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Defining the Data Problem
Behind its success, however, the company was facing inefficiencies in integrating its disparate systems and outside data sources. This, combined with complicated and slow calculations in its current financial environment, resulted in processing delays and difficulty updating existing calculations. The company needed to increase efficiency in its financial planning cycle and gain ease of collaboration.
To address these challenges, National Vision decided to extend the capabilities of its SAP Planning and Consolidation software by adding SAP Analytics Cloud. Together, the two technology applications would allow the company to gain a clearer view into its financial reporting. The company’s integrated solution incorporated:
- SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (SAP BPC), a solution that delivers planning, budgeting, forecasting and financial consolidation capabilities
- SAP Analytics Cloud, a cloud-based next-generation solution that integrates, in one platform, financial planning, reporting, analytics and predictive capabilities to extract actionable insights
National Vision turned to Protiviti, a long-standing SAP Gold partner, to help the National Vision project team modernise and implement a comprehensive financial planning and analysis (FP&A) strategy that would enable the company to make its financial process more collaborative and efficient.
The Motivation to Move to the Cloud
It was important for National Vision to engage with its stores and encourage participation in the planning process, as well as to receive input on revenue and payroll and to learn from local stores. Across the company’s 1,100-plus stores, more than 120 users are involved in the planning process, including district managers, administrators, senior managers and executives, and the core FP&A team. By integrating SAP Analytics Cloud for planning, users throughout the organisation can easily share feedback and critical data. This creates opportunities for increased collaboration and maximising the value of the technology’s powerful features.
With the addition of SAP Analytics Cloud, National Vision has a full suite of technology that enables scenario forecasting to see real-time impact of key business drivers. The primary users are the company’s core FP&A operations team and Field Management. National Vision uses Microsoft as its ERP system, along with SAP Data Services for data integration and SAP BusinessObjects for enterprise analytics. Its core FP&A platform is SAP Business Planning and Consolidation combined with SAP Analytics Cloud for planning. This covers all of National Visions’ financial reporting needs, including gap, management and operations reporting.
Extending SAP Business Planning and Consolidation to SAP Analytics Cloud for Planning
For National Vision, collaboration within SAP Analytics Cloud for planning allows their FP&A administrators the visibility to see feedback from their stores in a central place. The ability for users to comment on cells allows them to clarify details around what collaborators think about the insights gathered, which collaborators contributed, and which specific cell(s) are being discussed.
Now, instead of making hundreds of calls to individual stores to seek clarification or context, FP&A administrators at National Vision have a single platform to collaborate, allowing the process to be vastly more efficient. Connectivity challenges were alleviated across the organisation, resulting in more efficient collaboration among disparate and widely dispersed personnel.
By using SAP Business Planning and Consolidation in their retail planning, National Vision can give stores access to input data regarding payroll and other aspects. It consolidates that data into its corporate planning, as well as in cash flow statements and balance sheets.
Calculations that would have taken hours to run previously now take seconds. SAP Analytics Cloud for planning can sum calculations directly from the SAP HANA-based model and provide the ability to create scenarios on the fly, allowing National Vision’s financial planners to test different versions of scenarios and models. Since the data is not published until the user specifies it, users have the freedom to make changes and improve scenarios until the desired outcome is reached. The ability to access immediate results, along with inputs, calculations and allocations from various stores, provides an instant feedback loop. From a usability standpoint, this creates an extremely easy process for their financial planning. The improved real-time, top-down and bottom-up planning capabilities enabled National Vision to reduce planning cycle times by 20 percent or more.
For National Vision, another advantage to complementing SAP Business Planning and Consolidation with SAP Analytics Cloud for planning was that there was now support for disparate users who did not have the required Excel add-ins. Additionally, from a finance user’s perspective, the inclusion of SAP Analytics Cloud for planning means that the power to take part in every aspect of the FP&A process is now put in their hands. Finance teams can build the FP&A process together and work on allocations, building content, workflows and more.
Building for the Future
Protiviti’s SAP experts worked with National Vision to guide the overall business and technical strategy, enabling National Vision to develop a new planning process that:
- Removes silos so users are empowered to participate in every aspect of the process
- Encourages collaborative enterprise planning at all levels
- Provides access to all users via a cloud-based architecture
- Provides real time calculations harnessing the power of SAP HANA
- Allows for deeper analysis through SAP Analytics Cloud for planning
As a result of the extended capabilities of its SAP solution, National Vision saw a significant reduction in data collection time, yielding improved decision-making and extended high-level data analysis and insight. Calculation performance was improved by 100-fold, and reporting and planning accuracy increased by as much as 60 percent.
National Vision considers itself to be in the first phase of its plan to extend its financial planning. National Vision is anticipating taking advantage of the readily available predictive capabilities for SAP Analytics Cloud for planning and creating an automated FP&A process. For now, National Vision’s new reporting and planning landscape allows the company to clearly see what’s in store.