In a media interview that was published by Barron’s in April of 2021, OneStream CEO Tom Shea spoke about the company and described the OneStream platform as “the financial brain for modern business.” This analogy is a powerful way to describe OneStream to non-technical and even non-Finance audiences who are trying to understand what the company does for customers. So I thought it would be interesting to explore this analogy in more detail.
The Human Brain
When Tom said this in the Barron’s interview, he was likening OneStream to the human brain. Think about the role the human brain plays in helping us navigate our daily challenges. First and foremost, the human brain connects everything in the human body – the spine, the nervous system, all the organs, our eyes, our ears, our mouth, our fingers and skin – everything we use to interact with the outside world.
The human brain collects inputs from all these sources, processes it and enables us to function and respond in real-time. And it often does this automatically, without even requiring us to think about it – e.g., when your finger touches a hot surface. Of course, the human brain also has the power to process more complex challenges and problems, apply historic experience and learning, do calculations, play out different scenarios and then act and adjust course as it learns more.
The Financial Brain
Now let’s compare how OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform compares to the human brain. To start, OneStream doesn’t handle all of the activities required to “run” a business – e.g., purchasing and payments, billings and collections, payroll and benefits, supply chain management, manufacturing. OneStream relies on other specialized systems to run these processes, and then collects data from these systems across the enterprise to help Finance and other executives “manage” the business and make informed decisions. The most common data sources are GL/ERP, HCM, CRM, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, data warehouses and other systems.
OneStream can also collect and integrate data from outside sources – such as exchange rates, industry benchmarks and even weather data, which can be aligned with financial and operational data to support decision-making. Thanks to its built-in Financial Data Quality Management capabilities, OneStream doesn’t just collect the data, but it validates, organizes and processes the data as needed to support the task at hand. These tasks include corporate performance management (CPM) processes such as global financial consolidation, strategic planning, financial budgeting, financial and operational forecasting, scenario modeling and analysis.
Built-In Financial Intelligence
Managing complex tasks such as these requires more than just consolidating or aggregating data. OneStream applies its inherent financial intelligence to these processes. That includes understanding of how to handle different types of accounts (e.g., assets, liabilities, income, expenses, statistics), currencies, time periods, intercompany relationships, and ownership structures. This inherent financial intelligence is an important function of the “financial brain” and it’s very impactful to customers since they don’t have to program this logic into the platform – it’s already there, unlike some of the other CPM software platforms in the market.
Understanding the Past – Predicting the Future
Once the data has been processed in OneStream, next comes the reporting and analysis. OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform includes a wide variety of built-in reporting and analysis tools including Cube Views, Guided Reporting, Production Reporting, Interactive Dashboards, Excel and MS Office integration. This enables customers to empower a wide range of users with financial and operational insights, in the format that best meets their needs. This allows users to compare actual results to budget, the latest forecast, prior periods, and do comparative analysis across lines of business.
And with OneStream, users don’t have to wait until month-end or quarter-end to get access to financial and operating results. OneStream enables customers to integrate large volumes of transactional data and blend that with financial data on a daily and weekly basis so users can identify key trends and “financial signals” that enable them to make mid-stream decisions that can impact future results.
And when it comes to forecasting the future, OneStream supports a wide variety of planning processes from long-term, strategic planning to annual budgeting and driver-based rolling forecasts that extend out 12 months or more into the future. And as the “financial brain” for the modern enterprise OneStream allows users to apply advanced Predictive Analytics including built-in statistical forecasting algorithms that can automatically generate forecasts based on historic trends.
These automated forecasts can be used to validate traditional forecasts or can serve as a baseline forecast that can be augmented with additional inputs from decision-makers. These capabilities will be extended with AI and Machine Learning capabilities soon that can handle larger volumes of data and targets and get smarter over time as new data is consumed and analyzed – just like the human brain.
Taking Action – 24/7, 365 Days Per Year
As with the human brain, the purpose of the financial brain is to help organizations take action in order to avoid risks, leverage market opportunities, and lead at speed by quickly adding or reallocating resources in order to optimize performance. This is where OneStream really proves its value. The valuable insights users gain into past performance, what’s happening today, and what future scenarios may look like enables faster, more informed decision-making on a 24/7 basis, 365 days per year.
So what’s the benefit of having a financially intelligent brain such as OneStream collecting data from multiple systems, unifying critical finance processes and available to users in Finance and across lines of business? There are several key benefits here, including the following:
- It allows the organization to unleash the value of the Finance team on the business. Instead of being occupied managing spreadsheets or multiple legacy applications and integrating and reconciling data across systems, the Finance team can spend more time on value added analysis and supporting more effective decision-making across the enterprise.
- It allows Finance teams to empower the enterprise with financial and operational insights. This includes not only producing timely and accurate results at month-end or quarter-end, but empowering managers with key insights on a near real-time basis that allow them to make agile and effective decisions.
- And lastly, the financial brain is designed to evolve and scale to support growth as your organization grows and evolves, whether organically or through acquisition. Just like how the human brain grows and evolves over time, OneStream is designed to grow and evolve with your organization – so you don’t need to upgrade to a new “brain” every 3 – 5 years.
The Financial Brain in Action
Over 700 organizations around the globe are using OneStream as the financial brain for their business. They are collecting data from multiple systems, validating, processing and leveraging the results to support a wide range of processes and business problems, including the following:
- Financial Close, Consolidation and Reporting
- Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting
- Driver-Based Rolling Forecasts
- Management Reporting and Analysis
- Customer and Product Profitability Analysis
- Account Reconciliations and Transaction Matching
- People, Capital, Sales, Cash and Project Planning
- Demand Planning
- Sales and Operations Planning
- Tax Provision and Transfer Pricing/Profit Analysis
- Lease Accounting
- Revenue Recognition
- ESG and Sustainability Reporting
- Daily Financial Signaling on Suppliers, Customers, DSO and Working Capital
- And many others
To learn more, visit our web site and download our Intelligent Finance white paper for a comprehensive overview of OneStream. And contact us if your organization needs a new “financial brain” to replace spreadsheets, legacy applications or cloud point solutions.
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