By John O'Rourke   November 24, 2020

How BDO Detects Financial Signals in Large Volumes of Operational Data

Organizational growth typically increases business complexity. More products, more services, more locations, more staff, more customers – and more data to manage and analyze. This complexity often puts a strain on legacy financial systems and processes, delaying the delivery of management information and hindering decision-making. This can become especially acute during times of economic volatility and disruption and becomes the trigger point for change.

This was the situation at BDO, a global provider of assurance, tax and advisory services, which was featured in a recent OneStream customer success webinar. Read on to learn how BDO replaced multiple Oracle Hyperion applications with a single instance of OneStream for financial consolidation, reporting, planning and forecasting. Find out why the solution has become a game-changer for BDO's practice managers in their day to day decision-making.

People Who Know – Know BDO

Hosted by OneStream President Craig Colby, the webinar featured Lynn Calhoun, CFO of BDO and Matt Spencer, OneStream Architect at Finit. With a history dating back to 1910, BDO delivers assurance, tax, and advisory services to clients throughout the country and around the globe. BDO USA has over 8000 employees at 65 offices and generated over $1.8B in revenue in fiscal 2020.

BDO had been using several Oracle Hyperion applications since 2009 to support their planning, reporting and analysis processes. Over time their deployment had grown to include 3 Hyperion Planning applications and 9 Essbase reporting cubes spanning ledger data, contracts, employees, projects, demand and workforce reporting. This complex landscape of applications led to multiple versions of the truth, manual data movement, system stability and availability issues as the data volumes grew, and ongoing maintenance challenges. It was time for a change.

Making the Leap to OneStream

The BDO team, led by CFO Lynn Calhoun, evaluated several alternatives and selected OneStream as their go-forward solution. According to Mr. Calhoun, OneStream was selected because it met 3 primary requirements:

  • Scalability: Delivering a platform that will handle larger data volumes as BDO grows.
  • Information Delivery: Empowering key decision makers with timely, accurate information and rich dashboarding and reporting capabilities.
  • Data Integrity: Combining multiple disparate data sets into one to create "One Source of Truth".

"As we looked at the products initially and became focused on the capabilities that OneStream could provide, we realized we couldn't just do a lift and shift of what we had before, because we would have some of the same issues we had in our old system and wouldn't gain the full value of OneStream," said Mr. Calhoun. "We needed to structure the new system in a way that could grow and scale with us and become that reliable tool we could use to combine data from multiple sources and provide value to our end-users."

Transforming Financial Planning and Reporting to Gain Agility

The BDO team had several objectives in mind as they started their OneStream implementation, with the support of Matt Spencer and the team at Finit. They wanted to replace their current Hyperion solutions with a unified CPM solution that is easier to administer, maintain, and own while supporting simplified data flows.

They also wanted to streamline and improve the financial planning submission / collection process and enhance the reporting and analysis capabilities for FP&A users with deeper information and insights. From a financial close and reporting standpoint, they wanted to enhance the data and processes they were utilizing, and align their external, legal, management and FP&A reporting.

The BDO and Finit team launched a multi-phase project in October 2018 that initially focused on implementing OneStream for actuals reporting. Then in the second phase they extended the application to support their budgeting and planning. A key capability that was delivered as part of the solution was a central landing page (see figure 1) for all users. According to Mr. Calhoun, "BDO wanted users' first experience with OneStream to be a page that could guide them to each key area of the application and provide critical status information."

Figure 1 - The BDO Landing Page

The BDO Landing Page enables users to see when the data was last refreshed and allows them to quickly navigate to a variety of dashboards, reports and planning forms. BDO's nightly loaded data is accessible through rich, interactive dashboards (see figure 2) where they can easily spot key trends, metrics and signals through traffic lighting and other visual cues.

According to Mr. Calhoun, "Providing daily data at their fingertips, executive-level dashboards are supported by deeper dives into specific financial focus areas. By leveraging OneStream's Guided Reporting, BDO users can choose which rows are paired with which columns for a reporting experience tailored to their needs." Standard reporting is also available for users who prefer a more traditional approach to financial statements.

Users of the OneStream application can launch into their planning process from the main landing page, then an additional budgeting and forecasting landing page guides users through the process by role. After a user chooses their role, the planning forms specific to them are displayed with a similar look and feel to the reporting options.

Figure 2 - BDO's Interactive Dashboard

BDO leverages OneStream's Extensible Dimensionality® framework to address different levels of detail between budget/forecast collection and actuals reporting. This is leveraged across the Accounts, Cost Centers and Departments dimension in their application, providing additional granularity for reporting and planning across various lines of business – all in a single application.

BDO was one of the first customers to leverage OneStream's Analytic Blend capabilities to report and analyze on large volumes of daily transactional data. According to Matt Spencer of Finit, "BDO loads 10 million records nightly which is transformed into 30 – 40 million rows of data in OneStream's Analytic Blend engine, with over 300 trillion cell intersections. After a few hours of processing, this data is then available to BDO's users via their interactive dashboards."

Unleashing the Value of Finance

As a result of this project, the BDO team now has a reliable and stable system supporting their mission-critical planning and reporting processes. Beyond that low-hanging fruit, BDO has enabled their users to shift more of their time to value-added analysis vs. system maintenance. According to Mr. Calhoun, "We now have happy users who are able to absorb information the way they want with self-service reporting and dashboards. This includes a wide range of information, not just financial – including managing people and clients."

Through OneStream's unified application, there's now a direct linkage between actuals and budget – avoiding the need to transfer data between different systems for analysis. And the BDO Finance team is very pleased with the high level of customer support and responsiveness they are getting from OneStream and the internal development team is more willing to take on enhancement requests.

But Wait, There's More

While BDO has achieved a lot in a short period of time with their OneStream implementation, there are more opportunities on the horizon. The team is now evaluating the use of OneStream for rolling forecasts, as well as several XF MarketPlace solutions including Account Reconciliations and Predictive Analytics. To learn more watch and listen to the replay of the BDO webinar.