no one-size-fits-all solution. With so many options in the marketplace, how can you cut through the clutter to find the option that works best for your organization? Enter: The BARC Planning Survey 22, which leverages the feedback and experiences of your trusted peers in Corporate Finance to help you determine which solution best suits your organization’s unique needs.
The Business Application Research Center (BARC) is an industry analyst and consulting firm for business software. BARC analysts have supported companies through strategy, organization, architecture, and software evaluations for more than 20 years. For more information, visit www.barc-research.com
To support Corporate Finance teams, BARC covers the following critical areas:
The Planning Survey 22 is based on findings from the world’s largest and most comprehensive survey of planning software users, examining user feedback on planning processes and product selection. Conducted from November 2021 to February 2022, The Planning Survey compiles responses from 1,325 individuals analyzing 19 products or groups of products in detail.
Specifically, the survey examines user feedback on planning product selection and usage across 33 key performance indicators (KPIs) including
For more information on the survey, visit The BARC Survey website.
OneStream’s corporate mission is to deliver customer success, ensuring every customer is a reference – one success at a time. As we remain dedicated to this mission, we’re honored to earn a 100% recommendation score from all surveyed users for the second consecutive year.
Furthermore, OneStream earned 15 top rankings (see Figure 1) across four different peer groups. The company was measured across several different KPIs, including:
Additionally, OneStream earned 33 leading positions across its four peer groups, including product satisfaction, customer satisfaction, flexibility, workflow, recommendation, simulation, cloud planning, and financial consolidation.
“OneStream’s outstanding performance in this year’s Planning Survey reinforces the vendor’s dedication to delivering 100% customer success. As a market-leading CPM platform, OneStream helps organizations improve employee productivity, increase the transparency of planning and improve the integration of planning with reporting and analysis. The platform’s comprehensive capabilities for financial consolidation and close, planning, budgeting and forecasting, reporting, analysis, and financial data quality management – all in a single application – makes OneStream a modern, future-proof solution for organizations seeking digital transformation,” said Dr. Christian Fuchs, Senior Vice-President and Head of Data & Analytics Research at BARC.
OneStream is honored to receive standout results this year in The BARC Planning Survey. The report recognizes OneStream’s capabilities across financial close, consolidation, planning, and analysis as a best-in-class platform. The recognition is all the more meaningful as the rankings come directly from our committed customers and users across the globe.
To learn more about OneStream’s results, click here to download the full BARC Planning Survey 22.
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A rolling forecast is a management tool that enables organizations to continuously plan (i.e., forecast) over a set time horizon. Why does creating a rolling forecast matter? When you’re a finance leader and business partner, it matters because it’s your responsibility to keep a pulse on all aspects of your organization, including financial and operational performance. And while you’ll likely never get the credit you deserve for doing so, it’s also your responsibility to implement agile budgeting, planning & forecasting processes that enable collaboration and provide support for effective business decisions between the finance team, sales, operations, HR, and other functions.
Now that we have answered “what is a rolling forecast,” what kind of organizations can take advantage of rolling forecast benefits? Perhaps the better question is, who can’t? Because if your organization interacts regularly with consumers, suppliers, or regional operations, there’s simply no escape. From what? From the roller coaster ride and volatility of global markets these days. And to make matters worse, this roller coaster ride feels like the “new norm” of what to expect.
Daily, we have fears of the next recession. And let’s not forget the impact of the ongoing US-China trade wars, uncertainty surrounding inflation, as well as the impact on oil and gas prices. In other words, it’s constant chaos. This is a challenging environment to plan against.
Not to mention, the fourth quarter is approaching fast. And that means that finance and business leaders are finalizing fourth-quarter forecasts and setting goals and plans for 2020. But with all this noise externally, how will organizations dial- in their final plans? Through brute force! With hours and hours of developing revenue and EBITDA targets. And for each scenario, there’s more hard work to align goals from your financial model with what are often fragmented sales, workforce, production, and capital planning processes. The cycle seems to never end.
How do you keep your sanity amidst all of that? Rolling forecasts, of course! So let’s get rolling with some considerations for implementing this technique.
While annual operating plans (AOPs) are the norm for most organizations to level-set expectations or anchor compensation targets, such plans do very little to help with resource allocations in a dynamic business. In fact, in today’s market, I can promise you that any AOP is wrong within seconds of the final submission.
Working in a fast-paced, sophisticated organization isn’t easy. Especially if you want to respond quickly to new opportunities and risks. So many factors can change in each and every forecast period – and change quickly. What factors? Customer wins or losses. External factors like changing oil prices or interest rates. Commodity pricing. Staffing needs or inventory levels. It’s an endless list.
A rolling forecast (see figure 1) is designed to allow management to continuously plan the business. Here are a few stats from The Dresner Advisory 2019 Wisdom of Crowds EPM Market Study, which details how frequent organizations run their forecasts:
Best practice is to ensure rolling forecasts can extend (e.g., roll) beyond the current calendar or fiscal year. The forecasts can extend anywhere from 12 months at a time to 18 months or even up to 24 months.
The good news is that there’s more than one way to do it. What’s more important is to actually start the process.
Why? Because it pushes the organization to think differently. To think long term. And when done consistently, a rolling forecast process can eventually not only eliminate the need for an annual budget but also positively affect the DNA of an organization.
It’s also important to focus on what the organization actually plans for. Did you know that 50% of finance leaders report that they get little value out of their financial planning processes? Why do you think this is?
It’s because static financial plans completed in isolation add little value to managers and don’t drive the business. So what does impact the business? It’s all about the underlying business drivers. Customers and market demand. Global competition. Changes in commodity prices. And sales, marketing, and supply chain plans. So If your budgeting, planning & forecasting processes don’t yet focus on business drivers or include your business partners, it may be time to also consider integrated business planning (see figure 2).
Remember, budgeting, planning & forecasting is NOT only about finance. It’s not only about revenues or expenses. It’s also about unleashing value across the organization.
It’s also about driving measurable business performance. And to do that, the organization must focus on what actually impacts the business. Part of your job as a modern finance leader is to create processes to help translate how changes in the business impact the P&L, balance sheet, and cash flow.
A driver-based rolling forecast process ensures agility, collaboration, alignment, and a focus on what drives the organization.
While we’re focused on the merits of a rolling forecast process, let’s not forget that organizations have to close the books and report monthly and quarterly financial results. And we know what happens if the latest results don’t come in as planned – right?
Well, if your organization still relies on a series of spreadsheets, legacy corporate performance management (CPM 1.0), or point solutions for planning – buckle up. Because your wild ride to explain how detailed operations plans align to the financials is just beginning. Sound familiar?
I’ll bet it does. Why? Because it’s you and your team whose left maintaining and reconciling data between systems. And it’s your team who is building reports to join actual, budget, and forecast data from different applications. And if there’s been any change to your organization or product hierarchy during that time, watch out. Because your roller coaster ride may never end. And by the way. All that work is required just to do the basics.
But what if there’s a better way to seamlessly close the books, report, plan and manage a rolling forecast? And no, we’re not talking connected planning here, folks. We’re talking about unified planning with a platform approach to CPM with a single application that delivers multiple solutions (CPM 2.0).
And with over 900 successful customers around the globe, OneStream’s modern CPM platform is quickly becoming the proven alternative to legacy solutions, Excel spreadsheets, and inferior cloud-based planning tools.
OneStream enables finance and business leaders like you to continuously extend the platform to meet the changing needs of the business. And to integrate all of your various planning processes, OneStream’s MarketPlace extends the value of your investment with purpose-built solutions to dynamically unify sales planning, people planning, and capital planning with financial plans.
So yes – it’s possible to develop detailed, driver-based rolling forecasts at the customer level, project level, or person level. To do this in real-time with your business partners by your side. To dynamically understand the impact on the P&L, balance sheet, and cash flow. And it’s even possible to do it for multiple scenarios, in real-time and without creating a series of offline spreadsheets or moving data between “connected” modules or cubes.
It’s no secret that speed is a key differentiator for effective CFOs. Why, because the expectations for CFOs are expanding, and the insights they deliver are now central to executing key strategies. CFOs must keep up with today’s pace of change, and use large volumes of data, coming in at a high velocity to advise business partners to make decisions that lead the organization to prosperity.
Want a great overview and real-life examples of how modern CFOs are increasing their speed and increasing their organizational value? Watch “Stay Ahead of the Game – Maximizing Intelligent Finance with Predictive Rolling Forecasting,” where Aaron Shifrin, Managing Director at Accenture, discusses how rolling forecasts and integrated planning are operationalized and enhanced with ML and AI.
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 Ventana Research: “Let’s Talk About the Business Not Just the Budget”
In the world of accounting, and specifically when it comes to the consolidation of financial results for multiple companies that are owned by a parent company, the equity method of accounting is used to value a company’s investment in another company when it holds significant influence over the company it is investing in. There are no consolidation and elimination processes like in the consolidation method, instead the investor will report its share of the investee’s equity as an investment. The threshold for “significant influence” is commonly a 20-50% ownership.
Under the equity method, the investment is initially recorded at historical cost, and adjustments are made to the value based on the investor’s percentage ownership in net income, loss, and dividend payouts. However, in some countries, such as the Nordics and the Netherlands, there is a twist on this method. While the rest of the world often values their investments at cost, the Dutch and others have the habit of valuing their investments at equity. The remeasurement of the investment value in the investor’s financial statements to reflect equity changes of the investee is called Equity Pickup. Read on to learn more about the Equity Pickup approach and how we have solved the problem using OneStream’s Intelligent Finance Platform platform.
Usually, holding companies will report the value of their investments at cost. However, the Dutch decided to do this differently. Statutory requirements demand a Dutch entity or group to report the current ‘Net Asset Value’ (NAV) of the investment. The process to pick up the equity value of investments instead of the cost price is called ”Equity Pickup’.
At least, all corporations with Dutch owners or a Dutch subgroup face this requirement. Equity Pickup has often been embedded in a cumbersome manual process though, as no software solution is prepared to support it. Until now! Using OneStream’s unified CPM Software platform we were able to eliminate this manual process. This resulted in a technique that can be implemented once, then integrates and automates Equity Pickup in the financial consolidation process with one click.
What we have seen in working with clients is that many software solutions only pick up the retained earnings and losses from the subsidiaries. They don’t track any other changes in equity. This means you additionally have to post annual net asset value (NAV) journals so they can report a proper statement of changes in equity. The systems are not able to split out the required detail because they do not have such detailed information. The result, however, is still not very automated.
A complete implementation of Equity Pickup takes into consideration that the change in equity (of the subsidiaries) occurs not just because of earnings or losses but also from other genuine movements in equity, such as FX translations, dividend payments (which reduce the equity), issue of new share capital (which increase the equity) or revaluations.
OneStream’s unified solution enables you to fully integrate Equity Pickup as part of a one-click consolidation process. The way AMCO Solutions (formerly Agium EPM) implements Equity Pickup, also accommodates for sub-consolidation and multiple consolidation passes.
To learn more about the solution, and how we deal with maintenance and dashboard possibilities related to Equity Pickup, read Agium EPM’s whitepaper titled “Equity Pickup: A View on Automation” or contact us.
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Amazing as it may seem, 2022 marks the 10-year anniversary of OneStream’s founding. Actually, the founders began working on the software and signed the company’s first customer in 2011, but the official formation of OneStream Software LLC occurred in 2012. Since then, it’s been pedal to the metal acquiring new customers, hiring staff, enhancing the platform, and expanding our market presence. Read on to learn about some of the key milestones the company has achieved over the past 10 years and what lies ahead for 2022.
To commemorate our 10th anniversary, the company recently held a virtual meetup where employees could connect in small breakout groups to share their favorite memories from the past 10 years. Unfortunately, the number of attendees exceeded the capabilities of the Zoom platform, so the breakouts never happened. But several memories were shared across the larger group that joined the session. Here are a few that stood out for me.
The interesting thing is that while we have all been working mostly virtually for the past 24 months, OneStream started out virtually. Co-founder and CEO Tom Shea was in Rochester, MI, CTO Bob Powers was in Stratford, CT and President Craig Colby was in Atlanta.
The original Rochester, MI office was located above a sporting goods store on Main Street. The small team was crammed into a single office, with a number of servers that were pouring out so much heat that they had to turn on the air conditioning in the winter!
CTO Bob Powers’ office was his boat, which was docked at a marina in Stratford, CT. When he decided to hire some more staff in Stratford, Bob was able to lease some office space in a building in the marina, and we still have that office today.
Bob and Tom collaborated in the development of the OneStream platform via phone for months at a time and only met in person once or twice per year in the early days. During the meetup, Bob mentioned that his wife used to kid him about his “imaginary friend Tom” who he was speaking with all the time, but never met, so she wondered if he was a real person.
While Bob and Tom were developing the OneStream CPM software platform, they would occasionally demonstrate the latest version to the remote team, which included Craig Colby. According to Tom Shea, as the platform was maturing Craig kept asking if he could start selling it. Wanting to make sure the platform was proven with early adopter customers before selling it more broadly, Tom suggested that Craig hold off and keep working on the website. Which he did for several years – finally getting a chance to begin selling the software to customers in 2012.
With the mission of making each customer success and a reference, OneStream started working with its first customer (Tenneco) in 2012 – implementing and enhancing the software based on their requirements. Then it was onto the 2nd customer (AAA Life Insurance) then the third, fourth, and so on.
As the company acquired more customers, the leadership team added staff in Engineering, Support, Consulting, Sales, Marketing, IT, Finance, HR, and other functions. But as a bootstrapped company that was funded by the founders, the leadership team was careful not to get too far ahead of itself on hiring. Here are some of the key milestones that were achieved over the past 10 years.
2012: OneStream Software LLC is formed.
2013: OneStream hosts its first Splash user conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
2014: OneStream announced its expanded US headquarters with a new office in Rochester, Michigan, and added offices in Stratford, CT, and Western Europe to accommodate its explosive growth in customers and staff. This facility debuted with ample space to house the headquarters staff, a training center, basketball court, fitness center, and other amenities for employees.
2015: The true test of a platform is whether it’s extensible. In 2015 OneStream launched its innovative solutions MarketPlace, an “apps store” concept that enables customers and partners to download, configure, and deploy additional solutions to quickly address new requirements and extend their investment in the OneStream platform.
2016: OneStream hit a key milestone, acquiring its 100th customer in 2016. In addition, the company opened its Manchester, UK office to provide improved local support for its growing customer base in EMEA.
2018: OneStream held its first Splash user conference in EMEA in Amsterdam. OneStream Software also was ranked 212th Fastest Growing Company in North America on Deloitte’s 2018 Technology Fast 500™.
2019: KKR Investment and Unicorn status. OneStream entered into an agreement to receive a significant investment from KKR and a valuation of over $1.0 billion. OneStream was also recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions and Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Cloud FP&A Solutions.
2020: OneStream acquired its 500th customer in early 2020, was recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud FP&A Solutions, and Best Workplace by Inc. Magazine and ComputerWorld. The company also reported record revenue growth in Q3 in spite of the global pandemic.
The year 2021 included continued momentum for OneStream, reaching $200M in ARR, adding 250 customers to take us over 900 globally, and hiring our 1000th employee. In 2022, we expect to acquire our 1000th customer, open a new headquarters office in Birmingham, MI and we’re looking forward to hosting over 1500 customers, partners, employees, and other guests at our Splash User Conference and Partner Summit May 23 – 26th in San Antonio, TX.
Click here to learn more and to register for Splash 2022!
The end of the calendar year is an interesting time for those working in the Accounting and Finance departments. Of course, there’s a general excitement and rushing around to get ready for the December holidays. But for most organizations, it’s also the end of the fiscal year. That means the end of the annual budgeting process and the start of the year-end financial close and reporting process. Both of those year-end closing procedures can account for bringing a lot of extra work and stress to layer on top of the holiday-related stress.
Many of us here at OneStream came from the Accounting and Finance profession and have experienced the complexity and stress of annual budgeting, completing the year-end checklist for accounting, close, and other time-consuming tasks during this period. And we have made it our life’s work to help ease the pain and stress of these year-end closing processes for our customers through the OneStream platform and our MarketPlace of productivity and business solutions.
So for those of you who haven’t made the leap from pulling data from spreadsheets, year-end closing checklists, and legacy CPM applications to OneStream’s unified platform, here’s a little year-end closing gift. This is a song written by one of our staff team members, Terese Wylie, that will hopefully lift your spirits in your office as you start the year-end closing process.
The 12 Days of Year-End Close (sung to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas)
On the first day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “We should have licensed OneStream.”
On the second day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me, “We have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the third day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me, “Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the fourth day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the fifth day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Five Irritating Auditors! Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the sixth day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Six IT supports are ignoring me, Five irritating auditors! Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the seventh day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Seven spreadsheets are not linking, Six IT supports are ignoring me, Five irritating auditors! Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the eighth day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Eight formulas are causing errors, Seven spreadsheets are not linking, Six IT supports are ignoring me, Five irritating auditors! Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the ninth day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Nine accounts are out of balance, Eight formulas are causing errors, Seven spreadsheets are not linking, Six IT supports are ignoring me, Five irritating auditors! Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the tenth day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Ten accountants are crying, Nine accounts are out of balance, Eight formulas are causing errors, Seven spreadsheets are not linking, Six IT supports are ignoring me, Five irritating auditors! Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the eleventh day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Eleven reports are not tying, Ten accountants are crying, Nine accounts are out of balance, Eight formulas are causing errors, Seven spreadsheets are not linking, Six IT supports are ignoring me, Five irritating auditors! Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and we should have licensed OneStream”
On the twelfth day of Year-End Close, my CFO said to me “Only 12 months to our next year-end close, Eleven reports are not tying, Ten accountants crying, Nine accounts out of balance, Eight formulas are causing errors, Seven spreadsheets are not linking, Six IT supports are ignoring me, Five irritating auditors! Four managers are leaving, Three subs have not submitted, we have Two more topside entries and WE SHOULD HAVE LICENSED ONESTREAM!”
Happy New Year everyone! Download our Reimagine the Close White Paper and feel free to contact OneStream if you need help relieving the stress of your next year-end closing.
Sophia Mehles has captured the hearts of many around the world. A dual US-German citizen, she won the 2010 International European Ladies Amateur Championship at the age of 17. Sophia continued to play at the University of Southern California (USC), where she was a four-time All-American. In 2020, ranked 304th and coming out of a battle with Lyme disease which took years to diagnose, Sophia turned the golf world upside down when she won the Women’s British Open at Royal Troon. Earlier this year she represented Germany at the Tokyo Olympics, followed by a victory with Team Europe at the Solheim Cup.
Melissa Breen, Head of HR EMEA at OneStream, had the pleasure of interviewing Sophia in a recent webinar and they delved into the history of the game of golf. Interestingly, golf briefly appeared in the 1900 and 1904 Olympics, the former being the first time women were allowed to compete at all in the Olympic Games. It then fell off the programme until it re-emerged in 2016.
By then, women in sport and golf, in particular, had considerably advanced. The Ladies Professional Golf Association was established in 1950 (the men’s Professional Golf Association in 1916), and there was a better understanding of women’s athletic ability. Similarly, finance and software have traditionally been male-dominated industries, but initiatives like Women in Finance and OneStream’s own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) goals are changing the game. At USC, Sophia learned lessons in independence, leadership, and communication which she brings to her professional career.
It’s notable that technology, and social media specifically, has played a huge role in positioning female athletes as role models for girls. As overall public exposure to golf grows, awareness and interest also grow and opens up possibilities. Golf is gaining popularity globally and is increasingly seen as an accessible sport that transcends socioeconomic hurdles. OneStream employees who volunteer as STEM Ambassadors in local schools share this vision of breaking down barriers and helping young people realise their potential. With paid time off to engage in volunteer work, we aim to inspire and equip the next generation of technology and finance leaders.
How Finance Leaders Can Be Game-Changers
Sophia’s interview was followed by a OneStream Customer Panel Discussion featuring Lotfi Kabbaj (VP Finance Transformation, Majorel), Henrietta Amiri (FP&A Manager – Reporting Lead, Global Fashion Group), and Nadine Heydenrych (Global Head Finance Systems and Transformation, OLX Group). These OneStream customers are changing the game across Europe, in their organisations, and in their industries. Majorel is revolutionising the customer experience, while Global Fashion Group and OLX are turning the traditional marketplace on its head.
The panel discussed learnings and best practices in Finance Transformation and shared a lot of collective knowledge. Some words of advice regarding preparing for a transformation project included:
Achieving successful transformation starts with a big vision coupled with small wins that deliver short-term success. These foundations then allow an organisation to scale and shift the focus of Finance from governance to guidance, storytelling, and business analysis. The role of Finance then grows until it becomes embedded throughout the business, from Sales to Operations and beyond. With the right tools, Finance can provide an end-to-end, comprehensive view of the business, and the CFO effectively becomes a “co-pilot” with the CEO in steering the business. The value of the office of Finance in a post-pandemic world is unquestionable.
OneStream is honoured to have Sophia Mehles as a Brand Ambassador. She is a game-changer and role model for young women everywhere, and we look forward to seeing her career unfold. Click here to watch the replay of the webinar featuring Sophia Mehles and our customer panel discussing best practices in change and finance transformation.
Be sure to catch our next Women in Finance event on 14 December featuring Moonsun Park (CFO, Sharp Electronics Corporation), Amy Corbin (CFO, Surescripts), and Beth Elwell (VP Financial Analysis & Reporting, Trane Technologies).
Well – the OneStream Marketing team thought we had a good chance of hosting an in-person Splash User Conference this year by pushing it from May to August of 2021. And by late July things were looking good with the pandemic and our registrations going over 1200 for the event. But the Delta variant had different plans and in early August we made the decision to turn Splash into a Virtual Experience.
The event was missing the personal interactions we would have had in Orlando, but thanks to the virtual event platform we still had a successful event. In fact, we finished up with over 1400 registrations for the Splash Virtual Experience which ran from August 30 – September 1st. The event included over 30 hours of content – including the keynote, partner summit, breakout sessions, virtual meetups, discussion forums, trivia contests, and awards. Here’s a recap of the key highlights from the Splash 2021 Virtual Experience.
Day 1 – Customer Success, Roadmaps, and Partner Summit
Day 1 of the Splash Virtual Experience opened with some breakout sessions focused on customer success stories, tips & tricks, and product updates. One of the featured sessions was about how the well-known professional football league, “LaLiga Scored a Championship Victory” by moving to OneStream for their planning, budgeting, and forecasting process. Another interesting session focused on “How NewsCorp Replaced Four HFM Applications and Achieved One Version of the Truth with OneStream.”
The morning agenda also included two important product update sessions from OneStream covering the OneStream Platform and MarketPlace. These sessions highlighted the innovations introduced in the OneStream platform in the past 12 months, new OneStream MarketPlace solutions such as Application Control Manager and enhancements to other solutions, as well as what’s on the roadmap for the next 12 months.
The middle of the day agenda included several virtual “meetups” and drop-in demos, as well as our Virtual Partner Summit with over 150 attendees from our global partners. The afternoon agenda included several innovative customer success stories. Some of the key sessions here included:
Day 2 – Keynotes, Customer Success, AI, and Machine Learning
Day 2 of the Splash Virtual Experience opened with some early morning breakout sessions for our friends in EMEA, including one highlighting “How EFG Bank Transformed their Budgeting and Planning process with OneStream.” This was followed by some drop-in demos and a virtual yoga session – taking care of our OneStreamers!
The keynote session with the theme of “Leading @ Speed” commenced at 10 AM ET led by OneStream CEO Tom Shea, President Craig Colby, and a panel of OneStream customers sharing their success stories. During his segment, Tom Shea spoke about the increasing pressure the past 18 months of the pandemic have put on Finance teams and the increased expectations for them to move beyond financial reporting and planning – to delivering near real-time financial signaling capabilities for managers. He highlighted the evolution of FP&A to xP&A (eXtended Planning and Analysis), aligning financial and operational planning and driving the need to turn large amounts of data into valuable business insights that support decision-making.
This led into Mr. Shea’s unveiling of the latest innovation to the OneStream platform, adding artificial intelligence (AI) services, and a new MarketPlace solution called Sensible ML that will enable finance and operations teams to easily incorporate advanced forecasting and other ML techniques into their existing planning processes. Leveraging Auto AI capabilities, OneStream’s approach will enable customers to leverage large volumes of internal and external data, build and deploy thousands of ML models at the scale required by business – all within OneStream’s unified platform.
According to Mr. Shea, these AI and ML capabilities will be in preview mode with a select group of customers in 2021 and generally available in the first half of 2022. This is exciting news and will be game-changing for organizations in putting the power of AI and ML in the hands of business users.
Following Mr. Shea’s keynote, Craig Colby led a customer panel featuring Regina Gashi from Bunge Limited, Kevin Kalicak from Darden, Jeffrey Leidl from News Corporation, and Candice Cage from Teledyne Technologies. During this interactive discussion, the panelists spoke about their business challenges prior to OneStream, how OneStream is helping them address a growing number of business challenges, and the benefits they have achieved to date. This session is covered in more detail in another blog article I’ll be publishing.
Other sessions that ran on Day 2 included product updates, drop-in demos, tips & tricks, and customer success stories including:
Day 3 – More Customer Success, Drop-in Demos, and Awards
Day 3 of the Splash Virtual Experience began with more tips & tricks, drop-in demos, meet-ups, and customer success sessions. These included:
Day 3 wrapped up with a virtual awards ceremony hosted by OneStream RVP Chad Hart and Director of Technology Alliances Charlene Maskell and the unveiling of the location for Splash 2022 – which is San Antonio!
Congratulations and thanks to the Award Winners and all of the OneStream employees, partners, and customers who helped make the 2021 Splash Virtual Experience a success. See y’all in San Antonio May 23-26, 2022!
In a media interview that was published by Barron’s in April of 2021, OneStream CEO Tom Shea spoke about the company and described the OneStream platform as “the financial brain for modern business.” This analogy is a powerful way to describe OneStream to non-technical and even non-Finance audiences who are trying to understand what the company does for customers. So I thought it would be interesting to explore this analogy in more detail.
The Human Brain
When Tom said this in the Barron’s interview, he was likening OneStream to the human brain. Think about the role the human brain plays in helping us navigate our daily challenges. First and foremost, the human brain connects everything in the human body – the spine, the nervous system, all the organs, our eyes, our ears, our mouth, our fingers and skin – everything we use to interact with the outside world.
The human brain collects inputs from all these sources, processes it and enables us to function and respond in real-time. And it often does this automatically, without even requiring us to think about it – e.g., when your finger touches a hot surface. Of course, the human brain also has the power to process more complex challenges and problems, apply historic experience and learning, do calculations, play out different scenarios and then act and adjust course as it learns more.
The Financial Brain
Now let’s compare how OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform compares to the human brain. To start, OneStream doesn’t handle all of the activities required to “run” a business – e.g., purchasing and payments, billings and collections, payroll and benefits, supply chain management, manufacturing. OneStream relies on other specialized systems to run these processes, and then collects data from these systems across the enterprise to help Finance and other executives “manage” the business and make informed decisions. The most common data sources are GL/ERP, HCM, CRM, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, data warehouses and other systems.
OneStream can also collect and integrate data from outside sources – such as exchange rates, industry benchmarks and even weather data, which can be aligned with financial and operational data to support decision-making. Thanks to its built-in Financial Data Quality Management capabilities, OneStream doesn’t just collect the data, but it validates, organizes and processes the data as needed to support the task at hand. These tasks include corporate performance management (CPM) processes such as global financial consolidation, strategic planning, financial budgeting, financial and operational forecasting, scenario modeling and analysis.
Built-In Financial Intelligence
Managing complex tasks such as these requires more than just consolidating or aggregating data. OneStream applies its inherent financial intelligence to these processes. That includes understanding of how to handle different types of accounts (e.g., assets, liabilities, income, expenses, statistics), currencies, time periods, intercompany relationships, and ownership structures. This inherent financial intelligence is an important function of the “financial brain” and it’s very impactful to customers since they don’t have to program this logic into the platform – it’s already there, unlike some of the other CPM software platforms in the market.
Understanding the Past – Predicting the Future
Once the data has been processed in OneStream, next comes the reporting and analysis. OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform includes a wide variety of built-in reporting and analysis tools including Cube Views, Guided Reporting, Production Reporting, Interactive Dashboards, Excel and MS Office integration. This enables customers to empower a wide range of users with financial and operational insights, in the format that best meets their needs. This allows users to compare actual results to budget, the latest forecast, prior periods, and do comparative analysis across lines of business.
And with OneStream, users don’t have to wait until month-end or quarter-end to get access to financial and operating results. OneStream enables customers to integrate large volumes of transactional data and blend that with financial data on a daily and weekly basis so users can identify key trends and “financial signals” that enable them to make mid-stream decisions that can impact future results.
And when it comes to forecasting the future, OneStream supports a wide variety of planning processes from long-term, strategic planning to annual budgeting and driver-based rolling forecasts that extend out 12 months or more into the future. And as the “financial brain” for the modern enterprise OneStream allows users to apply advanced Predictive Analytics including built-in statistical forecasting algorithms that can automatically generate forecasts based on historic trends.
These automated forecasts can be used to validate traditional forecasts or can serve as a baseline forecast that can be augmented with additional inputs from decision-makers. These capabilities will be extended with AI and Machine Learning capabilities soon that can handle larger volumes of data and targets and get smarter over time as new data is consumed and analyzed – just like the human brain.
Taking Action – 24/7, 365 Days Per Year
As with the human brain, the purpose of the financial brain is to help organizations take action in order to avoid risks, leverage market opportunities, and lead at speed by quickly adding or reallocating resources in order to optimize performance. This is where OneStream really proves its value. The valuable insights users gain into past performance, what’s happening today, and what future scenarios may look like enables faster, more informed decision-making on a 24/7 basis, 365 days per year.
So what’s the benefit of having a financially intelligent brain such as OneStream collecting data from multiple systems, unifying critical finance processes and available to users in Finance and across lines of business? There are several key benefits here, including the following:
The Financial Brain in Action
Over 700 organizations around the globe are using OneStream as the financial brain for their business. They are collecting data from multiple systems, validating, processing and leveraging the results to support a wide range of processes and business problems, including the following:
To learn more, visit our web site and download our Intelligent Finance white paper for a comprehensive overview of OneStream. And contact us if your organization needs a new “financial brain” to replace spreadsheets, legacy applications or cloud point solutions.
In a recent webinar with our partners at PwC, we explored how Finance leaders are increasing the value and guidance their teams provide to their organizations while driving increased performance. In this discussion on Office of Finance Transformation, Scott Stern, Senior Director of Product Marketing at OneStream, first examines how Finance teams can evolve from a scorekeeper to a coach role with Colby Conner, Finance Partner at PwC. Then Scott examines some examples of customer transformation with Tana Treearphorn, Director of Advisory at PwC.
This webinar details the organizational attributes and technology required for Finance teams to successfully navigate this transformation. What does success in Office of Finance transformation look like? Mr. Conner suggests the following rule of thumb. When Finance and business unit leaders spend just 2 minutes or less of strategy meetings agreeing on the accuracy of the numbers and spend the remaining 58 minutes developing insights and solving challenges, the Office of Finance Transformation can be deemed a success.
While a bit simplistic, this “2-minute test” illustrates exactly what Finance leaders of sophisticated organizations should strive to achieve. Under this ideal, Finance transcends the role of data aggregator and summarizer to become a trusted partner of business unit leaders. Transforming essentially elevates Finance’s role to focus on providing insights and guidance to drive performance for the entire organization.
Why Embark on the Office of Finance Transformation Journey?
Mr. Conner explains how today’s organizations have an urgent need for Finance to better support the business. He describes how many factors – including increasing economic pressure, emerging technology, new data sources and increasing data volumes – all challenge organizational performance. He then describes how these internal and external factors present opportunities for Finance to lead at speed to not only meet the pace of change but also conquer increasing complexity.
He also examines how many Finance organizations limit their role to being scorekeepers. These teams spend much of their time wrangling data and reconciliations with a focus on aggregating data and producing reports. In contrast, organizations that have embarked on an Intelligent Finance journey progress to a coach role and add value by providing knowledge, insights and operational decision guidance across their organizations.
Finance teams that complete this journey evolve to become owners of an “insight supply chain.” These teams can then take data from inside the organization and turn it into insights to define new futures and create market leadership.
Addressing Office of Finance Transformation Challenges
So why isn’t every Finance team successfully launching this transformation? The answer is pretty simple: there are significant challenges to realizing an Office of Finance Transformation. The primary challenges are outdated technology and manual processes that force many teams to spend too much time managing data and tools instead of conducting analysis and providing insights.
Mr. Conner redefines these challenges as being opportunities. He suggests Finance teams turn the status quo of manual tasks and inefficient processes into the “fuel” that powers transformation. More specifically, he argues that implementing a modern corporate performance management (CPM) solution to automate processes will give Finance teams the extra time they need. That time allows Finance teams to first spend time implementing transformation and ultimately find themselves with the time needed for high-value analysis and insight development.
Mr. Conner specifically identifies OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform as a solution that empowers Finance teams in two ways. First, it gives teams the ability to begin the Office of Finance Transformation by conquering the complexity of CPM processes. Second, it provides teams the capability to complete that transformation with advanced analysis and reporting. Some example opportunities to increase efficiencies in CPM processes include streamlining the financial close process or building efficiencies in reporting or budgeting & forecasting (see Figure 1). He explains that OneStream’s powerful process automation capabilities enable Finance teams to automate processes and eliminate wasted time spent on manual efforts.
Five Attributes for Finance Transformation Success
Mr. Conner then defines the five organizational attributes (see Figure 2) for Finance Transformation success and provides a detailed explanation of each.
A key highlight of these attributes included a discussion of how Finance teams absolutely must build trust across the organization as a coach for the operational business units – moving the role of Finance from Scorekeeper to Value Adder and Wealth Creator. While many factors will engender trust (see Figure 3), Mr. Conner specifies that Finance teams must maintain confidence in numbers that are shared with the organization on a timely basis. In his words, “If the data isn’t always right, if it is always being revised or if it takes too long to put together, then it erodes trust.”
He also explains that Finance teams must understand each operational unit’s goals and have the analytic ability to provide insightful and relevant analysis. He identified the OneStream Intelligent Finance platform as having not only the financial data quality capability to build confidence in governed financial and operational data, but also the ability to empower advanced financial and operational analytics.
Intelligent Finance in Action
To close out the webinar, Tana Treearphorn shares two customer examples of Finance Transformation. In the first example, he examines how a $21B SaaS provider of cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) services and complimentary enterprise applications (e.g., customer service, marketing automation, analytics and application development) conquered the complexity of rapid growth. With the OneStream platform and guidance from PwC, this Finance team transformed from being a report provider who spent 80% of their time reconciling data to being the provider of insights to the entire organization.
In the second example, Mr. Treearphorn shares how PwC guided a $75B global freight and logistics provider using the OneStream platform to unify their fragmented closing and planning processes from across the globe. In doing so, the provider powered their transformation by building efficiency in their processes and increasing the relevance of their operations insights.
To learn more about how OneStream empowers organizations to lead at speed in Office of Finance Transformation and how PwC guides organizations on that journey, watch the webinar replay of “Intelligent Finance: Driving a New Level of Business Agility.” And if you’re ready to conquer complexity in your own Office of Finance Transformation, contact OneStream today.