We take all our clients on a journey along the path to profitable decision making. The experience shared by Phil Talbot, FD at Robertson, shows that the end results are worth the effort. Robertson is one of the largest independently owned construction, infrastructure and support services companies covering the entire built environment life cycle in the UK. With 22 businesses, they directly employ over 2,200 people.
From a starting point of almost exclusively using Excel for consolidation, reporting, planning and forecasting – leading to errors and duplication of work – the picture for Robertson is very different now:
“As a financial director, you need to be able to rely on the numbers being accurate. You need to know that there’s a robust process that means the numbers reported are correct. With no unknowns in our applications, I can sleep at night.”
Unified data sources
Rather than 22 sets of reports being pulled in from three different sources; manual input of figures to isolated data islands being revised by multiple people and business units; and, unsurprisingly, errors being introduced at various stages, there is now one single data continent to work across.
With unified data sources, everyone is looking at the same numbers without worries over version control, and there is no danger of individual spreadsheets being corrupted. Thanks to the consolidated nature of the data, it’s now possible to automate complex reporting, further eliminating the possibility of error and releasing team members from low-value, manual tasks.
Faster, more accurate planning
This increased accuracy arises from the simplified forecasting processes driven by the TM1 software behind Planning Analytics. Whereas previously when producing key reports the team would spot numbers that didn’t look right and lose time having to go back to check and re-check, they can now rely on the accuracy of the figures being produced. The FP&A team can focus on value-adding tasks that actually drive the business and the management team can take advantage of fast modelling and accurate planning scenarios, comforted by the knowledge that they can trust the information presented.
[inset] “We can very quickly find solutions to enable us to model different scenarios of cash flows and the kind of what-if scenarios that we’ve started to use.”
The data is now being consolidated from units across the whole business and this has made Planning Analytics irreplaceable for Robertson:
“The planning and reporting tool has replaced Excel for all kinds of critical reporting tasks; we couldn’t go back to spreadsheets.”
As well as peace of mind and security in the numbers, there’s been a very clear commercial value for Robertson. Transitioning to Planning Analytics has saved the business £40,000 in data-entry time and also freed up the accounting resource to devote their attention to analysing the data and delivering value to the business rather than carrying out manual functions. As the operation grows, there would previously have been a requirement for two additional financial controllers to support this expansion. The Planning Analytics solution has eliminated this need for the business and will continue to deliver additional labour savings over time.
Simplify the process and make it easier to get the job done
Making progress on this journey is fundamentally about calming the whole process down, reducing stress levels and making it easier for your highly-skilled team to do the work they were actually employed for rather than manual data processing. Ultimately, we want all our clients to sleep that bit better at night and applying the Planning Analytics tool to your FP&A activities is an excellent way to achieve that!
“Spitfire are really passionate about the software, and really responsive to our incessant questions. It’s been a great partnership, and long may it continue.”