Any kind of business or corporate planning exercise for a large organization which has got 7 business units across almost 10 geographies, and 7-8 service lines, and so on can be a mammoth task in itself. So when IT services major, Wipro thought of a digital makeover for their entire planning process, the move was fairly self-explanatory.
Wipro’s planning process had largely been manual for a very long time, done mostly on spreadsheets and PPT, and consolidated manually, until they switched their planning and reporting processes to a cloud-based Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) platform. So what made them think of the shift?
Gaurav Kedia, Vice President-Finance, Wipro gives a peek into the challenges with traditional offline planning processes, and how an EPM platform took away the planning-related woes of Wipro and helped them streamline planning, forecasting, and reporting across the organization.
Planning is not an easy task after all
Before the planning which generally happens at the beginning of every year, people used to send inputs on a spreadsheet and presentation slides - which used to be consolidated manually into one sheet before the final presentation to the management. It was not the desired model for a company of our size and was not also scalable for making plans at a wider level, said Kedia. Also, the real struggle was making any changes to the plan on a real-time basis.
Wipro opted for Oracle's cloud EPM, customized by Huron Consulting keeping the specific requirements of the organization in mind. EPM turned out to be a great collaborative planning platform for Wipro, as it brought the entire organization planning processes together into one place by incorporating all the respective units and the users in it.
How a cloud-based EPM took away the woes
Kedia took us through the benefits one by one:
First, it helped us to consolidate the overall plan, and get an output at a company level. So, the planning process, which was very much centralized and function-driven, has now been decentralized across the organization.
Second, we had been able to broad base our planning process. We are not restricted to a few parameters now; we have been able to expand to as many as we want.
Third, we don't have to worry about the version control issues anymore. The planning as a process undergoes various iterations and it was very difficult to keep track of all the versions.
Making changes to the plan was another gruelling task because the plan used to reside in the systems of certain individuals. Any system crash or data loss incidence would make the planning data inaccessible. Besides that, a lot of changes also needed to be done due to the structural change or people movements in the organization as well. With a cloud-based EPM platform, the process is not people-dependent anymore.
Solving the data puzzle
After the implementation, it took Wipro a couple of months to migrate the data residing on various systems to the EPM. The EPM data repository helped the organization plan things at a more granular level. Also, the data became available at the click of a button and could be viewed in different ways.
Wipro also integrated its EPM with the CRM systems to reduce the time and effort which used to go in duplication of the CRM data and feed those data to the EPM later.
Wipro has also started taking all the functional planning (HR, finance, etc.) to EPM. It has also been working to enhance the reporting capabilities and make it available across the organization. In the first year, the output was only available for the management, but now that we have built in a lot of historic data into the EPM, the users can also view the data on a real-time basis.
Handling rejigs in the business units, measuring the performance of each unit, and individuals against set parameters, and calculating the variable compensations have also become easier.
Making the changeover
“All we needed to do was train people to use the tool efficiently. Although the EPM platform was quite user-friendly, the change-management, however, was not so easy. Because no matter how much we complained about the drill of manual planning exercises, people were still reluctant to give up their beloved spreadsheets. But a lot of manpower and man-hours which earlier used to go into the planning exercises can now be done at a never-before speed and most importantly can be achieved with minimum efforts put in,” said Kedia.