For the past five years I have been assisting a well known bank with its restructuring and project management. At the time I joined the bank had just begun some serious cost cutting measures – the big one was retiring their sales force.
All of this was being done using Excel spreadsheets. This sheet was shared across over a dozen employees, with a single main sheet. There was a macro that synchronised all the sheets so a director could see the current state of things. A series of “reports” could then be created
What this meant was that until the macro was run, not a single person had a overall view of the project finances. Also, as there was no auditing, changes were not accounted for and mistakes were not easily correctable by reverting to an older value.
The simple solution to this was to use a centralised financial planning system with auditing capability. Essentially I used a database.
The first version I created was a all Access solution using the standard split database. However once the team size got to fourteen(14) speed became a noticeable issue (to say the least). Not only was it slow to bring up screens, but the complex queries and macros often too very long to run. One process would take twenty-five(25) minutes to run.
The second version uses Oracle and performance greatly improved. All of the complex queries and processes were moved down the server and speed was significant. What took twenty-five minutes to run, now took just around one minute.
The system is essentially a bespoke financial planning & forecasting system, which is project based. So reporting at project level was dead simple. As well each project could have a list of user attributes added to it. So it was then easy to report on all project with a set attribute.
As it is, the software is relatively generic in nature. It should be pretty easy to take this model and move it to another enterprise with minimal tweaks. There are some screen which access data on other systems (to view invoice for example) – these could be made generic obviously.
Could we make this system in a viable business. Could my client take this planning system and market it? I suspect so. It contains some powerful features I’ve not seen in other systems.
And this is the basis of my startup US3 Software to build a new system for the Financial Project Planning & Forecasting system. Something that can centralise the data, provide auditing, Project-level reporting, entity splitting, reporting and connect with tools like PowerPivot to make a simple but very usable tool.
US3 Software a new foray into Project-level Planning & Forecasting tracking those pesky Benefits and Costs and making it easy!