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Case Study

How Workday Adaptive Planning “made us more strategic”—an FP&A perspective

Making strategic decisions, faster. Learn how Snap Finance tackled manual consolidations, version control issues, and resource limitations to be one step ahead when scenario planning.

Founded in 2012, Snap Finance has become the largest privately held tertiary finance company in the United States, catering to approximately 30% of Americans with underdeveloped or imperfect credit. After experiencing exponential growth, Matthew Cowen, FP&A Manager at Snap Finance, embarked on a planning journey to roll out Workday Adaptive Planning at the beginning of 2019 


Excel Overload  

Before implementing Workday Adaptive Planning, Matt was solely responsible for budget planning, and Excel became the bread and butter of his consolidation process. Matt only had two analysts on his team, with responsibilities that did not involve budgeting. As a small growing company, the tech team was stretched and already working on other vital issues. “So, this is how I ended up doing everything in Excel. I didn’t have another person, or two, or five that I could rely on to do different pieces of budgeting.”   

But with some spreadsheets quickly becoming over one hundred tabs long and with tabs referencing each other, this became unmanageable and labour intensive.   

“Someone would send you their Excel file to merge into the consolidated file on day one. And you start working on that and send it back to them. But by the time you get it to them three days later, they’ve already changed their minds and want something else. So, they send you something back, and you’ve got to start work on that. And this was just one colleague—imagine this scenario across 20 departments,” said Matt.  

It becomes very easy to lose track of what’s going on and which is the most up-to-date version. Once you lose track of the latest version, plenty of errors get flushed through.

“Then, of course, you’re spending hours, and hours, and hours troubleshooting when you could be spending that time collaborating and thinking strategically about the business.”

Unyielding Budget Reporting  

With the manual efforts involved in maintaining a huge, unwieldy Excel file, budget reporting naturally becomes extremely difficult. Drill down capacity is limited because “it takes so much work to input the data in the first place that you end up going with higher aggregation levels. And you don’t develop the drill-down capacity, much less have it available on demand.”     

Scenario planning becomes virtually impossible when you’re doing such a large unyielding manual consolidation process.

Matt explained that they wanted to scenario plan early 2019, where a couple of departments wanted to trade off expenses with each other. Since Snap Finance is growing, this type of planning is becoming more common for them.  

“In the end, we didn’t end up doing it. It just died on the vine after three months. You think you’ve got it right, then a month, or two later, you realize that there was an error that renders the plan useless.”    

Two people looking at a laptop and pointing at the screen


Workday Adaptive Planning: A Solution for all Challenges  

Matt and Snap Finance turned to Workday Adaptive Planning to tackle his time and resource challenges. A level structure with multiple department sheets was created that granted access to individuals that needed to contribute to the department budgets.   

In working with his department colleagues, they designed the sheets in a way that essentially consolidated instantaneously once all the data was entered. Matt said that IntuitiveTEK, a Kainos Company, was very helpful in this process because the consultants advised them how to find a balance between tons of detail and user adoption.”  

Once everything was up and running, Workday Adaptive Planning took a third of the workload off my plate. The department heads just have to input the information correctly, push the button, and it instantly consolidates.

Reporting in a Flash  

Matt is now able to do a lot more ad-hoc reporting at a very detailed level in a fraction of a second. As he explains, “that would have taken up to 10 hours to put together with the particular cut of data that my colleagues wanted to look at.”  

We’re getting to that objective of being more strategic, instead of operationally making sure that everything reconciles and ties out.

  With consolidation taken care of, so has the version control issue. Matt’s colleagues no longer send him spreadsheets, as they manage what they want to submit from their department on one Workday Adaptive Planning system.   

The Impact and Executive Response   

Matt, his colleagues, and the overall senior team are enjoying a massive reduction in error rate. According to Matt, “It’s not all funnelling through me, and it’s not coming at different times. It’s done by the individual department heads themselves, with my assistance, which increases department engagement in the process quite a bit.”  

“I can’t emphasize enough how much that has improved my personal experience for the budget build and modelling process. The number of scenarios we were able to create has increased dramatically.”  

In fact, we’ve already created 17 different budget scenarios, all related to 2020. And a lot of those have been COVID-19 specific scenarios. This is where I think the executive team started to have significant buy-in to the system.

Matt got validation that Workday Adaptive Planning was the right choice when the CFO said, “This is what we need to manage expenses through a difficult time. We need the reporting this system provides. We must have the ability to see these different scenarios.”   

To learn more about Matt’s story and how Workday Adaptive Planning enabled Snap Finance, watch our Active Planning for Business Agility and Success Webinar 

We’re here to help   

In 2019, we joined forces with IntuitiveTEK, Formulate and Implexa, creating the largest global Workday Adaptive Planning consultancy.   

Benefit from our unrivalled expertise and delivery of Workday Adaptive Planning combined with a track record in deploying Workday Human Capital Management and Financial Management. Learn more here.