The role of finance has changed. Not only are departments facing growing pressure to do…
Finance teams have always played a critical part in large organizations, but now business leaders are starting to see the strategic value they can bring to important decision-making. This shift in mindset has ramped up the pressure on finance teams to ensure smooth, error-free financial planning and consolidation processes.
But the age-old challenges for finance teams remain the same. Consolidation is a complex procedure, and financial planning and analysis are often held back by disparate data sources and outdated software.
That’s why many organizations are equipping their finance teams with next-generation tools that make planning and analysis more intelligent and streamline the financial consolidation and close processes.
Nordic utility company Agder Energi is one of these forward-thinking companies. Finance was becoming more of an essential part in guiding strategic decision-making in the business – and the company had some critical operational challenges it wanted to solve.
As Arve Hildebrandt, Agder Energi’s Head of Corporate Governance explains, “We’re not a big company, but as our business covers the entire value chain, our structure becomes rather complex. It means there are a lot of steps in the consolidation phase and we wanted to make sure we’re aligned across our environment.”
Agder Energi is a hydro-power energy company based in South Norway that operates across the entire energy value chain, from production and optimization to distribution and sales, serving both the grid and the commercial market.
The company has separate ownerships for all its legal entities, which has always made it a difficult, cumbersome process to align accounts and delegate responsibilities across financial consolidation and planning processes. And operating on an old, outdated consolidation tool made the challenge even tougher – creating a reliance on manual processes and specialized skills, and involving a lack of quality control and standardization.
The company wanted to streamline its entire financial operations and create a seamless, integrated system for its teams that considers both key performance and financial metrics. As Hildebrandt notes, “Having a clear, one-stop solution for any information our analysts and managers need was key for us.”
The company worked with its integration partner K Group to implement Board across its entire organization, identifying where individual teams could benefit from the platform. The accounting and finance team uses Board to streamline and optimize its consolidation and close processes, reducing the manual effort involved and speeding up completion time by 25%.
Board’s value extends beyond the finance team, too. The trading and back-office teams use the platform for daily status reports, controllers use it for standardized close activities and reporting, as well as financial planning and analysis. Also, managers get a complete, accurate overview of operations in one integrated tool, enabling a single source of truth.
Critically, the platform is tailored for every team. “One of the biggest breakthroughs we had with Board is that there’s a welcome page that meets every user. When they log on, they have all the relevant information for their role available through that landing page,” explains Hildebrandt. The platform’s user-friendly interface also means it’s easier for teams to work in the same environment and collaborate on decision-making – analysis, reporting, and communication can all happen in the same place.
And all these benefits translate to impressive results when solving higher ambitions and business needs. Agder Energi has compared to the alternative saved approximately 50% in operational and internal development costs, achieved a high degree of self-service in development activities, giving a reduction of 80% in external spending on its business intelligence environment. It’s also seen up to a 30% improvement in efficiency for some classic corporate reporting activities. And that’s all with a 40% reduction in its licensing costs.
As the pressure on finance teams continues to rise, more forward-thinking businesses are following similar routes to Agder Energi and taking a new approach to financial planning and analysis.
Across the finance industry, we’re seeing common key drivers push organizations towards transforming their finance operations, including the need to:
They’re all challenges finance teams have faced time and time again, but now, organizations have a way to solve them.