Whether you're a new or expert user of the Host Analytics Enterprise Performance Platform, there's always something to be learned when customers get together.
Such was the case during the fireside chat with customers held on day 1 of Host Analytics World 2017 in Nashville.
Moderator Ron Baden, SVP of Services, gathered a panel of five finance executives in various stages of using Host Analytics to transform their organizations' planning, consolidation, and reporting capabilities. The panelists included:
- Lee Johnston, VP Finance and Corporate Strategy, LT Apparel Group
- Mariel Courtwright, Director, Financial Planning & Analysis, Wingstop
- Glenn Snyder, Vice President, Corporate FP&A, Digital Realty
- Israel Askew, Chief Financial Officer, Emission Monitoring Service, Inc.
- Ryan Scafidi, Boston Red Sox
Like most in attendance, the panelists had all but broken Excel before finally turning to Host Analytics for relief. Ron asked them to relive the experience.
"We were spending a lot of time maintaining Excel spreadsheets," Courtwright said, noting that "inevitable" errors created would eat up time meant for analysis.
The Red Sox Ryan Scafidi likened his team's process of wranging 100 spreadsheets into a "mothership" document to detective work since even one miscalculation could blow up the forecast. "We spent a lot of time being more like Sherlock Holmes than financial analysts," he said.
Askew, Johnston, and Snyder added nodding heads, as if they'd all suffered the headache of abusing spreadsheets before—and hoped to never do it again.
Looking For a Better Way
But if Excel wasn't up to the job, what exactly were these finance pros looking for in a new tool? Ron pressed LT Apparel's Lee Johnston first.
"Our biggest challenges were doing reporting in a timely fashion. Version control was challenging and there were many errors. Planning was the other problem. We were barely able to scrape together a mid-year forecast, and even when we did, we already had July actuals and had to decide whether we wanted to include them" Johnston said, eliciting even more nodding heads.
Snyder said having a cloud-based platform was crucial. Digital Realty is primarily a cloud-based business after all, and knows the benefits of zero on-site adminstration or upkeep. Scafidi said the Red Sox also wanted a cloud-based system, but for a different reason.
"We wanted to improve efficiency and have a tool for collaboration throughout the club," said Scafidi, noting that it just wasn't feasible for finance to properly manage "50-plus users" submitting spreadsheets while delivering a timely and accurate forecast.
"We needed to collaborate with managers whenever, wherever. We also needed more visibility for upper managers as well as cost center managers," Scafidi said.
Want to see the whole discussion and learn what it takes to transform your finance organization for high performance? Tune into the replay of Ron's fireside chat with customers for everything you need to know.