Fast-growing enterprises need agile planning processes to power success. Business leaders need reliable financial reports so they can plan for the future with confidence. Prior to implementing Vena, both those things were missing at YES Communities—a manufactured housing firm with over 250 properties across the U.S.
According to Matt Madej, Senior VP of FP&A at YES, planning data was stuck in disparate spreadsheets and source systems. This made basic budgeting and reporting tasks extremely tough to execute, resulting in a tedious corporate budgeting cycle that would take three whole months to complete.
“We had each community in a different Excel spreadsheet for budgeting. After getting the data verified, there was never any time to do much analysis because it was an Excel-based manual process,” says Madej. “Think about taking 200+ spreadsheets, linking them all together, trying to validate the data and then coming up with numbers for an entire company. It was a pain.”
Financial reports and forecasts would take days to produce in some cases, making it difficult for community managers to make quick, confident planning decisions. And with multiple versions of the same report floating around in spreadsheets, stakeholders and investors didn’t know what data to trust.
“Not every region was getting the same report. It was all different,” says Madej. “We also had external stakeholders who were new to the business. They wanted to understand the company and our metrics, and they wanted information pretty fast. We just didn't have that ability.”
Anna Gengler, a Senior Project Manager at YES, was looped in to the Vena evaluation when it started a few years ago. Her primary goals for the project were to streamline manual processes, improve data accuracy and consolidate company-wide financials within one centralized platform. By integrating with YES’ source systems and automating ERP data transfers, Vena delivered a single source of truth the entire organization can rely on.
“We wanted fewer systems to operate, not just in the home office, but out in the field as well,” says Gengler. “Looking at how we could integrate and automate our data connections was big.”
In order to maintain a bottom-up budgeting structure, another important consideration was ease of adoption for users. Vena brought simplified planning templates and a native Excel interface to the table—ultimately saving YES’ 200+ community managers from learning an unfamiliar system.
“Excel is what people were using and we were trying to provide the least disruptive solution,” says Gengler. “Keeping users in Excel was a huge value-add for us.”
With Vena, Madej and Gengler have built a centralized reporting hub with repeatable, reliable workflows. Now, instead of sending out 33 different reports each month, it’s all done with six standardized templates. Community managers get financial statements, trend reports and budget reports for their properties, while regional executives have access to operations summaries, comparison reports and consolidated financials for their service areas.
“Vena is on demand,” says Madej. “Our users don't have to wait for our accounting department to provide them with their financials once a month. Now they can access the system and get live reports when they need them.”
The resulting time savings have rippled across the finance function, from the corporate office all the way down to the individual communities. Budgeting cycles only take 6 weeks now, and include more detailed reports on seasonal and historical performance. At the community level, instead of just serving as number crunchers, managers are making planning decisions based on the stories their numbers are telling them.
“Managers now have more time for analytics than they ever did before,” says Madej. “With Vena, they have one system that lets them drill down into their expense items, identify trends and better run their communities.”
For Gengler, Vena is all about working smarter, not harder. Her advice to business leaders is simple: Integrate your data sources and automate what you can.
“This is not just a budgeting solution,” she says. “There is so much more that Vena gives us from a reporting, data consolidation and data warehousing standpoint as well.”