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Real estate firm sees value in financial management tools

Cushman & Wakefield aims to reduce costs and fuel rapid growth after replacing 35 general ledger systems and three major HR systems with Workday.

A global commercial real estate company hopes to cut costs and improve business outcomes after a complex project...

to implement unified Workday human capital management (HCM) and financial management software.

Cushman & Wakefield went live with Workday HCM in August and was scheduled to go live this month with financial management.

Jeffrey Patuto, vice president of finance operations at New York-based Cushman & Wakefield, said the company chose software from Workday Inc. because its "time to value," or the time required to achieve business goals, surpassed competing financial management tools and gives the company a platform for rapid growth to keep it ahead of rivals.

He cited Workday's lower total cost of ownership because of predictable subscriptions and free upgrades, as well as the lower annual operating costs from having a smaller back-office organization and an easier structure to outsource.

 "It is really a value-driven decision," Patuto said at Workday Rising, an annual gathering of users, prospective users, partners and employees, attended by about 5,000 people this year in Las Vegas.

Patuto said the Workday financial management tools will provide real-time analysis of business effectiveness, including an ability to measure the profitability of clients and results by geography and line of business. "That was really compelling -- to know that every day you could see results and how they were accumulating through month-end and quarter-end," he said.

One pixel Workday's Financial Management Technology

The financial management tools will also give Cushman & Wakefield more time to spend on analyzing data instead of mining for it. "We spend hours and hours of time collecting data," he said. "The minute somebody asked a question that is not traditional, it takes us forever to collect it and find it."

With Workday's integrated finance and HR system, the company will receive more automated internal controls and will no longer need to reconcile conflicting information between the two systems for head count, for example, he said.

During a session at Workday Rising, Patuto and Andrew Hamilton, the company's managing director of enterprise financial and human resource systems, led a discussion and presented a slide show that spelled out the project.

Hamilton said the complex implementation involved more than 150 integrations, with more than 60 banks around the world, as well as automated and manual payroll systems in more than three dozen countries. The company used Deloitte as an implementation partner.

Project involved massive replacement of legacy systems

He said the work involved "a massive change" in replacing legacy systems in finance and HR.

The company replaced 35 general ledger systems, including Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle JD Edwards and Sage, as well as three major HR platforms, such as Oracle PeopleSoft and HR.net, which is an ADP product, according to the slide show.

The company also scrapped SAP Concur in favor of Workday Expenses, replaced Oracle Taleo with Workday Recruiting and created 99 custom revenue invoices, partly to account for operating in different countries, Hamilton said.

Workday's security was also key, according to Hamilton.

"No matter how talented our people are, no matter what we tried to do in terms of investing our own money, Workday spends more on security; they spend more on disaster recovery," he said. "On our best day, we are not as good as their worst day."

The project was underway when DTZ, a commercial real estate services firm, acquired Cushman & Wakefield for $2 billion in a deal finalized on Sept. 1.

The combined company, which will carry the Cushman & Wakefield name, will have $5.8 billion in annual revenue and 43,000 employees in 45 countries.

Cushman & Wakefield built a design that allows an employee to open an opportunity in Salesforce and have it appear seconds later in Workday as a Workday project, Hamilton said. The employee can charge an expense report and book supplier invoices against a project, for example, he said.

"It gave us the opportunity to capture all the presale costs," he said. "I can see the costs of winning this revenue."

"It's not right for everybody, but for those countries that wanted to do it, we could extend that model to time sheets and track how our producers spend their time across an opportunity and see where the time is going against revenue. Over time, it would give us a base of information to sort of sit down and say, 'That's great. You invested 1,000 hours in winning $10,000. We would like to think about doing some different things to win bigger deals, with better investments of time.'"

 "And that all comes in real time," Hamilton said. "It is amazing to see the data happen that way, because our anticipation is it will start to change behavior."

Financial management tools aim for industry benchmarks

The financial management tools will also reduce the cost of audits, Hamilton said, in part because internal audit teams can access the Workday system in self-service, read-only modes.

 "They don't have to talk to us. They can go look at transactions themselves. They can run their own samples. They can essentially inspect any country's data from a central location."

That will save on travel costs and they won't need to ask finance or IT professionals for more information.

Workday also teamed with Cushman & Wakefield to build a business case for change by helping the company measure its current business performance in certain areas and compare that data to industry benchmarks.

Ahead of going live with Workday, Cushman & Wakefield, for example, had 3% of automated key controls compared to the 50% benchmark, he said.

Cushman & Wakefield takes an average of 50 days to collect outstanding sales, while the benchmark is 42 days, the slide show said.

Patuto said Workday provided "a terrific understanding" of where the company stood in certain areas after Workday examined company data and conducted interviews. The data will allow the company to make better decisions, he said.

"You can target where you want improvement," Patuto said.

Expected System Retirements

Cushman & Wakefield said Workday will replace these legacy systems:

           6K Finance
           ACCPAC
           AFAS
           Agresso
           ARF Expenses
           BPC Consolidation
           Concur
           ePlus Procurement
           Essbase
           HR.net
           JD Edwards
           Microsoft Dynamics
           NEXTSTEP
           PeopleSoft 8.8, 8.9 and 9.2
           Profit          
           Projector Timesheets
           Sage
           Symfonia
           Taleo
           VEDA

Source: Cushman & Wakefield

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