Having relied in the past on spreadsheets for their business processes, the Milwaukee Bucks used Prophix to obtain complete visibility into their finances, to develop advanced budgeting and personnel planning models, and to automate the production of their financial reports based on the new requirements set out by the National Basketball Association (NBA).
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The Milwaukee Bucks joined the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1968. The team won a championship title just three years later with the help of Hall of Fame players Oscar Robertson and Lew Alcindor (now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). The Bucks currently play at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Former Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, whose family started the Kohl’s food and department store chain, has owned the Bucks since 1985.
Recognizing the problem
Members of the Milwaukee Bucks’ accounting and finance department realized that they needed advanced software to address their needs for budgeting, forecasting, planning, and reporting. Over the years, the organization had come to rely on spreadsheets, which feature limited capabilities for consolidation and analysis. With the help of a new system, the Bucks hoped to develop a personnel planning solution not for budgeting player salaries-as teams only employ 15 players at a time–but rather for their rank-and-file employees.
Jim Woloszyk, the Bucks’ Director of Finance, explains, “Our sales employees receive a base salary plus commission, and we also need to calculate the costs of their benefits. Budgeting for other payroll expenses in the past involved something of a ‘best guess’ format-especially with regard to employment taxes, which feature limits and changing rates.”
Additionally, apart from their existing demands for reporting, the Bucks needed to address the NBA’s new requirements for submitting financial information. Seeking a means to measure how the league’s teams perform financially and benchmark them using comparable figures, the NBA released a manual that set out how franchises should classify their revenues and expenses. Receiving this information in a standardized format would allow the league to accurately summarize and compare the financial results of its teams.
Implementing a solution
The Milwaukee Bucks selected Prophix as their Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software provider and found that the product’s implementation involved only minimal involvement from their IT team. According to Woloszyk,”Other than the initial server setup, our department was able to take the lead. Prophix’s consultant migrated over our chart of accounts and secured an ODBC connection with our General Ledger, Microsoft Dynamics SL. This link ensures that our financial data automatically flows into Prophix on a nightly basis, and that all of the reports and formulas update by themselves as we add new accounts.”
With the help of Prophix, the Milwaukee Bucks now have the ability to produce detailed budgets whenever they need them. As Woloszyk says, “The software will allow us to take our actuals and adapt them to the appropriate league reporting format. We can also take our budget and easily convert that into our quarterly forecast or our annual report-all based on the solutions’s ‘Member Properties’ functions! Most of our work now involves maintaining the budget.”
In terms of reporting, the Bucks now process three separate audits-one using GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and two special purpose audits related to their membership in the NBA. In order to produce these reports as simply as possible, the Bucks use the Member Properties function to remap the structure to fit the categories/line items that populate their annual combined financials. Faced with specific rules that outline which expenses should appear on specific lines, the related mapping process would be either fraught with errors or downright impossible to achieve with spreadsheets.
Milwaukee Bucks CFO, Mike Burr, offers some perspective: “We have a number of different reporting requirements, each with their own formats. Prophix allows for alternate reporting hierarchies or ways for us to reorganize accounting structures for internal or external reporting. Soon we’ll get to the place where we’re developing 3-year rolling forecasts. That’s essentially impossible to facilitate with spreadsheets. If we keep our forecasts up to date, we can generate projections at any time.”
As the Bucks strive to make their department managers accountable and their user base expands, members of their accounting and finance department expect to utilize Prophix’s security functions to a greater degree. The organization also hopes to develop internal reports for specific areas of responsibility within the company, automatically generating monthly or quarterly reports for their employees in travel, scouting, and basketball operations.
Woloszyk says that he would definitely recommend Prophix to other franchises or companies in his industry.”Prophix has enabled us to do exactly what we intended for our reporting, budgeting, and planning. Professional sports teams that run their buildings could really take advantage of Prophix’s capabilities by budgeting for gross revenue, cost of sales, maintenance, personnel, and concessions, and then merge those totals with the larger organization. From what we see, it would only take a few weeks to get that type of system up and running.”
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