As a public company, easyJet must comply with rigorous disclosure requirements. How could it deliver accurate, timely information to markets and investors, while reducing workload for reporting teams?
easyJet has upgraded to a cloud-based disclosure management platform from IBM, which integrates data from ERP and finance systems directly into the company’s external reporting templates.
Savestime by reducing the need to edit reports and check for errors manually
Enablesautomated generation of new report types, such as investor slides
Reducesmaintenance and administration costs with a flexible cloud delivery model
Business challenge story
Solving the “last mile” of external reporting
As one of Europe's leading low-cost airlines, easyJet's chief operational focus is to deliver low fares and operational efficiency on point-to-point routes, with its people making the difference by offering friendly service to its customers.
At the same time, as a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: EZJ) and a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, easyJet must also ensure that its shareholders are confident in its leadership, and that it maintains its reputation for transparency and financial integrity.
To this end, easyJet must produce a wide range of external financial statements and reports. The need to deliver this varied portfolio of reports to the board, investors, auditors, analysts and other stakeholders puts the group reporting team under significant time-pressure, particularly at periods such as year-end and half-year.
Gail Butler, Head of Group Reporting at easyJet, explains: “Among other outputs, we need to provide the financial statement and financial review sections of the annual report, a report for the audit committee, and slides for analysts, both for the whole group and for four subsidiaries. To ensure that these reports are accurate, we need to take great care that the latest financial figures from our back-end systems are represented correctly—and updated consistently whenever something changes.”
To help with this “last mile” of the reporting process—integrating the figures from the company’s Agresso ERP system and IBM® Cognos® TM1® financial planning platform into the final reporting templates—easyJet was relying on a disclosure management solution called IBM Cognos Financial Statement Reporting.
Emma Butcher, IT Project Manager at easyJet, comments: “Our existing solution had served us well for several years. Instead of having to copy-and-paste figures from spreadsheets into the final reports, it provided a direct link between our financial systems and updated the figures directly whenever they changed.
“However, the solution was beginning to show its age, and IBM was encouraging users to upgrade to its next-generation solution, IBM Cognos Disclosure Management. We saw this as an opportunity to migrate to a more robust platform that offered new features—as well as offering us the ability to reduce cost, risk and complexity by moving the solution into the cloud.”
Taking advantage of the latest disclosure management technology
When easyJet decided to go ahead with its move to IBM Cognos Disclosure Management on Cloud, the project team knew it had a narrow window of opportunity.
Emma Butcher recalls: “We only had a few months to get the new solution into production before our year-end in September. It was important not only to get the software in place, but also to build up our in-house team’s skills: one of the shortcomings of the previous solution was that we only had one expert in our reporting team who understood its inner workings. We were determined not to run that risk again, so we worked closely with IBM to gain the know-how.”
Gail Butler adds: “The way we worked with the IBM team was very successful—they were very flexible. We had their consultants on-site for a week at the beginning to help us get started with rolling forward our reporting templates from the old solution. Then they came in periodically to make sure we were still on course, and give us additional training when required. We involved our whole team in the transition, and, as a result, all five people have now become expert users.”
Moving from the old on-premise solution to the new cloud platform has also helped to simplify IT service management, as Emma Butcher explains: “The cloud option means that we don’t have the risk and maintenance costs of having physical hardware on-premise. IBM also handles patches and updates, so our IT team can focus on more important priorities. We also expect the cloud version of the software will be easier to integrate with other elements of our IT landscape, such as IBM Cognos TM1, in the future.”
Getting fast results
easyJet successfully completed its migration to the new solution ahead of its September deadline, and its reporting team was able to complete the company’s year-end disclosures successfully, on schedule.
“We have always had a very tight timeframe for year-end reporting,” comments Gail Butler. “Whilst this timeframe remains tight, through the use of IBM Cognos Disclosure Management, we have made the whole year-end reporting process much smoother.”
In the easyJet team’s opinion, one of the most important advantages of the solution is the fact that it allows them to prepare for a busy reporting period ahead of time, by setting up the reporting templates in advance. As soon as the consolidated year-end or half-year financial figures are available, the integration between IBM Cognos Disclosure Management and the company’s back-end systems populates these reporting templates automatically—giving the reporting team more time to focus on other aspects of the process, instead of spending hours inserting, reviewing and correcting the numbers.
Gail Butler comments: “Before I joined easyJet, I worked as an auditor, and I saw companies trying to produce their annual reports manually, using spreadsheets. It was a hugely time-consuming and error-prone process. Considering the tight timeframes that we work with today, it would be hard to deliver on schedule using these manual processes.”
The new solution also expands the range of options available for reporting outputs, helping easyJet automate additional aspects of its reporting processes. For example, integration with Microsoft PowerPoint makes it possible to create slide decks that easyJet provides for industry analysts—a task that was previously done manually
Gail Butler concludes: “This project wasn’t motivated by return on investment, but now that we have the solution in place, we’re seeing opportunities to use it in other areas of the business. For example, our monthly management reports are mostly manual at the moment, and we could potentially streamline that process significantly by moving it into Cognos Disclosure Management. The more time we can give back to our analysts to do real analysis, rather than just crunching numbers, the more value we can add to the business.”
easyJet is a European airline that uses its cost advantage and favorable network positions in strong markets to deliver low fares and operational efficiency on point-to-point routes, while offering friendly service to customers. The company’s sustainable business model aims to make travel easy and affordable, while driving growth and returns for shareholders.
- Cognos Disclosure Management
- T&T: Operations Planning and Optimization
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