Karnov Group has become a leader in both the Danish and Swedish markets for legal information services—but the company’s rapid growth was putting pressure on its many spreadsheet-based finance processes.
Working with Kapacity, Karnov Group used IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud to re-engineer its financial consolidation, budgeting and planning processes, introducing greater automation and transparency, and reducing manual spreadsheet work.
Automatesfinance processes, enabling faster month-end closing and shorter budget cycles
Boostsscalability and provides Karnov Group with a system that supports continued growth
Increasestransparency and consistency, improving auditability
Business challenge story
Modernizing to support a fast-growing business
Karnov Group is an example of a business that has weathered the storms of disruption, and come out stronger than ever before. Founded over 150 years ago as a publishing house for the legal industry, the organization realized in the early 2000s that it needed to refocus its business model around an online future. Today, the company is the largest digital information services provider for legal professionals in both Sweden and Denmark.
Kasper Andersen, Business Intelligence Manager at Karnov Group, comments: “Our pivot into digital services has been highly successful, and the company’s growth is accelerating. Over the past two years, we have grown significantly both organically and through acquisitions.”
Success brings its own challenges: with a larger, more complex organization to oversee, Karnov Groups finance team began to find that its existing financial analytics and reporting processes could not scale to meet the growing demands from internal and external stakeholders.
“Our headquarters are in Copenhagen, but legally we are a Swedish corporation, owned by a British equity fund,” says Kasper Andersen. “We have currency effects and intercompany effects to deal with, and we need to report to management, to the board of directors, to our banks, and to our owners in London”
“The complexity is growing all the time, and yet our goal is to close our books faster and faster every month. We had reached a point where there were only two options: either find a way to automate some of our financial processes, or face the fact that we would need to keep hiring additional people as the business grew.”
The company identified two areas where its existing processes were particularly strained: budgeting and financial consolidation.
“Every fall, we emailed spreadsheet budgeting templates to all our company managers. When they sent back their input, we had to consolidate the data in a larger spreadsheet and manually load it into our finance system. It was a huge manual task, and it was no fun to be a Business Controller,” says Kasper Andersen.
“We did financial consolidation and reporting in spreadsheets too, and reached a point where the spreadsheet models were just too big, and too complicated. We wanted a more auditable system that would reduce the time spent on preparing and reconciling the figures. The goal was to focus our resources on increasing the quality of financial analytics and reporting, and free up resources for finance business support.”
Taking a best-of-breed approach
While Karnov Group’s finance team pondered its next steps, the company was in the midst of a major project to build a new central data warehouse that would support new analytics capabilities for the whole business.
“The data warehouse was a vital enabler,” says Kasper Andersen. “It gave us a very well-organized and high-quality source of data that we could use to build our new financial analytics and reporting processes.”
The company has adopted a best-of-breed approach to its analytics landscape, which means that it is not locked into a single vendor or family of products.
“Essentially, when we looked for a new financial planning and analytics solution, we had a free choice,” says Kasper Andersen. “We selected IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud because of its flexible subscription-based pricing plan, and the proven performance of its TM1® analytics engine, which has had a very good reputation in the market for many years.”
To help implement the solution, Karnov Group chose Kapacity, an IBM Business Partner that specializes in business intelligence, performance management, data warehousing, and advanced analytics.
“Kapacity is well known in Denmark as a strong partner for financial analytics projects, so the opportunity to work with them influenced our choice as much as the technology did,” says Kasper Andersen. “During the project, we worked with some excellent senior consultants from Kapacity, who had the right experience to help us deliver on the project successfully.”
Another key success factor was Karnov Group’s focus on detailed preparation before the implementation began.
Matilde Dueholm, Account Manager for the Advanced Analytics practice at Kapacity, comments: “We were impressed by the very professional way that the Karnov team had planned out the project, and their high level of engagement throughout the project.
“Our consultants really enjoyed working with the Karnov Group team because they really know their numbers, they had a solid data architecture in place from the beginning, and they have big ambitions for Planning Analytics going forward—so it has been a very interesting project to work on.”
Kasper Andersen adds: “We’re not finished with our Planning Analytics implementation, but we already know it’s a success. The next phase includes forecasting, and from what we’ve seen already, we’re completely confident that the platform can deliver what we expect from it.”
Transforming the efficiency of financial analytics
Karnov Group is already using IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud to streamline its budgeting and consolidation processes—creating simpler, more automated workflows both for cost center managers across the business, and for the group finance team.
Today, when the company embarks on a new budget cycle, the cost center managers can enter their figures directly into the Planning Analytics system via a web interface. This removes the need to circulate spreadsheets by email. Figures are instantly validated to improve data quality, and many fields can be calculated automatically, saving time and reducing the amount of data that users need to input manually.
From the perspective of the finance team, the tedious, error-prone task of collating budget figures into a master spreadsheet has been eliminated: IBM Planning Analytics rolls up the numbers and provides immediate updates. It is also easy to see which cost center managers have submitted their figures and which need to be reminded. This saves time on follow-up emails and phone calls.
“Since this is the first time we have used Planning Analytics for our budget, we spent a lot of time validating the accuracy of the new system says Kasper Andersen. “But now that we’re confident in the process, we expect to save a huge amount of time during our next budget cycle.”
Planning Analytics has also transformed the company’s financial consolidation process, accelerating its month-end close and ensuring that decision-makers get the insight they need, fast.
“We’re already seeing our monthly consolidated financial figures several days earlier than we did before,” says Kasper Andersen. “It’s giving us speed, stability and confidence in the numbers. We’re consolidating financial numbers from across the group in a much more structured and auditable way, so we have greater confidence in the results. That means we can spend less time checking the figures, and more time on real financial analysis.”
Looking to the immediate future, the Karnov Group finance team is currently in the process of moving its financial forecasting processes over to IBM Planning Analytics too.
Kasper Andersen concludes: “Our current forecasting process is quite laborious, so controllers find it hard to create forecasts fast enough to provide the financial outlook we need for the future. For Karnov Group Planning Analytics will become a prerequisite for faster and more regular forecasting.”
About Karnov Group
Karnov Group is Scandinavia’s largest supplier of information solutions for professionals in the areas of legal, tax, and accounting. The company delivers knowledge and insights that enable more than 40,000 users to make better decisions, faster—every day. With offices in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Malmø, Karnov Group employs 230 people.
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