From Days to Minutes: How Extending to the Cloud Streamlined Budgeting

The best run finance teams make business decisions with confidence and agility. And when you’re responsible for an entire organization’s finances, you’re collecting and confirming a lot of mission critical data. This means everything needs to be accurate, timely, and up to date. But without the right tools, speed and accuracy are difficult to achieve.

The Controlling team for SAP South Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC South) supports managing the business and making decisions by providing relevant information working with President of LAC South. The team wanted to supply timely, accurate information with quick turnaround times and was looking for a budget planning solution for the year.

That’s why when LAC South's Controlling team needed a better way to interpret their data and streamline their budget/target setting process, they turned to SAP Analytics Cloud for planning to help drive efficiencies, increase speed, and provide them with confidence in budget setting.

30 minutes to upload budget data compared to 1-2 days

Challenges

Controllers are, in essence, responsible for the financial and regulatory compliance of a company. They’re also the critical link that binds finance to the entire senior management team, acting as gatekeepers for mission-critical information for the entire organization. It’s therefore crucial to have accurate, timely information.

Before using SAP Analytics Cloud, the team was working with templates and uploading data into Excel, which was cumbersome and time-consuming. The team had to input numbers into the system themselves, review, and provide conclusions to the business.

LAC South had a short turnaround time to get accurate data to their President and CEO. The challenge they faced was they couldn’t extricate value as fast as they would like to. It took the team four full days to comb through every cell to pull data by country, target, and departments. They found they were spending more time manually working the data that understanding what the data was telling them.

What’s more, the team needed to present their findings to the President and CEO. Plugging in all their data from spreadsheets is timely and tedious, and it leaves room for human error, which impacts any team’s ability to present confidently.

With SAP Analytics Cloud, we now have more time. We can report quickly, there is time to review, our numbers are accurate, and we have a better view of our numbers. The business has seen an improvement as a result.

Paola Dickenstein, Head of Controlling, LAC South

The Solution

LAC South was already leveraging SAP Business Planning and Consolidation to deliver their planning, budgeting, forecasting, and financial consolidation capabilities. To achieve the agility and accuracy they were after, they needed a cloud-solution that would easily integrate with their existing data sources and provide them world-class analytics.

LAC South team learned about SAP Analytics Cloud for planning when they leveraged SAP Digital Boardroom. The team was interested to see how the planning capabilities provided real-time access to data, which would help them increase their speed and accuracy, but also help them understand how they could leverage the business intelligence and augmented analytics of the solution.

It was clear that SAP Analytics Cloud planning functionalities were the best option for us.

Bianca Pacini, Top Line Controller, LAC South

Across the organization, SAP Analytics Cloud for planning increases engagement and accuracy when creating plans and budgets. With collaboration at the center of crowdsourcing plans, SAP Analytics Cloud for planning empowers every business area. And for those with on-premise investments, it’s an easy way to extend to the cloud to achieve business intelligence, augmented analytics, and planning, all in one–without sacrificing trusted on-premise data.

LAC South leverages the chat function to easily interact with different teams in different regions to send information. Business units have access to dashboards so they can self-empower and instantly begin analysis without waiting for spreadsheets.

This ability to collaborate in real-time helps break down data silos, unify plans, and align processes.

Using SAP Analytics Cloud’s reporting capabilities, LAC South can now generate reports automatically, enabling the team to monitor their key metrics to see if their business is performing to the levels they desire.

LAC South and budgeting

The reporting capabilities are so great. All that logic – it's there in seconds. We have version control; we can update information in seconds. It’s so quick! Before, it used to take so long.

Paola Dickenstein, Head of Controlling, LAC South

The data visualization capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud enable the team to build dashboards based on their business needs. With the press of a button, all their targets are distributed easily, unlike before when they had to manually manipulate all the formulas in Excel.

Not only that, but they’re also able to do proactive reporting, rather than reactive reporting. By creating more versions before they submit their report, the team is able to conduct “what-if” scenarios to understand if they have a problem and what direction to go in.

While LAC South enjoyed the user-friendliness of SAP Analytics Cloud, the team was also able to leverage the guidance of the experts at the Global Center of Excellence for Planning & Analysis. This team took their time to walkthrough the functionalities of SAP Analytics Cloud, including modelling, calculations, currency translation, allocations, integration and the visualization layer.

We are not experts in analytics. We’re a team of 3, plus interns. We could not have done this project without the help of the SAP Global Center of Excellence team’s help. They met with us every day to make sure everything was working the way we needed it to. The whole process was so smooth.

Bianca Pacini, Top Line Controller, LAC South

The Results

It’s clear that SAP Analytics Cloud for planning is exactly what the team needed. LAC South reports that, now, each month they are seeing improvements like never before. The team now has a tool that is finance owned without the need of IT support.

With this empowerment, the team is able to:

  • Reduce manual data gathering (from 4 days to hours)
  • Align corporate and local budgets/plans
  • Leverage built-in business logic to simplify the planning process
  • Harness self-service analytics
  • Create more versions before submitting
  • Play with different scenarios

Now, when we calculate with different dimensions and segments with different channels and solutions, we can condense everything at once, in just a few minutes. No issues with consistencies. Reporting done automatically.

Paola Dickenstein, Head of Controlling, LAC South

Before implementing SAP Analytics Cloud, it took four full business days to upload, work, and report on their budget. The team didn’t have time to test out different potential scenarios.

Now? It takes the team only 30 minutes to upload their budget.

Data is automatically uploaded to SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, and thanks to the connectivity capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud, slicing and dicing that real-time data is fast and efficient.

As well, with SAP Analytics Cloud’s “what-if” analysis functionality, LAC South can change values and see the impact of what those changes might be. They’re also able to revert changes to try different scenarios or go back to the original data at will.

Having this kind of flexibility helps the team ask different questions about their data to understand what direction to move in, something they couldn’t do before. Now that they no longer have to spend time reconciling or quality-checking their data, or even checking excel functions, the team can look at what the data is telling them.

The team now also enjoys automatic reporting, a process that previously took a day after uploading all the planning data into the system. This also means that consistency checks are all passed at once as the uploaded results are the same as the Budget Planning report.

 

When we review the numbers with the business, if we need to make changes to the dashboard, it can be done in an hour or two. That would be impossible before as we didn’t have time to make those changes.

Bianca Pacini, Top Line Controller, LAC South

As well, if there any changes in the Product hierarchy, it is now automatically updated in the reports. This process previously took 1-2 days, and now it takes only 30 minutes.

LAC South also enjoys the simplicity of the Currency Conversion feature in SAP Analytics Cloud.

There are even talks of leveraging more capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud in the future, such as predictive technology.

For now, the team LAC South now enjoys smoother workflows, faster review cycles, and data accuracy. Even SAP runs SAP, and the LAC South team’s story shows how finance teams can introduce innovation and support transformation with SAP Analytics Cloud.

SAP Analytics Cloud can be learned quickly. You might need to help from people who know the system for allocation, but it’s so user-friendly, the help is there if you need it. We had a team of experts to help us every step of the way.

Paola Dickenstein, Head of Controlling, LAC South

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