Adaptive Planning Review from NorthStar Financial
Updated March 21, 2014
Adaptive Planning Review from NorthStar Financial
Score 10 out of 10
- Easily allows for data entry of forecasted revenue/expense items - Minimal training needed to get all users familiar with the software.
- Reporting - drag and drop features allows for easy creation of reports and limitless options on reporting features.
- Consolidation - allows to easily roll up all business units in a real-time display of consolidated financial data.
- Version control - creating new and unique versions is as simple as a "save as" in Excel.
- Visualization thru Graphical Display - Adaptive Discovery allows for the creation of charts and graphs for KPI, scorecarding, and other graphical display of financial data.
- Account Creation - Simple to create new accounts.
- Plan changes - adding new business units is very easy.
- Access control - simple to set up users with specific access to data, such as plan and salary level detail.
- Adaptive relies on a Java applet to run, which can cause issues with having to download Java if IT departments do company wide updates. Also, Apple Macs have had issues, although this has been addressed.
- Printing reports directly to PDFs could be added for easier board book formatting without having to export to Excel.
- Formula syntax can be tricky for complex formula creation. Experience is required to get a good handle on formula creation.
- Unique Personnel Planning requirements can require some customization.
- ROI would be measured in time savings across all users including finance administrators. Calculation would be in the triple digits.
Compared to other products in the budgeting/planning software industry, Adaptive is the easiest to use with the most robust features, and as a SaaS and cloud-based offering, new features are added with each upgrade.
Having a budgeting/forecasting tool that is cloud-based with no IT involvement on our part, with access to newly added features and upgrades with each build cycle, along with the validation of the application via explosive growth in Adaptive's customer base should tell you everything you need to know about vendor selection for a budgeting tool.
- Budgeting & Forecasting - used to budget across all of our companies and business units and quarterly re-forecasts are made in the system.
- Reporting - Used for variance reporting, financial metrics reporting, financial reports, etc.
- Dashboard display - Used to display advanced KPIs through the Discovery module.
- Some ways we've utilized Adaptive Planning that might be unexpected have been for Corporate Overhead Allocation planning. Prior to using Adaptive, we allocated shared service (HR, IT, Finance, Legal, Office Space, etc) expenses based on a number of factors including headcount, revenue, time spent, etc, but had no way to project out future allocations to our 8 subsidiaries that were allocated these expenses. This was a problem as one of our subsidiaries was growing revenues and headcount at a much faster rate than the others. With Adaptive we were able to utilize new accounts for future drivers that tied into our personnel planning and revenue plans, as well as others, to forecast future overhead allocations in real time, as users made changes to their plans. This is not only a great benefit for P&L projections, but also a time saver for finance when doing quarterly reforecasts, where we no longer have to spend a few days updating projections for the year.
- We've added the Discovery Visual Display tool from Adaptive Planning and have been able to display key metrics, that we couldn't easily track and display in real time before, including some alternative asset based fee metrics. Also, we've been able to add some capabilities using Discovery including scorecards and metrics that we utilize across all of our subsidiaries, including some variance and year over year displays. Discovery allows us to easily filter these metrics by company to easily change views and keep the same metric display.
- Adaptive allows us to create sub-departments that roll up to reporting departments, which allows us to grant access to users who might only plan sales-related expenses for a single department, even though we don't specifically report sales data separately. This has been a time savings for managers who can know focus on more value-added activities and decentralizes the planning process for that department.
- We've been able to create multiple reports that have allowed us to conduct more accurate accounting reviews during the month-end close process. Some of these reports include account averages for the prior 3-months, while reporting variances from that average as well as variances from plan data. This allows us to more easily identify entries that need review.
- For two of our subsidiaries, we've been able to create sheets where we can plan revenue on customer level by month. This is something we hadn't plan to do after purchasing the application. However, the ease of planning, updating data through excel imports, and linking the output to specific plans and accounts, allows us to have a much more accurate forecast of revenues for both of these subsidiaries.
Evaluation and Selection
Implementing the software was easy, and utilizing the implementer should be used for best practices and reviewing plan structures, etc.
Training receives the highest rating due to the availability of Webex training from an expert at Adaptive, with several sessions tailored to specific features including personnel, capital, formulas, reporting, etc.
Training can be done with a minimal time commitment. Utilizing the Webex sessions along with training manuals is a good approach.