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Business budgeting software streamlines hospice firm's finances

Gentiva saved time, money and labor by replacing Oracle Hyperion with Adaptive Insights CPM software.

A hospice and home healthcare company cured its budget process -- and saved $1 million a year -- with cloud CPM software from Adaptive Insights.

By the start of 2014, after a phased implementation, Gentiva Health Services had replaced mainly Oracle Hyperion with Adaptive Planning corporate performance management (CPM) software for revenue planning, budgeting and forecasting. The business budgeting software is giving new life to the hospice and home healthcare giant.

"It has made the budget process so much simpler, so much easier, faster, with better user buy-in, fewer mistakes," said Kevin Bradshaw, director of finance for Atlanta-based Gentiva. "It has made us way more efficient with our budget process overall."

According to a study licensed and distributed by Adaptive Insights, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., leaders at Gentiva were unhappy with what was a long and difficult budget process. Branch managers at 400 sites were frustrated with the time it took to complete budgets and with making changes needed to comply with a variety of rules.

Gentiva pays about $57,000 a year in subscription fees for the CPM software as a service from Adaptive Insights, which was formerly known as Adaptive Planning. It paid another $70,000 in consulting, personnel and training in prestart costs and another $4,800 for annual training on the business budgeting software.

By replacing mostly Oracle Hyperion with Adaptive, Gentiva saved about $1 million a year, according to the ROI Case Study report by Boston-based Nucleus Research. That number includes $463,000 in direct costs such as eliminating Oracle Hyperion license fees and consulting costs and reallocating staff to other projects; and $537,000 in indirect costs such as increased productivity of the finance team, IT and budget managers, the report said .

Gentiva evaluated business budgeting software from a number of companies, including Adaptive and Oracle. Bradshaw said Gentiva chose Adaptive partly because a hospice company it acquired in 2010, Odyssey Healthcare, used Adaptive and recommended it.

Bradshaw said Adaptive CPM is boosting productivity of budget managers and finance executives, giving the entire company new visibility into the budget process and reducing or eliminating software and consulting costs.

Gentiva began implementing Adaptive CPM is the summer of 2012, starting with its home health division. The implementation of the business budgeting software took three months for the division and was followed by corporate and hospice in the first half of 2013.

In the fall of 2013, the implementation slowed when Gentiva acquired the home health, hospice and community care businesses of Harden Healthcare Services. By January of 2014, all divisions were live on Adaptive.

Business budgeting software solves key problems

Bradshaw said the Adaptive system solved two major problems involving creation of the budget and approval of changes. Previously, finance leaders at Gentiva would create budgets for each of some 400 company locations.

 With Adaptive, branch managers were provided access to the system and authorized to create their own budgets, Bradshaw said. This helped motivate them to buy into the idea of using Adaptive, he said. "It's a huge thing to say, 'This is your budget. You own it. Next year, when you are behind budget, it's nobody's fault but your own. You came up with this budget.'

Also, when a branch manager updates a budget, the change is immediately reflected in the budget for the entire organization.

Adaptive dramatically improved productivity, mostly by freeing up time for finance leaders.

"Previously, the budget process was taking too long," he said. "Our regional finance folks were staying up all night, doing 80-hour weeks for three or four months trying to get the budget ready. It's so much simpler with Adaptive."

The company also still uses Microsoft Excel just "to slice and dice" the numbers a little better, he said. Adaptive exports perfectly to Excel. "If you create a report, you can export it to Excel and it looks just like it did on your Adaptive screen [but] it's in Excel. Adaptive makes it perfectly seamless."

Excel retains its role

"We are a really big Excel user as a company," Bradshaw said. "Most everything is just exported to Excel. Personally, I don't print anything. I don't think most of our superusers do either. They pretty much just keep everything on Excel. That gets emailed around."

He said Gentiva doesn't use any connectors or automation to integrate Adaptive with the company's PeopleSoft ERP for general ledger. Instead, once a month, Bradshaw takes a couple of minutes and uses Excel to upload the general ledger from PeopleSoft into Adaptive. That allows Gentiva to compare actual to projected budgets and see the difference in dollars or percentages.

"That is one reason we why we decided not to go the connector," Bradshaw said. "It was hardly worth paying extra money to save me that amount of time."

With Adaptive, he creates a monthly, company-wide report that includes the actual budget, the last three months and then the year to date. He also writes a year-over-year report to show growth numbers.

Bradshaw said he likes the Adaptive modeling engine and drag-and-drop interface. "It's great. It is really simple to do."

The company's new owner -- Kindred Healthcare of Louisville, Ky., which completed its purchase of Gentiva early in February -- will also be using Adaptive, he said.

Kindred uses SAP ERP software, which will replace the PeopleSoft system for the general ledger. Gentiva will likely use connectors to link with the SAP system, he said.

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Does your organization still use Microsoft Excel to prepare and distribute budgets?
We have been able to adopt Oracle Hyperion with adaptive planning Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software that allows easy planning of revenues, their budgeting as well as forecasting. It takes a shorter time and cover a lot of workload that comes with unavoidable errors. It also automatically updates the whole budget when changes are made and quantifies areas that are critical for productivity. However, we still use Excel to upload our general ledger into Adaptive.
Russel47 - Thanks for the comment. That is an interesting twist on this issue. 
Russel47 - why can't you automate the upload of GL data to Adaptive?
Thanks for the insights, Russel47. Interesting that your company is using Hyperion with Adaptive CPM instead of using it to completely replace Hyperion. Excel, too, retains its usefulness with Adaptive CPM. Hard to let go of Excel, it seems.
Because my office is frequently involved in film and television production, we rely on specialized software designed specifically for our industry.

Before anything else, I go to programs like Movie Magic (Entertainment Partners), Gorilla (Jungle Software) and Showbiz Budgeting (Media Services). Although they're all film budgeting programs that could be adapted to any industry. While incredibly robust, they're easily adaptable. While it takes a bit of fussing and fiddling, they can be applied to almost any industry. One of the earliest applications of Movie Magic was for the construction industry where it's still used. That template is available online.

Interestingly, one of the newest programs is called Hot Budget and it's designed for commercial production (the format was created by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers). It's an Excel template with extensive macros, but like all these programs, could be repurposed for almost any use.
Unlike the patches of snow on the streets of Boston, Excel is not going away any time soon.
Don't tempt the weather gods, Dan. I'd agree, Excel is here for a long time, but I can see that there are some reporting/budget tasks where it has been surpassed by other tools. 
Agreed, Ben. i guess I was thinking of some of my recent stories on new budget and planning tools where it seems Excel seems to maintain some staying power for some use or another. I often think of the farm gear manufacturer in Minnesota whose controller enjoys the Budget Maestro tool but says a minor negative with Budget Maestro is with formatting and design. So he rarely prints from Budget Maestro and instead sends reports to Excel for proper formatting and printing.
Sort of. We use Mac Pages and store the files in dropbox. Of course, our organization is ... small.

We don't do one single budget. Instead we prepare several budgets:

- Everything is going well - invest in lead generation and sustainable growth. Give back dividends to partners, invest in new lines of business.
- On-par. This is the traditional budget.
- Not a great year. What if we don't get the new business we hope for?
- What if we lose 90% of our work over the next 6 months and our receivables are slow? (this is the runway conversation, which includes cash in bank divided by burn rate)

To figure out what those might look at, we use quickbooks online to look at last years cash flows and expenses.
Thanks for the comment, Matt. Good rundown on how you use DropBox (not Box), Mac Pages and Intuit to manage the budgets of your small organization. No need for Excel.
We had Hyperion, and quite frankly it's not hard to see how they saved money. The licensing costs alone will drop dramatically, I'm sure.
Thanks for the comment, timethy2. I believe licensing and consulting amounted to about 45% of estimated $1 million a year savings realized by Gentiva when it switched to Adaptive from Hyperion.