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From Manual Data Collection to Automated Planning Process

7.06.2022

Nova KBM is a universal bank with the longest, more than 160-year-old tradition of banking in Slovenia. The total assets of the merged bank amount to almost € 10 billion, and over 900 outlets throughout Slovenia are available to customers.

Challenge

The bank’s management was aware of the importance of the function of planning and was increasingly paying attention to it. Nova KBM’s vision to “be the best bank in Slovenia” is thoughtfully built on five key pillars or strategic areas. For each strategic pillar, a metric and a milestone are set, which enable the bank to monitor the implementation of the strategy. The vision and mission of the bank are also decisively fulfilled with the help of employees who are motivated to perform their work in accordance with the bank’s goals.

Nova KBM’s goals were clearly defined – more transparent, simpler, and faster planning. The key business challenge was to establish the automation of the planning process, to enable the monitoring of plans and internal reporting by individual segments. The first step was to improve monthly planning and forecasting and later to enable the what-if analysis of various scenarios.

The basic goal was to eliminate planning in Excel, which became difficult to manage and unsustainable due to the scale and interconnection of the planning levels. The planning process in Excel was time-consuming and associated with many risks, from file size to the necessary changes before starting any planning.

Controlling team were searching for a solution that would provide planning with the application, as it would simplify and shorten the processes. They needed application support with an intuitive graphical user interface, the ability to independently change parameters, quick insight into data, and the ability for further in-depth exploration.

The next goal, which took place at the same time as the introduction of the planning application, was to change the planning process in terms of the interconnectedness of planning.

Financial planning was divided into three main levels: the bank’s plan, the Group’s plan, and the profit center planning, Planning took place in separate Excel (models), with different solutions.

The ultimate goal was to implement planning in one department for all levels. It was necessary to establish a comprehensive technological renovation and automation of planning and preparation of reports on the implementation of the plan and to create an open system that will constantly provide opportunities to upgrade the application.

The bank was looking for a provider who would have the references and experience in the field of banking and could offer a user-friendly application that would be fast and offer the possibility of constant updating. It was also important to have active and good cooperation between the provider and the bank (including the IT sector), quality consulting and user education, providing assistance and quick elimination of possible errors. The In516ht team met all of the above parameters.

Solution

Based on the inputs provided In516ht suggested implementing the IBM Planning analytics tool. The solution is flexible and can be developed to meet and automate NKBM’s internal processes and minimize manual work.

The biggest challenges of the project were in determining the entry point of responsibility of individual applications, establishing code lists, and determining the level of planning.

The solution was implemented in 2015. It includes a comprehensive solution of the bank’s financial planning. Based on imported keys, automatic cost allocation is enabled. Data entry is restricted to planners with access rights and roles. When planning, users can use many functionalities provided by the application (copying, distribution, consolidation, exports, imports, changing reviews, filtering, transfers to different scenarios…).

Outcome

Due to the transition from Excel to the IBM Cognos Planning Analytics application solution, the process itself has changed, as it is no longer necessary to prepare Excel. It is also worth mentioning the time savings and reduction of operational risk.

When comparing the old and the new way of planning, there was a significant change in the way the team works

  • The number of coordinators in the preparation process for planning has been reduced.
  • They can now foresee less time for entering planning data into the application.
  • Reduction of work on data entry, previously a larger number of planners participated in the preparation of Excel.

In analyzing the benefits of the new way of planning compared to the old one, we can also mention a few immeasurable benefits, which cannot be evaluated, but nevertheless bring the bank many advantages:

  • User satisfaction with the information solution. Planners find it easier to focus on the content of planning.
  • User confidence in the operation of the application. Planners plan easier and faster based on quality data.
  • Easier access to a wide range of financial plan data.

NKBM can now look forward to establishing various simulations and plans from the top-down and the connection with the analytical tool, and towards taking full advantage of the financial planning tool from a functional point of view. This will lead to even greater efficiency of the planning process, monthly financial evaluations, what-if analyses, and reporting on the implementation of the plan.