How Longview Helped RSA Slash Time to Reporting in Half

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Executive Summary

For nearly ten years, leading property and casualty insurance providers, RSA, has been using Longview Close and Tidemark to automate and streamline financial management processes to improve its financial and operational performance. The Longview applications allow regional departments to abandon manual and time-consuming processes so they can dedicate more time to interpreting key financial information and packaging it to give decision makers better insight.

Company Profile

RSA Canada includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Johnson Inc., GCAN Insurance Company, Western Assurance Company, Ascentus Insurance Ltd., Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company, RSA Travel Insurance Inc./Assurance Voyage RSA Inc., and is part of the RSA group of companies headed by RSA Insurance Group plc. RSA Canada employs approximately 3,700 people and is represented by a large network of brokers across the country. In 2010, the Canadian Group wrote $2.1 billion in direct premiums with assets exceeding $5.8 billion. Internationally, RSA Insurance Group plc employs about 22,000 people and has the capability to write business in 130 countries, and in 2010 its net written premiums were £7.5 billion. RSA is a trade name of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. “RSA” and the RSA logo are trademarks used under licence from RSA Insurance Group plc.

Challenges

  • Reduce reporting deadlines from 10 days to 5 days
  • Inefficient, manual processes and spreadsheet tools
  • Time-consuming processes tied up resources from performing adequate financial analysis

Benefits at a Glance

  • Cumbersome, manual processes and spreadsheets eliminated
  • Reduced forecasting cycle time and improved financial data integrity across the organization
  • Streamlined processes for gathering, reconciling, and aggregating financial data from subsidiaries and regions across Canada
  • Unified, consistent view of financial and operational performance based on real-time data from a single repository

Nicole Heidinger loves her finance job in the Toronto headquarters of insurance company RSA, one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurance providers. Heidinger is RSA’s manager for management reporting and analysis, and she’s been with the company for 10 years. She’s proud to point out that RSA’s parent company, UK-based RSA Group, is one of the biggest players in the global insurance markets, with operations in more than 30 countries. It’s also one of the oldest, with roots going back deep into the 18th century; the company celebrated its 300th birthday in 2010.

You don’t get to enjoy that kind of longevity by ignoring the technology advances of the day, whether it’s those new-fangled telephones in the early 1900s, or, today, the corporate performance management (CPM) systems that drive decision making at forward-looking businesses. RSA was quick to see the value of this software category; the company has a long history of attendance at Longview Solutions’ annual user conferences (actually it’s tied for the record), and has been an enthusiastic user of Longview Consolidation since 2002. Heidinger has been around long enough to remember the excitement of that early implementation: “At first it was a case of, okay how do I use this? And then once I learned how to do it, I just wanted to automate everything I possibly could.”

RSA started its Longview journey with Longview Consolidation, which dramatically simplified and streamlined its processes for gathering, reconciling, and aggregating financial data from its subsidiaries and regions across Canada. A budgeting, planning, and forecasting implementation soon followed. Tidemark quickly gave RSA a unified, consistent view of its financial and operational performance based on real-time data from a single repository.

In those early days, though, the new systems were far from pervasive within RSA’s finance organization, and many staffers continued to cling to familiar, though inefficient, manual processes and spreadsheet tools. Even so, RSA was easily meeting its reporting deadlines using just a fraction of the systems’ power. But nothing stays the same in business for very long, and in 2006, RSA was challenged to cut its reporting timelines by five days in Canada. “Where we had reported on business day 10, now they wanted us to report on business day five,” said Heidinger. “It was a huge, huge change for us because so many things were still manual, with no automation.”

It was clearly time to get serious about leveraging the full power of Longview CPM and rolling it out to more of RSA’s finance pros. Fortunately, the company could call on some confirmed Longview enthusiasts to help with training. “We had a few people aboard who were really good with the software, so they were a huge help in training people,” said Heidinger. “At the beginning of a project like this, it’s very normal for people to have a bit of fear of change, but it’s just such an easy tool to use that the training sessions went very well. For a lot of our people, once they saw what they could do with this, they were very excited.”

Even Heidinger, a veteran Longview evangelist, achieved some new breakthroughs as the drive for more automation gained traction. A report that had previously taken her a week and a half to complete now took just a few hours once the additional automation was in place.

Nowadays, all of RSA’s internal monthly and quarterly reporting, for the regions as well as top-level management, comes from the Longview system. “Before, it was a huge manual process,” said Heidinger. “Each individual from each department used to contribute one sheet or one working paper, and one person would put it together and build it into a book and we would print it. It’s been quite a revolution.”

Achieving the new, compressed reporting deadlines was just one of the wins. In addition, the broader adoption of Longview Consolidation and Planning quickly freed up finance staff from a wide range of manual processes. Tasks that previously required the full attention of two or three people now needed just one, giving the department more time to focus on interpreting key financial information and packaging it to give decision makers better insights.

This outcome was particularly appreciated by management. In an uncertain national and global economy, business leaders need all the help they can get from timely, high-quality financial information, and RSA’s leadership team is no exception. “It’s now more about analysis,” noted Heidinger. “It’s about ‘give us the numbers, but also give us the story behind the numbers.’ That adds more value to what we provide.”

These stellar results didn’t go unnoticed at RSA’s parent company in the United Kingdom. Every year, the London HQ gives each of the national finance offices around the world scores for the timeliness and quality of the finance information they produce. Heidinger recalled an RSA global conference in London, where she met the controller for Italy. The conversation went something like this:

Controller for Italy: So you report to Antonietta Montisano—she’s your department’s controller?

Heidinger: Yes, she’s my boss.

Controller for Italy: You know, I have her picture on my wall.

Heidinger: Really? Why?

Controller for Italy: Because Canada’s scores for quality and timeliness of reporting are the highest in the world. Every time I look at that photo, it encourages me to compete with her and beat her scores!

A laudable ambition, no doubt, but the Italians have some catching up to do. The Canadian group’s timeliness score is always 100 percent and the score for the quality of the information provided is always over 90 percent, according to Heidinger. “Nobody has beaten those scores yet,” she added.

And how does RSA Canada’s controller feel about being a finance celebrity recognized in international circles? “I guess if you’re going to be known for something, that’s not a bad thing to be known for!” laughed Antonietta Montisano. “In a dynamic and complex environment like ours, there is an increasing demand for timely and accurate financial results. Our Longview application has given us the tools that we need to not only keep up with this demand, but to effectively react to change.”

Meanwhile, RSA Canada has no intention of allowing the pace of innovation to slacken, and Heidinger will be keeping a close eye on Longview’s new technology offerings as RSA heads into its fourth century of writing insurance.

"In a dynamic and complex environment like ours, there is an increasing demand for timely and accurate financial results. Our Longview application has given us the tools that we need to not only keep up with this demand, but to effectively react to change.”

Antonietta Montisano
Controller