In this case study Christiaan Uys, Commercial Director of Acceleration, a digital marketing company, describes a few of the benefits that Acceleration experienced as a result of implementing IBM Cognos Xcelerator.

BEFORE COGNOS

Acceleration was using extensive manual intervention for its budgeting and month-end consolidation processes, working with a combination of spreadsheet solutions and its ERP system.

The company therefore started looking for an alternative and cites the following as some of the reasons for doing so:

In the budgeting process

The manual process of building custom spreadsheets for business users to populate, followed by manually consolidating the results, created many opportunites for error.

“In addition, spreadsheets made our budgeting model clumsy, while the complexity and manual nature of the process meant there wasn’t time to budget at a more granular level, and we couldn’t answer ad-hoc questions in a timely manner.

“Budget changes, multiple iterations of budget versions and scenario planning were challenging. Reporting on budgets was also largely manual, which meant we had to copy and paste into a big spreadsheet, leaving us unable to present and review our data at different views.”

“Reporting on budgets was also largely manual, which meant we had to copy and paste into a big spreadsheet, leaving us unable to present and review our data at di!erent views..”

In the budgeting reporting process

“The process was slow because the spreadsheet workbooks were large, it was predominantly manual and there was a high risk of human error. Besides that, the audit trail was not robust enough, and the large spreadsheet workbook was difficult to maintain, making version control and tracking changes challenging.

“Working within the limitations of the spreadsheet solution meant elements of the budgeting process were not as detailed as management required.

“It was not possible to provide an entity and office-centric view, as we budget on a budget area level which cuts across entities and offices.”

In the management reporting process

“Before Cognos, we ran our consolidation and management reporting process through our ERP which wasn’t built specifically for this function. The result was a lengthy consolidation ‘run’ to produce the numbers.

“When corrections were required, the consolidation process had to be reversed, the entries corrected and the consolidation re-run, which could take anything from 30 minutes up to an hour. This delayed our reporting and created a challenging environment in terms of meeting our reporting deadlines.

“Also the reporting functionality was complicated and hard to construct and edit. There was no drag and drop / slice and dice functionality, which limited the different ways to view our data.”

BENEFITS OF MOVING TO COGNOS

Christiaan says IBM Cognos Express Xcelerator has assisted in putting business and finance on the same page, allowing finance to become a stronger business partner. It has also added strategic value in that it allows Acceleration to see what is happening now, while providing a forward-looking view that enables management to put into place strategies to take advantage of the observed trends.

“Now the management team can get better and quicker insight and run more scenarios, enabling the team to visualise the implications of a certain decision or set of decisions.”

in the budgeting process