March 15, 2022   //   Business Consulting Podcast   //   By PKF Mueller Solutions

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In this podcast, we introduce you to business intelligence and the role of a Financial Performance Management (FPM) system, taking you through the struggles that finance departments often face and how LucaNet, a FPM solution, can help make sense of your financial data.

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Episode transcript:

[00:00:00] Emily: Hi everyone. You’re listening to the PKF Mueller Podcast, Business Owner’s Guide: Tips, Trends, and Talks from a CPA. I’m Emily, and today we welcome Director of Consulting Services, Danielle Roberts, to introduce us to LucaNet, a Financial Performance Management (FPM) software. But before we begin, let’s do a quick introduction of our guest.

Danielle, CPA, MSAF, and certified LucaNet professional joined PKF Mueller in 2015 and has six years of public and four years of private industry experience. Presently, she provides consulting, outsourced accounting, and business advisory services such as budgeting and forecasting to small mid-market privately owned firms spearheading the firm’s business intelligence solutions group, where her areas of expertise include implementation, integration and customization of LucaNet software.

Thank you, Danielle, for joining our podcast today.

And with that, let’s get into the questions… Let’s pretend that I’m a business owner or CFO of a said business. And my finance department is having some trouble making sense of our financial data. What’s the issue in that and is there a solution?

[00:01:24] Danielle: That’s a good question, Emily. So often in our experience, the processes within a finance department are usually very complex.

Um, they can be time-consuming, and they’re usually not streamlined. Understanding your financial data can be a cumbersome task, especially if you don’t have data transparency within the systems. You know, typically with a lot of our clients, we see that there are various systems deployed within their organization and often they don’t speak to each other.

So, finance teams spend too much time on gathering data manually entering data or et cetera, just to compile their financial statements, to develop their budget, their forecast, their projection, or to just, you know, create some sort of ad hoc reporting that’s required. And it really takes the focus away from analyzing the data and making sure that management has the ability to make timely, valuable decisions.

So of course, there are solutions, you know, aside from the simple time management, right? Um, there are also different systems that you can deploy within the organization. There are different, um, tasks you can perform to start getting down that right path. First, you would take a data inventory, make sure you understand which systems you have, which ones are mission critical to your organization and understanding the reporting that’s required from each of those and how those impact your financials.

From there, you really have to choose and implement the right technology. You know, the right technology in your organization is key to success. Introducing something like a financial performance management system allows the company to spend more time analyzing the data rather than, you know, compiling or validating it.

[00:03:08] Emily: Tell me a little more about the benefits of using an FPM solution.

[00:03:13] Danielle: Sure. So, an FPM solution really takes the work of the finance department and automates a lot of those transactions. So, you take a system like LucaNet, for example, and LucaNet takes the financial data from various ERP systems, accounting platforms, et cetera, and automates that data collection for a single point of truth.

And LucaNet also provides some sort of transparency within the data so you can see exactly where the data comes from, what has been altered, what has been changed. You can automate your intercompany reconciliations between your different subsidiaries, you know, and really streamline a lot of those cumbersome tasks.

LucaNet also helps, um, conform to general accounting rules and many of these jurisdictions that we, as PKF deal with, you have, you know, IFRS, US GAAP, German GAAP, et cetera. And while you’re trying to manage all these different components of, you know, your finances, you, you need something that’s also user-friendly, it has a quick implementation and really an overall lower total cost of ownership.

[00:04:20] Emily: Those seem like pretty good things, but what would you say are some of the key differentials of LucaNet as opposed to other FPM solutions?

[00:04:28] Danielle: As an accountant, the main differential I see with LucaNet is that LucaNet really was developed by finance and accounting professionals for accounting and finance professionals.

And this is really key when you’re talking about all sorts of accounting and finance professionals within an organization, both external, whether your it’s your auditors or internal, whether it’s your FPNA (fellow professional national accountant) person, your CFO, et cetera. And this really allows the system within LucaNet to address concerns at various complexities.

You have those single companies that just need to use LucaNet for a budget, but then you also have the very large complex organizations that have to deal with their carve-out financial statements. There’s a really small learning curve and as I mentioned before, it’s user-friendly, it’s really out-of-the-box as a solution.

Yes, there are some configurations, there is an implementation that takes place, but a lot of it is standardized, so we can move through that implementation very quickly. And it already has those best practices built in the system, as I mentioned.

The user really can be empowered within the system to create their reports, to perform their analysis, and really utilize LucaNet to its full extent without needing external assistance every time.

[00:05:43] Emily: It’s clear you have a really great understanding of LucaNet. So, tell me about PKF Mueller’s involvement with LucaNet.

[00:05:51] Danielle: Yeah. So, we have actually been working with LucaNet since I think 2017 when I first started using it internally. And since then, we’ve become a LucaNet certified implementation partner (and most recently, a Certified Global Partner). We provide implementations, consulting, maintenance, and support to all of their clients in North America.

And that really allows us to provide the best quality service for our clients. Not only are they getting the technical implementation or the technical consulting, but they’re getting a full resource of CPAs behind that as well. When we have clients with certain complexities come up, they can often reach out to us directly while we’re doing the consulting, or while we’re doing the implementation to handle some of those, you know, accounting changes, whether that be PPA adjustments or, you know, something simple as a reclassification or something.

[00:06:42] Emily: Now, you touched on implementation again just now. So, what does a typical LucaNet implementation look like for someone trying to determine if they even have the capacity to bring on an FPM solution.

[00:06:55] Danielle: Sure. So, with LucaNet ,we really try to focus on two different implementation approaches.

And with those approaches we take into consideration the capacity and the internal resources that the client has. You know, sometimes we have a client that would like to have an FPM solution, but they just do not have the capacity to take on a full implementation that would require them to be in every meeting to do all of the setup, et cetera.

So, we have these two different options. We have the full consulting method, which is just that they basically outsource the entire implementation to us and, you know, that requires a little bit of upfront time from their point. They have to answer questions, provide, you know, financial statements or maybe have a few meetings, but then really the bulk of it is done by our LucaNet consultants.

We’ll set up the database, we make sure all the historical data is in there. We validate the data, we really get it up and running so that they can take it. And when the handoff occurs, you know, typically, they can start running those reports and moving onto the next period very quickly.

We also have the coaching method. The coaching method really allows the client to take ownership and accountability of their implementation.

The LucaNet consultants do the basic setup of the, you know, the integration and the database itself, but then we train the users, the key users within the organization to really do the rest of the implementation — all of the structure, setups, the report building and the, the data imports, all of those little components that we would typically do in the full consulting method. They would really learn it.

And at the end of the day, that is typically best practice because the users really have a great understanding of the system and how to use it to its full capacity.

[00:08:44] Emily: Well, Danielle, thank you so much. I think that was a really nice overview of why an FPM solution and why LucaNet. I think you painted a really great picture of some of the issues finance departments face day-to-day and where LucaNet comes into play. But if any of our listeners still have any questions or simply want to learn more, how might they be able to reach you?

[00:09:07] Danielle: Sure, you can reach me at +1 847 649 8848 or feel free to email me at droberts@pkfmueller.com.

[00:09:17] Emily: Thank you again for joining our podcast, Danielle.

[00:09:19] Danielle: Thank you for having me, Emily.

[00:09:21] Emily: And thank you to our listeners. Don’t forget to visit us at www.pkfmueller.com to learn more about all of our firm’s services.

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