Mazars wanted to find a more effective way to keep track of the profitability of each of its business activities and monitor the performance and productivity of each team across its entire international business.
Mazars implemented a Planning Analytics solution to establish a robust and reliable platform for group financial and HR reporting — delivering greater insight into its global operations and enabling growth.
Saves timeby eliminating complex data consolidation tasks
Improves data qualitycontributing to more detailed reports
Empowers senior staffto make better-informed decisions
Business challenge story
Gaining a clearer view
One of the most difficult challenges of running an international company is keeping track of the financial and operational performance of each department. Mazars, a firm recognized around the world for its audit, accountancy, tax and legal advisory services, understands the complexities involved in producing timely and insightful reports.
Pierre-Yves Bouis, IT Project Manager at Mazars, explains: “We regularly generate a wide range of reports, including profit and loss [P&L] statements, monthly comparisons between our actuals and budgets as well as ad hoc reports, to help us continually monitor the financial health of our operations. We also ask each international office to report key HR data, such as the number of billable hours worked by each employee. As a leading financial advisory firm, it is essential that we maintain excellent standards across all our reporting activities.”
Mazars currently operates in over 86 countries and adds an average of five new countries to its network each year. The company found that collecting and consolidating data for critical group-wide financial reports was becoming increasingly time-consuming.
“We lacked a standardized system for collecting data from each of our global divisions,” continues Bouis. “Each country would send their financial data to our group finance office in slightly different spreadsheet formats. Team members in our offices would then spend up to three days consolidating and manually inputting this data into our financial reporting tool. We also found that without a unified system for collecting key data, the quality of the data we received varied between each regional office.”
The group finance department at Mazars also spent a significant amount of time building reports using spreadsheets, due to limitations in its existing reporting system. Moreover, as the company grew and data volumes increased, the system was struggling to deliver results fast enough to meet business needs.
Bouis says: “Many of our evening batch processes would run into the morning of the following working day. We recognized that if we could establish a harmonized system for financial consolidation across our global divisions, we could significantly improve our reporting activities, boost efficiency and build a more detailed picture of our global operations.”
Enhanced analytics capabilities
To drive rapid, efficient financial reporting, Mazars decided to upgrade its analytics capabilities and establish a central system that would make it easier for each of its global divisions to share data.
“We have been using IBM technology to support our reporting function for over a decade and we’ve been pleased with the results,” says Bouis. “So, when we ran a request for proposal to find the analytics technology that would satisfy our needs, we were not surprised to see IBM come out on top once again.”
Engaging IBM Business Partner Aexis, Mazars decided to upgrade its existing IBM Cognos® TM1® analytics platform to the Planning Analytics solution, hosted in a third-party cloud environment.
Bouis continues: “The self-service capabilities of IBM Planning Analytics really stood out for us, along with the improved dashboarding and visualization capabilities. We saw the potential to streamline our reporting activities and improve the flow of information throughout our business. What’s more, we knew that IBM Planning Analytics would easily integrate with our existing IBM Cognos Analytics solution.”
With support from Aexis, Mazars built a budgeting tool using Planning Analytics software that enables the company to compare quarterly budget figures with monthly actuals. Aexis also helped the company establish a financial consolidation application, so senior managers from each division around the world can input data to produce group-wide financial reports easily and conveniently.
Bouis adds: “We decided to work with Aexis because they offer excellent, responsive support and have a deep understanding of our business. What’s more, because our IT division is located in France, we wanted a partner who could communicate with us in French. As a local partner, we can quickly and easily raise any communication issues with Aexis and resolve problems rapidly.”
Looking ahead, Mazars is considering integrating its analytics solutions with collaboration solutions such as the IBM Watson® Workspace platform, to evolve knowledge-sharing even further.
Rapid, reliable analytics
Since upgrading its analytics function by implementing the Planning Analytics solution, Mazars has eliminated time-consuming manual consolidation tasks from its financial reporting processes and improved the quality of its data. With more detailed and timely reports on the financial performance of each of its divisions, senior staff can make even better decisions.
Bouis comments: “Because each of our regional divisions around the world can input data directly into IBM Planning Analytics, our group finance team no longer need to spend days manually consolidating different spreadsheets and integrating these numbers into the system. As a result, they can now consolidate data and generate reports in just a few hours.
“We have also seen secondary benefits from having a single central system for our financial and HR data. For instance, each country is now sending its data to us more promptly, because it is much simpler for them to submit this information. In addition, we have seen the quality of our data greatly improve since upgrading to IBM Planning Analytics, and onboarding new regional offices is now much easier.”
With the Planning Analytics solution providing a single platform for reporting activities, decision-makers and senior staff at Mazars now have a much clearer picture of the financial performance and productivity of each of its regional offices.
Bouis concludes: “IBM Planning Analytics makes it much more convenient for us to share information with senior stakeholders. We can extract and create intuitive dashboards and share them using Cognos Analytics with key decision makers via email. With fast access to easily digestible financial data, executives can make more informed decisions and drive global strategies designed to help Mazars grow and develop.”
Operating in 86 countries, Mazars is an international, integrated and independent organization, specializing in audit, accountancy, tax, legal and advisory services.
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