There are a lot of products designed to fit multiple needs. Marketed as “one-size-fits-all,” they’re created to provide users with comparable features and a similar experience. For manufacturers, they’re often less expensive to produce and easier to sell at one flat rate. For individuals looking for customization, though, they’re not the best choice.
Some technology and software products are described as “one-size-fits-all” or usable “out-of-the-box.” Although this functionality sounds good in practice, applying such products to specific business needs isn’t always so easy.
The Vice President of Finance for a Clinical-stage Biotechnology company in Greater Boston specializing in genetic therapies, found that out firsthand when they first started using the Oracle Cloud EPM Planning solution. Though it’s offered as a configuration framework that can be used out-of-the-box, they weren’t able to fully utilize it for its budgeting or forecasting processes. Even after adding the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Services (PBCS) module, they found it to be extremely clunky.
“Because the out-of-the-box solution was very restrictive and administratively burdensome, we spent too much time going through multiple windows online and copying and pasting data,” the Vice President of Finance explained. “It would take us literally hours to run a report, and that didn’t include any changes necessary during the process.”
Employing Expert Customization to Improve an “Out-of-the-box” Software Solution
Knowing the EPM planning solution wasn’t going to favorably augment his workflow processes, they enlisted the assistance of a former colleague, Nicholas Mann. As founder and CEO of Stratos Consulting, Mann has more than a decade of experience in IT consulting in the Life Science industry and strives to make those professionals’ jobs easier through technology and process improvement.
“When I reached out to Nicholas and told him that we needed a better workforce planning solution, he customized the PBCS module for us and conducted a demo of it. One of the features I liked most about it was that it utilized an Excel interface, which financial planners like me use often. It provided us with the web-based features we prefer while still offering the flexibility of Excel and is scalable for future needs.”
Mann and the Stratos Consulting team have developed multiple custom solutions using forms and input templates that sit on top of the existing Oracle Cloud EPM Planning application. The solution developed includes multiple forms, including a grid input template used to review and update existing employee properties loaded from ADP Streamline Payroll for all departments and one that offers the capability to input allocation percentages by employee across projects.
The custom solution Stratos developed is fully integrated with Oracle Cloud EPM through the Smart View plugin within Microsoft Excel and is a direct connection to the application. It optimizes strategic workforce planning by increasing visibility into how compensation aligns with employee turnover, workforce costs, revenue and more.
Streamlined Processes Resulting in Sizable Time Savings
Stratos Consulting’s solution needed to be implemented quickly to be ready in time for an important board meeting, but the process went smoothly without any hurdles. Even after going through the processes to ensure the transfer of data was secure and the correct access permissions were in place, the project was completed on time.
“I’ve done implementations before, and none have gone as smoothly as this one. I was nervous at first to use it but was surprised how quickly and accurately it happened.”
The customized solution mitigates the need for double entry and allows for the flexibility needed to accommodate the nuances of workforce planning. Under the previous system, it took almost three hours for the data to process once all the information was entered, and last-minute changes were difficult to navigate, especially with often buggy interfaces. Now, the process is “100% faster.”
“It has saved us days compared to the old process and enables us to simultaneously perform both current-year and long-range workforce planning. Instead of only high-level planning, we’re able to plan by employee, giving us more visibility and providing us with more analytics on what’s going on in the business.”
Along with the revamped solution, our Client appreciates that the Stratos Consulting professionals are solution-oriented and aim to please their clients but don’t overpromise and underdeliver. The Vice President of Finance explains, “They’re more than consultants. They’re thought partners.”