We recently held our annual UK customer conference at The Royal College of Physicians in London. The theme for the event was all about the evolution of the office of finance. Our CEO Paul Barber and COO Alok Ajmera outlined their vision for the future of the finance function, taking learnings from the changes of the recent past to point to an exciting future where finance will play an even more strategic role in the organisations it supports. The key being how through a mix of better technology and a new breed of skills being recruited into finance the office of finance can move away from simply reporting on the past and spend more time using financial analysis to predict the future.
Technology is of course a critical component so it was an opportune moment to introduce the delegates to Prophix Version 12 – the ethos of which is to take the ease of use of CPM software to another level, not only enabling the office of finance to automate more of the data collection and reporting processes, freeing them up to conduct more value-add analysis, but to also show how it could be used beyond the office of finance. This is a key point as it is the core success factor in the office of finance driving greater business value across an organisation.
So it was a rallying cry to the extensive selection of our company’s top customers, encouraging them to take the opportunity in front of them to optimise the way they run finance for competitive advantage. Many of course have already started on this journey and were able to share some of their learning with the audience – notably Jenny Burbridge from Solarcentury, who took an active role in a session that I led on measuring the maturity of Corporate Performance Management (CPM). Jenny and I walked the attendees through the Gartner CPM maturity model and outlined the different stages to help them benchmark themselves, and the latter part of the presentation we focused heavily on the steps they could take to move further along the maturity path. If you want to read more about the Gartner CPM model check out our tips to mature your CPM function here
Another customer best practice came from a highly engaging Customer Innovators panel discussion, during which DSTL, Solarcentury, Hymans and Housing & Care 21 all shared their thoughts on their CPM maturity journey and crucially how they were using Prophix to evolve their finance functions.
For me this is always one of the most valuable elements of the entire conference, our customers talking to other customers, sharing knowledge on how to handle the day-to-day tasks but also sharing their visions for where they want their departments and organisations to go. It is tremendously satisfying to hear all the stories and to know that Prophix is at the heart of it all.
The knowledge sharing did not just stop in the formal sessions of course. We always build a lot of networking time to enable people to talk 1-1 and this event was no exception. As well as the breakouts we also held a customer dinner in the evening, where the emphasis was on fun and entertainment. This year we made the short journey to The Albany where we had our own private bar and enjoyed a “pub evening” with good food, good drink and fantastic entertainment courtesy of one of the UK’s top close magicians, TJ Shoesmith. To say he was mesmerising is an understatement, as a relatively close follower of magic I found him incredibly original and entertaining – although clearly I have to say this as he still has my wallet…
TJ was not the only guest appearance, our guest keynote on the main stage at the start of the event was world record beating Memory Man, David Thomas. Given it was a day of learning for us all, not only about Prophix’s product vision but also about the evolution of the office of finance we wanted a guest speaker to help ensure we retained as much of the knowledge as possible. David was not only entertaining he was also very educational, showing how simple techniques from a graphical memory storing and mind-mapping could unlock hidden areas of our brain – the proof was in the pudding as I looked around the room later in the day to see everyone using his techniques in one way or another. Fantastic.
Day two of our conference featured a series of formal training sessions. A chance for users to improve their Prophix skills. Moreover, I have to say I do not think we could have picked a more inspirational venue than the library in the Royal College of Physicians; there is something about oak panelling and books that make us all study harder. Jenn Speer, one of our product training experts, joined us from North America, and along with several of our UK professionals services team she walked customers through hands-on sessions on Prophix Version 12 and also Advanced Reporting.
So as I now sit back and reflect on the success of our annual conference what really hits home is what a fantastic user base we have, that is not only embracing the evolution of the office of finance and using Prophix to accelerate their journey, they also are happy to share the waypoints along the way with other customers. Now begins the task to plan next year’s event and one thing is for certain it will be even bigger and better than this one as we continue our evolution.
For further reading on the evolution of finance start with our Future Finance white paper to begin your journey.
Daniel Mason, UK MD, Prophix