Does it take forever to get through the monthly and quarterly close? Do you have to twiddle with the reports each time to get them ready for review? Does it make you wish you had a different job? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are not alone. We've talked with hundreds of finance organizations who consistently struggle with Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) and their month end close processes. We've also helped hundreds of finance organizations improve the functions of consolidation and close, budgeting and planning, and financial analytics.
You may wish you’d spent more time cleaning up your Chart of Accounts (COA) or streamlining the way you currently do things when your Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) application was implemented. But don’t quit your job; we have some tips to make the consolidation, close close and reporting process much easier. If you haven’t implemented HFM yet, some of these suggestions will be simpler to apply than if you are going to undergo an upgrade. In either case, you will reap the benefits of spending some quality time with your Hyperion app to work out the kinks in your consolidation and reporting process.
Here are six suggestions for enhancing your consolidation reporting experience:
1. Add reporting subtotals to your COA within HFM.
Most Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems (your General Ledger or Data Warehouse) tend not to include subtotals in their metadata structure, relying instead on their reporting tools to pull and subtotal the data for you. You pull the GL trial balance into HFM and are thrilled to see everything populate in. Now you pull the data down into a SmartView and find you must insert subtotals in Excel.
The subtotals only live in your SmartView, but you are happy because you get to work with data that is clean and accurate. Management is happy because they get good quality data. The process speeds up a bit, and perhaps you must build a few more reports. This is where things can get a bit tedious. You must now set up report views for different departments: as in direct expense vs. overhead, which drives customized report builds, reducing the ability for others to easily use or maintain these reports.
But, why not go into the COA metadata and insert subtotals, so that the system will automatically calculate them? We recommend you pull both the subtotals and the lowest level data into a SmartView, or FRS (Financial Reporting Studio), and the subtotals will be delivered automatically calculated. You can revise reporting much faster and more accurately if you insert the subtotals you will need into HFM’s Chart of Accounts.
2. No standard Chart of Accounts within HFM?
Back away from the application! DO NOT allow various COAs into your HFM accounting application. It looks like it could work: building several different charts of accounts into your consolidation application, but reconciliation of the data will become a nightmare. You will need to agree on a common chart of accounts for HFM, and map external COAs to it. End of story.
3. Instead: Create alternate hierarchies to enable a roll-up of members from the same shared hierarchy.
Want to display the same data several different ways? One easy way to accomplish that is to set up alternate hierarchies within the same roll-up. The shared member alternate hierarchy refers to non-shared members of previous hierarchies in the metadata outline, and these shared members can support different formulas. Uses of alternate hierarchies typically include direct and indirect cost reporting, the capture of a subset of accounts within a roll-up, or the elimination of several accounts from a roll-up (EG: Roll-up #1: A + B + C + D = Total. Alternate Roll-up: A + B + D = Alt Total).
Interested in moving HFM to the cloud? Get a cloud-readiness assessment to understand the pros and cons of a financial consolidation cloud service.
4. Want dynamic reporting and the ability to gather and report the most recent data and metadata changes?
Of course you do! To accomplish that, you must structure the dimensions to enable dynamic reporting. For example, if you build EBITDA into your account structure, then you can quickly and easily see the build-up of accounts on a report or worksheet. Another example: logically structure your departments with reporting in mind, and dimension structure will automatically drill down. Then when you open a report that allows dynamic refresh, the report will include the new dimension member(s) you just inserted. This makes reporting effective and efficient.
5. Don’t replicate the consolidation process you have today in the consolidation application without a vigorous discussion first.
If you are contemplating a new consolidation system implementation, replicating the processes you have today without a healthy discussion of what should change, be added or deleted is a recipe for a headache down the road. Talk to your accounting and consulting teams, and work up a list of things you’d like to see changed or improved. Doubtless just implementing a system would help with most of your pain-points, but in this case, the devil is in the details.
- Look at current reports. Is there anything you’d like to change?
- Look at data you’d like to have in your report but is not there today. Can it be added to the system without bogging down the whole works?
- Look at reports you wanted to build, but never had the time.
- Look at processes you perform manually and see if the new application can automate some of them for you.
6. Make sure you have a game plan for reporting.
Ask these questions: What important information do your business leaders review to determine where the company should be heading? Determine how the data is structured today, and line that up with current reporting needs. Ask upper management what they have today versus what they would like to have.
A game plan should include a road map of “What – Who – How – Where”.
- What – what reports are to be considered “Standard” – reports that you encourage everyone to have access to. The outline, format and information delivered will always be the same – such as an Operations P&L.
- Who – who should be able to access these reports? Do you want to allow team members to create their own reports? Do you want them to help build the reporting library?
- How – how should these reports be built? In FRS (Financial Reporting Studio)? In SmartView? On the Web?
- Where – where should these reports be stored and accessed? For how long should they be kept? Who will be responsible for archiving old reports?
There are other aspects to the road map that can be included during discussion, but in general, these questions tend to center around What, Who, How and Where.
Strafford has extensive experience with Hyperion Financial Management (HFM), both on-premises and in the Cloud. Our consultants have all held Finance positions, so they know your pain, and they understand how HFM can make things better. We are ready to help you with roadmaps, implementation, cloud hosting, training, and knowledge transfer.