It’s a fast-changing, complex world—particularly for INTO University Partnerships Limited, a global education partnering organisation headquartered in Brighton, UK. Through joint ventures, INTO connects prestigious universities with students seeking international educational experiences.
INTO’s finance team is responsible for ensuring that company operates profitably, amid ever-changing market conditions and evolving industry trends.
With universities and representatives recruiting students worldwide, each territory runs its own budget. Traditionally, for the finance team that meant the labour-intensive process of verifying and integrating 60 to 70 spreadsheets—with different currencies—in hopes of achieving a full picture of the business.
Faced with the accelerating pace of change, INTO realised the need upgrade their FP&A solution to gain efficiencies and leverage forecasting and modelling capabilities.
Finance, far-ﬂung outposts benefit from a single source of truth
INTO chose Workday Adaptive Planning by working with Workday Adaptive Planning’ partner, Clear Plan, who helped INTO’s key decision makers see the considerable value of the solution and its integration capabilities with INTO’s existing MIS system.
It didn’t take long for INTO’s finance team to realise the transformative potential of Workday Adaptive Planning. Scores of spreadsheets are now consolidated with financial data in one report, representing a single source of truth. Version control and errors have been largely eliminated, vastly improving productivity of the finance team. Meanwhile, dashboard capabilities allow key business stakeholders to access data in real time.
“We can now not only rely on the information being accurate and always in the same place, but we can administer and control the numbers from afar,” said Chris Wright, group reporting analyst at INTO. “This is particularly important when virtually every joint venture – university and student support in each country – is completely different and has their own budget and objectives.”
Modelling the impact of Brexit
For INTO, the importance of having more advanced modelling and forecasting capabilities became starkly apparent following the recent Brexit vote.
“Unsurprisingly, Brexit led to a huge confidence change in students wanting to study in the UK,” Wright said. “The growing trend of students choosing the US to study abroad rather than the UK is likely to be magnified by the UK’s rejection of the EU. This will have a significant impact on INTO’s numbers, not to mention other variables such as changing exchange rates. We are able to quickly and fairly accurately model these shifts and see the impact across the entire business, something that would have been completely unachievable prior to Workday Adaptive Planning.”
The finance team becomes the stewards of the future
The use of Workday Adaptive Planning has also fostered greater collaboration throughout INTO. Of the 80 users, half are in non-financial business functions, demonstrating the simplicity of the solution. With data directly entered into Workday Adaptive Planning, employees are more accountable, improving accuracy. Conversations now centre around using data rather than disputing its validity.
Looking forward, INTO aims to model cash flow and personnel over five-year strategic plans. They also plan to expand rolling forecasts so Workday Adaptive Planning becomes the daily go-to source of all financial information.
“Finance had previously been more of a back-office function, counting and verifying data,” said Wright. “Thanks to people trusting the data within Workday Adaptive Planning, we have become much more of a business partner, shaping and guiding decisions. We can respond to board requests quickly and easily, slicing and dicing data to generate insight for the business. What’s even more indicative of our success with Workday Adaptive Planning is the fact that we use it all the time – that really is the proof within the pudding.”