TORONTO — ADP Canada says it has already saved more than a million dollars in savings through the use of technology to analyze key metrics.

The firm, which provides payroll processing services to companies across the country, discussed

the project at a breakfast seminar hosted by Cognos, the vendor whose products it has installed. Cognos is calling the techniques used by ADP corporate performance management, or CPM.

James Brennan, a senior vice-president of alliances and services at Cognos in Minneapolis, said that enterprises are tired of using backwards-looking systems.

“”They don’t want to keep looking through the rear-view mirror; they want to look through the windshield to determine how to make effective changes,”” he said.

Raymond Pineda, a partner with Deloitte Consulting in Toronto, said that from the rise of big business in the 1980s to the post-Y2K reaction to the book-cooking scandals of Enron and WorldCom, CFOs have had to shift from serving as company strategists to stewards.

Regulatory changes regarding certification and a globalization of accounting standards, tighter reporting deadlines and the need for more accountable forecasting are all driving corporate officers to look at CPM, Pineda said.

“”Accountants have become cool again,”” he said.

Stefan Sarazen, ADP’s senior director of finance in Toronto, said Cognos Planning offered his firm””more visibility”” and the ability to make better decisions. To secure executive sponsorship, Sarazen said he told the CFO that he refused to do another plan using Excel.

“”When I first joined the company three and a half years ago, I had to plan in Excel, and you can only link so many Excel spreadsheets before the lights go out in the building,”” Sarazen said. “”It was cumbersome to consolidate, resource intensive and was unreliable in planning for numbers.””

He brought up one issue that involved a missing quarter-million dollars because of an adding error.

“”We weren’t analyzing our plan, we were adding our plan,”” he said. Post-CPM, however, Sarazen said that they are spending “”more time on value-added analysis versus mechanics.””

Pineda agreed, calling Excel the “”duct tape of financial functioning.””

Pineda explained that implementing a CPM solution into an enterprise gives an organization a competitive advantage that CRM and ERP did a few years back because it lowers operating costs and saves time.

“”A billion-dollar company will spend 25,000 person-days a year in planning,”” he said. “”But a 20 to 60 per cent savings can be achieved by doing CPM.””

Pineda recommended organizations perform a CPM assessment of people, process and technology, ensuring that everything and everyone is on the right track. Pineda also recommended keeping a close eye on industry and technology trends and creating a CPM vision for the organization.

“”Every acquisition from now until completing this vision should build towards the vision,”” he said. Create an action plan including initiatives, timelines, costs and resources, and finally implement the solution.

“”You get what you measure,”” Pineda said, “”so make sure you’re taking the right measures.””

For Sarazen, the biggest stress was meeting the stringent deadlines that ADP Canada imposed on itself. The company chose Cognos’ solution in September and needed to begin its planning process by January.

“”Within eight weeks we had full implementation,”” Sarazen said.

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