One of the biggest challenges that finance departments in large enterprises face, lies in the amount of time senior staff spend on creating manual reports when using Excel. It is well known that this manual approach is complex and time consuming. This was the challenge faced by facilities management company, IFS (International Facilities Services), which found that its management accounts preparation process required the manual intervention by senior finance department resources.
IFS is multinational organisation with advanced reporting requirements due to the multiple locations and currencies in which it consolidates its results. Their legacy Excel-based solution used for the preparation of their management accounts was manual, taking up to half a day to prepare each regional reporting pack, and an additional two days to prepare the consolidation. As a strategic initiative, IFS identified the need to reduce the reporting cycle to better facilitate strategic decision making by management. Furthermore, they wanted to enhance the control environment through the accuracy of management reporting.
To fulfil these needs, IFS sought a more agile solution that would easily respond to changes in the business. They engaged Keyrus South Africa to identify and implement a tool to automate the reporting requirements and provide a robust and automated financial reporting solution.
Keyrus promotes the latest trends in budgeting and forecasting with a focus on providing board level members with the most relevant insights and therefore recommended BI360 solution as the optimal tool to address IFS’s reporting requirements whilst retaining the benefits provided by Excel. The solution was demonstrated to the IFS Finance and IT teams who were impressed by the tools reporting functionality and potential for deployment into other functional areas such as budgeting.
During the first phase of the implementation, the BI360 tool was utilised as a means of automating the Excel reporting requirements for the IFS finance department. Beyond merely automating Excel, Solver’s BI360 additionally provided the client with a data warehouse that will deliver the required data management capability, while at the same time offering the solid governance that the organisation requires.
It was agreed to keep the front end of the solution as Excel, as this is a tool which remains flexible and with which the client's finance teams were intimately familiar. IFS was also offered the option of a fully cloud-based solution, but based on limited availability of bandwidth in some of the operation locations decided to implement an on-premise solution instead.
Naturally, the speed of reporting has been significantly improved with the implementation of BI360, with the client indicating that report creation has been reduced from half a day to just 10 minutes per management accounts reporting pack. Time taken to consolidate the results was reduced from 2 days to 10 minutes, making it possible to now craft reports in near real-time. This is just one among several critical improvements that IFS Africa has experienced.
The solution has helped the business to improve its data governance. Data accuracy, integrity and efficiency is enhanced, as data is pulled live into the BI360 data warehouse from their SAP B1 ERP system. Lastly, dealing with multi-currency and multi-entity operations is catered for, thanks to the ability to tailor and customise reporting logic.
Sally Brennan, Financial Manager at IFS is particularly enthused about the near real-time reporting the new solution offers. “The successful implementation of BI360 by Keyrus has been a genuine game changer for us,” she says. She added that BI360’s ease of use and the ability of staff to learn the product were - and continue to be – strong selling points. “Thanks to the provision of an Excel-based template design, our staff have become proficient with regard to writing and running reports in a very short amount of time,” she concludes.
“Keyrus has a dedicated and professional team consisting of chartered accountants and technology experts, all of whom have a strong track record in finance, cost transparency and budgeting across a range of sectors,” states Greg Guye CEO at Keyrus South Africa. “This positioned our team perfectly to deliver the BI360 solution to IFS, meeting their reporting cycle and strategic decision making requirements,” he adds.