INNOVATIVE USE OF ESSBASE TO STREAMLINE AND CONNECT HYPERION
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT FOR ENHANCED FINANCIAL ANALYSIS
Windstream Communications is a publicly traded, leading provider of
advanced network communications and technology solutions for
consumers, businese, and carrier partners across the U.S. Windstream
offers bundled services, including broadband, security solutions, voice and
digital TV to consumers. The company also provides data, cloud solutions,
unified communications and managed services to business and enterprise
clients. Its service covers more than 8 million people in 21 states.
Windstream wanted to develop an improved planning, analysis, and reporting
process to increase their analytic capabilities, generally. Windsream already had
a complex Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) application, but continued to
use manual processes to do analysis and planning. Two HFM applications
handled over 20,000 accounts and 4,500 entities with at least 3,00 with different
rollup structures. Analysis was done in HFM, then users were required to switch
to different tools to launch queries of source data in order to support their
analysis. In fact, data was loaded to HFM twice to show pro-forma and actuals,
and, in some instances, plan data was handled in HFM. This was a manually-taxing
process, and slowed FP&A analysts during their monthly forecasting cycle.
Overall, management reporting needs were difficult to handl, and drilling back
into data was not efficient. With multiple Oracle Hyperion tools, Windstream
needed a way to improve its analysis and reporting abilities.
MindStream was brought in to evaluate their current system. After an assessment, it was determined the
HFM applications would need to be streamlined; it had too many accounts and overly complex rules (in
one example, with the original setup, it was determined there was the possibility of 2 trillion combbinations
for scenario modeling—for one scenario!). Hierarchies and dimensions needed to be reworked. Essbase,
which allows for faster aggregation of data, was underutilized.
MindStream recognized the many opportunities for optimization on both a micro and macro level. As a
result, the environment needed to be redesigned to efficiently use the breadth of Oracle Hyperion tools
available. The redesign included consolidation and streamlining of accounts and dimensions, minimal Excel
data loading, new Essbase cubes (utlilized as a data integration tool), and an implementation of Financial
Data Quality Management (FDM, now FDMEE). The solution leveraged Oracle Essbase Analytics Link (EAL)
for Hyperion Financial Management. The tool integrates and merges multiple operational data sources into
a single data model, providing detailed information for analytical measurements, KPIs, and the application
of advanced analytics. EAL was originally proposed in order to allow HFM and Essbase to stay in sync so
that adjustments that would affect pro forma reporting would be in sync.
The use of FDM was critical for its ERPi tool, which allowed for drill back into source systems to display
transactions that make up balances. MindStream took used this capability and combined it with a unique
leverage of Essbase as a data integration tool. Using 2 Essbase databases to synchronize and aggregate
data between HFM and Essbase, a unique EAL configuration, the solution effecitively created the ability to
“drill into anything”—the solutions provided drill through capability from FDM into other sources beyond
what the ERPi tool allows.
With the new solution, planning could be done beyond HFM, allowing detailed drillback capabilities to drill
through the general ledger Financial details. This created an enhanced environment for reporting, allowing
the FP&A team to target and explain variances in their forecasting analysis, the original goal.
Ulltimately, the project became an award-winning initiative. Proformative, a leading community of
CFOs, recognized Windstream Corporation as the winner of its 2014 Award for Excellence for Most
Effective Adoption of Technology by a Finance Organization for the project.The award recognizes
finance organizations who collectively lead their company to the highest levels of performance in the
arenas of risk management, cost reduction, operational efficiency, budgeting/planning and/or
driving top line growth by transforming the office of the CFO. With MindStream as their guide and
implementation experts, Windstream truly became a winner in data analysis and financial reporting.
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