Office of Finance Evolution with Unified Connected Planning
The Office of Finance is evolving from a static reporting function to a high-performing team that helps organizations maximize business impact.
But while the promise of extended planning & analysis (xP&A) is exciting, most organizations fail to launch. Why? Because as Finance teams evolve planning processes into Sales Planning, Workforce Planning and Supply Chain Planning, organizations must contend with high-volume, high-velocity granular data, disparate data sources and often siloed planning processes. So how can Finance teams rise above these challenges and realize the vision of this evolution?
In a recent webinar with our partner Strategic iQ, we discussed the answer to that question. Strategic iQ helps clients transform their business operations by leveraging proven project management methodologies, effective change management techniques and our functional expertise to streamline operations, reduce cycle times and deliver actionable insights.
The webinar explored how organizations are unifying Finance and operational planning – at scale – to achieve accurate and rapid business decisions. In this discussion, Scott Stern, VP of Product Marketing & Strategy at OneStream, and Ken Dowd, Principal of Strategic iQ, first discuss the challenges Finance teams face while navigating this transformation and then illustrate, with a live demonstration, how the OneStream platform enables this evolution.
Leading @ Speed to Conquer Market Dynamics
Mr. Stern opens the webinar with a discussion of the market dynamics that require CFOs to make data-driven decisions while keeping pace with change and maintaining data quality, control and compliance. Next, he describes not only the importance of aligning Finance with Operations to formulate accurate plans across the organization, but also the challenges organizations face with this alignment.
What are these challenges?
Mr. Stern describes two key challenges: how organizations have access to ever-increasing data sources and how the data available to organizations is increasing in both velocity and volume. Unfortunately, to quote a modern adage, many organizations now find themselves “data rich and information poor.” Another challenge Mr. Stern describes is how Finance teams struggle to maintain financial data quality and control when much of operational planning is done in siloed spreadsheets or connected planning tools.
Next, Mr. Stern describes how OneStream solves the challenge of aligning Operations and Finance with a unified platform that empowers Finance teams to maintain control and visibility of operational and financial data across the entire organization. OneStream provides a single platform that Finance teams and operational units employ for unified business planning – with all relevant data accessible directly within the platform (see Figure 1). In other words, the platform gives Finance teams complete visibility into operational planning, down to even the most granular levels and calculations.
Figure 1: Unified Business Planning.
To address the challenge of rationalizing the increasing volume and velocity of data, Mr. Stern shares how OneStream’s Sensible Machine Learning (ML) brings data science automation into the platform (see Figure 2). This capability elevates the Office of Finance with built-in data science and enables Finance teams to build, optimize and maintain very sophisticated planning models. And Finance teams accomplish this elevation while gracefully leveraging the financial and operational data in the OneStream platform to engage in insightful forecasting.
Unified Business Planning in Action
Mr. Stern then turns the presentation over to Mr. Dowd, who presents a live demonstration of Strategic IQ’s unified business planning solution.
Using an example automotive parts supplier organization, Mr. Dowd illustrates how OneStream’s unique capabilities – which include data blending, extensible dimensionality, interactive dashboards (see Figure 3) and financial signaling – all come together to empower Finance teams as business decision leaders through accurate and rapid forecasting.
In the demonstration, Mr. Dowd shows how OneStream eliminates siloed planning with disconnected spreadsheets and planning tools to enable planning agility and control across the organization. He also explains how Finance teams can accomplish rich variance analysis by drilling down to granular operational data when formulating plans.
Mr. Dowd then breaks down how OneStream’s data blending marries operational and financial data while maintaining dimensionality to accomplish standardized operational-level planning and maintaining corporate-level visibility and control. Additionally, he demonstrates how other data sources (e.g., third-party demand forecasts) can be incorporated in the platform to enhance planning accuracy.
With these capabilities and the seamless integration of detail data sources, as Mr. Dowd explains, Finance teams can forecast with greater accuracy and are no longer limited to quarterly forecasts. OneStream enables Finance teams to forecast much more frequently.
Customer Success Wrap-Up
Mr. Stern and Mr. Dowd concludes the presentation with a customer success story focused on Sensible ML-powered unified business planning (see Figure 4).
Mr. Stern explains how this global auto supplier is unifying its planning processes across Finance, SCIOP and Sales and then reviewing part-level costing in OneStream. Here are just a few of the key benefits that add business value:
- Sensible ML automatically seeds forecasting for shipped unit forecasting at the customer, product family, and part # level
- Sensible ML forecasts achieve greater than 10% improvement in accuracy
- Forecast accuracy helps reduce forecast bias and improves operational stability, reducing fluctuations in downstream labor planning and costs
Unifying connected planning processes is no longer just an aspiration. OneStream’s AI-powered platform brings the connected planning vision to reality. And with the platform, organizations are unifying business planning across the organization to enable more confident decision-making and maximize business impact.