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Scott Stern | Sep 18, 2019

The Zayo Group Enables Finance Transformation with OneStream

Congratulations!  After a competitive evaluation, you’ve made the call and selected a new corporate performance management (CPM) solution.  And like hundreds of organizations around the globe, you’ve made OneStream’s unified CPM platform the foundation for your finance transformation.  Now you’ve got to make another decision.  What’s the best way to implement this new platform and manage the organizational change?

You have two choices when implementing a CPM platform.

  1. A phased-approach where several business processes are addressed in sequence. For example, within OneStream, a phased approach could begin with Financial Consolidation, then progress into Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting and additional solutions, such as Account Reconciliations or People Planning.
  2. Your organization can also take a big-bang approach where several processes are addressed in parallel, impacting all users of the platform at the same time.

While there are pros and cons of each approach, it’s hard to say that one (method) is better than the other.  Why?  Because every organization’s requirements and business challenges are unique.

But not to worry.  OneStream and our partners like Archetype Consulting have a wealth of experience to help you evaluate and select the implementation method that’s best for your organization.

The Zayo Group Makes a Big Bang with OneStream

The Zayo Group’s big-bang implementation was the focus of a recent webinar titled “Managing the Big Bang: Going Live with OneStream Consolidations, Planning & Forecasting and Task Manager.”  Like many sophisticated organizations, the Zayo Group is leveraging multiple solutions within OneStream’s unified platform, including Financial Consolidation, Rolling Forecasting, Dashboards and Task Manager.

Moderated by OneStream’s Chief Revenue Officer Craig Colby, the webinar features Kathleen Le, Director Business Systems Operations at the Zayo Group; Tami Chuang, Director North American Partner Enablement; and Mike Kral, VP Performance Management with OneStream partner Archetype Consulting.  Here are a few highlights from the discussion.

The Zayo Group Background and Challenges

The Zayo Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ZAYO) is a “one-stop-shop” that provides global communications infrastructure in North America and Europe.  The infrastructure includes fiber solutions, bandwidth connectivity, colocation and cloud infrastructure used by the world’s leading businesses.  Customers include wireless and wireline carriers; media and content companies; and finance, healthcare and other large enterprises.

And with 45 acquisitions since its inception in 2007, the Zayo Group is continuously managing integration strategies, whether it’s a company, new system or organizational change strategies.

Project Goal:  Simplify with Automation

After Mr. Colby’s OneStream overview, Ms. Le shared the Zayo Group’s goals for the project.

The Zayo Group had been using Prophix, Floqast,  and Excel spreadsheets (see Figure 1) for the financial close, task management and forecasting.  So it was seeking a one-stop-shop to simplify its financial systems while ensuring instant availability of financial and operational data to all stakeholders.

Enter OneStream and its unified platform to deliver multiple solutions – Financial Consolidations, Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting, Reporting, Analytics and more – through a single application.  In other words, OneStream was designed to replace fragmented CPM systems and processes for sophisticated organizations like the Zayo Group.

The Zayo Group System LandscapeFigure 1: The Zayo Group System Landscape

Ms. Le then shared the following additional project success criteria:

  • Implement Financial Consolidations, Task Manager and Forecasting in 4-month expedited timeline
  • Produce a 5-day financial close with tighter controls
  • Capture and report off commentary based on missing certain thresholds
  • Get off Excel spreadsheets for modeling
  • Automate intercompany buy/sell process and expense allocations
  • Create driver-based forecasts with operational metrics
  • Automate expense analysis by vendor

Streamlining the Close with Task Manager

To standardize the financial close and forecasting, Mr. Kral shared how the Zayo Group leverages Task Manager from the OneStream XF MarketPlace.  When users log into OneStream, Task Manager provides them each with a unique home screen that includes all assigned tasks.  For administrators, Task Manager not only organizes who is responsible for what but also provides a detailed audit trail for each task.

For example, during the financial close, administrators keep track of month-end tasks associated with the Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) close, providing more transparency and tighter controls.  Similarly, for forecasting, Task Manager guides users through all required tasks, providing a standardized, defined and repeatable process to align accounting, finance and strategic business partners.

Direct Connections for a Single Source of Truth

With a simplified financial close process in place, the Zayo Group took steps to increase controls with a single source of the truth.  Mr. Kral shared how, with OneStream’s direct connect capabilities, data is loaded regularly from the Zayo Group’s Oracle EBS ERP system.  To keep data fresh, OneStream is loaded every hour for the first two weeks of the month and then once a day for the remainder of the month.

Once the data is loaded, OneStream kicks off a data management and workflow sequence that requires end-users to analyze their P&L and balance sheets.  Conditional formatting then alerts the users which accounts require an explanation – adding  adding another layer of control and insight into critical processes (see Figure 2).

With reliable controls in place and accurate data, the Zayo Group has the foundation to analyze all aspects of the organization.

OneStream Variance ExplanationsFigure 2: Variance Explanations Required

Vendor Analysis Comes Alive

While actively working with over 9000 vendors, the Zayo Group must not only keep a pulse on how much and with whom it spends but also analyze all major spend categories.  Why?  To find potential savings opportunities and consistently take steps to improve profit margins.  After all, isn’t profitability analysis what strategic business partnership is all about?

To do this, the Zayo Group brings sub-ledger details from Oracle EBS directly into OneStream.  Users then analyze spend across vendors, vendor categories and product groups, and work with their business partners to build profit improvement plans directly into what is now Zayo’s recurring 5-quarter rolling forecast.

The Rolling Forecast Gets Rolling

Ms. Le and Ms. Chaung then shared an overview of the Zayo Group’s rolling forecast process.  To illustrate the depth of the solution, Ms. Le and Ms. Chaung presented how key business drivers add operational relevance and agility to the forecasting process.  Check out a few examples in the section below.

  • Churn and pipeline drivers are captured automatically through a direct connection with Salesforce
  • Intercompany revenue and other allocations are now automated to match revenue for product groups with intercompany expenses
  • Bottoms-up workforce plans are completed in People Planning, leveraging a direct connection with Workday
  • Forecast seeding (see Figure 3) enables users to create baseline forecasts by using a variety of calculations, including run-rates, 6-month average or other key assumptions 

Forecast Seeding
Figure 3: Forecast Seeding

By leveraging OneStream to replace Excel spreadsheets, “the forecast process is more efficient.  And with direct connections to source data and workflows to guide users through the process, the Zayo Group’s finance team is spending more time on value-added activities and less time managing process,” said Ms. Le.

Bringing It All Together

To conclude the webinar, Mr. Colby and the presenters each shared key benefits of the Zayo Group’s implementation.  Figure 4 below includes a summary of the critical successes for each OneStream solution.

With multiple solutions going live all at the same time, the Zayo Group’s finance transformation made quite the big bang indeed!

The Zayo Group Key Benefits with OneStreamFigure 4: The Zayo Group Key Benefits with OneStream

Learn More
To learn more about how the Zayo Group made a big bang with OneStream, check out the webinar replay here.

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