Part 3 – Streamlining business planning

With the commercial manager toolkit in place for Robertson Group, the key remaining process to look at was business planning. Monthly business performance and forecast reports needed to be addressed.

As it stood, these reports pulled summary data for each project into a single massive standalone spreadsheet for each of the fifteen business units. The business planning application then interfaced with the management accounting and commercial manager toolkit applications to enhance the data. Information was combined with manual inputs and calculations were performed to produce forecast turnover, gross profit, payables, receivables, VAT, receipts and payments for each project.

All of this data was then rolled up into an actual and forecast profit and loss, balance sheet and cashflow report for each business. These reports consisting of business unit level forecast data were fed back into the management accounting model for consolidation with all of the other other companies within the Group.

There were multiple limitations to this procedure:

  • Only the current month’s actuals and forecast were being held in the system. Prior months’ forecast data or budgets were not easily to hand.
  • There was an upper limit of how many projects the system could handle before it became too large to use.
  • Contracts were often transferred from one business to another but moving them was time-consuming and prone to error.
  • Consolidations at business unit level were only possible through high maintenance processes of either copying and pasting data blocks or linking spreadsheets.
  • There was a single, rigid view of project data, it could only be viewed by business with alternative views impossible.

Implementing IBM® Planning Analytics within this area of the business has further streamlined Robertson’s processes. They have only been using the business planning model for 12 months, but it has already replaced a further 300 islands of data with a further data continent.

Provided they have a valid passport, users can roam freely across three borderless data continents and can connect to the rest of the data world via secure, frictionless borders.

IBM® Planning Analytics has transformed MI reporting beyond recognition in the last eight years and enabled Robertson Group accountants to focus on business partnering without being stuck in an Excel quagmire. And this is just the beginning, the next stage is to use Workspace and Planning Analytics for Excel to change the ways in which information is distributed and consumed.

To find out how Spitfire Analytics can transform your planning processes, get in touch today.

Spitfire have a depth of understanding not only in Cognos/TM1 technologies, but also in finance and accounting. It is this combination of expertise and their ability to get to the heart of business problems that has resulted in such confidence in their delivery and capabilities. The insight and value-add they have brought is evident.

- Peter Smith, Head of Solution Delivery, Edrington

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