CloudMargin Empowers Finance to Add More Value and Analyze More Scenarios Using Planful

CloudMargin created the world’s first cloud-based collateral management workflow tool, which helps financial institutions meet time-critical regulatory deadlines and reduce the costs associated with collateral requirements. But as the company grew, their manual data gathering processes slowed workflows and left little time for any analysis. What’s more, their small team didn’t have time for a long transition to a new solution.

With Planful, CloudMargin automated data integration from its back office systems to give Finance more time to analyze trends, power for faster what-if analyses, and the insights to deliver greater value to the business.

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Challenges: Shift Finance’s focus from data processing to adding value

CloudMargin is one of fintech’s fastest growing businesses. As it expanded, Finance began to feel the pressure. While the business would obviously benefit from deeper financial insights and more responsive what-if planning, a reliance on manual data collection and spreadsheet-driven processes kept Finance from digging into the story behind the numbers. So they faced a decision: either expand their team or modernize how finance works.

“We were heavily reliant on spreadsheets for reporting,” explained Ben Blake, Financial Controller at CloudMargin. “The data we needed was in our CRM and online accounting platform, so it was a very manual, time consuming task to pull all of the information together and review it. And, it wasn’t just a one-off task; we had to go back to square one and repeat that every month.”

What Ben and team needed was a single source of truth that was automatically updated with data from the business. It would free up processing time the team could devote to analysis and scenario planning, while also speeding up the creation of reports and presentations in Microsoft Office.

But time was tight: CloudMargin only had a few months before the start of their annual budgeting process, so any new system had to be quickly deployed and in use.

“We needed time to analyze information, not just process information,” said Ben. “That’s not intriguing work, and not a good use of our time.”

Solution: Putting Planful quickly in place to automate data processing and empower Finance to dive deeper into the numbers

With the clock ticking, CloudMargin needed a technology solution instead of just expanding its finance team. Once Ben and team found that Planful offered a cloud-based solution that “ticked all of the boxes” on automation and FP&A capabilities, they got to work. In just 12 weeks, CloudMargin had deployed Planful and integrated it with both their CRM and online accounting platform, and with time to spare before the start of its new budget year.

“Planful did everything we needed it to do,” recalled Ben. “We’re a small team, so I wanted to learn the system inside and out. I assisted with the onboarding and was using Planful from day one. Planful’s intuitive UI helped, and we were ready to create reports, produce our P&L, cash flows, and analyze our financial performance from the moment we went live.”

Using Planful for budgeting, consolidations, modeling, reporting, and workforce planning, CloudMargin could now easily gather current data with just one click, and then have it all in a single system. That accelerated monthly close and consolidations, giving Finance time to explore trends, understand the stories behind the numbers, and help the business make better decisions.

“Planful shifts my role from processing information to adding value to that information,” said Ben. “What also mattered to our leadership was running what-if scenarios, and that was troublesome in spreadsheets. We couldn’t easily access historical information, couldn’t easily see the impact of a scenario on our cash position, and couldn’t determine how different what-ifs would impact the business.”

But Planful provided seamless access to the required data using Boomi for cloud-based integration between Planful, their CRM and online accounting platform. The integration automated data flow between the solutions, making Planful the single source of truth, including historical data. But, beyond data, CloudMargin also chose Spotlight for Planful to ease reporting and presentations.

Results: Empowering Finance to add more value to the numbers and increase the financial IQ of the business

By eliminating the manual data collection and consolidation effort, Planful opened up at least one day per month for CloudMargin to spend on analysis and modeling. It also removed much of the tactical frustration from Ben’s plate, helping him shift to a more value-add role.

“Collecting and processing the data for monthly close would take hours, but now it’s done in minutes with Planful,” said Ben. “It saves us about a day per month. That’s time we’re now using to analyze trends, inform our decision-makers, and provide more value to the business.”

Planful also gives CloudMargin newfound capabilities for collaboration, delivers the required security and backup infrastructure, and accelerates their reporting workflow. For the latter, the team now relies on Spotlight for Office to create faster, more comprehensive reports for company leadership.

“Planful’s integration with Microsoft Office was a big one for us,” Ben added. “Using our financial data in Planful, we can quickly update Excel reports and PowerPoint presentations with the click of a button.”

Much of the time savings gained from using Planful is put back into CloudMargin’s much needed scenario and what-if analysis, and then drill down even further into the analysis to ask and answer critical questions. And, while they had little time for what-ifs prior to Planful, what time they did have was consumed manipulating massive spreadsheets and waiting for recalculations.

“We called our scenario spreadsheet ‘The Beast’ because it was so slow, and making a change took minutes to refresh the entire spreadsheet,” recalled Ben. “Now it’s almost instant. We can easily compare one to many scenarios, run new what-if analyses, factor in historical trends, and answer the questions the business asks. Planful lets us spin up new scenarios, and when we make changes, they flow through instantly and you can easily compare it with prior scenarios. Whether it’s workforce planning, budgets, or anything else, the ease of spinning up new scenarios in Planful is just brilliant.”

That combined power and time gained from Planful lets Ben put more of his effort into understanding, explaining, and finding opportunity in the numbers.

“Planful is our one source of truth, so we’re all referencing the same numbers, whether it’s other finance members, the management team or the Board,” concluded Ben.

“We now have consistency and clarity, and that gives us much greater confidence in the numbers we’re preparing for the business.”

Ben Blake, Financial Controller

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