Nav Level 1 - Customer Success

"Workday Adaptive Planning has given me the data and the detail that I need to craft the story that I can tell to the artistic side in a way that they'll hear, understand, and make actionable."
  • It’s one thing to tell stories through dance, and another to tell it through numbers. That was the challenge facing the finance team at the San Francisco Ballet. Conveying financial data in the context of furthering an artistic vision took the help of Workday Adaptive Planning. The finance team crafted actionable data stories using revenue planning and forecasting analytics. Data-driven visibility empowered the organization to stretch its resources without affecting what it does best: artistry on stage.


    • Stretching donor dollars in down economy
    • Budget managers struggled with maintaining data in spreadsheets
    • Planning cycles took a month to complete


    • Complete planning cycles within a week
    • Intuitive interface empowers budget managers to easily create reports and input data
    • More tools to present data in a “non-data” approach


  • About:
    As America’s oldest professional ballet company, San Francisco Ballet has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic firsts since its founding in 1933, including performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia. San Francisco Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States.
    San Francisco, CA

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Modern CFO navigates economic uncertainties

At the height of the tech boom, SF Ballet saw an influx of revenue that covered a wide range of expenses, including personnel, choreography and orchestra costs, facilities, marketing, and more. But when the U.S. economic recession hit in the early 2000s, the organization was put in a financial quandary: Ticket sales only accounted for roughly half of production costs, leaving a large gap to be filled by donor dollars. With strained resources, it was imperative that the team consistently maintain revenue-expense balance.

"We had to become more cost-efficient," said Carim, who became an integral part of decision-making meetings once executives accepted this fiscal reality. "I'm invited into those meetings to help align the organization because I have a view into performance throughout the business."

Detailing fiscal performance

The organization needed its finance chief to drive greater financial responsibility across all departments. To do so, Carim adopted Workday Adaptive Planning to help share more detailed financial data with the entire team. By using Workday Adaptive Planning, the SF Ballet can now track profit and loss statements of individual performances by program. It's a level of detail that the team's previous general ledger simply couldn't handle. After adding this capability, the team found that a performance's profitability can vary by up to $3 million— a variance that makes a world of difference when trying to balance a budget.

"My job has evolved greatly over the last eight years, from focusing on tactical bookkeeping to lending strategic insights that help solve our financial challenges," said Carim. "Helping to provide that insight is where Workday Adaptive Planning has been most valuable."

FP&A as seamless as an on-stage performance

Today, the SF Ballet team completes month-long financial planning cycles in one week. They have built a financial model within Workday Adaptive Planning to track its most impactful revenue and expense drivers at a more detailed level than ever before. More importantly, budget managers outside of finance can easily access the most recent financial data relative to their roles, and see the implications of programming changes themselves.

"We can now tell which performance cost us $700,000, for example, and which one made $2 million," said Carim. "The speed at which we produce and share these results has led to faster programming changes based on what's best from a financial perspective."

Added insights without added headcount

While budget constraints make it difficult to add headcount within non-production departments, Carim has leveraged Workday Adaptive Planning as what she calls a "virtual full-time employee" in two imperative ways: by communicating the financial story to the artistic side of the organization in an understandable, actionable way, and by providing workplace flexibility for herself and budget managers who work non-traditional hours.

"Because we have a cloud-based tool, I can be a mom and stay up-to-date on financial performance from anywhere, at any time," she said. "For our 75th anniversary, we introduced the new tagline: 'A new way of seeing ballet.' In finance, we also have a new tagline: 'A new way of seeing the numbers.' It's a new approach that will help the SF Ballet maintain long-term financial sustainability, ensuring that generations to come can enjoy our art."

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