For much of the fiscal year most controlling departments deal with financial budgets and planning for the upcoming year. It is a time-consuming process which involves numerous people. It is usually a complex ‘system’ of Excel spreadsheets which are modified by each user according to their needs.
Then an army of controllers strive to consolidate the tangle of spreadsheets, keeping certain versions and scenarios and then comparing them against each other. Ensuring consistency in such a solution is complicated and it is a constant struggle to maintain the credibility of the data. Moreover, requirements on specific details and the depth of the plans themselves increase as the process plays out, thus increasing the demands of both technology and employee capacity.
The bank decided to make its entire planning and budgeting process faster and more transparent, and to automate routine operations so there would be more room for greater detail and more control inputs from other departments.
I enforced the KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid:)) during the our team meetings. And it worked out many times…
The bank vacillated between enterprise planning solutions by various suppliers before asking Adastra about available technologies. We recommended IBM Cognos TM1 which was best suited to their needs and demands. According to our experience and knowledge revolving around the specifics of planning projects, we mutually agreed on an agile approach towards the implementation of the planning tool. This was a key factor in why the bank decided to accept Adastra’s solution.
We sought a suitable ratio between fixation with precise specifications and enough leeway regarding changes and modifications of the specifications in a way that would ensure functional and useful solutions. During development we relied on prototyping as we were developing individual modules in close cooperation with a team of bankers without closed specifications. Unfinished sections of the modules were tested and discussed helping us uncover potential problems, nip them in the bud and avoid the costly mistake of moving in the wrong direction.
A team of 5–7 members from Adastra worked on the solution, while 45 people were involved on the bank's side.
Ten months later we supplied 12 functional modules encompassing the financial plans of the bank.
An integration test was also carried out which simulated the entire process of the newly created plan and it showed all modules and their continuity were in good working order. The bank deployed the supplied solution one week after its finalizing, and successfully used it to create its plan for the next year.
The solution significantly helped reduce the planning process. The developed plan enabled a more detailed view using a TOP-DOWN method for strategic planning and a BOTTOM-UP method for operational planning.
A satisfaction survey of the customer was conducted at the end of the project (for our feedback as much as theirs). Both sets of teams from Adastra and the bank participated in the poll allowing us to identify the weak points of the project and any areas that needed an improved solution or further development.