Overall Satisfaction with Vena Solutions
Although we are aware of Vena Solutions' capability to support forecasting and budgeting processes (and are looking into that, too), we use the software primarily as month-end close and consolidation tool, as well as for process flow and access control. This software has substituted a series of stand-alone and disjointed Excel files and currently allows us to streamline month-end financial close activities; have "one source of truth" with no risks of corrupt links between files or multiple inconsistent versions. Implementing Vena Solutions software has allowed us to shorten month-end close activities by about 50% - we use it extensively to easily produce comparative financial statements, different management reports, dashboards and even automated sub-ledger reconciliations. It does not substitute, but perfectly complements our core ERP system (primary book of record) and fills in the gaps related to subsequent reporting and analysis in a very cost-effective manner. The ease of use and seamless transition from Excel allows for an in-house template and process development subsequent to initial implementation.
- Segregation of data from templates (where Excel files serve as a front-end for accessing data saved into a separate database) allows us to implement proper segregation of duties and reuse the same set of data and the same data model in different templates that may refer to the same numbers. Retaining the familiar Excel interface, Vena Solutions software does not impair, but enhances common Excel functionalities to incorporate additional layers of control, traceability and workflow control. We were even able to incorporate Excel VBA/macros that work in synergy with core Vena Solutions functions to take template automation to the next level.
- Audit Trail is an excellent feature that allows us to compare current and all prior versions of the same templates and highlight changes at the click of a button - in a dynamic environment, where things change and get revised often, this is an immensely useful function to properly keep track of such changes - especially in complex multi-worksheet models with a large number of variables to track.
- Equally useful is the drag-and-drop WYSIWYG process designer that we use to quickly set up new tasks and activities, branch existing ones and incorporate review activities directly into the process flow, to be controlled automatically behind the scenes. This allows us to always keep track of current status of all activities within the process, make sure that only approved changes go through into the final version of all reports and even provide a good platform to transfer knowledge about a specific task/activity to any new members of the team (given that you can incorporate additional comments and extra attachments - such as process narratives - directly into tasks).
- We like the flexibility behind the data model. The ability to define your own dimensions (and add future dimensions to the data model as you go along) allows you to adapt the software to your needs, regardless of whether you are looking to use it for working with financial or non-financial measures, or whether you want to work with actual, budgeted or any other information. The hierarchical organization of the data model (which consolidates children items into parent items automatically) allows us to maintain the familiar Financial Statement (and other) roll-ups directly within Vena - all this is an added bonus in making sure all numbers integrate and tie properly.
- Option to indicate to a manager when a template is open by contributor (or block save for a manager, if a contributor has it open). Currently, simultaneous access by two contributors is restricted, because until the file is checked in by one, edits by the other will not be possible. However, a manager can open the template that is already open by a contributor and modify it at the same time. This may lead to save conflicts and unwanted changes. It would be nice to have some sort of an indication for a manager that the template is being used by a contributor (and vice versa, too – that way a contributor would know to contact the manager if he/she is opening the template that is currently open in the manager’s view)
- Option to add/remove users to processes that are currently active, to grant on-the-fly permission to view current tasks – i.e., it would be nice to modify access irrespective of the process status. My understanding is that this option has already been implemented in later Cloud versions (our company is currently using OnSite version).
- When tracing mapped data – ability to focus on the source cell, as opposed to just highlighting it (currently the cell is being highlighted, but it can be in any of the worksheets in the source file and needs to be manually located).
- We shortened the month-end close time by about 50%.
- We were able to incorporate more processes than what we originally started with, which, in addition to time savings, ensured error-free reporting and seamless integration of various sub-processes (in the end - resulting in higher-quality deliverables).
- The ability to maintain and analyze the Audit Trail significantly shortened the analysis of changes and error-checking.
Budgeting/forecasting/planning is an obvious candidate (once again, given the ability to maintain multiple versions of the same template, which is useful in forecasting). We successfully use it for reporting (closing and consolidating) on actual financial numbers and to produce summary flash/dashboard reports. It might be not appropriate as (but then again, it is not intended to be) a substitute for transaction-processing systems with large volumes of data, although such large volumes of data, to my understanding, can be connected to and summarized by Vena