Oracle Hyperion Planning has been used for years by financial analysts to create more efficient budgeting and forecast processes. Accounting departments in these companies can leverage these tools to improve their financial reporting process for short money.
The financial reporting process generally involves detailed analysis and preparation of financial statements and accompanying footnotes. The process typically goes something like this:
- Corporate accounting prepares spreadsheet templates and instructions, and emails those to teams in the field
- Stretched for time, the field teams ignore the instructions, modify the spreadsheets and send their information back late
- Upon receipt the corporate team has to decipher the spreadsheets, reconcile them back to the templates, and fill in missing data
Overall, a painful and unsatisfying experience for everyone involved.
This process presents several significant challenges. Communication is disjointed. The combination of email, Microsoft Office Word and Excel clouds the message and makes it difficult for field teams to keep focused. The introduction of ambiguity through the spreadsheet interface is the most significant challenge. The flexibility of the spreadsheet works counter to the process goal of retrieving discrete data points and explanations. What comes back can look nothing like the original templates due to changed formulas, formats, broken links, hard coded number, etc.
A few years ago, the financial analysts were having essentially the same experience with equally dismal results. Today, they spend more time preparing thoughtful analysis rather than reconciling and cross-checking numbers. The change came as more companies implemented planning applications that overcome the fundamental challenges to an efficient process:
- A controlled exchange of information using a web browser
- Integrating high level and detailed instructions with data entry forms
- Summary task lists with hyperlinks and status indicators (see Figure 1)
- Ability to control how and what data is input
- Control formulas and calculated values
- Direct input into the system of record
Figure 1: Hyperion Planning Task List for Financial Reporting Process
The return on investment of automating the financial reporting process by itself may not be that impressive. However, once a company has the application and infrastructure to support it in place the incremental cost of adding another process is minimal. This is a great example of companies leveraging existing applications and infrastructure to lower operational cost. A recent client reported nearly a 50% reduction in hours spent on a similar process after automation. Controllers only need to look across the hall at how much more efficient the planning and budgeting process has become to see the potential benefits for their department.
In Oracle Hyperion Planning, the reporting package process moves to a browser-based task list, replacing disjointed communications. The task list provides a view for both the corporate and field teams of what needs to be done when as well as status indicators and alerts. Hyperlinks to instructions make it easy for users to figure out what is being asked of them.
Avoiding the garbage in – garbage out scenario is another key challenge. Oracle Hyperion Planning forms can be created that allow only specific data elements to be entered or edited. Foreign exchange (F/X) conversions can be automatically calculated. Here is an example of a form accessed through Oracle Hyperion Smart View for Office in Excel. Only the yellow boxes can be edited.
If you would like to receive more information how Performance Architects could help your Accounting or Finance function to use Oracle Hyperion Planning for this kind of scenario, please send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
Author: Ron Woodlock, Performance Architects