In a recent webinar with our partners at KPMG, we explored trends in the financial close and how organisations are increasing the organisational value and guidance their teams provide while driving increased performance. We were joined by KPMG Partner for Finance Transformation Brian Yeager, who examines various causes of disruption and shares the details of two recent KPMG surveys of leading Finance organisations. Cara Peterson, Director, Finance Transformation, KPMG was also on hand to explain how to make the financial close more digital.
To kick off the webinar, I focused on market trends relating to the pace of change and the need for speed within organisations. We highlighted how the expectations of the Finance function are evolving and moving up the innovation curve (see Figure 1). From the ‘foundational’ book-of-record, we’re seeing more forward-looking requirements, operational modeling, and the need for real-time information and data.
Organisations today must, now more than ever, continue to drive the Finance role as a strategic advisor to the business by empowering Finance with new capabilities, including the following:
We then shifted gears to explain that the financial close still has plenty of room for improvement – especially for those organisations using spreadsheets or legacy technologies and cited research by Ventana. In fact, the financial close process is one area for continuous improvement for two reasons: constant change is experienced, and the level of complexity only increases. Ventana’s research showed that more than half the organisations surveyed are taking more than a week to complete the quarterly close (see Figure 2). This number has increased compared to the 2019 survey.
Many organisations, even those who have purchased software, have been struggling to simply maintain the status quo given the constant change caused by the fragmented nature of the previous generation and the existing cloud CPM tools.
As a result, high risk, cost, and technical debt are still very much a reality with many of these products.
Mr. Yeager then spoke about how ‘disruption is guaranteed. Setting the scene, he gave a more detailed view of the different types of disruption – many of which have frequently been used as a vehicle for Finance Transformation. Next, Mr. Yeager highlighted two recent KPMG surveys. He specifically focused on how leading Finance organisations are not only handling disruptions but also prioritising investments in digital, data, and people.
The survey results (see Figure 3) showed that leading Finance organisations are leveraging data – both internal and external data – as a competitive advantage. These organisations are elevating their digital fluency and raising their teams’ skill levels. In other words, people are doing less compiling of numbers and more analysing of data for forward-looking decision-making. Digital centres of excellence (COEs), which are staffed with digitally skilled people, are also becoming more common.
As data technology and processes are advancing over time, leading Finance organisations are automating 70% or more of their transactional processes and reporting. These efforts include automating upstream processes and other key areas, such as journal entries and report delivery. Self-service reporting models are becoming more typical as well.
Mr. Yeager also touched on the benefits of automating account reconciliations. Notably, he shared how many leading Finance organisations are integrating non-financial and external data into financial decision-making.
Ms. Peterson focused on what types of initiatives organisations can undertake to ensure the close process is not extended given the levels of disruption. For many, the close process is already a long one. Finance teams are thus interested in initiatives to make the process occur more in real-time, ensuring the teams themselves are better prepared to handle any future disruption.
Ms. Peterson discussed two key terms that help make such initiatives possible:
The key message from Ms. Peterson is that ‘it’s never too late to start’. She went on to explain some key areas where organisations can achieve immediate gains. These areas included replacing on-premise applications and Excel, moving towards advanced capabilities in the cloud, concentrating on data quality, and replacing integrations where possible.
Next, Ms. Peterson explained automation in more detail and outlined a few steps organisations can take to achieve a more automated close process. She explained that, as organisations bring technology along, they must also bring the people and shift their skillsets by investing upskilling, right skilling, and building data literacy. These shifts drive efficiencies in the close process. Especially, digital fluency is critical because people must understand the technology, how it all works together and the benefits the organisation achieves as a result.
Finally, Ms. Peterson shared a few points on how organisations can tactically advance to a digital close (See Figure 4). A few foundational aspects are still important to implement for any close process, such as using a close calendar, introducing thresholds/tolerances, freeing up resources, and moving account reconciliations activities outside the close cycle. However, some key digital concepts must be considered. These concepts include moving towards using real-time data, getting to an exception-based approach, and examining areas of delay in the process – all of which take time.
The KPMG survey results highlight some interesting trends which leading Finance organisations are following to increase the organisational value and guidance their teams provide while driving much-desired increases in performance. In sum, organisations can take positive steps right now to digitise the close process and reduce the technical complexities of the past.
To learn more about how OneStream empowers organisations to lead at speed in Office of Finance Transformations and how KPMG guides organisations on that journey, watch the webinar replay of ‘Trends in Financial Close with KPMG’. And if you’re ready to conquer complexity in your own Office of Finance Transformation, contact OneStream today.
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Managing the reporting requirements for a conglomerate company can be a daunting and overwhelming task, as there are many moving and ever-changing factors. It is essential that conglomerate companies incorporate modern financial applications so that Group Finance can produce effective and accurate work and keep all independent businesses operating smoothly.
Wesfarmers comprises some of Australia’s most notable retailers such as Target, Bunnings, and Kmart, who each have their own form of self-governance and enterprise reporting methods. The company’s financial management system, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) suite, was incapable of swiftly managing their enterprise reporting, which encouraged their Finance team to heavily rely on offline spreadsheets. A change to their financial reporting system was prioritized, and the company’s leadership knew that the sooner it found a solution for Group Finance, the quicker the Finance team could optimize the software to their needs. Read on to learn about Wesfarmers’ finance transformation journey and the successes they have seen by replacing HFM and offline spreadsheets with OneStream.
Founded in 1914 and headquartered in Perth, Australia, Wesfarmers has operated Australian businesses that sell merchandise such as office supplies, fertilizer, and energy. Wesfarmers is known as one of the most successful and influential businesses to come out of Australia, ranking at 195 on the Fortune Global 500 and having over 100,000 employees. It has also had ample financial success, as its 2021 annual revenue was 33.94 billion Australian dollars, an increase of 43.5% from the previous year.
Wesfarmers needed a solution for Group Finance that would be capable of handling non-standardised data outputs and inputs, streamline data collection, manage complex consolidations, and handle advanced group reporting. Wesfarmers utilized Oracle’s Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) suite, but it was not flexible enough to implement frequent reporting requirement changes; so offline spreadsheets served as a last resort. It was clear that HFM was not suitable enough for all of Wesfarmers’ financial needs, and the situation became even more problematic when it was announced by Oracle that the version of HFM they were using would cease to be supported after December 2021.
Therefore, Wesfarmers sought a new system for Group Finance, prioritizing reliability, safety, and utility in their search. Representatives engaged in discourse with possible candidates such as CCH Tagetik, and Oracle. Still, they became mainly intrigued with OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform after learning about it from consultants at Taysols, a prominent Australian service provider and partner of OneStream. OneStream’s platform was viewed as a significant improvement from Oracle Hyperion, as it allows conglomerate companies to efficiently address group reporting and monitor group performance data. After coming to an agreement with Wesfarmers, Taysols aided in the company’s transition from their Oracle HFM system to OneStream.
Wesfarmers immediately recognized benefits from partnering with OneStream, as group reporting became mainly automated, consolidation processes were significantly improved and their group reporting pipeline was modernized. The demand for spreadsheets diminished.
While using HFM, Wesfarmers employees had to wait several days to receive answers to their questions from senior executives. This process was reduced to only a few minutes with OneStream. HFM’s presentation of information was also outdated, so Wesfarmers appreciated OneStream’s modern user interface that featured more advanced analytics.
OneStream provided Wesfarmers staff with detailed monthly progress reports concerning its subsidiaries. Previously, Wesfarmers’ subsidiary reports were audited in hundreds of offline spreadsheets; reports under OneStream are audited in the cloud.
Partnering with OneStream armed Wesfarmers with an all-in-one financial solution. Tedious manual processes became automated, data management became more organized, financial analytics were presented with more intricate details, and subsidiary performance reporting was simplified. Group Finance has never been easier for company leaders under OneStream.
To learn more about Wesfarmers’ unique OneStream journey, we invite you to read their Customer Success Story. And if your organization is ready to begin your finance transformation journey, contact OneStream today!
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Ever since CPM applications came to the market, discussions around the performance of the financial consolidation processes have flourished. Different vendors have often claimed their systems can run faster, complete multiple consolidations in parallel or reduce the time from hours to minutes. All of that is great since time can obviously impact the overall reporting process, but the actual functions included in the financial consolidation must be considered before making any kind of comparison.
Still, we’re often asked the same question: Will my consolidation be quicker in OneStream than it was in Hyperion Financial Management (HFM)?
Sounds like a perfectly reasonable, simple question. And the short answer is obviously YES. Otherwise, why would hundreds of companies have migrated from HFM and other legacy CPM applications to OneStream’s unified CPM software platform?
Your follow-up question, of course: ‘Okay, how much faster?’
We get this question a LOT too – but it’s not an easy one to answer. Why not? Well, despite first appearances, we’re not really comparing apples with apples. OneStream is architected as a unified CPM platform and does things differently from legacy CPM point-solutions such as HFM.
Let’s look at some of the differences.
(We promise to avoid getting overly technical!)
Despite the above promise, we do need to talk a little about systems architecture and servers in Financial Consolidation software since both play a role in performance. Even ‘in the cloud’, all our numbers are still ultimately processed on real computers – with real processors, memory, disk drives and network links. Thus, the architecture and servers matter. We must make the best use of what we’ve built and paid for (directly or indirectly).
Given that, let’s unpack the performance differences between HFM and OneStream. HFM uses multiple processors/cores to run parallel calculations by entity. OneStream does the same but for Member Formulas (rules) within the same entity.
Why the difference matters will become clear in the following example. Pretend a server has 8 processors/cores. HFM will use all 8 because it’s still simultaneously processing 8 entities. That parallelism is fine at the bottom of the consolidation, assuming the parent has at least 8 children (not always the case), but not so great at the top of the entity hierarchy where the top-level holding company is being processed by only 12.5% of the available computing power. Worse, that top-level entity probably holds the most granular data and will therefore take longer to process anyway.
Alternatively, OneStream uses all the available processing power for all the entities, bottom to top, and that makes a difference. How much of one? Well, it depends on your exact entity structure, the shape of your data, the details of your rules and a host of other variables – which means we’d be doing you a disservice to simply quote a meaningless percentage. But the difference in performance is considerably more than nothing.
The OneStream platform has also been architected to better use the available processing power. Specifically, OneStream not only has sophisticated processes to move jobs to the server with the most available capacity but also has plenty of features that allow for separating different jobs (e.g., data load, consolidation, user interface, etc.) to different server groups. That functionality ensures users don’t suffer a degraded experience during a consolidation or scheduled data load process (See Figure 1).
The level of data granularity ultimately impacts performance. Some customers, for instance, had massive entity structures in their legacy application that included both legal entities and a lower level of detail splitting the numbers by organisation – at the segment level or, in some cases, even down to cost-centre level. And the cost centre level data doesn’t exactly seem like a logical application of ‘consolidation’ accounting – that only happens at legal entity level.
So why slow things down by running a process that’s unnecessary at that level? OneStream applications can instead be designed in various ways to avoid all that unnecessary effort.
One option is to recognise that the lowest level of data granularity doesn’t even need to be in a ‘cube’. Via OneStream’s Relational Blend technology, the detailed data can be loaded into relational tables in a single OneStream application and presented through multi-dimensional hierarchies. Only the entity-level summary of that data needs to be presented in a cube, making the data set for consolidation appropriately smaller. Of course, you can still drill down to see the detailed data within the same application – but most users won’t even realise a ‘difference’ exists in the structure.
The traditional approach to financial consolidation (e.g., in HFM) involves writing all the accounting logic (for eliminations, ownership adjustments, equity pickup, etc.) in Business Rules. Those rules are simply coded logic that gets run against the data for every Entity, sometimes multiple times in the same consolidation run.
Many of our customers use a similar approach in OneStream – in which numerous detailed differences exist around how those rules are structured, how they perform or how easily their performance is tested. In fact, many of the rules aren’t even needed or are much simpler due to the many consolidation-specific built-in features of the OneStream platform.
However, an alternative approach to consolidation exists that’s simply not available in HFM: the Investment Register approach (see Figure 2). Some of our European customers with highly complex consolidation requirements particularly favour this approach, but it can be applied anywhere.
The Investment Register comprises a list of investments and key related details (e.g., acquisition date, acquisition cost, reserves and exchange rate at date of acquisition) maintained in a relational table. In a process separate from the ‘main’ data-driven consolidation, we then utilise the Reporting Compliance Marketplace solution to generate detailed consolidation adjustments as Journals. Most rule complexity is therefore eliminated, so the consolidation itself is little more than a ‘translate and aggregate’ process.
As a result, the register approach makes consolidation a whole lot faster – but better still, think about the complete close process. How often does the data you’re consolidating change during the month-end close? Quite a lot, actually. Every time another entity has submitted. Every time an entity submits late adjustments or supplementary detail. Every time an inter-company balance gets sorted out after month-end because the process isn’t in place to fix it beforehand.
Now think about how often the group ownership data changes during the close. Rarely. Thus, if already created using the Investment Register, the consolidation journals don’t need to be recalculated every time we re-run the consolidation. In fact, we can usually even get this bit of the close done before Working Day 0, altogether removing them from the busy close period.
Financial Consolidation is ultimately a business problem to be solved. For many of our largest, most complex customers, consolidation is one of the most immediately obvious ‘big picture’ performance topics.
How that problem gets solved varies depending on the system being used. But making comparisons between those systems is not always straightforward, so we can’t (and won’t) answer the ‘Okay, how much faster?’ question with a universal percentage.
Consolidation also isn’t an isolated problem amid the many other challenges facing the Finance function. And that’s why OneStream makes a difference. It’s a unified CPM platform that allows for innovative and highly performant solutions to many different business problems, within and beyond the Finance function – and the entire OneStream community is dedicated, as it is with all our customers, to ensuring the success of your implementation.
To learn more, download our whitepaper on Conquering the Complexities in the Financial Close.
The financial close process has long been a critical activity for organisations to accurately record and report on past performance. The process allows organisations to understand what has happened historically and the organization’s current financial position, but legal requirements also dictate how this analysis is performed and published. For this reason and more, the financial close is viewed by many CFOs and Finance leaders as the backbone of effective Finance Transformation.
At the same time, change comes at organisations from all angles – at any time. Unprecedented recent impacts from the global COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine are just a few examples. Other similar events likely await in the future. And whatever comes about, Finance and Accounting teams must have the tools to conquer complexity, lead at speed and drive performance.
For Finance and Accounting teams still reliant on manual processes or ‘connected’ corporate performance management (CPM) software, the financial close, consolidation & reporting processes – such as statutory, risk, or environmental, social & governance (ESG) reporting processes – add even more complexity. Why? Because every financial close solution or departmental and corporate application must be connected. And that adds risk, cost, and complexity to already-taxed Finance teams.
If your organisation is evaluating whether you’re ready for Finance Transformation, here are 5 best practices to conquer the complexity of the financial close.
If your financial close and consolidation process is largely manual, it’s time to use your time wisely and start transforming your process and system. Still, using Excel? Then that especially applies to you. Manual processes mean spending too much time moving data between CPM processes and/or working too hard to achieve results. Plus, valuable resources get tied up with data gathering rather than being applied to understand the results, and you’re likely spending (too) little time analysing the data to make better-informed decisions.
And that’s damaging to not only your people but also your organisation.
Key CPM processes (e.g., tax, ESG, etc.) should now be automated to save time by identifying and reducing repetitive manual tasks – which means no more laboriously moving data between multiple CPM solutions. What features help you save time? Here are just a few:
What’s the result? The simplification of business processes and a reduction in errors and inefficiencies across your enterprise.
Having to deploy multiple solutions to allow divisions, business units, and departments must plan and report at a lower level of detail vs. corporate is no longer necessary.
Instead, a modern unified, and extensible CPM software platform houses everything you need in one system – streamlining processes and giving you the ability to reuse core components of key processes. For instance, a calculation can be replicated in multiple processes, or an account can be shared or be visible across multiple hierarchies. The group reporting model should also be extendable for more detailed management reporting in business units, while the budget model should allow for a more relevant budgeting process – all in the same application.
Plus, the structures must be automatically inherited, and the central model must always remain intact. There should be no concern when a business unit extends an account or user-defined dimension (e.g., product, customer, or region) because the integrity of the model is handled automatically.
Why is all this so important? Well, you no longer need to deploy multiple products or applications that might force additional integrations, validations, and reconciliations. No more having multiple instances of the same solutions for actuals, budgets, forecasts, plans, reconciliations, profitability analysis, and more. No more juggling multiple technologies and managing many types of integrations. Ultimately, unified processes mean less time, less cost, less risk, and fewer errors compared to using multiple solutions. A unified CPM also supports the complexity involved in the modern Office of Finance.
If your users are frustrated with the current tools and the level of service/resolution from vendor support, then change is clearly needed. That’s especially true if you’ve lost staff due to such issues. Why? Well, if your users aren’t happy with the interface, then it can (and usually does!) breed unhappiness in their teams or departments.
Modern interfaces are everywhere today – from mobile phones to televisions or even fridges. People expect the same simplicity and ease of use in business applications. If applications instead cause frustration, some users become less engaged in their work. Many will even consider changing roles and/or companies for this very reason.
How can user acceptance of the system help? Most Finance resources are qualified and ambitious – wishing to be strategic business partners and use their expertise to help the organisation. Accordingly, the right system will use efficient processes that minimise manual tasks, such as performing allocations or calculating depreciation. Efficiency means users will have more time and scope to make a difference – elevating overall organisational performance.
Why is user acceptance so crucial? Well, a CPM solution will holistically guide the strategy and management of your organisation. So the higher the user acceptance – meaning those using, referring to, and fully trusting the solution – the better.
If you’re missing some key capabilities that hurt around the periphery of the financial close process, change is likely required. Here are just some of the potential problems if no changes occur:
How can you avoid those pitfalls? By eliminating spreadsheets, point solutions, and other manual data stores across multiple business units. The result? Standardisation across the organisation – creating a single version of the truth for financial and operating results.
This functionality supports increased insights and improved decision-making. Your corporate staff can also drill through from summarised corporate data right down into the underlying operational details – all in one system. The right CPM solution should provide the functionality to ‘future proof’ the organisation. You need the confidence that your requirements can be handled – no matter what changes await today, tomorrow, or well into the future.
Even the smallest concerns around the data/process quality and/or known reporting errors mean change is necessary. Frequent disagreements over data are also a sign to take action. Why? Well, constant errors in the key data or KPIs are obviously problematic when presented at the board level. Requiring regular restatements due to errors found after the close is not ideal, either. Both types of errors can cause unnecessary stress.
Plus, having good financial data quality isn’t an option with modern corporate reporting – it’s a requirement. Errors or omissions in financial statements can cause compliance issues or penalties, loss of stakeholder confidence, and often a reduced market value.
How can you ensure you’re working with high-quality data and processes? By fully integrating your CPM solution with all source systems. Then data quality risk can be managed using fully auditable system integration maps. Validations can also be used to control submissions from remote sites.
And with a fully integrated CPM solution, your organisation will gain the following benefits:
If your organisation is struggling to effectively manage your critical, enterprise-wide financial close, now is the time to tackle and conquer the complexity in your financial close. That journey starts with you setting a new foundation for change and performance management with a fully unified platform from OneStream.
To learn more about how organisations are conquering the complexity in the financial close, click here to read our whitepaper. And if you’re ready to take the leap from spreadsheets or legacy CPM solutions and start your Finance Transformation, let’s chat!
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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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Friday, 18th February saw the kick-off of the first OneStream Platform Power Hour. What’s a Platform Power Hour you may ask? This event is one of a NEW dedicated series of webinars for OneStream customers. The goal is to arm our customer community with the latest information on the OneStream platform, capabilities, MarketPlace Solutions, product roadmap, and more.
We’re varying topics by month, and all topics will be decided based on actual feedback coming in from the OneStream “Champions” customer advocacy and partner community Task Manager Streamlines the Close
The focus for this first session was using the Task Manager MarketPlace solution in the context of Financial Close and Consolidation.
In the session, I introduced the presenters and gave an overview of the OneStream Champions customer advocacy program. I explained how customers can earn points for special rewards, such as gift cards, OneStream SWAG items, and charity donations. Champions are also invited to ask questions and network with other power users through the OneStream Champions Discussion Board.
We then ran a quick poll of the audience to find out what they’re currently using to manage their financial close task lists. The results were interesting:
A. Mostly Excel and Email 47%
B. OneStream Task Manager 20%
C. Other/Custom Solution 20%
D. Not Sure 13%
The survey results are very similar to the dynamics we regularly see with most organizations. At 47%, Excel and email continue to be the predominant tools used, but with a combined 40% already using OneStream Task Manager or another solution this demonstrates strong recognition of the need to adopt a specific capability. We may even see an increase in users of OneStream Task Manager following the webinar!
Next, I explained how OneStream supports virtually all statutory reporting needs including US GAAP, IFRS, and Multi-GAAP and local requirements. OneStream provides capabilities for complex organisations to handle sophisticated requirements, such as intercompany transaction matching and eliminations, financial signals to help shorten the financial close, variance and flux analysis, and more. And even more importantly, we do it all with a complete audit trail and drill-through capabilities – providing users with insights into every single number in all reports and analysis.
I followed that explanation with an introduction to Task Manager, a specific OneStream Marketplace solution many customers are leveraging. It’s easy to see why since, as I pointed out, ‘it walks you through your close process’.
This process management solution enables Finance teams to organise and manage workflows – both inside and outside of OneStream – and really adds to the user experience. It guides users to the right place, at the right time and keeps them focused on the next task in the close process. (See Figure 1)
At this point, I handed things over to Jessica McAlpine, Group Product Manager Close & Consolidation, and Kelly Darren, Global Domain lead for Financial Close.
Jessica explained that, as a topic, Task Manager was chosen by the most customers through the Champions program. Customers were especially interested in shortening the financial close process through Task Manager.
As a customer, Jessica first saw OneStream’s Task Manager and loved the power and process it offered, but she also talked about being asked to put together the business justification to implement Task Manager. After leaving her role to join OneStream, she now regularly hears the same question: ‘How can we build the appropriate business value case to add this capability?’ In other words, Jessica stressed how more customers would implement the solution if they knew how simple the setup would be.
Next up was Kelly, who started to demonstrate the solution – including a setup from start to finish within the 50-minute webinar. Here are some additional features she covered:
As Task Manager is a MarketPlace solution, Kelly also showed how to access the MarketPlace from the OneStream website (See Figure2). Task Manager is listed as a financial close solution but can be used for multiple purposes across the platform. Here are a few:
Jessica and Kelly then shared various best practices – including how to get the correct time dimension dropdown to show by default, which saves time, and how to use event-based email notifications. The notifications can be used to alert users on past-due and upcoming tasks. This capability really helps to keep the close process moving and meet deadlines.
Here are a few additional best practices highlighted in the webinar:
Kelly concluded the demonstration section with the power of OneStream dashboards and reporting. The scorecard is excellent for visualisation and displays all tasks. Users can immediately see the preparers, the approvers, and all-important due dates. And another great feature? The ability to see all comments that have been entered throughout the process.
The final part of the webinar was dedicated to questions from the audience, and there were plenty! Jessica and Kelly answered as many as possible – and quite a few focused on the best setup and use of the solution.
Interested in learning more about Task Manager please watch the replay of the webinar or visit the OneStream website – and don’t forget to check out OneStream Champions and our events page for future sessions
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A 2018 survey showed that 70% of CFOs in North America believed that digital transformation in their department was inevitable in the next few years. Two years later, the Covid-19 pandemic became a key driver of digital transformation in Finance. The lesson learned was that in a fast-changing business environment, where speed and adaptability are critical to success the winners are typically the organizations that optimize existing processes using the latest software and industry knowledge.
A critical success factor in digital transformation is having a modern, unified software platform that can streamline, optimize, and upgrade critical business processes. A great example is the financial close and consolidation process. By reducing reliance on Excel spreadsheets and retiring fragmented legacy software applications and outdated processes, your finance department can save a significant amount of time and optimize available resources over the long term.
The purpose-built features and ease of use of modern, cloud-based financial consolidation software solutions, have driven increased adoption over the past few years in finance departments of many medium and large enterprises. However, finding a solution to address all your department’s requirements is not an easy task.
There is an ever-increasing number of financial close and consolidation vendors and software solutions to choose from. Some of these solutions focus only on supporting the financial close and account reconciliations process. There are others that provide more comprehensive support for your corporate performance management (CPM) processes including financial close and consolidation, financial reporting, planning, budgeting, and forecasting as well as business intelligence, and analytics. The key advantage to the latter approach is having a single, unified data source for actuals, budgets, plans, and forecasts that can be leveraged across the enterprise for financial and operational reporting and comparatives.
You also want to avoid users having to open and navigate across multiple systems, forms, Excel schedules, ERP tables and windows, and any other supporting documents to perform account reconciliations, which is a key component of the financial close process. The goal is to have a common system that compiles multiple datasets for you so you can open one form and view all the necessary information to reconcile your accounts in one place.
Implementing a new financial close and consolidation solution that will meet your requirements also requires good planning. There are many good options on the market, with proven methodologies and features, but your company is unique! In order to retire the multiple legacy systems your department uses and find the best financial close and consolidation solution for your requirements, you need to design a blueprint and a project plan that covers the implementation steps (including some data cleansing in advance), the possible setbacks, and the expected results.
To get the most out of modern financial close and consolidation software and save valuable time and resources, the most important thing you should do is prioritize your needs. Ask yourself which parts of the financial close, consolidation, reconciliation and reporting process take up the most time, where is there room for automation, and what features your department can’t do without.
Although the benefits might seem impressive, don’t rush your decision. The implementation is a critical process that can consume your team for 6 months or longer and you want to make sure you are getting the most value out of new software. It’s also important to ensure the solution you are selecting meets your requirements today, but also 3- 5 years down the road as your organization grows and evolves in complexity. Select a shortlist of vendors and schedule demonstrations for your team or hire an implementation consultant to help you narrow down your choices.
The more time and resources your organization saves with a modern financial close, consolidation, and reporting software solution, or a broader CPM software solution, the more time your team can spend on financial analysis and management, thus being able to do much more than simply deliver financial results. This is especially important in this day and age when things can change overnight, and every insight you can gain or risk you can avoid must be taken into consideration for a better outcome.
To learn more download OneStream’s Conquering Complexity in the Financial Close white paper and contact Delbridge Solutions if your organization needs help selecting and implementing a software solution that can transform your financial close, consolidation, and reporting processes.
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Today, confidence in data quality is needed more than ever. Executives must constantly respond to a multitude of changes and be provided with accurate and timely data to make the right decisions on what actions to take. It’s, therefore, more critical than ever that organisations have a clear strategy for ongoing financial data quality management (FDQM). Why? Well, better outcomes result from better decisions. And high-quality data gives organisations the confidence needed to get it right. This confidence in data then ultimately drives better performance and reduces risk.
Data quality matters for several key reasons, as shown by research. According to Gartner, poor data quality costs organisations an average of $12.9 million annually. Those costs accumulate not only from the wasted resource time in financial and operational processes but also – and even more importantly – from missed revenue opportunities.
As organisations turn to better technology to help drive better future direction, the emphasis placed on financial data quality management in enterprise systems has only increased. Gartner also predicted that, by 2022, 70% of organisations would rigorously track data quality levels via metrics, improving quality by 60% to significantly reduce operational risks and costs.
In a report on closing the data–value gap, Accenture said that “without trust in data, organisations can’t build a strong data foundation”. Only one-third of firms, according to the report, trust their data enough to use it effectively and derive value from it.
In short, the importance of data quality is becoming increasingly clearer to many organisations – creating a compelling case for a change in financial reporting software evaluations. There’s now real momentum to break down the historic barriers and move forward with renewed confidence.
Financial data quality management has been difficult, if not virtually impossible to achieve for many organisations. Why? Well, in many cases, legacy corporate performance management (CPM) and ERP systems were simply not built to work together naturally and instead tended to remain separate as siloed applications, each with their own purpose. Little or no connectivity exists between the systems, so users are often forced to resort to manually retrieving data from one system, manually transforming the data, and then loading it into another system – which requires significant time and risks lower quality data.
There’s also often a lack of front-office controls that leads to a host of issues:
All of that contributes to significant barriers to ensuring good data quality. Here are the top 3 barriers:
Yet even when such barriers are acknowledged, getting the Finance and Operations teams to give up their financial reporting software tools and traditional ways of working can be extremely challenging. The barriers, however, are often not as difficult to surmount as some believe.
The solution may be as simple as demonstrating how much time can be saved by transitioning to newer tools and technology. Via such transitions, reducing the time investment can result in a dramatic improvement in the quality of the data through effective integration with both validation and control built into the system itself.
There are some who believe Pareto’s law applies to data quality: Typically, 20% of data enables 80% of use cases. It is therefore critical that an organisation follows these 3 steps before embarking on any project to improve financial data quality:
At its core, a fully integrated CPM software platform with built-in financial data quality (see Figure 1) is critical for organisations to drive effective transformation across Finance and Lines of Business. A key requirement is providing 100% visibility from reports to data sources – meaning all financial and operational data must be clearly visible and easily accessible. Key financial processes should be automated and using a single interface would mean the enterprise can utilise its core financial and operational data with full integration to all ERPs and other systems.
The solution should also include guided workflows to protect business users from complexity by guiding them uniquely through all data management, verification, analysis, certification, and locking processes.
OneStream offers all of that and more. With a strong foundation in financial data quality, OneStream allows organisations to integrate and validate data from multiple sources and make confident decisions based on accurate financial and operating results. OneStream’s financial data quality management is not a module or separate product but built into the core of the OneStream platform — providing strict controls to deliver the confidence and reliability needed to ensure quality data.
In our e-book on Financial Data Quality Management, we shared the following 3 goals for effective financial data quality management with CPM:
Here’s one example of an organization that has streamlined data collection and improved data quality in the financial close, consolidation, and reporting process leveraging OneStream’s unified platform.
MEC Holding GmbH – headquartered in Bad Soden, Germany – manufactures and supplies industrial welding consumables and services, cutting systems, and medical instruments for OEMs in Germany and internationally. The company operates through three units: Castolin Eutectic Systems, Messer Cutting Systems, and BIT Analytical Instruments.
MEC has 36 countries reporting monthly, including over 70 entities and 15 local currencies, so the financial consolidation and reporting process includes a high volume of intercompany activity. With OneStream, data collection is now much easier with Guided Workflows leading users through their tasks. Users upload trial balances on their own vs. sending to corporate, which speeds the process and ensures data quality. Plus, the new system was very easy for users to learn and adopt with limited training.
MEC found that the confidence from having ‘one version of the truth’ is entirely possible with OneStream.
If your Finance organisation is being hindered from unleashing its true value, maybe it’s time to evaluate your internal systems and processes and start identifying areas for improvement. To learn how read our whitepaper on Conquering Complexity in the Financial Close.
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There has been an increasing buzz in the market in the past 12 months around the topic of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting. What’s driving this and why should CFOs and Finance executives care about it? Read on to learn what ESG reporting is, what’s new with ESG reporting standards, why Finance teams should care, and the five benefits of aligning ESG reporting with financial reporting.
ESG reporting (a.k.a. Sustainability Reporting) refers to the disclosure of data covering a company’s operations in three areas: environmental, social, and corporate governance. It provides a snapshot of the business’s impact in these three areas for investors, customers, and wider stakeholders. The value of ESG reporting is that it ensures organizations consider their impacts on sustainability issues and enables them to be transparent about the risks and opportunities they face.
For many years, ESG reporting was an annual, voluntary disclosure by public and private companies to their stakeholders about the impacts of their enterprise on the environment and society and how they are managing these programs. With an increasing amount of capital (now roughly $35 Trillion) flowing into “sustainable” mutual funds and ETFs, there is increasing stakeholder interest in ESG reporting and increasing demand for more detailed and frequent disclosures from public and private enterprises.
As a result, corporate sustainability and climate change efforts are fast transitioning from voluntary to mandatory in many countries, and even the US SEC is moving towards defining clear disclosure guidelines for public companies. Based on this inertia, there is a clear driver for companies to develop robust sustainability and ESG strategies with transparent reporting to stakeholders.
There are several competing standards for ESG/Sustainability reporting including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and others. However, there is now a movement towards a global standard coming out of the recent COP26 conference in 2021.
The IFRS Foundation, which oversees accounting standards in more than 140 nations, mostly in Europe and Asia, announced the creation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) at COP26. The foundation will oversee the ISSB as it does the International Accounting Standards Board, formed two decades ago. It expects to release two reporting protocols on disclosures in the second half of 2022.
The main driver for the ISSB creation at COP26 (see figure 1) was the fact that current ESG data is lacking clear standards. The data provided is hard to audit and there is no alignment to the financial statements. This makes it extremely hard for investors and other stakeholders to determine the true risk exposure from the data provided.
While thousands of organizations around the world have already been reporting on ESG and sustainability, the data collection and reporting is often handled by Sustainability teams, Facilities, Human Resources, or other groups. But CFOs and Finance teams are now paying more attention. Why is this? Because as this type of reporting transitions from voluntary to mandatory it will require the same level of governance, control, accuracy, and auditability as financial reporting.
But there are other factors driving increasing CFO engagement in ESG reporting. According to a recent Accenture survey, “the ability of companies to raise capital will increasingly be tied to sustainability objectives.” Yet “deficiencies in the ability of companies to target, manage, measure and report sustainability performance still hamper the ability of businesses to effectively deliver on their sustainability commitments.”
According to the survey, fewer than half (47%) of large companies have identified how to gauge the sustainability of their operations despite rising pressure from investors, regulators, and lawmakers for disclosure on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.
As with any new data collection or management process, spreadsheets and email are often the initial tool of choice due to their accessibility, ease of use, and low cost. But if control and accuracy are required, the spreadsheets and email approach to ESG reporting quickly suffer from the same shortcomings faced when these tools are used for financial reporting – they don’t deliver.
There are a growing number of purpose-built ESG/Sustainability reporting tools available in the market that can replace spreadsheets. And while these tools can provide value to the process, they create a data collection, consolidation, and reporting process that’s separate from the financial reporting process. And if ESG metrics need to be reported alongside financial metrics, wouldn’t it be better if this data was collected in the same system and processed as financial data?
The answer is yes, and that’s why a growing number of organizations are looking to extend the financial close, consolidation, and reporting capabilities of their corporate performance management (CPM) platforms to handle their ESG Reporting. This can be a viable approach for aligning ESG reporting with financial consolidation and reporting – provided the application has the required features to support the efficient collection, consolidation, and reporting of ESG metrics. These features should include the following:
ESG and Sustainability reporting is rapidly moving from a voluntary to mandatory process. CFOs and Finance teams need to get engaged to ensure the accuracy and integrity of ESG and sustainability reporting to a variety of stakeholders. Aligning ESG reporting with the financial reporting process and system can yield several benefits to organizations. These benefits include the following:
To learn more about the value of aligning ESG reporting with financial reporting, download our white paper titled, “Conquering Complexity in the Financial Close.”
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Whenever Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd) comes around it reminds me of that 1993 movie of the same name. Do you remember it? Just for a quick refresher, Bill Murray plays an arrogant weatherman covering Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA who finds himself in a time loop where Groundhog Day is repeated over and over.
Mr. Murray eventually breaks the cycle by changing his ways. But this situation also reminds me of how many Finance professionals must feel regarding their organization’s financial close process. I lived this myself for many years when I was an accountant early in my career. Finance and Accounting staff are often stuck in the same financial closing routine, month after month.
They struggle with spreadsheets or inadequate financial close, consolidation and reporting systems, and time-consuming manual tasks. When it takes 2 weeks or more to close the books, by the time Finance delivers management reporting it’s often too late to have an impact. Then there’s limited time available to focus on value-added analysis before the next monthly closing starts again.
Modernize Systems and Automate Financial Processes
The monthly financial close and reporting process doesn’t have to be like Groundhog Day. By modernizing financial systems and automating financial close tasks and processes, Accounting and Finance can streamline the close process, accelerate delivery of financial statements, and spend more time on analysis and supporting decision-making. Here are some examples of key tasks that can be streamlined through financial close process automation. These include:
Simplify and Unify Financial Close, Consolidation, Reporting, and More with OneStream
Many organizations have modernized Finance and automated the financial close process using OneStream. OneStream provides a revolutionary corporate performance management (CPM) solution, the OneStream Intelligent Finance platform. OneStream unifies and simplifies financial close, consolidation, planning, reporting, analytics, and financial data quality for sophisticated organizations.
Deployed in a secure, scalable cloud environment, OneStream is the first and only solution that delivers corporate standards and controls, with the flexibility for business units to report and plan at additional levels of detail without impacting corporate standards – all through a single application.
Built upon twenty years of creating industry-leading financial close management, consolidation, and financial data quality solutions, our unique platform delivers more complete functionality in a solution that is easier to own and maintain. OneStream supports strict compliance requirements with comprehensive audit controls on data, metadata, and processes. Our financial consolidation and reporting solution includes key capabilities that help streamline the close process, including:
The OneStream MarketPlace features downloadable solutions that allow customers to easily extend the value of their CPM platform to quickly meet the changing needs of finance and operations. Key MarketPlace solutions that complement our financial close, consolidation, and reporting capabilities and help organizations reimagine the financial close include:
In addition to providing the most advanced financial consolidation and reporting in the market, the OneStream platform also supports budgeting, planning, forecasting, and analytics. So there’s no need to integrate data between separate consolidation vs. planning and analysis applications or modules. All these capabilities live and work together in a single, unified platform.
Break the Cycle
Organizations that have adopted OneStream have accelerated their period-end financial close and reporting cycles, improved data quality, shifted more Finance time to value-added analysis, improved management insights and decision-making.
Kiss Groundhog Day goodbye. To learn more download Reimagining the Close white paper and contact OneStream if you are ready to embrace financial close process automation.
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It has long been the norm that executives face delays in getting insights into key data and KPIs due to the volume and complexity of the monthly financial close. Why is this? Well, most financial close processes have been established over time following a strict period-end process to first gather data from multiple sources and then validate and consolidate that data to provide the required combined view in financial reports. In most cases, data cannot even be viewed until the month-end close and consolidation process is complete. That also means any forward-looking decisions must wait. And those delays often lead to decisions being taken too late and to missed opportunities.
In this fast-paced, modern world, operating this way simply isn’t efficient or effective. And that’s especially true when putting the right solution in place can help the organisation surface key data on revenue, costs, customer orders, or working capital on a weekly or even daily basis in the form of “financial signals”. This level of analysis is no longer just a vision. Today, key data surfaced as financial signals can give executives much earlier visibility into actionable insights to drive performance and remove the unnecessary – and costly – delays while waiting for the financial close to complete.
Enter Financial Signaling
Unfortunately, while attractive, the concept of closing the books every day and instantly sharing consolidated financial results with stakeholders is not feasible for most organisations. Doing so is especially infeasible when the transactional data is sitting in multiple GL/ERP, CRM, HCM, and other systems.
So how can Finance and Accounting teams break down the barriers of the month-end close cycle? Financial Signaling (see Figure 1) provides a unique opportunity for Finance and Accounting teams to effectively re-imagine the financial close and challenge the mindset that key data cannot be available before the books are closed. Financial Signaling brings the vision of daily close performance reporting to reality by empowering users with daily or weekly insights into key metrics and drivers of the business. And it allows users to do so in a unified and seamless process that’s controlled, auditable and complete.
Such financial signals can include data on the sales pipeline, customer orders or shipments, customer renewals, supplier deliveries, working capital, and key metrics such as days sales outstanding. With more regular insights into the trends and signals inherent in these data points, managers can immediately act to proactively project and/or take action to impact the period-end results.
Financial Signaling: How to Get There
Effectively performing financial signaling requires three key capabilities:
Having a fully integrated corporate performance management (CPM) software platform with built-in financial signaling capability is vitally important, for several reasons. A fully integrated CPM platform allows for connecting to multiple data sources and rigorous validation and control to ensure the highest quality of data. Having the most advanced functionality for the financial close and consolidation and planning will ensure the organisation can leverage the intelligence that’s core to those processes – without building from scratch.
The solution should include the following three key abilities:
OneStream: A Unique Enabler
OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform (see Figure 2) uniquely unifies financial signaling with core CPM processes – such as financial close and consolidation, planning, reporting, analytics and financial data quality – for the world’s leading enterprises.
OneStream’s unique Analytic Blend capability enables financial signaling by combining the financial intelligence that’s core for an organisation’s monthly financial processes with highly granular and high-velocity financial, operational and detailed transactional data – all in a single platform. This ability continually drives monthly, weekly, or even daily performance.
Delivering 100% Customer Success
A growing number of organizations are using OneStream’s unified platform to enable financial signaling for their management teams.
Teledyne Technologies a leading provider of sophisticated instrumentation, digital imaging products and software, aerospace, and defense electronics implemented OneStream for their CPM requirements. The organization selected OneStream for several reasons – functionality, extensibility, customer references, and pricing.
Teledyne is using OneStream as an accountability tool to help their businesses reach targets. They’re generating dashboard reports in OneStream to inform business leaders of the data and what’s going on with sales. And they use Analytic Blend for weekly transactional sales “signals” to see sales trends across different channels. The organisation’s simplification efforts are expected to drive 100 basis points of margin improvement each year. And OneStream is a key enabler of such improvements – providing accountability for teams to better respond and make changes to see margin improvements. Due to their deployment of OneStream Teledyne were recently recognized by Ventana Research as the winner of their Digital Leadership Award for the Office of Finance category
BDO is a U.S. professional services firm that provides assurance, tax, and advisory services to multi-national clients through a global network of over 80,000 people working in 1,591 offices across 162 countries.
The BDO team, led by CFO Lynn Calhoun, selected OneStream because it met three primary requirements: scalability, information delivery, and data integrity. In sum, OneStream fit the bill as a platform that could not only handle larger data volumes as BDO grows but also empower key decision-makers with accurate information and rich dashboarding and reporting capabilities. By combining multiple disparate data sets, OneStream creates ‘one source of the truth’ for BDO.
BDO leverages OneStream’s financial signaling capabilities to report on and analyse large volumes of daily transactional data, loading 10 million records nightly. Those records are transformed into 30 to 40 million rows of data through OneStream and then made available for BDO’s users via an interactive dashboard.
The dream of ‘one version of the truth’ is entirely possible with OneStream.
To learn more about how you can re-imagine the financial close with the unrivaled power of OneStream’s Intelligent Finance Platform, download our whitepaper and contact OneStream if your organization is looking to empower decision-makers with daily and weekly financial signals that can improve decision-making
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.