Adaptive Insights as a Central Hub for Decision-Making

At the recent 2016 Adaptive Live user conference, I had the opportunity to present a session along with a panel of our customers about the benefits of making Adaptive Insights the central hub of decision-making.  Many organizations fail to fully utilize the breadth of capability within Adaptive for making solid business decisions by limiting the scope of data from which they work.  Part of the reason for this is the mindset among some finance professionals that they should be concerned only with financial data.  Another reason is that importing data from external systems can be time-intensive and problematic.  What I conveyed, and demonstrated through my company’s own use of Adaptive, is that unifying data within Adaptive is not as challenging as one might think.

According to the Harvard Business Review (Oct. 2012 edition), data-driven organizations are 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors.  This alone is a compelling reason to investigate the means for broadening the scope and quality of data within Adaptive.  So how does one get started?  Examine the graphic below for incremental steps:

central hub diagram

The 1st step is critical because, as the saying goes, “garbage in – garbage out”.  It’s important to take stock of the data being generated in external systems to make sure that it is credible and in the appropriate format for importing into Adaptive.

The 2nd step begins with identifying a discrete number of drivers (I recommend 10 or so) that really move the needle within your organization.  These are the key elements for measuring financial and operational performance.  By qualifying a smaller set of drivers, it is much easier to focus on the important variables where decisions have the greatest impact.  One thing to note, you should also incorporate non-financial drivers within Adaptive.  The best way to determine these is through feedback from your colleagues in different areas of the business.  After all, the benefits of Adaptive can and should be distributed throughout your organization.

Step 3 is an interim step that helps you understand how you should structure your data for import.  It also allows you to troubleshoot any technical issues or questions that may arise.  You can then test how that data would display in Adaptive and make any changes as required.

In the 4th step, I recommend focusing on automating the data integration between systems.  This is important for the following reasons:

  • Data transfers are now the leading cause of data errors
  • Automation reduces the time spent populating data
  • Automation synchronizes data between systems more efficiently
  • It enables end users to always work with up-to-date data and information

The 5th step is about quantifying the benefits that you have received through automated integration.  While you should realize efficiencies in short order, it’s always a good idea to be able to report to the executive team the benefits you’ve enjoyed.  Furthermore, by reducing the amount of time spent on these types of manual processes, your FP&A team will have much more time for value-added analysis, which is covered in the next step.

Step 5 is a focus on thorough and thoughtful analysis based on quality, comprehensive data which naturally improves the quality of decisions.  The data and analyses that your team develops should be distributed to other stakeholders outside of finance.  What better way than to provide self-service dashboards and reports?  This is a key functionality offered by Adaptive Insights’ Discovery product.

Now that you understand the steps and benefits of automated integration, there are several approaches that you can take to get to unified data.  One cost-effective and quick way to get there is with DataBlend .  DataBlend (see video here) is a cloud-based integration solution that we at Carlson developed after listening to our customers’ requirements for a business user friendly way of integrating systems with Adaptive.  Of course, we used DataBlend within our own company to unify data and create a central hub which has paid enormous dividends (see our actual systems workflow below):

Carlson workflow

Prior to implementing DataBlend, we encountered many of the challenges experienced by high growth firms with silo’ed systems.  Take a look below at our before-and-offer challenges and results:

Carlson hub challenges resultsOur own experience making Adaptive a central hub for business decision-making has paid off with tangible returns.  Best of all, it can be done with relatively little effort and cost.  If you are interested in transforming Adaptive Insights into your own central hub for decision-making, contact us today to schedule a discovery call and demo of DataBlend.

Join Carlson and Adaptive Insights for Lessons Over Lunch in Ft. Lauderdale

Lessons over lunch

Join your peers for a complimentary finance executive luncheon on Tuesday, June 7 at The Capital Grille. You’ll learn how successful finance teams leverage FP&A technology to improve accuracy and efficiency, as well as actionable strategies to bring finance transformation to your company.

Attend to learn how to:

  • Enhance your credibility by delivering more value and higher quality to internal customers
  • Reduce budgeting time by 70% – while eliminating errors
  • Deliver timely, accurate re-forecasts and what-if scenarios


Please contact me with any questions about this event.  We look forward to your participation!


Mike Mooney
(603) 369-0387

Join Carlson and Adaptive Insights for a NYC Luncheon for Nonprofit Finance Leaders

Adaptive NonprofitPlease join Ethan Carlson from Carlson Management Consulting and client, Josh Scher, from St. Dominic’s Home for a complimentary lunch seminar designed for nonprofit finance leaders.  This event, sponsored by Adaptive Insights, is taking place on March 24th from 11:30 to 2pm at the Westin Times Square Hotel in NYC.

Savvy Finance teams in the nonprofit industry rely on a core set of key metrics to improve operational efficiency and fund management.

Join your peers for our nonprofit luncheon at Westin Times Square to learn:

  • The importance of real-time visibility into performance and KPIs – across dimensions like program, project, fund, and grant
  • The power of analytics and dashboards in communicating performance to senior management and the board
  • Key metrics for nonprofits and why they matter

This event features presentations by Ethan Carlson and our client, Josh Scher, from St. Dominic’s Home.  You won’t want to miss it!  Space is limited. Register today to secure your seat.  CPE credits are available.

Have any questions or would like a demo of Adaptive Insights before the seminar, please contact us.  We look forward to your participation!


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Is There Still a Role for Spreadsheets in Finance?

Spreadsheets-dont-work-485-277Let’s face it – spreadsheets will have a role and offer value to finance to some extent for the foreseeable future. As a “spreadsheet jockey” myself, I use them primarily for ad hoc analysis and reporting. One of the questions that needs to be asked though is, does your FP&A team spend 80% of their time getting data into reports and tying them out for analysis and only 20% of the time actually analyzing the data? Or, do they spend 20% preparing reports and 80% on analysis. If it’s the former, which is actually quite common, then you should seriously consider an alternative to spreadsheets. While many in finance tend to want to stick with what they know, not using a more appropriate technology is a disservice your FP&A team and organization as a whole. Outstanding spreadsheet skills do not necessarily translate into added value for the organization. Understanding the business and using the proper tools for analysis helps to develop your team AND add value to your organization.

Winston-Churchill-614-298Furthermore, if spreadsheets are preventing you from producing a rolling 12 month forecast, you should consider a different technology. In my experience, by the time most spreadsheet-based budgets have been completed, they are already obsolete. As Winston Churchill famously said, He who fails to plan is planning to fail. I would take that truism further and say that He who produces obsolete plans is wasting his time and putting his company at risk. The forecasting process should be built on a budget and then updated regularly so that management can understand issues before they become crises and have the time to act. Cloud CPM technologies, and Adaptive Insights in particular, are purpose-built for this and are able to do so efficiently. Thus it frees up the FP&A team to focus more on developing expert knowledge of the business and ensuring the budget aligns with strategy. It also elevates the role of FP&A in the eyes of the executive team and the broader organization as they are able to proactively identify challenges that are on the horizon and then collaboratively seek out solutions.

So, yes, spreadsheets still have a role in finance but they should be relegated to more appropriate niche tasks while more capable cloud CPM solutions become the tool of choice for FP&A teams.

Ready to look beyond spreadsheets for your FP&A team?  Please contact me to discuss the benefits of Adaptive Insights, the #1 cloud CPM solution.


Mind the Gap…in Your Monthly Reporting

Ethan-Carlson-mind-the-gap-450-600I’m in London on a whirlwind business trip this week visiting clients, partners and attending the Adaptive Insights Roadshow. Earlier in my career, I worked in London so I have a strong attachment to this city. If you have ever navigated London using the Underground, you know that whenever the train doors open and close, there is an automated announcement to “Mind the Gap”. This iconic message is a fitting metaphor for the information gap that exists in most of the reporting packages that form the core of decision-making. Most of the reports that our colleagues in financial planning and analysis (FP&A) produce include requisite financial details yet lack operational, human capital, R&D, customer and other non-financial data that provide a more comprehensive portrait of business performance. As such, these reports fail to connect the dots between performance measures in different areas of the business to provide not only a holistic perspective but to elucidate the relationships and dependencies between those areas. These metrics are vital to agile planning and action as they are often early indicators of future business issues and successes. Read more