Published on 25-Sep-2009
"IBM Cognos enables easier interaction with the senior management team in building and preparing the budget, as they can see the tool being used." - Martin Andrews, Group Finance Director, Accident Exchange
IBM Business Partner:
Accident Exchange swaps spreadsheets for IBM Cognos solution.
Move from a cumbersome spreadsheet-based financial process to a flexible new budgeting and forecasting tool.
IBM® Cognos® 8 Planning, a comprehensive, integrated budgeting and forecasting solution
More knowledge sharing, with more people taking part in the process; a catalyst for improved management cohesiveness and a more open procedure; easy version control; scenario planning; rolling monthly 24-month forecasts.
Accident Exchange is one of the largest accident management companies in Europe. Formed in 2001, the company operates a fleet of more than 6,000 cars including all of the major manufacturer brands and models, which it hires out as replacement vehicles to clients involved in accidents.
Because of its fast growth rate and great success since 2001, Accident Exchange needed to move away from the restrictions of Microsoft® Excel®, and also improve knowledge sharing throughout the business with regards to finance. Martin Andrews, Group Finance Director at Accident Exchange, explains, “Our business growth is now stabilising, and we are looking to indoctrinate better processes and management into the business.” He continues, “Following a rapid entrepreneurial growth that was an interesting challenge, we needed a flexible budgeting and finance tool to help facilitate it.”
The key requirements for Accident Exchange were to broaden the number of people who would have input in the budgeting and forecasting process, and to take away the ‘control and command system’ inherent in Excel. It was also vital for this new budgeting and forecasting tool to have more flexibility than Excel, for example with scenario planning and ease of regular update. With these issues in mind, IBM Cognos Platinum partner, Inca, introduced IBM Cognos 8 Planning to the Group, and for those involved in the selection process it soon became clear that IBM Cognos, with the initial help from Inca during the implementation and training of the software, would provide all of Accident Exchange’s important prerequisites.
Accident Exchange’s budgeting process had previously been controlled exclusively by Finance. “There was not enough integration with other heads of departments,’ says Dave Whatley, Group Financial Controller. “Excel is hard to share because of the many issues with version control. Excel does not lend itself well to this task.” Kerry Bird, Financial Controller at Accident Exchange, comments, “We have very little time to turn the budget process around, so it’s crucial that more than one person can work on it.”
The main objective of the project was to create an integrated P&L, cashflow and balance sheet for the company’s three legal entities and then to consolidate them. This was achieved, with version control being included as well as the ability to create rolling forecasts. In addition to attending the Inca training course, Accident Exchange received the high quality consultancy offered to every Inca customer. Dave says, “Having the consultancy was very helpful, it felt like on-site training, and we had the opportunity to ask questions and learn from our Inca consultant.”
Because of time constraints, the implementation of IBM Cognos was considered by Martin to be a high risk exercise. He says, “We tried to achieve an awful lot in a short space of time – and we succeeded.” Within four weeks the finance team were able to give a Board presentation based on the output from the system. Martin continues, “The Board was very pleased, because not only were we able to present the numbers to them in exactly the way they wanted to see them, but also because they could tell that more people had been involved throughout the process.”
In light of the unique multi-user capabilities of the IBM Cognos solution, a wider audience can now participate in the production of both the budget and the forecasts. “This also enables easier interaction with the senior management team in building and preparing the budget, as they can see the tool being used,” Martin says. Senior Management will ultimately use IBM Cognos not only for their own departmental responsibilities, but also to show the impact of any suggestions and changes they may want to make on the big picture, in a live environment. This facilitates greater discussion and therefore participation in the budget preparation, and the ownership issues Accident Exchange had struggled with before have been alleviated.
Accident Exchange’s budget for this year had all the members of the senior management team contributing to its aggregation. Martin says, “This is a good catalyst for changing our management cohesiveness.” Dave observes that the approach to the budget has definitely changed, as “the heads of department are more involved in the budgetary process.”
As well as improvements in Senior Management’s contribution to the budgeting process, Accident Exchange is also pleased with the ability to ‘slice and dice’ the output, without the cumbersomeness of Excel, and the advancement of the company’s scenario planning is already bringing benefits to the company. IBM Cognos has now begun to link into the operational part of the business, and is reducing the extent of manual linkage. In addition, Accident Exchange is using the system not just for annual budgeting, but also for monthly rolling 24-month forecasts, and expects to continue in its success with IBM Cognos.
About IBM Cognos BI and Performance Management
IBM Cognos business intelligence (BI) and performance management solutions deliver world-leading enterprise planning, consolidation and BI software, support and services to help companies plan, understand and manage financial and operational performance. IBM Cognos solutions bring together technology, analytical applications, best practices, and a broad network of partners to give customers an open, adaptive and complete performance solution. Over 23,000 customers in more than 135 countries around the world choose IBM Cognos solutions.
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Cognos 8 Planning
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