integrated approach MLB network

Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting

- 4 min read

Connecting human capital and financial data at MLB Network

Considered a best-practice approach in the modern-day, Integrated Business Planning (IBP) can prove a crucial benefit for businesses ready to adopt it. Representing a rigorous, coordinated, and agile method, IBP can deliver several key benefits to enhance Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) by merging operational and financial planning.   

Through IBP, companies can simplify their processes, collapse their organizational silos, and implement end-to-end operating models – culminating in agile and dynamic planning and forecasting for the business to better cope in the hypercompetitive and complex markets of today. 

This blog looks at an example of this integrated approach at MLB Network – an American sports channel dedicated to baseball, one of the world’s most recognized sports – focusing on how workforce data integrates into the financial planning process to deliver flexible and adaptable FP&A.  

MLB Network and Board 

Founded in 2009, MLB Network is enjoying a period of growth through acquisitions. In particular, the Network adopted the National Hockey League’s (NHL) digital properties in 2015, helping drive paid television subscriptions to 70 million in the US alone.  

Since its founding, MLB Network has grown from a team of 50 to 4,000 staff members, but the Office of Finance, responsible for booking $200 million of labor annually, struggled to track the activities of each staff member on a day-to-day basis. The acquisitions of other entities only made this more complex. 

Working with G7 Tech Services, a Board partner, MLB Network turned to the Board Decision-Making Platform to integrate multiple data sources into one solution and offer a level of flexibility that would grow alongside the Network. The result is an adaptable FP&A solution, capable of replacing the legacy manual system for tracking journal entries and payroll, and analyzing and monitoring financial performance. 

Incorporating new entities to grow the Network 

Among the benefits seen with the adoption of Board, MLB Network can establish a planning foundation that works in tandem with the growth aspirations of the organization. With Board, the Network also benefits from: 

One integrated solution 

By integrating workforce data, such as shifts, and financial data into one system, MLB Network has a standardized foundation to base its reporting and analysis on. Data is reliable, a single version of the truth, and is usable by all third-party entities the Network serves.  

Within Board, MLB Network can also maintain multiple calendars for the two sports it currently manages production for – baseball and hockey. Having greater control over the management of these seasons enables the team to go to granular detail across the 20,000 shifts to be planned each month and draw comprehensive insights.   

Improved staff utilization 

Moving on directly from the last point, in understanding that the baseball and hockey seasons run consecutively, MLB Network can utilize staff more effectively throughout the year.  

The Board platform provides increased success and visibility across the industry by integrating both the MLB and NHL seasons into workforce planning processes. By reducing downtime from a staffing perspective, which in turn prevents badly timed annual leave from being taken and staff having to work shorter shifts as there is not enough to do, the Network can make significant savings. In fact, in doing this, the Network has made approximate savings between $6,000,000 to $8,000,000 worth of labor. 

Enhanced FP&A with unrelated workforce data 

Taking workforce data (such as staff names, IDs, job roles, and tasks worked on and completed) and integrating it into the financial side of the business provides great value to the business. In Board, all data points can be tied together with the 20,000 shifts planned each month to provide a final cost for the workforce.  

Not only this, it also enables reporting to go to highly granular detail; MLB Network can efficiently analyze budgets and precisely understand the implications of variances to shift planning and costs. For example, drilling data down to elements such as the number of hours a staff member has worked, insight can be taken about staff is being utilized successfully (or unsuccessfully) and more efficient future scheduling can take place. This also allows the external entities to receive key insights about staff, cost efficiencies, and payroll requirements to make better-informed decisions about the future and how to allocate resources in the most effective way.  

Shared reconciliation 

Whereas before reconciliation would have taken up to one week to complete for the finance team, a month can now be closed out in just 4 hours. This is possible because of the custom reporting inherent in Board which produces the essential data required for analysis.  

With reconciliation a priority for MLB Network, further iterations of the process are driving this towards something that can take just a few minutes – the saving in time is unmistakable. As well as this, the team can save up to two weeks of incorrect scheduling while staying on budget by identifying problems in near real-time. This is critical in saving time and money for the business. 

Overcoming FP&A challenges with IBP 

Through unified planning platforms, CFOs have more control over the fate of their company than ever before. Integrated Business Planning brings strategic, financial, and operational planning together to overcome typical FP&A challenges in the modern market. 

Read this exclusive Board eBook to learn more about what IBP is, why it is considered best practice, and how it can replace rigid legacy processes with a dynamic, end-to-end planning solution that maximizes the potential for business success. 

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