DIGITAL PLATFORM AS CATALYST FOR ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE
The possibility for detailed insight into the business and cost drivers, flexibility and scalability and one unified platform with easy accessibility were the technical requirements when an international consulting company wanted to have a new budgeting & forecasting solution.
But perhaps the most important reason was a need for digital support for the transition to a new operational model. From one legal entity that unified the whole business across 10 countries and approximately 1,000 employees to a matrix organisation consisting of 20 business units.
In practice, the old business model meant that each country, somewhat simply stated, had one bottom line, with the top management of the country in question responsible for it. Responsibility and ownership down through the organisation were, on the other hand, more diffuse. This was precisely what the transition to a matrix model should do away with.
The matrix model does not have countries, but rather business units as its distribution key. The 20 business units cut across national borders. Each business unit has two primary responsible leaders: The manager responsible for the business unit in question and a finance business partner. They have the ongoing contact and sparring with the employees, and they also ensure that all relevant data are continuously added to the new digital budgeting & forecasting platform.
New forecast model
This was a complete rethinking of the company’s existing budgeting & forecasting model: Much more advanced and complex with much more data input, but at the same time considerably more dynamic and now with a solid and detailed database. On the platform are approximately 120 individual summaries with data from the various business units that provide access to deep insight and detailed documentation for business and cost drivers – if relevant, all the way down to the client level – and thus opportunity for gaining clarity about the triggering factors for the business unit’s overall performance.
With the new budgeting & forecasting platform, the company is continuously able to follow up on deviations and analyse the reasons: Where and when do the realised numbers show that a unit has over- or underperformed, and what is the basis for that? Have incorrect assumptions been made in the forecast, or have those responsible not performed as expected?
Knowledge and learning
This new knowledge means that the company, both at the top leadership level and down through the organisation, can continuously be adjusted and optimised. The budget managers can document, explain, and possibly adjust built-in assumptions for even more precise forecasts with more realistic scenarios. Down through the organisation, simple and quick data export means that everyone can be assured of relevant insight, overview, and ultimate understanding of correlations, triggering factors and experiences that can subsequently be implemented in practice.
The new ownership
At the same time, establishment of clearer budget ownership was one of the company’s top priorities. With the detailed insights and possibility to filter all the way down to the client level, responsibility and ownership stand out much more clearly, and therefore specific and precise follow-up on any deviations from the budgets and forecasts can be done.
The transition to the digital solution with a unified platform at the same time meant introduction of an entirely new workflow. From endless email threads, Excel sheets sent here and there and thus constant uncertainty about the data’s validity and timeliness, now everyone has one common reference base that is always updated with the latest data.
A constant optimisation process
The company’s complexity and large business scope meant that it was essential to tailor the solution very precisely. This is ensured with a continuous adjustment of, for example, the built-in assumptions and available summaries. An iterative process, which to a great extent can easily be carried out by the company itself.
The new solution
The company’s new digital solution for budgeting & forecasting has been developed in cooperation with the company with a view to optimising workflows and delivering the optimal support of the transformation to the new operational model with greater transparency and establishment of clearer ownership of performance.
The solution is based on exacto core®, which utilises the synergies between Microsoft Excel and Microsoft SQL for a familiar and intuitive user interface on top of a strong database technology that eliminates the many different Excel sheets and brings everything together in one place. By using Microsoft SQL, it is also possible both to scale in nearly unlimited ways and in a short time integrate to new data sources, e.g. new ERP systems. This means that all relevant data are simply and continuously added directly into the common database and thus are accessible for pulling out updated reports and generating new forecasts for adjustment of strategies and priorities.