Moving Beyond Spreadsheets – Supercharge your ERP (Webinar Recording)

Melissa: Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for joining us today. My name is Melissa Greenhill. I’m a marketing specialist here at Encore. So, today we’ve got Andreas Loeffler today from Prophix, and he’ll be presenting on Security, Auditing, Compliance, and Moving Beyond Spreadsheets – Supercharge your ERP. So, we will be sure to leave some room at the end for questions, so feel free to type any questions into the audio pane or in the chat window and we’ll address those at the end. And we are recording, so we’ll be sending out a recording afterwards to everyone who registered for today’s Webinar. So, I think we can get started. I’m just gonna pass it over to you, Andreas.

Andreas: And you see my screen?

Melissa: Yes, looks good. Thanks.

Andreas: Great. Well, thank you very much for that. I wanted to mention as I was to Melissa that with our September release, we’ve dramatically improved our ability for auditing and review of who touched what data, when. We always have been pretty strong in compliance. It’s not our…I don’t know if it’s our forte or not. I’m gonna be going over some of the more…you know, how to supercharge your ERP. How to take that ERP data and really make it as powerful as possible as an organization knowing that we have very strong security and a very strong auditing capability underneath the hood. So, let’s start with that.

And when we think about Prophix, one of the things I like to emphasize is that it’s powerful but simple. A lot of things start out, they look very simple, and you say, “Well, there’s nothing special.” In fact, once you start looking under the hood or seeing what you can do with it, it’s quite impressive.

We’re one of the leading players in the CPM workspace, Corporate Performance Management. And, you know, the goal here today is to show you how Prophix can really take your ERP data, make your monthly or daily, you know, how to…how finance can be more productive and more valuable. One of the ways we do that the best is by being quick on the teams and being flexible because our business is never staying the same. We have new departments, new organizations, we have new accounts. You know, our daily life is always changing, so the way that Prophix does that the best I think is by putting finance in control of the application.

Very light on the IT support, and that allows you to tell your story, you know, get the finance numbers out there, or production, you know, whatever the numbers are, get them into the story and have them be meaningful. You know, a couple of the topics I’ll be wanting to touch upon is how we centralize your data, how we automate your work security, how we simplify reports and templates. Again, they’ll be self-auditing, self-documented, and all that leads to a very nice increase in your results, your accuracy, and your productivity.

I’ll talk quickly about myself. I started life as an assistant controller at Teledyne. It’s been so long. I guess we were early to deploying away from the old IBM mainframe to an actual distributed network of PCs, imagine that. And we were just understanding Windows and going for green screens.

From there, I moved to Sun Microsystems where we tried to push the edge on a lot of things, all that was in Google and crawling, the online analytic processing databases. We leveraged those for financial planning, consolidating worldwide sales results, corporate results, and doing a lot of planning and acquisition, if-then analysis.

Recently, I was with Boyd’s Coffee Company here in Portland. I think they are now part of the Farmer’s Coffee Network. About four years ago, we were looking to, sort of, upgrade what we were doing with the competitor of Prophix and stumbled across Prophix and thought, this is a much better solution for, and so, the CRM, how do we really get the information out and do planning?

I’d like to say in my career, I’ve seen a lot that works and a lot that doesn’t, so let me try and share with you a little bit how Prophix might work for you.

Corporate performance management. Let me see if we can illustrate specifically what that means. So, it starts usually as Spreadsheets. Big Spreadsheets, they work fine, version one, version two, version three. You pick up a couple of source systems, a couple of audience members, everything’s going pretty well and then we need to do planning, and that means we’re gonna need more sources of data and probably some more people to help out with. It grows and it grows…that’s always just not designed for that, Spreadsheet is not designed for that, and I don’t know if you guys have ever tried building and working on these huge Spreadsheets, but something goes wrong, and then you have to spend a week figuring out what happened.

So, this is an experience I’ve had more than once. It doesn’t feel great. It’s not a good use of our time necessarily. So, I like to say, you know, that ringing in your ears, I think we can help. How do we do it? Well, what we do is, we start by gathering your data into a single source. We use that source to collect information, especially from Dynamics. Under the hood of Prophix is Microsoft Systems Services, under our System, Analytical Services, so we’re going Microsoft to Microsoft SQL database stuff here, so that all works pretty seamlessly.

We start leveraging standard templates, we have central security, and we also have a very handy workflow manager to keep things in their place. Because we’re owned and operated by the finance group, we move quickly with your business. You know, as we think about a new data source, maybe I need a new…maybe I need your statistical account to give me better reporting, do some metrics. We get all that. And, you know, Prophix comes as one system. It’s not, you buy the system, you buy the add-on, you buy that module. No, you get the whole Enchilada at the start.

And as your system grows, you can add models and start distributing the information as you need to, either directly from Prophix, or in Excel, or in PDF. Again, we integrate with what you already have, no need to reinvent all that. And best of all, we can actually go back and look at your transaction data. When we come to thinking about audit and control, and, you know, what is the system of record, we can make sure to tie back to those data sources, those source systems of record.

Now, in today’s demo, we’ll start with dashboards. That’s where you open up Prophix and where everyone starts. We’ll move there to reporting and onto planning, how we leverage the data views and the reports into templates we can use for planning. I’ll touch upon the workflow manager, which will tell us, you know, how we can organize certain processes like your month end close. If it’s a very simple month end close, a process manager is probably overkill, but if you have a budget that’s distributed to a couple of divisions you have, you know, more than a half a dozen people involved, workflow manager is easily configured and quite nice to track how everyone’s doing.

We’ll touch on personnel planning. That’s the ability to calculate individual expenses by person, so at a very detailed level, not just at an account level. So, rather than saying, “I have 50 employees, they are gonna cost me 1,000 bucks.” We can look at the names and say, “Well, they’re starting in April. Their salary is this, their allowance is that, the bonus kicks in in September.” A very nice detailed personnel planning, which we can also leverage for other things like customer planning, or if we want to look at capital expenses.

And finally, I’ll just touch a little bit on automation. I’ve said a lot so far. Has anybody raised their question or how are we doing for… Am I explaining this at the right level?

Melissa: Don’t have any questions yet? Sometimes your sound is going a little bit in and out, kind of, sounds like maybe you’re facing away just to…but other than that, no, I don’t see anything else coming in.

Andreas: Okay. I think I have a headset, but it’s hard to know if the headset is talking or the computer is listening. Okay. Let’s jump in. We’re going to switch to Prophix. Prophix runs on a modern browser: Chrome, Edge, whatever. I’m gonna run it here on Chrome. And we talked about how when you land, you start off in the dashboard. And voila, we have landed on the dashboard.

In this case, the dashboard is showing Alfred Perry, that handsome guy in the corner. Corporate operating expenses by quarter. He has some tasks over here. So, he has some tasks assigned to his lovely assistant and some to him. We have favorites here. Probably some reports that I’d like to see often. Corporate Operating Expenses Comp. That’s a comparative report, I love that one. Regular Corporate Expenses, fine. You know, I do a binder every month, that’s nice to have handy. The Integrated Financial Statements, so I can see what’s going on there. I track marketing expenses, how am I trending right here for the plan, that looks pretty good. And customer by region.

We want to tell a story. A picture is nice, but sometimes you might wanna know a little bit more about the story. So, if I look at my customers, well, I know that’s actually by region, how my regions are doing. Got it. That’s my split between region one and two. And let’s just quickly look at two. There they are. Okay, those guys. Got it. Very helpful.

Up here, excuse me. Let’s take a look at quarter one. What was going on in my quarter one? Well, there’s my monthly breakout, you know, and there’s a lot going on outside services. Okay. So, I can, sort of, see with a couple clicks, I can get more of the story. And that’s…one of my beefs about dashboards is that when they’re static, they don’t really tell you so much, but if you can begin to ask some questions or maybe do a quick investigation, you can see a little bit more. And I’ll get more into that when I do a quick example on guided analytics.

Let’s see here. Now, this dashboard is Alfred Perry’s dashboards. It may not be everybody’s dashboard. We have the ability to design custom dashboards for particular groups. So, if you have a sales area that maybe he wants to see more specifically, sales data and operations area. I’d like to think Alfred Perry is in senior management and that’s why I’m assigned to him or why he’s seeing these things. But to the extent, we have other people needing different views, we can generate those dashboards, so that’s where they start.

Now, in this corporate expense report, maybe I want to see a linked report, because I know I wanted to see these guys more detail, maybe something a little less visual. So, what do I got here? I have a corporate operating expense report, total corporate 2018. My filters down to the side, sort of, reflect that. So, total corporate…you know, we talked about Spreadsheets, and this is a nice report in a simple Spreadsheet, that works great.

Well, corporate is really made up of a bunch of organizations this year. Finance and Admin, how are they doing? Oh, that’s good. How about HR? So, I can do some quick clicks, see how I’m doing there. I might also want to see how I’ve been doing for a particular time period. So, let’s just look at quarter one. Got it.

So, now with a couple clicks, I can…I have really quite a few reports here at my disposal, and that was to the variance and variance percentage. There’s no formulas on this report. So, when it comes to knowing if my numbers are accurate, the variance is being taken care of by a formula in the database. It’s not relying on a formula in a Spreadsheet that’s linked to a lookup table to get the right answer and do the right math. So, that’s really critical, you know. And I learned this probably best at Sun when we’re…you know, we have a number of divisions, they’re all rolling up, you know, doing lookups and trying to get the templates to line up just right, so you can drill through and do a sum. You know, all that leads to a problem of a finance guy in the back of the room saying, “You know, Andreas, those numbers don’t quite add up.” And then you wonder how they did that, but in fact, they don’t because there’s formulations.

These are reports without formulas and the calculations are just as they would be in an Excel Spreadsheet, but they’re being run centrally, so I know they’re right. And I can always audit them if I want to, but I’m pretty sure…let’s see here. Fifty seven, and that’s about 3%. I can figure that out, I’m a finance guy.

Now, let’s say somebody still wants to see these reports in Excel. Well, that’s no problem. I can either send them in PDF or in Excel. Let’s just say I send these reports to Excel. Well, we saw that there’s a number of reports here, in fact, there are 45 reports because there’s total corporate, there’s each of individual groups, and there’s each of the individual times. Let’s just say I want the total corporate or 18 in the 4 quarters. Great. That’s going to be sent out to Excel.

And now I have a report. I can shoot this off to whoever needs it. I say, I have total corporate for 18. Yep, there’s that one. I can click through my tabs. I could save this. And of course, now if you want to do some more math and do some more then, whatever you wanna do with your actual report, go crazy. Well, we know where the report came from. All that’s gonna work great.

Now, I want to do something else. I mentioned earlier a guided analytics. So, I’ve noticed as I was clicking through these things that my travel cost consistently seems to be a little bit high. So, I’m going to look underneath the hood of this report, and let’s do some analysis. I’m going to go to analyze. Analyze is going to take me into Prophix, into what we call an ad hoc view. And this view shows me the data that is being brought up into the report, but it’s at more detailed level. So, here, I got a plus because travel cost is made up of a number of costs, and I can just drill right in and see what’s going on in here. It’s not fancy, but well, I could see that airfare is gonna be an issue.

Now, in my page, I had human resources. Well, what if I just go back and look at my total corporate? And in fact, I wanna see total corporate airfare. So, let me bring total corporate airfare like that, and I’ll switch airfare to the side. And I’m looking at total corporate. Legal, they’re not traveling enough. I guess that’s fine. But it looks like HR is doing a good job. Oh, my gosh, look at marketing. I think I know what’s going on here. My marketing people got the message to get out and they are getting out.

Well, let’s take a look. And in fact, maybe I can see and drill across, what my source data is telling me about marketing expenses. And now I’m looking at a feed of data from the, in this case Dynamics, that tells me, “Okay, there’s the month, there’s the name, there’s the account.” And in fact, this company is clever enough, they’ve actually taken invoices, put them into PDFs, and attached them to the database, so I can go back and actually look at that too.

All right, so this really allows me to back, and back, and back, and drill into…oh, by the way, and if I want to send this to Excel, of course I can do that too. But this allows me to start with an intuition, take a look at the detail, and really find some very detailed answers with just a few clicks.

Did I explain that well? Comments, silence, radio silence?

Melissa: No comments, so obviously, you did it well.

Andreas: Okay. They are just stunned. Do I have a stunned audience? They have no audience, you’ve muted them all. All right, well, let’s keep moving then. Moving onto planning, now, we’ve built those templates, let’s look at departmental OpEx template in planning. So, a couple things right off the back. First, again, it’s simple because my forecast is a nine plus three, it looks like I have nine actual, three plan, for my current year forecast. And then I have my budget, in this case, 2018.

Okay. Maybe I should be forecasting ’19, but for the time being, we have ’18 as my budget year. And I can see how the plan is rolling up compared to my current forecast. The template was designed simply, so that the yellow is where I’m gonna do my input, and my white is where I’m not putting input in. Now, in this case, I mentioned previously how we can plan employees at a very detailed level. So, I don’t want anybody in marketing or planning actually doing the employee expenses up here in the white area, that’s actually gonna be a feed from a much more detailed analysis. What I can do is I can look here and look at my travel costs. Place that here, travel costs, then this my very sensitive here.

And I can start making adjustments. So, $86, $85 on airfare, that looks good, lodging looks fine. Let me take a look at my pages. So, look at that. Just like in my reports, it’s not just one template. In fact, this is for our plan v1. I’ll probably have…I built this as template for v2 and v3, because I know planning never just does it once.

And this is actually several. Looks like I’ve got three organizations and a roll-up to marketing, so I’m not having to do a whole bunch of templates. I do one template and I send it out. Now, am I worried that when I do that template, people will be getting the wrong information? Well, the security was centralized as we’ve talked about, so that if I send this to the salespeople, they won’t see the marketing department’s, they’ll see a sales department. And onward with production or whoever else this goes to, they will see the level of data they have access to and the level of data they can plan.

Now, I know for a fact that next year we want airfare to be much higher because we have a big plan going out. And in fact, I know that lodging has got to be much higher. So, let’s just say I’m gonna wanna increase the number and go to 20,000. Right there. No problem, I do a quick refresh. Plan is updated.

Okay. What else, Andy? Let’s say I want the entire first quarter. I’m gonna want to adjust all those guys. I wanna adjust that data. I adjust that data by 4,000 a month. Got that. Do a quick refresh. Oh, that’s working great. Well, and in fact, 126, that isn’t going to cut it because we are really sending those people out there, they’re gonna do a lot of marketing just like they are now. And let’s say, let’s go to 160 for the entire year.

Whoops. Well, A, I have that figure to one million and six, but where is the rest of the question. I put in an annual number, how do we want that to go through the months? Well, I can do it evenly, or I can do it the way the existing data is spread. And since I know the marketing plans are gonna follow the way they did last year, I’m just gonna spread that data the way the current plan is in there now.

So, I’ll just do that, and of course, I did make a mistake, I didn’t change that back to 160,000. There we go. It’s gonna ask me the same spread question. Oh, you know, by the way, if there are other ways we want to spread it, say there’s a different account. Maybe I have a statistical account, it’s gonna tell me how I want this data to flow out. Maybe there’s a personnel account that I want to track. Maybe there’s a headcount I want this to track. I can pick my account, I can pick a version. Maybe pick it from a prior year because I liked the way we did things in ’16, the way we did things in ’17, so tremendous flexibility here on how I can spread my data. I’m just gonna spread it based on existing data.

Now, one other thing I wanna mention, so I’m in charge of marketing, I’ve got three departments rolling up. Everything’s looking great. Well, I know the 196 from this year, the 312, that number is gonna catch the attention of finance. So, I think I can get away with maybe, let’s say 180, or let’s say 220. Oh, let’s see if I get my number right.

And now it’s gonna ask me a time question. It’s fine, we agree it’s on the existing data. But now it’s gonna ask me, how do I want it to go through those three other departments we have here? So, I can fix the role of all my departments, and maybe the three departments are more important to me and finance is just worried about the total one. Well, I can just again spread that the way the departments are there now, and I’ll just spread it evenly through the departments. So, I can manage my budgets at a number of different levels without having to get too far into the details necessarily.

Finally, there’s one other feature we like to highlight in the planning world, and that is, let’s say I want just airfare. And it’s not gonna let me in. And this is something I set up based on how I want to plan the data. It says that, “There’s no right to access.” Why is there no right to access? That is the problem. Well, what I’d like to do is add comments. So, what I’m gonna say here it is, you know, 14K, 14K, not a number, correct. $14K is for Portland Conference. Got it. And I add that. It tells who added it. It tells me when I added it. So, whoever went back and looked at that comment.

There’s now a little red check in that box and it’ll highlight a thing…oh yeah, that’s for the Portland Conference. All right, kind of doesn’t make sense, but okay. That’s what we’re dealing with there. So, now this is part of a workflow. It’s part of something to do. I can submit the results. And we will go ahead and submit my data. Great.

Now, the workflow tool has sent her an email saying, “Oh look, the template’s been submitted.” Now, this was originally assigned to my assistant. There’s a second step where I actually need to go in and approve it. So, now I see it, I’ve checked my workflow, I checked the numbers, yeah, let’s approve that.

Okay. Hold on. And now it’s off my task list and I’m ready to go. Let’s take a look. Oh, and by the way it’s telling me, “You did it.” Hey, even better, that is done. Let’s take a quick look at what’s generating these tasks. And I have here a budget cycle project that very simply puts together the steps needed to develop a budget. There’s reviewing historical data, make sure we look at the primary data and that’s good. Maybe load forecast and plan scenarios. Of course, I’m the administrator, everything’s going well.

If I look here at my departmental OpEx, that was a step. It was assigned to the budget manager and I was the ultimate owner, which is why it was in my task list. And it had a template attached to it, so when I got the task, I clicked on the task, it sent me seamlessly to the template. I filled out the template, I did the submission, it got sent up to me to approve. I approved it and now I’ve got it all checked off. I’ve got a bunch of things here. Is there another way I can look at it?

Let’s try and look at the flow of it here, and here we go. There’s the review of the historical data. We just completed the OpEx planning, personnel planning, all the steps needed to go over. And we can see what’s required, you know, what are dependent steps throughout the process here? So, very handy in terms of managing a process, seeing the status, and knowing what comes next.

Now, we have another task on our list also assigned to my assistant, fair and lovely, departmental personnel. This view looks a little more complicated because planning at this level is fairly detailed and can get complicated. So, what we have is, we had the individual employees. That’s typically a file we get from the payroll system like ADP. And they will list employee, employee numbers, likely organization, some hire dates, and anything else we need to know how to calculate what the employee costs will be.

So, on this screen, we can see that the health plan is important, and when we look at the health plan, we can there are a number of health plans to choose from. As we all know, it’s, kind of, expensive. I’m not sure how it is in Canada, but in the U.S., the different plans means it’s going to be different expense for the employer, so we’ll want to make sure we get that right. Same with the dental plan and the vision plan.

Scrolling to the right, those attributes, including their annual increase will all generate total year costs for the health costs and total payroll costs. We can take a look real quick and see what it looks like by month with the plan year. Now, it looks like we have a couple of people without expenses. Looks like it’s an open position. A hire date is defaulted, but it looks like they’re not starting until April. Got it. Makes perfect sense. Likewise, we have a new analyst, they start right away, and an open intern, they’re starting in March. So, we get the total expenses as they fall into the system.

Now, if you have a bi-weekly payroll, works for that, if it’s a bi-monthly payroll, works for that. You know, if there’s monthly commissions, we can take that. Again, a very rich calculation engineered to do detailed planning. Of course, it’s part of our workflow. If we like what we see, we can submit this and I’m not going to do that, but I’m just gonna close out.

Oh, let me show you one other thing. If we look at the employee member, this is essentially a questionnaire of things we need to know to answer the questions to generate an accurate forecast. Their rate, whether annual or salaried, what their base rate is, what expected 401(k) match is gonna be, the health plan, etc, where they live. So, those of us who deal with state taxes, that’s also very critical. Of course, if you’re in Canada, again, maybe that’s not an issue, but very rich calculation possibilities here.

And I wanted to also point out real quick how you can take that same, sort of, thinking of timing and calculations and look at capital expenditures. We have assets, acquisition dates, classes, costs, and not only is it gonna affect our income statement, this will also affect our balance sheet. And we can pull those things in and get them all assigned, so that if I were to update, basically it’ll take this information, post it, and my financial model is updated, the plan is updated. I take a look at the plan now and we’re good to go. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve submitted. So, I wanna see what the impact is first before I do a submission. Again, very rich possibilities here for doing planning.

Finally, sort of to close up, a couple things around automation. There are several things we automate, and if I look at my favorite, monthly financial statement, and so what we do in Prophix, we create a binder. Can include a Word document, can include a PDF, can include a number of different documents that go into a cover page, overall monthly income statement with the cash flow, balance sheet, maybe some variance analysis. Again, we can include all these reports in a single binder. And once we get those all lined up, the binder will automatically distribute the reports to the people who need it.

In this case, I’ll send it out as a PDF. It’s my monthly financial statement and the way I go. What this would look like…I’m gonna leave this. Is a report that I can then send out to…all right, that is actually automatically sent out to whoever needs to see it, which will cover analysis, with the statements. So, this is one of my announcements saying, “Oh, task completed.” Got it.

Now, of course, also in the background, when we integrate your source data that can be updated nightly, during the day if you need to run ad hoc updates, especially during month end closes. So, during the monthly…the, sort of, the nightly update was plenty, but after we’ve entered a bunch of…maybe you wanna see what we’re doing during the day, during a close period, so we can run that refresh as we need to. And once we update the central database, all our reports are updated, so I don’t need to do anything special about that.

There’s also an allocation process. You noticed we talked about how we can spread our plan data by different accounts, by different versions. That’s also very powerful when we’re developing scenarios. So, for example, we had a scenario in our planning where I actually took the prior year, multiplied it by a percentage, and brought it forward into the planning year. Again, all that takes about two minutes. So, if we need to reset at some point where you didn’t like the first plan at all, we send everybody back, we reset the workflow manager, and we can run the whole process again quickly.

So, you know, something else that’s been a big lesson in my career, you usually don’t get it right the first time, and so how do you get good at doing it again? The trick always seems to be making it efficient. How do I get good at refreshing that template? Well, if it takes me just a couple minutes, I can refresh the template in a couple minutes and everybody’s good to go. It’s not a three day process redistributing templates in Excel, whatever.

So, with that, I’d like to thank you for your attention and I guess we’ll find out if there are any questions.

Melissa: That’s great. Thank you, Andreas. I’ll just have a look here, and I don’t see any questions coming in yet, but if anyone has some, just throw them in there or just raise your hand and I can unmute you. While we’re waiting, is there anything else that you wanted to maybe talk about?

Andreas: Sure. So, Prophix is unique in the market and that we have an on-prem solution and a cloud solution. A lot of our competitors are just on the cloud, which we’re in the cloud too, but, you know, again, with my heritage from Sun Microsystems, you know, what was the cloud? The cloud is just a server somewhere, cloud solutions are great, but they’re…sometimes can be more expensive.

So, why not just have your own server? And if you have a dedicated IT team that can manage a server, it can manage a Prophix server on-prem, and people might like that. Again, they’ll control the security of the server. Again, finance will still control security of access. So, we like to offer choice.

Melissa: Yeah.

Andreas: Something else that was a big differentiator when I was at Boyd’s and looking at the different systems, you know, there are times when I would see data at Boyd’s coming from a sale system. And I’d want to get that data into my planning tool. And maybe it’s just five lines around pounds or coffee types, or, you know, distributor detail. Prophix does a good job of allowing you to set up a little process and load it up. And once I’ve loaded it once, the process exists, I extract a new set of data.

It might’ve taken me, let’s say, I spent a lot of time, I spent 30 minutes getting everything just right, ended up loading me. Well, the second time takes me, like, one minute, and now I get good at something that took me a lot of time before. How do I incorporate that extra sales data? That takes me about a minute now. It’s not, go back, consolidate, blah, blah, blah. No, extract, load. And again, that was a differentiator for Prophix at Boyd’s.

Melissa: Okay. So, I don’t have any other questions coming in, but certainly, if anyone has any questions after the fact, they can contact us. So, we can I think give everyone back some time in their day, right now. Thanks for joining us, Andreas.

Andreas: You’re welcome.

Melissa: And yeah, I’ll be sending out an email after this with the recording, so everyone can refer to that, and we’ll have a good day. Thanks very much.

Andreas: Thank you.

Melissa: Okay, take care. Bye.

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