FP&A Committed Spend Reporting: From Excel to Tableau

Time is money, and that’s especially true in the business world. Processes and procedures that are time-consuming typically become cost-prohibitive unless they’re able to be streamlined through technology and other methods.

That was certainly the case for a pharmaceutical company established in the mid-1980s. Its financial planning & analysis (FP&A) team was tasked with creating all its visuals in Microsoft Excel and consolidating committed spend data with actual/forecast scenarios, a process prone to data mapping errors.

To address this ineffective workflow and replace offline Excel reports for Committed Spend visualizations and analytics, the FP&A team initiated a project to provide access to the Committed Spend data set via Tableau dashboards. The primary objective was threefold: to source Committed Spend data set into Tableau through a manual flat file process; to align the Committed Spend data set with FDW Consolidated data set to streamline reporting in Tableau; and to define processes for building Committed Spend visualizations and dashboards in Tableau.

A Successful Collaboration

Because Stratos Consulting had been the company’s successful Tableau engagement partner for more than a year, its team of integration experts was chosen to spearhead the new project. According to the manager of the pharma business’s FP&A team, “Stratos provides a level of support and knowledge that has been key to successfully implementing our platform. In addition to providing us with overall guidance, they’ve assisted us with best practice formatting and visual options for our dashboard.”

The Stratos team had multiple responsibilities during this project, including creating a Committed Spend Tableau data source and defining processes for integrating it with the FDW Consolidated data source. The consultants also created project documentation, facilitated workshops and meetings to resolve any questions or concerns about the project and provided guidance on the pharmaceutical company’s Tableau environment as needed.

The Value of Time

The new availability of the FP&A team’s Committed Spend data set in Tableau has resulted in numerous benefits for the pharma business, such as being able to showcase the platform to the rest of the company, demonstrating the value the team is providing and increasing user adoption of the platform. It has saved the company multiple hours of time each month, driving the value of the new Tableau platform even further.

The new and improved processes the pharmaceutical company has through Tableau have saved the FP&A team hours of manual effort and provided more of a self-service experience for the business. The new platform also ensures accuracy of mapping and gives them a more enhanced visual experience.

“Stratos takes the time to understand the underlying data before making assumptions or providing guidance,” explained the pharmaceutical company’s FP&A manager. “That foundational step is what sets Stratos apart from other consultants – along with the passion and patience each member of the team portrays on every project. I would 110 percent recommend Stratos Consulting to my industry peers.”