With teams spanning the globe—from Australia to South Africa to the UK and all the way to the west coast of the United States—Sage found its month-end close process to be particularly disjointed. “All the reporting was done in Excel and converted to PDF,” recalled Finance Systems Manager Andrew Murphy, who is based in Sage’s Newcastle head office. “The entire close process took twelve business days. We had a consolidation system, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM), but we didn’t have a uniform view. That led to a big disconnect on metrics.”
Trying to get the data across multiple time zones was difficult enough. “Add to that, people were running their own reports and talking about their numbers in their own currency,” Murphy said. “There wasn’t a consistent view of the world. We had different numbers, different calculations, even different charts of accounts.” This all contributed to an incredibly difficult close process. “That was our main driver for change: We needed a proper management reporting tool.”
Fortunately for Murphy and his team, several senior executives in finance had previously worked at a company that used a solution they knew would help. Based on their recommendation, Sage implemented CXO Software, an EPM reporting solution from insightsoftware.
Building Success with CXO Software
Bringing the new software on board was quick. A CXO Software specialist spent a week on site getting the software set up, providing knowledge transfer, and helping the team to write their new reports.
“The first report we tackled was replicating our ‘city pack,’ a 120-page deck we provide for the CFO when he makes announcements in London,” said Murphy. “It was easy to recreate the reports effectively and accurately.”
However, the original city report was built in Excel using a data dump from HFM with no graphs and very little trend information. So the team saw an opportunity to rebuild their report pack, making their reports more interactive and enabling each region to add commentary to explain local variances and outliers. This allowed them to tell their financial story in a more compelling way that worked for their executives. “Once these were standardized, we rolled them out to each region. This helped us capture commentary against specific data sets in a consistent structure.”
Adoption of the solution gained momentum thanks to C-level buy-in. “We still had people building Excel reports and talking performance to other data,” Murphy admitted. “So our financial controller mandated use of CXO in monthly calls with local finance directors to discuss financial performance during which the CXO Software report structure was used in real time.”
From that point on, Sage saw CXO Software engagement skyrocket, with usage rates up from 40 – 50 percent of the user base up to about 90 percent. Now the team uses CXO Software to do final review of budget data as well as package up reports to distribute to functional leaders.
“Having executive buy-in and an incredibly clear brief on what problems you’re trying to solve will drive adoption,” Murphy said. “If you’re just putting in a tool for ‘better reports,’ you won’t succeed. Make sure you have a specific use case and an executive willing to drive it.”
Sage has seen significant improvements from deepening CXO Software usage, including:
- Reduced 31-hour consolidation and re-sync process to 4 hours via the HFM adaptor
- Sub-second refresh for real-time reports
- Reliable, universally agreed single source of truth for financial reporting across the organization
- Adoption of new behaviors as users naturally drill-through to validate their numbers
- Increased understanding of how the whole organization is performing
- Region monthly management calls now occurring on working day 6
With CXO Software, Sage now has a streamlined monthly close process and a single source of truth for their management reporting. “I genuinely couldn’t go back to reconciling people’s spreadsheets. CXO Software gives us so much control,” Murphy concluded. “I can’t envisage a world where we didn’t have CXO Software.”