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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 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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Webinar: Accelerating Your Finance Growth Engine

CFOTL webinar: Accelerating Your Growth Engine

We invite you to attend the upcoming CFO Thought Leader webinar: Accelerating Your Finance Growth Engine: How to Identify, Prime, and Execute Your Growth Triggers Inside the Finance Function.

Join us when Vince Burchianti, CFO of Firehouse Subs, pulls back the curtain on the insightful priorities, best practices and technologies that allowed Firehouse to fire up its growth engine to the tune of more than $650 million in annual sales, operating in 43 States, and with it’s first restaurant opening in Canada.

Rejecting all boilerplate growth remedies, listen as Burchianti reveals the unique “growth mind-set” that informed his CFO decision-making as we convene a “growth-engine” panel featuring C-suite advisor Ethan Carlson, CEO, Carlson Management Consulting and Director of Finance Transformation Bob Davenport of BlackLine.

Learn what techniques and technology investments are helping remove obstacles that have long undermined growth and left CFO leadership on the sidelines.

Webinar participants will learn how to:

  • Embed and execute “growth triggers”
  • Adopt a “growth mind-set”
  • Lead dynamically through “growth priorities”
  • Discover the top five priorities for growth inside your own organization
  • Evaluate which technology investments are best suited to drive growth

Register today for this information-packed webinar!

Carlson November Events

Controller-Summit-525-158We have two events lined up for you this month.  First is the Controller Summit which will bring together the best finance control professionals for a thought leading and innovative event.  Through keynote presentations and in-depth panel discussions – participants will delve deeper into specifically chosen hot topics. Being held at the Hilton Boston Back Bay hotel on November 12-13, Carlson will be showcasing our award-winning cloud performance management solutions and services.  Presentation topics at the event will include the following:

  • The Changing Role of the Controller
  • Fostering Leadership in the Finance Function
  • Partnering with the CFO
  • Reducing Financial Reporting
  • Improving the Financial Close Process
  • Selecting & Implementing the Right Technologies
  • Accounting Transformation

Interested in attending but don’t have a pass, contact us to receive a discount code.  We look forward to seeing you there!

CFOTL-webinar-710-201

Our second event is a Webinar being hosted by the CFO Thought Leader.  Join us when Vince Burchianti, CFO of Firehouse Subs, pulls back the curtain on the insightful priorities, best practices and technologies that allowed Firehouse to fire up its growth engine to the tune of more than $650 million in annual sales, operating in 43 States, and with it’s first restaurant opening in Canada.

Rejecting all boilerplate growth remedies, listen as Burchianti reveals the unique “growth mind-set” that informed his CFO decision-making as we convene a “growth-engine” panel featuring C-suite advisor Ethan Carlson, CEO, Carlson Management Consulting and Director of Finance Transformation Bob Davenport of BlackLine.

Learn what techniques and technology investments are helping remove obstacles that have long undermined growth and left CFO leadership on the sidelines.

Webinar participants will learn how to:

  • Embed and execute “growth triggers”
  • Adopt a “growth mind-set”
  • Lead dynamically through “growth priorities”
  • Discover the top five priorities for growth inside your own organization
  • Evaluate which technology investments are best suited to drive growth

Register today for this information-packed webinar!

ASK ETHAN: Managing Growth Inside a Fast-Growth Firm

CFO-Thought-Leader-Horz-599-131How do you manage growth inside a fast-growth firm?  Ethan Carlson, co-host of the CFO Thought Leader Podcast, tackles our questions concerning strategies and the best practices organizations are adopting to manage rapid growth.

Join us as Ethan Carlson, CEO of Carlson Management Consulting, once more answers our questions to supply you with answers and a new mindset designed to help empower your finance organization to look ahead.

The following is an edited abstract from CFO Thought Leader’s “Ask Ethan” podcast featuring Ethan Carlson, CEO, Carlson Management Consulting, and Jack Sweeney, co-host of CFO Thought Leader.

CFOTL We’re speaking with Ethan Carlson, the CEO of Carlson Management Consulting as well as our co-host here at the CFO Thought Leader podcast. Ethan, welcome again.

Ethan It’s great to be back.

CFOTL Ethan, a lot’s happened since we were last speaking with you. In fact, Inc. rolled out its annual Inc. 5000 list, and there was Carlson Management on it this year.

Ethan Yeah, we were very excited to be recognized at No. 553 on the list that Inc. put out. And I think it’s attributed to the team’s effort and having a true client-centric focus and delivering great value to our customers. And so it’s an honor and we’re excited about it. And hopefully we can glean some information from our growth and talk about managing growth here with our listeners.

CFOTL Well, yes, so let’s take this from the point of view of the finance leader and ask the question: what needs to be top of mind with CFOs when it comes to managing growth?

Ethan I think any finance leader managing a growing organization is it’s a pretty easy four-letter word, cash. And so as you’re growing your business, you need to make sure that you have the cash flow and assets available to you to manage that growth. That’s sort of the short answer, and I think the longer way to look at that is I think that when you’re managing a high-growth organization, you have to be very focused and tactical on how you look at your business. Like I said, you have to make sure you have the ability to operate, so cash, but also looking at key metrics. You don’t have as many assets or they’re being pulled in a lot of different directions. So the ability to allocate resources effectively is always important, but I think it’s even more important in a high-growth situation.

So both our sales and customers of ours. We have a number of our clients who were also recognized in the Inc. list and we’re very pleased to see them with that recognition as well. And we find that the organizations that are focused on that and look at it in a way of being, like I said, very tactical, what are the next things they need to do to get them to that next major milestone, the organizations we see that just have a five-year projection, very rosy, with a big hockey stick at the end, they’re not as on top of things. But the ones that know what’s the next major milestone or what are the key tactics to getting there are the ones that we see being very successful.

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