Optimizing financial processes at Ampleon
The innovative company wants to improve its financial information delivery. “We used Excel for our financial consolidation. This was very manual driven, subject to errors, and overly time-consuming. For a professional appearance, you need a consolidation system,” says Harm Polman, Sr. Director Financial Planning & Analysis at Ampleon about the reason to implement OneStream.
Ampleon supplies high-quality radio frequency technology [RF Power]. This technology is used for wireless infrastructure for mobile broadband, television, radio, industrial, scientific and medical applications, aviation and defense, as well as for heating/defrosting and plasma lighting applications. The company has 16 locations, including its headquarters in Nijmegen, and employs approximately 1,650 people worldwide.
“If one person does everything manually, then you are very vulnerable. With standard processes and an off-the-shelf solution, creating backup becomes much easier.”
Preparing for expected IPO
One of the motivations for optimizing financial processes at Ampleon, is the possible IPO of Ampleon. Harm: “We want to be able to consolidate more efficiently and reliably, especially given the possible IPO. In the context of investor relations, you need to have your reporting process in order.”
“We want to be able to provide our internal stakeholders with information faster and ensure it is reliable information, which will mainly constitute trust,” says Robin Whelan, Reporting Manager at Ampleon. “Once listed, we will face more and tighter deadlines and external information requirements. Then we must be able to produce ad hoc analysis faster.”
Another reason is to reduce dependency. Harm says: “If one person does everything manually, and that person becomes ill or leaves the company, then you are very vulnerable. With standard processes and an off-the-shelf solution, creating backup becomes much easier.”
From corporate to local
The third reason is the desire to transfer more activities to the local financial managers. “To further increase professionalism, we want to enable local users to do their own analysis,” says Robin.
The local managers are responsible for the figures up to and including uploading into OneStream. It is up to the countries’ discipline to ensure that the numbers are correct. “The responsibility for the correctness of the local numbers in the consolidation shifts from Corporate to the countries,” says Ruben Cammeraat, consultant at Finext and closely involved in the implementation of OneStream at Ampleon.
Improving financial processes at Ampleon in three phases
Optimizing the financial processes at Ampleon consist, among other things, of the consolidation and reporting processes. This is the first phase in a broader program. “We approach this program in three phases. The first phase aims to increase the reliability of the reporting. This concerns reports to internal and external stakeholders, such as bank reports, reports to shareholders, and internally to management. The second phase is ‘Management Information’, where we want to spend less time on reporting and more on analysis. The third phase is ‘Driver based forecasting’,” says Harm. “Ultimately, we believe that every piece of information from finance should have a purpose.”
Phase 1 (Reporting) is key in connection with the possible listing. But even without the listing, this is a logical sequence, says Ruben: “You must first ensure that you, as a team, know how to use the tool and that everyone – including the local users – starts working with it. In practice, we use such a project approach at many organizations; first, the mandatory consolidation, then gradually expanding to a strategic plan and driver-based forecasting.”
Choosing OneStream’s broad platform for consolidation
The broad program is an important reason for choosing the OneStream platform. “We wanted an off-the-shelf and scalable system that helps us achieve our goal of automating our processes even further. Moreover, we wanted to integrate the entire process from validation to analysis into one system,” says Harm.
Ampleon did not decide on a new Performance Management system overnight, as an earlier implementation of another consolidation system was unsuccessful. It is one of the reasons for working with Finext this time. “We asked Finext to help us in two areas: the tool selection process and the implementation,” says Harm. An important aspect was the fact that Finext is independent of software vendors, Robin says: “Other parties often have a strong preference for one tool, while Finext has a broad tool knowledge and can provide independent advice.”
Part of the tool selection process was a reference visit to Flowtraders, where Finext previously implemented OneStream. Harm and Robin are enthusiastic about the progress of the project. “To the fullest satisfaction, both the standardization in the system and the implementation of the project. The organization’s training and support also went well.”
“Ultimately, we want to translate the strategy into action plans. Also, we want to see progress on these action plans. OneStream helps us to approach this in a structured manner.”
Supporting the strategy with OneStream
Harm: “When Ampleon was founded four years ago, all group functions were disconnected, and are now fulfilled independently. This is still relatively new to parts of the organization.”
The implementation of OneStream for optimizing financial processes at Ampleon, supports their strategy. “Ultimately, we want to translate the strategy into action plans. Also, we want to see progress on these action plans. OneStream helps us to approach this in a structured manner,” says Harm.
Faster and better
The innovative company is positive about the results of the new consolidation process. “I only see benefits, and I also get feedback from the organization that they see a lot of added value. The figures are much easier to retrieve. The speed of reporting has increased, which leaves us with more time for other activities,” says Harm.
The next phase (Management Information) has already been planned. “However, before moving on, it is always important to first complete a prior phase properly,” says Robin. “This should not be underestimated; it takes time to prepare all additional reports. Think, for example, of manufacturing variances and cost center reporting. Following that, we can further expand our management information.”