Bank of Åland invests in greater control over budgets and forecasts

Enhancing efficiency with a cross-group perspective on spending

Published on 08-Oct-2013

"With Cognos TM1, the Bank of Åland has become a leaner, more efficient enterprise. Ultimately, this will help us pass savings onto our customers while maintaining our operational efficiency and our reputation for exceptional customer service." - Isac Wadman, Head of Business Control, Bank of Åland

Customer:
Bank of Åland

Industry:
Banking

Deployment country:
Finland

Solution:
BA - Business Analytics, Business Performance Transformation, Business Process Management (BPM), Business Resiliency, Empowering People, Enabling Business Flexibility, Enterprise Modernization, MidMarket Framework, BA - Performance Management, Small & Medium Business

IBM Business Partner:
Addedo

Overview

Established in 1919 on the Åland islands between the Finnish mainland and Sweden, the Bank of Åland aims to offer tailored banking services to customers.

Business need:
To keep fees for customers competitive and continue to grow, the Bank of Åland must continually identify new efficiencies, but a lack of insight and consistency in budgeting processes made this difficult.

Solution:
The Bank of Åland worked with Addedo to transform its planning cycles with IBM® Cognos® TM1® software, driving greater accountability and visibility of revenues and costs across the company.

Results:
Time taken to generate group-wide forecasts has been cut by 75 percent.

Benefits:
Increases awareness of expenditure, helping to optimize budgets. Expands and accelerates reporting capabilities.

Case Study

How can you make your business leaner and more efficient, unless you have a clear picture of who is spending what?

The Bank of Åland, a growing bank of 609 employees in Åland, Finland and Sweden with a strong focus on customer service, was asking itself this very question. In response, the company embarked on an analytics journey to transform planning cycles across its business, demanding accountability from budget-holders and offering unprecedented insight into cost centers and group-wide expenditure.

Paying attention to the figures
Established in 1919 on the Åland islands between the Finnish mainland and Sweden, the Bank of Åland aims to offer tailored banking services to customers. However, as customization levels rise, so do costs – leading the bank to seek new efficiencies. Staying true to this ethos calls for astute operational management – something that the bank set out to improve.

Isac Wadman, Head of Business Control at the Bank of Åland, says: “When I joined the Bank of Åland, there was no business control department, so it was my goal to show how business control could make a real difference.

“The bank has always excelled at customer relations, but as time goes on we need to keep finding new ways to make operations leaner if we are going to compete effectively. I wanted to prove that one way to improve our efficiency was to take greater control of spending. I had support on this from the group’s Chief Financial Officer, who could also see the potential to make savings.”

Previously, the bank had relied on a combination of spreadsheets, its general ledger system and some small analytics applications to gain an overview of company expenditure.

This piecemeal approach had its drawbacks, as Isac Wadman explains: “We needed to consolidate forecasts from various departments manually, and it could take up to a month to produce our annual figures. Reports could only be generated by the IT team rather than the line of business, creating a bottleneck that could potentially delay information getting to decision-makers. Because it was so hard to drill down into the numbers, it was difficult to compare spending between departments and identify ways to do things more efficiently.”

Banking on support from Addedo
Following a review of the enterprise planning solutions available on the market, the Bank of Åland chose IBM Cognos TM1. Isac Wadman explains the reasoning behind the decision: “I have worked with IBM Cognos solutions before, and I have seen at first hand the positive impacts they can have on a business.

“IBM Cognos TM1 was the right choice for the Bank of Åland because it could integrate seamlessly with our existing systems and enable us to interact with them via a familiar Microsoft Excel interface. This meant that adopting it would not present a steep learning-curve for our employees. Finally, the very reasonable price point was the decider for us.”

The Bank of Åland engaged IBM Premier Business Partner Addedo to handle the implementation, and translate the bank’s vision for business control into reality.

“Addedo brought real value to the project by helping us bridge the gap between IT and the business, which was one of the key challenges facing us when we initiated the project,” says Isac Wadman. “Beyond the implementation of the software, the Addedo team provided business control expertise to help us change processes and attitudes to budgeting within the company.”

Putting it into action
Today, all Bank of Åland employees with budget responsibilities use the IBM Cognos TM1 solution, which not only provides a single, robust, central source of financial data and analytics, but also integrates planning processes across the group. Instead of sending unsecured spreadsheets around by email, users will access a TM1 portal (connected to the company’s existing IBM Cognos Business Intelligence solution) and submit forecast data directly into the system. This will enable the finance team to start working on forecasting analyses sooner, instead of spending time chasing the business for figures and then consolidating them manually.

“In the past, we had 50 users providing forecast data of different shapes and sizes,” comments Isac Wadman. “Using IBM Cognos TM1 we have cut the time it takes to consolidate this data and generate forecasts to a single day, an improvement of 75 percent. We are also able to generate quarterly reports for management up to four days faster than before, an improvement of 24 percent.

“And rather than tying up our IT department when a new report needs to be developed, we can now use TM1 to put the reporting capabilities into the hands of the people who need the information – which translates into better company productivity and harmony.”

Another key benefit of moving to a new, centralized solution is that any changes to data, structures or calculations now flow automatically across all relevant systems and processes. For example, if exchange rates change, instead of updating all the currency conversions manually in multiple spreadsheets, the Bank of Åland can now rely on IBM Cognos TM1 to do this automatically, saving time and minimizing the risk of error.

Checking the balance
By analyzing and comparing forecasts against actual figures, the Bank of Åland has gained a cross-group perspective on spending and performance, with the ability to drill down into the numbers to gain deeper insight than ever before.

“The exceptional transparency that we now have thanks to Cognos TM1 has led to an increase in accountability when it comes to spending,” says Isac Wadman. “For the first time, different branch managers across the whole organization can compare their spending, and the most efficient managers can be recognized and rewarded. It also allows us to identify areas where we can make savings, helping us focus on driving up our competitiveness.”

He concludes: “With Cognos TM1, the Bank of Åland has become a leaner, more efficient enterprise. Ultimately, this will help us pass savings onto our customers while maintaining our operational efficiency and our reputation for exceptional customer service.”

About Addedo
Addedo is a fast-growing international consultancy. Delivering management, application and interim consultancy to customer CFOs, group finance and line-of-business managers, it helps companies gain better insight into their business performance. Specifically, Addedo focuses on assisting customers in improving reporting, consolidation, planning, budget and analysis processes and systems.

As an IBM Premier Business Partner and Value Added Reseller for IBM Cognos software, Addedo is one of the best-selling IBM software partners in both Sweden and Switzerland.

To learn more about products, services and solutions from Addedo, please visit: www.addedo.com

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organizations work smarter and outperform their peers. This comprehensive portfolio includes solutions for business intelligence, predictive analytics and decision management, performance management, and risk management.

Business Analytics solutions enable companies to identify and visualize trends and patterns in areas, such as customer analytics, that can have a profound effect on business performance. They can compare scenarios, anticipate potential threats and opportunities, better plan, budget and forecast resources, balance risks against expected returns and work to meet regulatory requirements. By making analytics widely available, organisations can align tactical and strategic decision-making to achieve business goals.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
Cognos TM1, Cognos Business Intelligence

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM Corporation, Software Group, Route 100, Somers, NY 10589. Produced in Finland. October 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Cognos and TM1 are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT, and the Windows logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. IBM and Addedo are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Addedo makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.