The second annual Prophix UK User Conference was held this week in the heart of London at the fabulous Wellcome Collection. Prophix users from across the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, and The Netherlands, gathered for two days to share ideas on their use of Prophix and discuss challenges facing the modern finance professional. For me, it was an opportunity to speak to finance leaders from our growing UK customer base to understand emerging issues facing their business, talk about changes to Prophix 11 since last year’s user conference, and share with them exciting news in our product and technology roadmap.
A strategy of continuous dialogue and engagement with our user base is extremely important for the product planning group. I learn something new about how our customers use the product each time. It was clear at this conference, many users of Prophix have successfully evolved and expanded the scope of usage beyond budgeting and reporting. The use of Detailed Planning Manager in Prophix has also increased dramatically with many customers developing sophisticated models on their own for planning detailed operational costs such as fleet expenses, sales commissions, capital investment costs, and many others.
Jenny Burbridge from our UK customer Solarcentury presented a compelling commentary of her company’s journey with Prophix. It was enlightening to hear how Jenny was able to improve and enhance Solarcentury’s planning processes by linking strategic and operational areas together through the use of Prophix. Supported by senior management and IT, Solarcentury has achieved integrated financial planning, aligning historically disparate data and plans encompassing projects, customers, products, personnel, and fixed assets. You can read more about the Solarcentury journey here: case study.
Not surprisingly, this trend is occurring throughout the world where Prophix has been deployed and is being driven by the changing role of finance. The CFO Workshop provided a great platform to discuss these trends with senior finance leaders. Guest speaker Gary Simon, Managing Editor of FSN, led an interesting discussions on the changing role of modern finance departments. A couple of core themes that emerged from this session are worth highlighting:
- The role of finance is moving from tactical to strategic and with it there is much greater focus on future based planning rather than historical reporting and analysis.
- In a world where more data is being collected by operational units such as in marketing, sales operations, and production, there is a skills gap in performing data analysis for making future predictions. Finance professionals are extremely valuable in this new data driven world as they possess strong business acumen and analytical capabilities necessary to use data and determine its impact on the business.
The move to integrated financial planning must involve groups outside of finance. Finance must lead and drive a culture of collaboration. The actual operating units must be actively involved due to their proximity to the business.