Cube had all the functionality I was looking for, it felt very comfortable because it's Excel native. It was absolutely a no-brainer.
- Achieved data accuracy & control: Cube’s advanced version control capabilities ensured accuracy and consistency across all budget versions, eliminating the confusion and errors that were rampant with their previous Excel-based system.
- Budgetary insight: Cube’s drill-down capability allowed BlueWind to delve into specific line items, examine underlying data, and understand the factors driving budget variances.
- Collaboration & communication: Cube allowed for seamless tracking of changes so Michaelis and his team could maintain a single, authoritative version of the budget at all times. It also made it easier to compare different budget iterations, ensuring that all department heads and board members were always reviewing and approving the correct version of the budget.
It was like trying to fit square pegs into round holes," Michaelis reflects. "We had a crappy Excel roll-up, and attempting to align these disjointed pieces was a recurring nightmare.
Living in a version control nightmare
BlueWind Medical, a pioneer in developing a groundbreaking medical device, is a testament to innovation and dedication. However, beneath the surface of their medical achievements, the company struggled with internal financial management challenges that threatened to impede their progress.
Allen Michaelis, the Senior Director of Finance who stepped into his role in December 2022, was quick to spot the critical issues stifling the company’s financial efficiency. BlueWind's primary struggle was with their budgeting tools, predominantly Excel, which led to what Michaelis describes as a "version control nightmare." The company’s dependence on Excel for complex financial tasks resulted in inefficiencies and inaccuracies, hindering its ability to perform effective financial analysis and budget iterations.
Delving deeper into the problem, Michaelis observed that each department within BlueWind operated with its unique, non-standardized budgeting template. This lack of uniformity created a chaotic environment where consolidating these diverse templates into a cohesive financial plan was exceptionally challenging.
The realization of these issues came to light during routine budget reviews and updates. Situations where approved budgets presented to the board were met with surprise by department heads due to changes unknown to them, were not uncommon.
It became clear to Michaelis and his team that they needed a system that could not only streamline their budgeting process but also provide a platform for efficient data collection and give budget stakeholders a sense of ownership.
Upgrading financial management with Cube
The need for a more efficient solution led Michaelis to explore various options, including Vena. However, Cube stood out with its Excel-native interface, robust drill-down features, and efficient version control.
"Cube had all the functionality I was looking for," Michaelis explains. "It felt very comfortable because it's Excel native. It was absolutely a no-brainer at that point."
Key features that appealed to BlueWind included:
- Enhanced version control: Cube’s advanced version control capabilities ensured accuracy and consistency across all budget versions, eliminating the confusion and errors that were rampant with their previous Excel-based system. Cube allowed for seamless tracking of changes so Michaelis and his team could maintain a single, authoritative version of the budget at all times. It also made it easier to compare different budget iterations, ensuring that all department heads and board members were always reviewing and approving the correct version of the budget.
- Comprehensive drill-down capability: Cube’s drill-down capability allowed BlueWind to delve into specific line items, examine underlying data, and understand the factors driving budget variances. It empowered them to conduct thorough analyses, uncover hidden trends, and make data-driven decisions. This level of detail was particularly crucial for a company like BlueWind Medical, where every financial decision could significantly impact their medical device development.
- Uniform templates: With everyone working on the same template, it became easier to consolidate departmental budgets into a comprehensive company-wide financial plan. It also improved communication and understanding among department heads, as they were now using a common language and format for all financial processes.
“As soon as we began the onboarding process, I was proven totally correct that we made the right decision choosing Cube."
It’s changed our business and allowed us to plan for the future and be much more conscious of our spending in a way that simply didn't exist before.
Greater financial insights, cost savings, collaboration
Here are some of the key benefits Michaelis and the BlueWind team experienced:
- Streamlined re-forecasting and budgeting processes: BlueWind has been able to conduct two major re-forecastings within a year—a task previously unfeasible. This newfound capability led to significant discoveries, such as unplanned expenses, allowing for proactive financial adjustments.
- Enhanced budgetary insight and control: With Cube, monthly budget vs. actuals (BVA) reports became a norm, providing department heads with a clear understanding of their budget status. This regular insight significantly improved departmental spending decisions. Michaelis notes, "Having a monthly snapshot of our budget has really helped department heads manage their resources more effectively."
- Cost savings and resource optimization: Cube’s efficiency saved BlueWind from having to make additional hires to keep up with the workload—an expense that would have cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars. "Cube has literally saved us from having to hire one, two, three people, which is money we simply didn't have," Michaelis states.
- Improved collaboration and communication: With everyone working from the same template and data set, misunderstandings were minimized, and financial discussions became more productive.