With annual revenue estimated by Forbes at $266 million and operating income of $42.8 million, the Arizona Cardinals has plenty to budget. Last week I caught up with Justin Saltzman, accounting manager for the Cardinals to find out how they're getting on two years into running Adaptive for budgeting.
The first thing I learned is that the Cardinals have 30 budget holders contributing to the master budget. These split into 10 for football operations e.g. trainer, scouting, players. The remainder cover different sales and marketing activities, legal, finance and media relations. In other words everything except spend related to the players themselves. That's managed outside Adaptive.
The Cardinals are now in their second year of running Adaptive but what was it like at the beginning?
Prior to taking on Adaptive, we did a transition to a driver operated spreadsheet so were in a good place before we took on the new solution. It took us three and a half months to do the implementation. We ran classrooms with test environments so that could be confident most managers could run the system.
Switching away from spreadsheets is often a difficult task. There are many reasons for this but Saltzman says that the managers were sold on the basis of improved time to feedback and a better sense of control over their budget forecasts. So what were the outcomes?
I'd say that 80% of managers have full confidence in themselves and that leads to far less reliance from finance. It sounds cliched but the managers have greater autonomy and power to run their business.
The Cardinals have achieved additional results:
Consolidating the information is the biggest steps. It would take days to take the revised sheets and review. Now it’s available online, easily updated and reported upon within hours. This enable managers to make more sound decisions. There's less time spent on procedural reports which means managers have more of an opportunity to review before the budget reports get to us. Everyone gets insight into what’s planned. Our budget culmination used to take three to four weeks. Now down to one or two weeks.
While the Cardinals experience easily makes the case for getting out of spreadsheet hell, reporting has not been such a great experience. At least it wasn't until Adaptive's Office Connect was brought online.
Reporting was a bit limited but with Office Connect coming out, it resolves the problems we have. The current environment for report building is trying - there’s a lot of trial and error as you build the report book. Office Connect changes that. As you add dimensions and attributes the touch and taste of the report is built as you go and you can see it on screen. We can take an existing Excel template, connect it direct via the cloud to the Adaptive system and cash refresh. It's pretty much click and go.