Solarcentury - Prophix

information, they could make better business decisions ... Solarcentury could connect to their ERP, Microsoft ... software, office furniture and their research and.
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Q uick facts Company overview

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Industry Cleantech, renewables, engineering and manufacturing

Operating since 1998 Annual revenue: >£200 million Number of employees: 180 Head office: London, England G/L: Microsoft Dynamics NAV

ROI • Accurate consolidated global financial reporting with a clear audit trail • Multidimensional business modeling to track Solarcentury’s costs and evaluate scenarios related to customers, projects, capital expenditures, personnel, revenue and more • Profitability analysis of their primary channels, including solar farms and rooftop solar installations, across geographic locations. This enables Solarcentury’s executives to decide where to focus their business • Their first successful completion of a 5-year strategic plan Solarcentury faced the same problems that all companies do when they rely on spreadsheets for their financial processes—broken links and formulas, inaccuracy, version control and wasted time. Having learned about the benefits of using Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software, however, they sought to do more than automate their reporting and their annual budgeting; they recognized that by building out the detailed analysis of their company’s information, they could make better business decisions and effectively revamp their long term strategic planning. A one day onsite proof of concept with the reps from Prophix UK demonstrated how easily Solarcentury could connect to their ERP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and import the data that would form the building blocks of their advanced software solution.

Company background Solarcentury works with investors to develop, build and run solar farms. They work with businesses to finance and install solar rooftops, and with retailers, utilities and social housing providers to run solar programs for homes. Solarcentury also manufactures the award-winning range of C21e tiles and slates.

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Integrated financial planning: financial, operational and strategic Solarcentury uses multidimensional business modeling to track and analyze the company’s performance. These models (or ‘cubes’) allow Prophix users to evaluate financial and nonfinancial information together, and the cubes interface with each other. Rather than simply determine what has happened in the past, Solarcentury can use the number-crunching power of their cubes to predict their future performance—and then distribute information to C-level stakeholders in order to make important decisions. Among others, Solarcentury’s finance team has created the following cubes to date: Finance cube – Forms the core of the system, consolidating information from Solarcentury’s UK, Dutch, Panamanian, Kenyan and South African operations. Receives data automatically imported from their ERP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Uses the Financial Controller tool to post journal entries for investments in subsidiaries and to process intercompany transactions. Solarcentury also uses the finance cube for planning P&L data because it aggregates data from the revenue planning, personnel and CapEx cubes, where planning occurs at a more detailed level. Customer cube – Offers a breakdown of product types, highlighting margins and profitability by customer. Reports actuals at a more detailed level than the finance cube. Projects cube – Microsoft Dynamics NAV holds Solarcentury’s global project data, including project size, customer data, time frames and personnel involved. Prophix taps into this information and outputs gross margins (broken down by project manager, for instance) and balance sheet information, linking the project data between NAV and Prophix. Solarcentury


uses this cube to produce a variety of detailed project reports. These reports enable them to accurately measure the value of their projects and to determine the feasibility of proposed initiatives. CapEx cube – Enables the company to track and plan their investments in hardware and software, office furniture and their research and development spend. HR planning cube – Uses the Detailed Planning Manager (DPM) module, which specializes in computing financial and non-numerical information together. Updates monthly. Drives cost allocations by business unit. Straightforward calculations allow them to determine revenue by headcount. Provides Solarcentury’s HR managers with the data to make and to justify their decisions, including appropriate headcounts by area, what to pay and how to structure benefits packages.

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Additionally, the software updates across the board automatically when an employee leaves, or changes departments or roles—something that spreadsheets simply cannot do. Since personnel represent one of the company’s largest expenses, Solarcentury’s use of this cube will remain central to their plans for growth in the coming years. Revenue planning cube – Another cube built using DPM. Integrates global data sources to produce revenue forecasts for the company’s sales team and for projects. Imports jobs and gross margin information from Microsoft Dynamics NAV, opportunities from SalesLogix (their CRM software) and other information from four separate accounting databases. Shows a consolidated view of projected revenues and outlines the sources of those revenues. This allows Solarcentury to produce accurate revenue forecasts—all while completely avoiding manual work. Additionally, the revenue cube forecasts when costs are due and when the company needs to pay their creditors. The cube also tracks their performance bonds from banks.

The value of sales analysis Solarcentury uses their revenue planning cube to outline the profitability of their primary channels, including solar farms and rooftop solar installations, across geographical locations. As such, they can precisely analyze sales and potential sales in the UK, the Netherlands, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Mexico, Panama and Chile. This capability is central to deciding where and how to focus their business. When Solarcentury’s employees login to the software, they can see their margins in the cube and conduct margin analysis by project type, country, salesperson, customer, month, or order, slicing and dicing their information using simple


drop-down menus to weigh an infinite number of scenarios. The drill across function allows them to delve into their Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP, investigating invoices to understand when the company will send them out and when they will turn into cash. At the leadership level, Solarcentury conducts internal management reviews to see which customers are spending what—deciding why that is and what it means. Their sales reports also show where the sales reps stand in relation to their targets and in relation to each other. In effect, this ensures that the sales reports—and the decisions that management makes based on this ongoing reporting—drive the behaviours of the sales team.

Financial consolidation and reporting Today, Solarcentury has fully consolidated global financial reporting with a clear audit trail. Members of the finance team can easily build their own reports (or even additional cubes) to meet new reporting requirements. The value of Prophix’s software was on clear display when the company’s branch in the Netherlands became a subsidiary. According to Jenny Burbridge, Business Analysis & Reporting Manager, “By using alternate hierarchies, the branch and subsidiary financials can be added together easily for reporting purposes and all of the data can be shown in GBP. This task would have been much harder without Prophix, especially as we changed from a branch to a subsidiary mid-financial year.”

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Solarcentury uses Prophix’s Report Binder function to output a complete report package for its board members. The reports automatically output to Excel form and distribute to designated recipients. This package features a weekly revenue report on all countries and sectors for the entire management team. Solarcentury’s users can also see the company’s updated debtor, creditor and stock information

changing in real-time. The company automatically generates a daily cash report with balances and currencies across countries, outlining free cash and available cash, cash by bank (with percentages), which countries they have cash in and which currency types they own. The CFO reviews this information every day. Other team members view the data to ensure that they keep their payments up to date.

Future plans Solarcentury recently began using Prophix for the entirety of their budgeting process, with almost all of the senior management team either inputting into Prophix templates/schedules directly or via offline templates. They also plan to further develop an overhead allocation process that will enable them to forecast the net profit of a country or division. Currently, this data outputs from historical actuals and the budget, but not from a rolling forecast. Leveraging a rolling forecast will offer them clearer, more accurate updates of their performance. Over the coming year, Solarcentury will have more of their business departments use the software, which will help the monthly forecasting to become a collaborative process.

“It’s very rare that you find something you can’t do with Prophix— even with our ambitious uses of the software. The ability to seamlessly link to multiple data sources is wonderful. We are completely self-sufficient. We looked at packages from other CPM software providers, but Prophix seemed like the perfect tool for us. It turned out that this initial assessment was correct.” Jenny Burbridge Business Analysis & Reporting Manager Solarcentury

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