Topline growth requires disciplined cost management, a principle IFM Investors understands well. In just 10 years, the investor-owned fund has expanded rapidly both across Australia and overseas. It now represents 15 million global workers and invests in a wide range of asset classes with $51 billion in assets under management.
Its global growth is what led IFM to Adaptive Insights. It had reached a tipping point where the business was much too large and complex to rely on the old way of doing things—particularly when it came to managing costs and planning for the future.
“The finance team has had an increasingly strategic mandate over the last couple of years, but when it came to the basics like cost center reporting, our processes and systems let us down,” said Philip Dowman, global CFO at IFM. “We needed a faster, more effective way to get information out to the business and also a way to provide value beyond just the numbers.”
Cost center reporting was a particular source of pain for the team. The number of cost centers within IFM had risen quickly to 36, and managers were demanding more information to understand and control their costs.
“Each month we would manually extract information from our general ledger to compile 36 separate reports,” said Jim Georgarakis, finance director at IFM. “It took considerable time but actually added very little value to the business.”
The finance team sought a better way to manage these reports as well as the monthly P&L and balance sheet reporting for the board.
“Our key criteria was finding a solution that would let us do away with spreadsheets and speed the delivery of information to the board. Adaptive Insights more than met our goals, and GK Horizons was able to fast-track implementation,” said Dowman.
Now the finance team can complete board and cost center reports within 36 hours of the general ledger being closed off for the month. And reporting is also much more dynamic. Managers can click on any number within the report to see the underlying transactions. “Cost center reports were very static in the past. Managers could just see their monthly spend and compare actuals with budget. Adaptive Insights gives them much more transparency to help them manage their costs,” said Dowman.
Advanced revenue modelling
With the new streamlined reporting processes embedded, the finance team is now extending the use of the Adaptive Suite for business planning and budgeting. It’s in its first year of using Adaptive Planning for the annual planning cycle, and the modelling capabilities have already delivered a marked improvement over the old spreadsheet-driven process.
“One of the biggest challenges in our planning is modelling revenue. It’s derived from fees on some 70-odd products, so there are a lot of complex calculations involved. The ability to systemize this within Adaptive Insights has been a huge advantage,” said Dowman.
The team also uses Adaptive OfficeConnect to automatically refresh presentation quality reporting in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word with the latest data in Adaptive Planning. This has saved the team significant time in producing business plans and valuation models. It’s also simplified the modeling for product profitability analysis.
“Adaptive Insights has given us the ability to work smarter rather than harder. We want to exploit that further,” said Dowman.