The Customer

HB now knows and understands our Budgeting and calculations more than us. I think they can now build our budget without us - Company Financial Director

The client is a well-known company in the education domain that renders institutional products & services to schools, students, and individual teachers. The company aims at changing the way students learn in schools.

The company generated a total revenue of 10+ Million per year made through 7 business units across the organization through Workshops, Books Publications, Consulting & Certifications, and Professional development services.

The Challenge

Building Budget

The client had the company split into seven business units, where there were six different types of Budget for each group. Different budgeting rules were supposed to be set up, making the overall budget planning and allocation an even more complicated task. The actual process commences when the Executive Director releases guidelines & goal metrics in the middle of the year to each department executive for budgeting concerning the next financial year.

Each department starts building the Budget and Forecasting in the middle of the Financial year after that. The process involves managing, tracking, and monitoring a lot of financial data (Revenue & Expenses) within the company itself.

The Goal - Department-wise reports of yearly Budget and forecasted Budget should combine into a single critical financial statement and presented to the Board of Directors of the company at the start and middle of a Financial Year.

Data

200+

Excel Sheets

3 Integrations

NetSuite, Salesforce, HubSpot

200k+

Complex Financial Data Fields

3 months

Entire Process Duration

20+

User Entities Involved & Dependency for the process

The Beginning The Three Magical Questions

Our journey started with three instrumental questions:

A

Will you be able to understand these complex processes & calculations?

 

 

 

 

 

B

Will you be able to complete this before next Financial Year starts?

 

 

 

 

 

C

Will you be able to build something that our non-technical staff using excel sheets for years can seamlessly adapt to?

 

 

 

 

 

These three questions set the foundation for the start of a challenging but ultimately
rewarding journey that assisted us in answering the below problem

Do you think this solution has an ROI and is
meaningful as per your expertise?

The Impediments

  • Multiple Stakeholders

    Need for communiation with more than 10 stakeholders to understand the complete process.
  • Complex Budgeting Processes

    This part required a lot of efforts to understand complex process, formulaes, and calculations.
  • Accommodation of New Business Process

    A new business unit evolving during the course of development, the process for that needed to be catered.
  • Non-Technical client

    No idea of how technology can fit into their business, re-work & rethink on lot of things.Lot of direct one-to-one support to explain how to use the system.
  • Resistance

    Adaption to technology by staff was a challange.
  • Testing

    Testing was biggest pain as it involved mapping with a manual complex process.
  • Real Data Access

    Access to real data was not provided.

Business Impact

Answer to the 4th question: Do you think this solution has an ROI and is meaningful as per your expertise?

89

%

Cycle-Time improvement (from 3 months to 10 days for complete process)

38

%

Productivity improvement

90

%

Acccuracy Boost

20

%

Operational Cost Saving

Improved Decision Making

Advanced Dashboards and Reports to facilitate quick and direct action & Visibility.

Better Process

Adjustment to the processes that changed the way of working.

Hidden Brains' Path to Success

The complexity & challanges enabled the process-makers to come-up with an innovative methodology for development.

The Base

Taking into account the complexity and scale of this undertaking - both in terms of the data (200k+ variables and formulas) and the stakeholders involved, we quickly established an iterative communication strategy to ensure that everyone was always involved and on the same page. This set the base for a succesful and fruitful collaboration.

1
The first question was answered

Will you be able to understand these complex processes & calculations?

 

 

 

A

With a resounding 'Yes' vote of confidence from the client.

 

The Dissection

Once we understood, the next step was demonstrating our understanding. We combed through the 200+ excel sheets to narrow the selection to one budget type to build the foundation. Before the technology, the first step we took was building an entire Excel prototype to replicate their process. Only once they were confident of our understanding, did we move forward to modifying the process to creat better impact.

2

The Selection

The next step was detailing the specficiations, user interfaces, application architecture, system interface design, and database design. The key here was defining the system in a manner that would be adoptable by the target user (non-technical backgrounds). The iterative base we'd setup, together with the user-centric approach adopted, built the foundation for an interactive prototype for the selected budget. A continuous progressive demonstration strategy ensured that the vision for the system was always aligned with the end goal.

3

The Build Process

This was where we finally brought the technology into play. After setting up the environment, our team focused on the platform based code development of all the system interfaces with a systematic unit and integration testing strategy to ensure product quality. Our two main aims - firstly, breaking down and simplifying the complex formula to bring real impact value to the process and secondly, establishing stringent security and privacy protocols given the sensitive nature of the financial data planned to be stored on this platform. The result - a meaningful beta-product launch ready to be tested and adopted.

4
The third question was answered

Will you be able to build something that our non-technical staff using excel sheets for years can seamlessly adapt to?

 

 

C

The department directors were able to successfully complete their entire budgeting process inside 2 weeks.

 

 

The Trial

To faciliate this we focused on a continous release plan, which involved multiple progressive demonstration and in-depth training sessions with the relevant stakeholders throughout the build process. Once confident, the beta-system was shared with the relevant department directors to simulate the entire budget building process. Additionally, we ensured the availaibility and support of all the involved team members as and when required to ensure a successful trial.

5

The Reaction & The Joy

A standing ovation from the Executive Director at the launch of the trial, followed by a declaration by the Finance Director - "HB now knows and understands our Budgeting and calculations more than us. I think they can now build our budget without us". We couldn't have asked for more.

6
The second question was answered

Will you be able to complete this before next Financial Year starts?

 

B

We ensured that the company was able to simulate the budgeting and forecasting of an entire financial year in the beta stage.

 

 

The Release

After the succesful trial, we adopted the same iterative strategy from The Build to The Trial for all the budgets and processes of the different deparments. The final result - a finished product that replaced the excel sheets and months of manual work with an integrated system, that generated meaningful reports for the internal stakeholders and the Board of Directors.

7

The no-end relationship

We are proudly still serving them and continue to help them grow.

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Highlights