Basico-Case Xellia - Farvel til Excel-templates

Case Xellia: Goodbye to Excel templates, wasted time and grey hair

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Morten Boldsen

Morten Boldsen


22. May 2022

Do you know the scenario: Your budget and forecast model is based on Excel templates? Templates that are the best home-brewed solution any Excel ninja can make, but which still take untold amounts of time preparing, administrating and using? Xellia does. And that is precisely why they needed an integrated solution that could help them make everything more flexible, agile and efficient.

We met Eva Blem, Director of FP&A, and Mathias Sørensen, FP&A Manager, from Xellia on a January morning for a talk about what drove the need to implement Workday Adaptive Planning, why the solution matched them particularly well, and what insights the process has provided along the way. The implementation had just stood the test after the first budget process had been completed in Workday Adaptive.

It was a talk about how things take time, that ongoing milestones are crucial, and that the time in the finance function is too precious to waste.

Can you describe the need that made you curious about Workday Adaptive Planning?

“Firstly, we were met by a desire to expand our planning process with rolling forecast and a longer outlook at an aggregated level. Secondly, we were challenged by the fact that our budget model was based on Excel templates. Templates in which all the controllers made budgets and rolling forecasts, and, since we have many departments and 15 controllers who each cover a specific area, it is quite extensive.”

“This meant that two to three weeks were spent per quarter on preparing the Excel templates. The biggest task was to extract existing salaries from our HR system and reconcile templates and HR system. Furthermore, to ensure that there was only relevant salary data in each template so that salary data was not shared with unauthorised persons. So the whole preparatory part took an usually long time,” Eva begins her answer.

“Then there was the entire compliance part of receiving these templates. Before GDPR, they were simply sent off, which is not a viable method today. So to comply with GDPR, they were saved in the cloud/SharePoint where user accesses were managed. Which was also terribly laborious. Because who should have the right to which files? You could not share the files, and the technology around them was so slow that it took a long time just to open them,” says Eva and rounds off.

“So, all in all, not an easy process that was the source of both employee frustrations and wasted time. So we wanted a platform that had all planning in an integrated planning system, and that we could report from. And so that we could handle changes in for example a time frame.”


What is Workday Adaptive Planning?

Workday Adaptive Planning is an award-winning, cloud-based FP&A platform where the technology is 'best in class', and the product is built to go hand-in-hand with agile planning principles.

With Workday you therefore get:

    • Agility, as it is a lever for incorporating changes in market conditions as the platform is flexible, scalable and modellable to support your business opportunities.
    • Insight, to enable you to make better decisions. It is a user-friendly platform that is quickly adapted across the organisation – both among superusers, input users and report users.
    • Efficiency, as the time between the start of a planning process and execution is significantly shortened, and the advantages of being able to plan, execute and analyse in one and the same system significantly reduce sources of error, mistrust and ‘pigeonhole systems’.
    • A platform that can be integrated with all your company systems, regardless of what they are. Rely on Workday’s automated data integration, or use your own integration framework.

What was important to you when you had to choose a ’financial planning’ platform?

“Throughout the selection process, we worked closely with our IT & Application Director to ensure that our choice was aligned with our IT strategy. But after that, it was important to us that the implementation of the platform did not become an unclimbable mountain, but a practicable implementation process that could be taken in steps so that we could expand the functionality concurrently with accumulated user experience.”

“Since we have other systems that have required a high degree of adaption, we were aware that we have a size that should make us able to take an off-the-shelf product with options for tailoring on the report side – which Workday Adaptive Planning could accommodate. The platform was almost plug and play which was a big part of the option as we were very reluctant to choose something we could not handle ourselves,” says Eva.

“And it does not hurt that the presentation was adapted to Xellia and clearly illustrated how Workday Adaptive could solve our existing challenges and meet our specific wishes,” smiles Eva.

How do you find that the project has developed and the implementation progressed?

“I think the project has gone well, and the result is actually to the full satisfaction of all user groups. We had a number of meetings in the beginning which I found to be value-adding in terms of defining the project framework and track. We had set up weekly follow-up meetings which the project manager from Basico and I attended every other time. This meant that we could quickly and smoothly handle challenges along the way. It also meant that we could control the framework so that in our eagerness we did not expand the scope and thereby bite off more than we could chew.”

“Last – but not least – we had a relatively short time horizon where regular follow-ups were worth their weight in gold. The actual implementation time was under two months after which there was some hyper care in the first budget process.”

Did you have any concerns before starting the project?

“I think you always start a project like this with a bit of butterflies in your stomach. Because, is it the right thing to do? And we were a little excited to see how it would all look in the new system,” Eva smiles and continues.

“So we did a lot of testing when we first started – especially on compensation cost as it is by far our biggest cost. And we span a wide range of different countries, different employee types, holiday pay rules etc. So we spent a lot of time on that. An in the transition from Excel to Workday, we saw some significant improvements. The system support meant that we could drop the simplifications we had had to take in Excel as the process would otherwise become too heavy. Now we could calculate for example compensation cost more precisely as we were given the opportunity to drill down to the individual employee which makes it easier to administer.”

What is the most important insight you have gained in connection with the project?

Eva chews on the question a bit and answers: “To spend the time required in the beginning and have the project defined and delimited just right.”

“And then, the data integration track was bigger than we had anticipated. So we were a little surprised at how long it took us to have our other systems make data available to Workday Adaptive – which really has nothing to do with Workday Adaptive. It actually took twice as long as we had estimated. Initially, we had assigned an IT specialist to the task, but we discovered the need for financial skills when things had to be balanced. So it is crucial to have some financial resources allocated to the data integration to also bring in business understanding and understanding of numbers.”

“Next, an important learning has been to define some final milestones so that it does not become an eternal project that loses momentum. You also gain other insights if you have the patience to take it in steps, and thus you build knowledge along the way. So that will be my clear recommendation to others who are faced with such an implementation," Eva rounds off her point.

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Morten Boldsen

Morten Boldsen


+45 40 83 62 88

Do you also want help moving away from Excel-based planning processes?

We are ’solution provider’ on Workday Adaptive Planning which is an award-winning, cloud-based financial planning platform. And we recommend it not only because the technology is ’best in class’, but because it is a catalyst for an efficient and value-creating approach to financial planning. And, not least, a good alternative to the ’heavier’ systems on the market and a good solution for you who want to move on from Excel-based planning processes.

Does this sound like you? Please reach out to us.