What is Fast Financials?
Fast Financials is a pre-built IBM Planning Analytics model that allows you to budget, plan and forecast, and analyse your financial and sales data. Fast Financials allows you to upload data from your general ledger systems, or from data locked in spreadsheets. Using a series of pre-built dashboards and an Excel add in, you can then analyse your data, see management reports or create and amend forecasts.
What does it do?
Fast Financials is a budgeting, planning and forecasting tool. It allows you to upload your historic and current actual, budget and forecast data, according to business entity, customer, cost centre, currency, product, and other dimensions. Fast Financials then populates a series of pre-built dashboards that allow you to plan by dimensions relevant to your company. The numbers you upload automatically consolidate to a high level, which then allows you to drill down in the lowest detail. Once your data is uploaded, you’ll be able to slice and dice your data, analyse and create different scenarios of your data, and collaborate with your team. You can interact with your data via a web tool or Excel add in.
How will I know if I need it?
You might need Fast Financials for a number of reasons. These include some of the examples below:
‘My company has multiple business entities that send their budgets to one central location. These budgets are then collated into one central budget, which is very time consuming. There is a lack of trust in these numbers as entities also change their budget halfway through, which may or may not be reflected in the central budget. There is a lack of visibility, a lack of trust, and the whole process is time consuming and stressful’
Fast Financials can help – users within multiple entities can upload their budget data to one central repository rather than disparate spreadsheets. Contribution can also be tracked so that you can control deadlines for budgets. Accountability makes the numbers more reliable, which in turn promotes more trust in the numbers. When the numbers roll up to a high level, you can be confident that the data is correct, and budgets haven’t changed since the final iteration.
‘Month end is a long process that involves lots of time being spent collating data from various spreadsheets – we have to spend our time collating these spreadsheets into one place and making changes accordingly. As well as this, these spreadsheets contain historical data – there is a big risk that if one of these sheets got deleted, we would lose our historical data.
Fast Financials can help by shortening the month end cycle, with many companies already having saved time to invest in other areas. Specialist Computer Centres experiences time savings of up to 50% for their year-end reporting, which you can read about here. Furthermore, Fast Financials allows you to create an archive of all your data, so you can work with your current data at a real time speed, and never be at risk of losing data again.
‘Our budget and sales data comes from multiple entities, that due to workload often get data to a central location at different times and speeds. This means that we never have a real time view of the data for all entities, so when management ask for a report, we often have to let them know this isn’t the most up to date data. This results in decisions made on gut instinct rather than data, which in some cases have been the wrong decision.’
Fast Financials means that there is one repository to upload data, so you don’t have one person or team collating everything together. This means you can get a real time view of the data without one central function being relied upon to collate the data. Furthermore, Fast Financials allows you to have much greater visibility over your data through pre built dashboards, and the ability to slice and dice your data by various dimensions. Using Fast Financials, you’ll be able to make more informed and accurate decisions based on data.
If any of the above sounds familiar, get in touch and we’ll see if we can help.
How does it get implemented?
First, we need to know from you what the relevant dimensions look like to your business, for example, your account structure, entities, cost centres, customers etc. We work with you to get this information into the model, so it is customised and the information fits with your data. After obtaining your historic and actuals data, we populate the model with your data so you can begin to analyse your data using the pre-built dashboards. You’ll also be able to access relevant training videos that will guide you when using Fast Financials, so you can take ownership of the solution.
How does it work?
Fast Financials has been built using IBM Planning Analytics software. As an IBM partner, we specialise and have worked with many customers to create planning, budgeting and forecasting solutions using Planning Analytics. Planning Analytics was formerly known as TM1, and is an OLAP (Online Analytics Processing) database, that allows you to upload your data against dimensions, so that you can dimensionally model your data. Data is stored in ‘cubes’ which is essentially a repository for relevant data. For example, in Fast Financials, the Financials cube allows you to analyse financial data. Planning Analytics is known for its speed and efficiency when analysing, uploading and working with data, and has many use cases worldwide.
Who can use it?
Fast Financials is suitable for anyone who is responsible for financials and sales budgeting, planning, or reporting. It can be used in one company, or multiple companies that consolidate into one company.
How long will it take to get up and running?
Fast Financials is designed to be ready for use extremely fast. There will be a little preparation work for you to do – we will guide you how to organise your source data – and when you have done that the system can be ready in a single day.
Can I prepare my own reports?
There are numerous standard reports and dashboards ready out of the box, but you have full access to the IBM reporting tools to build your own bespoke reports. Reports can be using the IBM Planning Analytics Excel interface or the Planning Analytics Workspace dashboard tool.
How customisable is Fast Financials?
Fast Financials has been built to a standard model. We know it won’t exactly fit every business, but it means we have fast-tracked the many days of services that would otherwise be required to build a model with the base software.
We recommend you start with the standard model first, but if required, we can fully customise the model to fit your exact requirements.
What training is required?
We will train your team on how to use the system – how to load data and structures and how to use reports. The system is very intuitive, but we can also provide additional training for report writing.
What support is available?
Aramar runs a dedicated support desk available via telephone, email or our web-based support portal. Support is based on a token system – a token equals one call or one hour of support work.