Meeting the complex analytics needs of financial analysts

Short Takes...on Analytics

​A blog by Sean Bradley, senior consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Three years ago, Clear Channel’s Finance function was struggling. Its reporting and financial systems were so out of date that vendors had stopped supporting the software. IT was doing its best to keep things patched together, and the Finance staff often resorted to manual workarounds. Their CFO asked Deloitte to help the company modernize its Finance function, including replacing their systems with IBM’s Cognos suite.

At last year’s IBM Vision conference, we shared the progress Clear Channel—a leading media and entertainment company—had made in controlling the data required for accounting and financial planning. Our Deloitte professionals worked side-by-side with Clear Channel’s team throughout the modernization, from process integration to technology to change management.

Turns out, the change management piece was critical. We had assumed that the Cognos standard reporting systems would meet the users’ needs—and they did in most cases.  However, financial analysts—who are Excel® power users—spoke up loud and clear in our surveys and feedback sessions. The new reporting systems didn’t allow them to create their own reports and complex calculations on the fly, as they had in the past. As a result, analysts would extract data from Cognos and import it into Excel, which was inefficient.

Our Deloitte team worked with Brandon Turner, Clear Channel’s director of financial planning and analysis, to find a solution. We looked at several options—and tested them thoroughly to make sure the analysts’ needs would be met. Clear Channel chose to add IBM Cognos Analysis® for Excel®—or Café—to the Clear Channel technology stack to give the analysts the flexibility they need.

Today at IBM Vision 2014, Brandon and I will be sharing what we learned. We’re glad to report that Clear Channel’s financial analysts now have complete control over their reports. They don’t have to leave Café to pull in and manipulate financial data.  Plus, this solution provides continual updates that allow analysts to work with real-time data, which they didn’t have access to before.

When asked what advice he had for others considering finance modernization, Brandon said, “Don’t take change management lightly—it’s probably the hardest part of the rollout—getting people trained, understanding what’s happening, and gaining acceptance. Additionally, alignment and prioritization by senior leaders is key to success. Listen to your people. Don’t force, but team.”

That’s an important reminder for us all.

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