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You Are What Your Customers Say You Are

You can learn a lot about a company by what their customers say about them. At Carlson Management Consulting, you need only look at our mission statement to see that we place the utmost value in customer relationships. Many companies say that but fewer can provide customer references and endorsements from virtually all of them as proof that they take that statement to heart. It’s a point of pride at Carlson to exceed customer expectations and when we receive positive feedback from our customers, it only makes us work harder. This commitment to customer satisfaction and success has proven critical to our own growth over the years. Why is that? Not only are they giving us positive reviews but they are also speaking to their peers and friends and referring them to us. Here’s what a small sampling of our customers have said about Carlson Management Consulting:

“I can’t sJ2-no-whiteay enough about the work Ethan Carlson and his team have done for our firm. The systems they put in place revolutionized the way we run our business, and their day-to-day management of our company’s finances allows me to focus on serving my customers and finding new ones. We have grown over 50% and with their help we have added almost no additional overhead.” Lou LaRocca, President, J2 Interactive 


Root Capital-2-line-160-120“Working with Carlson Management Company definitely improved the return on our investment in Adaptive Insights. By helping us think through the requirements and design of our system up front, CMC improved both the quality and the speed of our implementation.” Brian Woliner, Director of Financial Planning, Root Capital


BabsonLogo160-120“Carlson was particularly instrumental in guiding us through implementation, providing expert and timely knowledge at all stages of the process.” —
Jeff Dubois, Budget Director, Babson College



GMCB-160-120“Carlson delivered on all our budgeting requirements, on time and on budget. They provided expert guidance to make the transition a smooth one for our end users. They are a great business partner and continue to help us get the most out of our Adaptive Insights system.” Mike Davis, Director of Health Systems Finance, Green Mountain Care Board



If you are looking to transform budgeting, forecasting, and planning through a combination of finance best practices and Cloud-based corporate performance management, please contact us to schedule a call or demo. We would love to exceed your expectations and earn your endorsement!

Avoid the Budget Season Blues

Adaptive-Insights-Platinum-Partner_03It’s that time of the year known in finance circles as budgeting season. Unfortunately, for many finance teams still using spreadsheets, it can be a time of dread, stress and frayed nerves. Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said “Plans are nothing: planning is everything”. That is certainly the case with spreadsheet-based planning as, according to research on the subject, 60% of budgets are already obsolete by the time they are completed. We can chalk that up to the ever-changing nature of business and the rigid nature of spreadsheets. But what if plans were actually meaningful? What if the planning process was an opportunity to get everyone to sing from the same sheet of music and get aligned with company strategy? Rather than singing the budgeting blues, finance teams can hum happily through the planning season. That is certainly the reality for many companies who use Cloud-based corporate performance management solutions. The issues of spreadsheets are already well documented and in fact there is even an organization dedicated to spreadsheet risk called the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group. You may wish to read about some of the spreadsheet horror stories they have collected over the years.

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CMC Sponsors NACUBO’s 2014 Planning and Budgeting Forum

Carlson-Sponsors-NACUBO-EventCarlson Management Consulting is proud to be a sponsor of the NACUBO 2014 Planning and Budgeting Forum in Denver, Colorado on September 22-23, 2014.  This NACUBO forum is the “not to miss” event for business officers with planning and budgeting responsibilities. Concurrent sessions address the latest techniques in higher education resource management. Presenters include experienced business officers and higher education strategists. This year’s topics address financial reserves, integrated benchmarking, performance metrics, capital planning, maximizing resources for student success, data driven decisions, effective communication, and more.

Attendees will learn the following:

  • Innovative planning and budgeting methods being practiced at colleges and universities
  • Strategies to address higher education resource management
  • Approaches for using planning and budgeting as an agent for institutional change

Carlson Management Consulting is the premier Adaptive Insights partner for Higher Education.  Our growing list of customers include Bentley University, Vassar College, Pratt Institute, Merrimack College, Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professionals, and Babson College.  Contact us today to request a demo and learn how we can help you improve budgeting, forecasting, and planning at your institution.

So You Want to Be a Finance Leader?


Jack Sweeney, CFO Thought Leader

I recently spoke at length with Jack Sweeney, the founder and editor of Middle-Market Executive and CFO Thought Leader, two of the leading online publications addressing the top finance role in middle market firms. Jack has interviewed many CFOs and has come to some conclusions on what distinguishes finance leaders from the rest of the pack. Since we, at Carlson Management Consulting, work with CFOs primarily at emerging and middle-market firms, it was not surprising to hear that his opinions aligned with many of our own. lndeed, one of our services is to assist CFOs with developing leadership skills. Based on our conversation, I’ve put together some priority action points for CFOs who aspire to become successful leaders:

Get on the frontlines:  Have you ever worked at a company where you never heard a peep out of the CFO unless there was some kind of special budget request or HR issue? I’m sure most of us have. Well, if you are that kind of CFO, then you need to get out of your comfort zone. Today’s successful CFO spends less time in his office and more time interacting with folks in ALL areas of the business, not to mention customers, partners, media and others. So get in the trenches and cultivate the relationships and trust that are so critical to leadership.

Become a storyteller:  As a marketer, I recognize that communication is extremely important and that you should keep it as simple and coherent as possible. The same holds true for CFOs. You should be able to simply and clearly convey the narrative of your company. What does your company do? What are your values? What makes you different from everyone else? Why will you continue to be successful in the future? Once you have your core story nailed, then you can tailor that message to your various audiences. If you attend finance conferences, you probably have seen great CFO storytellers in action. They naturally inspire admiration and respect – hallmarks of leadership.

Focus on strategy:  You don’t need to read The Art of War by Sun Tzu to be a successful strategist. You most likely need to liberate yourself from some of your more mundane tasks and spend some time thinking about the “what ifs” of your business. The ability to guide or contribute to company strategy is a key leadership responsibility, so you should spend more time gazing into your data-driven crystal ball, come up with a cogent plan, and then communicate your strategic vision (as part of your narrative) to your peers to create consensus.

Always the marketer, I would also offer one of my own suggestions:

Get social media savvy: You should seriously consider using LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and other social media channels to demonstrate your thought leadership and the overall excellence of your company. Granted, if you work at a publicly traded company, you need to be very careful with what you say. On LinkedIn and blogs in particular, I see many top executives sharing their expertise and lessons learned on a variety of topics that are relevant to their role and industry. These folks are not only doing a great service to their companies, they are also building their own personal brand. If you aren’t sure how to get started, talk with the marketing folks in your company.  Alternatively, shoot me an email at or connect with me on LinkedIn.  As part of the Carlson team, I’m happy to help!


Finance Leadership Through Technology – How the Cloud Elevates FP&A

Carlson CPM-solutions for businessTop CFOs see themselves as catalysts of enterprise-wide collaboration and seek to empower business units with self-service analysis and predictive “what if” planning capability to anticipate future challenges to success. The status quo of using spreadsheets for financial performance activities is no longer acceptable due to their inherent risks and limitations. Just run a Google search on “spreadsheet errors” and you will read about some of the catastrophic outcomes that companies have experienced due to their reliance of spreadsheets. With spreadsheets having been identified as a significant risk factor in effective financial planning and analysis, why do so many organizations continue to rely on them.

We see three main misperceptions preventing organizations from moving to more appropriate technologies:

1. Investment in the latest technology is too expensive – Businesses spend significant amounts on GL systems and other transactional systems. Ironically, when it comes to spending on the critical value-added activity of financial analysis, planning and budgeting, many organizations fail to get executive-level consensus to invest in point solutions that contribute to competitive advantage.

2. Implementation times are too great – Traditional on-premise systems often require in excess of 12 months to implement. By the time the time the deployment is complete, the underlying financial models are obsolete; or worse, the projects never get completed due to constantly changing requirements.

3. Resources are too constrained – Finance and IT teams everywhere are overworked. They simply do not have time to commit significant amounts of effort to large scale implementation projects. Furthermore, they are weary of the learning curve for re-engineered business processes that often come with a new system.

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