Professional services firm Piper Alderman needed budgeting and management reporting capability that complemented their practice-management system, Aderant Expert.
Piper Alderman is a full-service, commercial law firm with offices across Australia. The firm is committed to continual excellence in the practice of law, having been leading advisers to commercial interests across Australia for over 160 years. Piper Alderman’s success has seen it consistently ranked as one of Australia’s leading law firms and independently recognised as an outstanding legal provider.
In this interview with Piper’s Director of Finance, Tobias Crush, we discuss, their experiences with Naked Data, and how they’ve found Jedox for budgeting and management reporting.
Naked Data: How did you first hear about Jedox?
Tobias Crush, Director of Finance, Piper Alderman: I was looking at different cube-based technologies. I was aware of SQL-Server Analysis Services and I was looking for Finance-friendly products to meet our requirements. A key criteria was a user-interface with Excel, so we could Excel as an interaction and presentation layer.
Naked Data: So Jedox’s Excel interface was a strong point?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Yes, and the team has found Jedox very easy to use.
Naked Data: I believe that initially the IT department were more in favour of a Microsoft-centric solution?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Yes. The core skills in the IT team are Microsoft based. We did evaluate products that required us to first develop cubes in SQL Server / Analysis Services before we could use them. But running on SQL Server needed IT-technicians to make changes. For us, we needed a solution Finance could manage, without placing more dependency, or burden, on our IT. Jedox meant that if we needed to make changes, we could do it ourselves without putting a request in to IT. So our Jedox environment quietly sits there and does what we need it to do. It’s definitely low-maintenance from our IT team’s perspective.
Naked Data: You started with a Jedox Bootcamp. When Naked Data came in for the Bootcamp, what was your impression?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Really good. Naked Data came up with good solutions, put a lot of thought into how we could do things, how we could move forward. It was a really good experience. We’ve done more since, and we can still do even more. We’ve chipped the top of the iceberg, and we’ve not gotten down to water level yet.
Naked Data: Who was involved initially?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Our IT guys provided us with a server environment, then we connected to our Finance/Practice Management system (Aderant Expert) and created a financials cube. Then our finance manager also got hands-on checking data and setting up reports.
Naked Data: Was it easy for everyone to pick up initially?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Yes, people caught on immediately. A comment I’ve heard outside my office is “I love Jedox”.
Naked Data: What is it about Jedox that your staff enjoy so much?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Jedox is easy and flexible. There are many things in Excel that you can’t do with just a pivot-table, in that you can move your data around and format it exactly how you want it without manual manipulation. Jedox gives us that flexibility to manage how the data is presented and structured. Working through Excel is a familiar environment, so you don’t have to learn a new way of doing things.
Naked Data: What are some differences that Jedox has made?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Jedox has made reporting financials from our GL a lot more flexible and easier to manage. Jedox has saved a lot of time in the preparation phase. If we want to tweak something or change how we look at it, it’s really easy to do that. Before Jedox, it was quite an exercise – it wasn’t really easy to manage or be sure we had the right output, we had to open a manual every time we wanted to change something. Now with Jedox we’re much more confident, and it means that there is skills shared across the team rather than in one person.
Naked Data: Has there been anything that you didn’t originally envision using Jedox for?Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Originally we just planned to use Jedox for GL reporting. We then decided to use Jedox to replace our old budgeting tool. Jedox made our budgeting process a lot easier to manage and more flexible, which we hadn’t envisioned earlier.
Naked Data: How did you find the project management on implementation?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: My experience in working with the Naked Data team has been very good. I found Basecamp [Project Collaboration tool] was beneficial for sharing documents, everyone was more than happy to communicate openly, if they weren’t onsite, on the phone. It was easy to pick up the phone and ask questions, from our end. Overall, I was very impressed with the way the guys ran the project. From my perspective it was a good experience, and when we’ve got support, it has continued to be a good experience.
Naked Data: Did the implementation exceed expectations?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: Yes, it was good to see the goals were achieved. It made life so much easier. It didn’t take long to get together the reports that we wanted and use. It really was a pretty painless exercise by comparison to what we’d been doing.
Naked Data: Are there other uses you have planned?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: At the moment, we have a profit sharing scheme that has historically been spreadsheet-based. Using Jedox for partner point entitlements and distributions, is a no-brainer, and we can estimate this in advance. We’d also like to be able to take some of the analysis we’ve done in Finance and share this in ways partners can easily understand through dashboards. From our budgeting perspective, another area is adding more HR data to enhance our expenses allocation methodology as well. We’ve also created new templates that non-finance people can use, so that we can show people where their budget is at, where they need to modify it, where they need to bring it on target.
Naked Data: Any last thoughts?
Tobias Crush, Piper Alderman: I had high hopes when we purchased the solution. When you start working with a new firm, you’re never entirely sure of what you’re going to get, but I’ve got to say, on both counts it’s been a great experience. It’s been a pleasure to do work with both the Jedox product and the Naked Data team in terms of their knowledge and their willingness to transfer knowledge and share it. Overall, it’s been a great experience.
Solution summary: Financial Reporting, Budgeting and Forecasting
Industry: Professional Services (Legal)
Source System/s: Aderant Expert 8.0