Mysoft customer and Sage X3 user, Burns Pet Nutrition, required fast, automated, accurate financial and operational reporting for their business.

Sage Data & Analytics (SD&A) – the data management & analytics SaaS platform powered by ZAP Data Hub – delivers fast and flexible ERP reporting.

Background

Developed by veterinary surgeon John Burns and founded in 1993, Burns Pet Nutrition is a mid-size, UK-based organization that manufactures and distributes pet food developed specifically to manage common health problems in cats, dogs and rabbits.

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Challenges

Prior to implementing Sage Data & Analytics (SD&A), Burns was using Sugar CRM, Excel and Sage X3 for their sales and financial reporting, which required a lot of manual work and became very time consuming to manage. “Within accounts we would do manual exports from Sage X3 using printout and requestors,” explains Jake Pyle, Financial Analyst at Burns Pet Nutrition. “This would require a lot of formatting of the data to get the required reports needed. We also used Excel for a daily sales report but this still required significant manual intervention.”

Another challenge arose when ad-hoc reports were requested. Due to the large volume of data stored within Burns’ infrastructure, it was taking a considerable amount of time to format and adjust reports which was simply not productive.

Solutions

By mid-2020, the team at Burns decided that enough was enough. Too much time was being taken up by manual report building and not enough spent on wider business projects. This was around the time SD&A was first introduced to Burns by their technology consultancy partner and Sage X3 provider, Mysoft.

With over 250 cumulative years of Sage X3 experience and 45 (and counting!) successful ERP software projects under its belt, Mysoft’s Sage X3 knowledge is unrivalled. Winner of the Sage Excellence Partner of the Year 2019 and a Sage Gold Business Partner, they’re also a longstanding recommender and reseller of both SD&A and ZAP Data Hub.

After Mysoft and ZAP delivered a demo of SD&A, 2 months later the solution was installed and in daily use, along with a first project to build a sales dashboard which would automatically be distributed to the sales and finance teams daily. From that point onwards, Burns was able to build numerous reports on both a monthly and ad-hoc basis in a fraction of the time spent previously.

SD&A seamlessly integrated with Burns’ existing solutions, easily collating information from Sage X3 and Sugar CRM, making light work of the large volumes of data that Burns’ stored.

This new and improved reporting solution for sales data was so well received by internal stakeholders that Burns has also since started using SD&A for management reporting.

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Benefits

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Do you need a better way to manage your budget?

Maybe you’re looking for a way to automate some of your tedious tasks.

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software has the power to change every aspect of your financial operations.

 

What is CPM software? Corporate Performance Management software is a comprehensive solution that helps you manage all of your budgeting and finance activities. With CPM software, you can automate repetitive or complex tasks, streamline your operations and boost productivity.

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So, how does Prophix do it differently?  With Prophix, you can:

And so much more!

 

The Why and How of CPM

Natural disasters, a pandemic, and global protests have put businesses to the test this year. Now, more than ever, organizations need to be able to weather the economic downturns caused by these disruptions.

 

To navigate these uncertain times, resilient companies use scenario planning. A comprehensive scenario plan enables organizations to pivot and make better financial decisions regarding future operations.

 

This blog will detail the benefits and best practices of scenario planning. It will also explore how to leverage innovative tools to improve the scenario planning process.

 

What is Scenario Planning?

Also known as “what-if analysis,” scenario planning uses current data and assumptions to consider multiple, potential outcomes. The definition of scenario planning is “a set of assumptions on what the future is going to be and how your business environment will change over time in light of that future.”

 

A scenario plan can help you explore different narratives to determine how to best support future business operations. By assessing how variables will interact under distinct conditions, you can identify which variable will have the biggest impact on your financial plans. These variables can include the pricing of products, operational expenses, market fluctuations, and more.

 

All industries, including public, private, not-for-profit, and government sectors apply scenario planning as part of their financial planning and analysis. C-suite executives, senior finance management, and financial analysts are typically the individuals who lead the scenario planning efforts at their organisation.

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Benefits of Scenario Planning

Without proactive scenario planning, many companies will struggle to weather the storm. This is evident from the many businesses filing for bankruptcy in 2020 such as 24 Hour Fitness, Hertz, JCPenny, and more.

 

Scenario planning is an important part of a company’s risk management process. It’s essential for agile organisations to have a scenario plan in place to:

 

What is Scenario Planning Best Suited For?

Scenario planning is best suited to predicting the impact of large-scale changes or disruptions. Examples of major changes include:

 

Conversely, scenario planning can also help you better navigate unexpected success, such as explosive growth, or sudden increased demand for your products and services.

 

Businesses need a scenario plan during an economic downturn when it’s uncertain how market volatility will play out. During major disruptions, what’s worked before simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Historical trends are no longer good indicators of future performance.

 

Scenario planning should not be confused with sensitivity analysis. Sensitivity analysis only accounts for changes in a single variable, while keeping all others constant. To best predict the performance of multiple variables, you will need to use scenario planning to capture their impact.

 

Tools to Create a Scenario Plan

For effective scenario planning, you will need to identify relevant data and assumptions. For example, you may want to consider company-wide data, market intelligence, and historical events. Collecting company-wide data from your ERP, CRM, and HR systems can help you see the bigger picture. Keeping track of new competitors or innovations in the market will also help you better prepare. Keep in mind any historical events that have led to major shifts in your industry. If you can formalize the relationship between different data elements, then you can create a quantitative model.

 

A key challenge to scenario planning lies in an over-reliance on manual spreadsheets. Spreadsheets often have missing data, inconsistent formulas, and broken links. All these things can make the scenario planning process feel cumbersome and difficult to execute.

 

Many organisations will need to consolidate data from disparate systems. Trying to combine data from your ERP, CRM, and HR systems into a cohesive scenario plan can be quite the feat. With so many systems, financial analysts may struggle to find relevant data in a timely manner.

 

Businesses that are serious about scenario planning will need a dedicated tool. It is essential to invest in a tool that was created with scenario planning and analysis in mind.

 

Instead of traditional spreadsheet-based systems, innovative companies use cloud-based software to create scenario plans. Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software allows finance leaders to easily create scenario plans based on existing actual, budget, and forecast data without the headaches of massive spreadsheets.

 

In the 2020 CFO Benchmark Report, 72% of respondents said their organisations were ready for testing new technologies that would empower and enable their finance teams. By using CPM software, finance teams can access relevant data at any time, and easily manage resources to improve decision-making based on opportunities and risks.

 

How to Create A Scenario Plan Using Prophix

By leveraging CPM software, you can create robust and comprehensive scenario plans easily and quickly.

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A. Gather model requirements and data

Prophix’s CPM software minimizes the time and effort needed for scenario planning. While spreadsheets can be error-prone, cloud-based CPM tools sync data from your ERP, CRM, and HR systems to ensure full validity. Through direct data integrations, you can easily organise information from various systems. By planning in a CPM tool like Prophix, you can quickly account for different outcomes and make informed decisions.

 

B. Determine the number of scenarios needed

For scenario planning to be effective, it’s important to outline various different scenarios. However, it’s also crucial to not have too many scenarios. An over-abundance of scenario plans can cause confusion.

 

To easily create effective scenarios, you can leverage Prophix’s Infoflex process. The Infoflex process transforms information using existing data or user-defined inputs. It can allocate data or increase data values by a percentage. Consider using Infoflex in these three scenarios as a basis for your planning process:

 

 

In times of market volatility, it’s beneficial to focus more on negative case scenarios. There is really no limit to the number of scenarios you can build. You can leverage responsive CPM models to create business plans that mimic economic forecasts. For example, you can have separate scenario plans that align with either V-shape or U-shape economic rebounds.

 

C. Distribution of scenario plan 

For a plan to be relevant and timely, financial teams need to share it with their senior management.

 

One method to share data quickly and efficiently is to use Prophix’s Report Binders. This allows finance teams to group related reports and send them out to the C-suite. Report Binders enable easy distribution of key data straight to a user’s email inbox. You can group documents comparing each scenario into a single report binder.

 

To get an overview of your scenario plans, Prophix Dashboards offer intuitive visual analytics. These dashboards can illustrate different variables and scenarios. Prophix can pull together integrated data for a quick pulse on how the business is performing. This can include key metrics from your ERP, CRM, and HR systems. Users can view dashboards based on custom security settings. Senior managers can view a different dashboard than financial analysts. This allows for customized dashboards that show the right data to the right people.

 

Prophix’s cloud-based CPM software also leverages artificial intelligence to improve scenario analysis. The Chart Insights feature uses natural language processing to automatically create detailed narrations, which clearly explain any insights behind the displayed data.

 

By using a dedicated scenario planning tool like Prophix’s CPM software, finance teams can automate manual tasks. This saves time, enabling finance teams to focus on higher-value priorities, such as scenario analysis. CPM software also improves your analysis by ensuring you have access to the most current and accurate data. With better information at your fingertips, finance leaders are empowered to make better business decisions.

 

Conclusion

Scenario planning is a powerful exercise to reassess your organization’s financial health in both prosperous and challenging times. With the right tools, finance teams can quickly identify the key drivers, data, and assumptions needed to plan for a better future.

 

Prophix’s cloud-based CPM software empowers finance teams to scenario plan with ease. With these insights, finance professionals can make better business decisions and improve business resiliency, regardless of what the future holds.

Multi-company activity and reporting is a common requirement for companies looking at new business management solutions.

Luckily, this is an area where Sage X3 really does start to shine. A truly global solution, Sage X3 not only features multi-company capabilities but it also handles multiple languages and legislations. All your data is held in one solution and can be reported on at multiple levels, so you not only gain an insight into how one business unit is performing but insights into how your company as a whole could be working more efficiently.

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You can include or exclude inter-company dimensions in SEI.  Here, ZZZ denotes the default single-company option

So, how exactly does Sage X3 consolidate Inter-Company accounts?

And how do we produce our company-wide reports in order to see where we could be working more productively?

When it comes to Consolidation Reporting the setup is all-important.  Consolidation (and we'll look at Aggregation versus Elimination in a moment) assumes that you're using a common reporting structure, that it's possible to take any companies within a group and report them all in the same way. To that end, Sage X3 does allow you to set up your companies using different charts of accounts, but to then have a common ledger used by the group, so that you can map each company's Trial Balance into what is effectively a Consolidation Chart of Accounts.

But what of Aggregation and Elimination? 

Reporting codes attached to individual accounts or account ranges allow you to decide which accounts should be reported under which categories. You can also specify whether certain accounts, such as inter-company suspense, should be included or excluded within a Consolidation reporting pack. Sage X3 also has a number of ways of identifying the activities and transactions themselves, such as by the type of transaction or the resulting General Ledger journal code. 

Increasingly, though, we're seeing Analytical Dimensions being the best way forward here, with generic values identifying regular, single company transactions and company-specific values being used to indicate that a transaction with a particular other company is taking place. As the dimensions on a journal can be checked and if necessary amended before final posting, this does allow you to ensure that your postings have been accurately analysed before you run reports. You can then consider a scenario where you might want to analyse inter-company including specific companies, or possibly exclude inter-company activity altogether, by filtering certain dimension values in or out.

SEI

As well as the many enquiries, standard and custom reports available in Sage X3 itself, a flexible business intelligence tool such as Sage Enterprise Intelligence (SEI), can be used to include or exclude the companies, accounts and/ or transactions that you need. Once you have your reports set up, say for monthly sales figures, SEI then allows you to automatically email out these real-time reports to your colleagues (watch our video on how to do this here).

You can specify who these reports go to and how frequently, but in the example above, every month your sales team would automatically receive an email from SEI with the updated sales figures. Straight from SEI itself, all without any manual input. No need for each individual to be spending time updating their own sales figures spreadsheets, just a real-time, sparkly, report delivered straight to everyone’s inbox, every month. 

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Sage X3 is an immensely powerful solution in terms of its flexibility, particularly its ability to handle multi-company, multi-currency, multi-legislation and even multi-language set ups. 

 
Postings happen automatically based on what you tell the solution and there is full traceability of activity for auditing and corporate governance purposes.

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From a security perspective, you can also define user access to the n-th degree, from company and site level all the way down to deciding whether a person can type into a given field on a given screen. There are landing pages to help you work out what you need to focus on and then visual processes to ensure procedures are followed correctly. For volume processing you then have a multitude of import templates and output files for payments.

Management Reporting with Sage X3 

 
This is all great from a day to day point of view, but what about management reporting? If you have to log into the system every time you want to compare one number against another then surely exporting will only get you so far…?
 
Step forward Sage Enterprise Intelligence, or SEI for short, which is Sage's Business Intelligence solution.
 
It's intuitive and simple to use and provides real time information on all aspects of your Sage X3 solution. You can use it to create views in different styles, such as bar charts, graphs, scatter diagrams and work sheets. These can all be integrated with Microsoft Office or published as PDF or HTML documents. Dashboards can be created to display multiple views of your Sage X3 data at the same time, to provide business users with valuable insights into company performance.

SEI (Sage Enterprise Intelligence) 

To get you started, SEI comes pre-packaged with a number of commonly used views across the whole spectrum of Sage X3 modules. This includes listings of records, summary and detailed enquiries. You can then customise these to make them more relevant – add more fields, change the level of detail, change the sorting order and even include your own calculations. You can then save your versions and add them to your Favourites. Before long you're then building up a reporting pack which effectively updates itself as it's going along, due to its direct link with the operational data in Sage X3.
 
To save even more time, you can also subscribe to individual views. This can be for your own regular email updates on particular pieces of information, or scheduled regular mailshots to colleagues who (whisper it gently!) don't even have to be SEI users. If they are users, by using an Excel plug-in, they can independently refresh their templates for the most up-to-date figures. 

360° Business Data

 
To take all of this to another level entirely, you can also link SEI to external data sources, such as Oracle, Access, SQL or other databases. This provides you with a full 360-degree view of all of your business critical data within SEI, whether the original data comes from Sage X3 or not. SEI is a powerful and feature rich data mining tool to have at your fingertips. It allows users to build reports on the fly, carry out analysis and make decisions; all in real time.
  
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