Here’s the scene: It’s after working hours on a Friday. The CEO sends an email: They have questions about the numbers in your latest report. Why is X up and Y down? What’s causing the changes in Q and W, for that matter?
Before the start of the next business day, you send the answers. And you did it without working all weekend, either.
Now the CEO only has one question:
How did you do that?
Finance pro Denise Feece knows firsthand how forward-looking Finance departments can transform a business–and build a career. Throughout her professional life, Denise has used Prophix to help her provide proactive and actionable insights to her employers, cementing her reputation as a trusted advisor. Here’s her story.
As a student who always gravitated toward numbers, Denise went to Manchester University in Indiana to study accounting. “I’m getting into all these rules and audits and all this black-and-white functionality. It was a good path for me,” she says.
But an internship revealed that accounting wasn’t her passion. “Doing audits, asking questions, doing tax returns, that just really wasn’t what I liked,” she says. “I really had no opportunity to see what impact my input had on the business. You’re giving some advice, and then you’re off to the next client.”
Her “aha” moment came during one of her first jobs, at a machine tool shop. “I like the manufacturing process, putting things together, seeing the connections in how one thing impacts another,” she says, which mirrored her perspective on the role of Finance function in a business. “If you want to understand shipping, if you want to understand engineering, how products are made, it all ties back into the numbers,” she points out. “In that role, you’re in a really good position to see, understand, and influence a wide variety of activities across the business. And that’s what I think is fun–making those connections through the data.”
Still, those numbers have to be crunched. “I view accounting as kind of a necessary evil of my job,” she says. “So you just figure out ways to do that much more efficiently. That gives you more time to do the part of your job that you do like.” Soon Denise would find a way to use technology to minimize her accounting tasks and allow her to focus more on the fun part of her job–making her an invaluable resource in the process.
Enhancing Finance Operations
At her next job, Denise was introduced to Prophix. “It was like a lightbulb went on,” she says. Everything she had struggled to do in Excel and similar applications was easier, and she was able to automate routine accounting tasks, giving her more time for analysis. “That’s where I really thrive, finding connections between different datasets and giving some different perspectives and insights into different areas of the business,” she says.
As an example, Denise cites how she transformed a cumbersome inventory process that was taking an employee three days every month. “We basically eliminated it down to about two hours,” she says, which included not just the time spent putting the report together, but analyzing it as well.
Career Recognition and Defining Moments
Prophix was instrumental in advancing Denise’s career, even during challenging economic periods. At a later job, after the crash of the housing bubble in 2007-2008, downsizing left Denise as the sole member of what was once a five-person team. “I was able to take each of those functions, the financial reporting, the planning, the forecasting, and pull them into Prophix,” she says. “I was doing the job of what previously was four or five people with this tool.”
People at the company noticed, and soon Denise was using Prophix to support and automate more functions and encourage more consistent processes across the organization. “I started to get invited to meetings because I was providing the data,” she says, noting that the meetings also became more productive because she was supplying it from a trusted, visible source. “We started to be able to focus more on ‘what do we do about these situations?’ rather than ‘what is the right information?’”
Supporting Executive Insights and Faster Processes
Thanks to her problem-solving abilities and self-starter attitude, Denise eventually moved up to a vice president of Finance position. When her employer was purchased by another business, she was responsible for combining and reconciling the two Finance departments. “I was able to take the two sets of data that were coming from separate places and present it as one picture for the combined business,” she says.
After sending the CFO the financial statements, he had additional questions. “Things like, you know, why are margins up or down? Why is freight cost up? Why is this? Why is that?” Denise remembers. With Prophix, she was able to quickly provide him with proof, context, and data around each question–earning herself another fan and more recognition for her data skills.
Eventually, Denise moved on to a corporate controller position at a company with 18 foreign sales offices using various currencies. The company had been trying to complete a consolidation for 18 months.
Once again, Denise came to the rescue. “I started in January of 2017,” she remembers. “By February 28, we had installed Prophix. By April 15, I had a full financial set with consolidation put together with all the currency and conversions.”
Prophix: A Foundation for Finance Success
Throughout her career, Denise has leveraged Prophix to enhance operational efficiency and support data-driven decision-making and scenario planning. She has become a trusted advisor to multiple organizations, proving her value time and again.
For those looking to follow in her footsteps, Denise has a simple bit of advice: “It’s just knowing and understanding how the tools work so that when those opportunities arrive, you’re able to respond to them,” she says. The ability to use technology to not only increase your efficiency, but to also increase the accuracy of your predictions, is what makes the executive team sit up and take notice.
Find out how Finance professionals are leveraging technology to advance the field as well as their careers: Check out the full Bridge the Gap report.