“We were in what you could call Excel hell.”
Offline spreadsheets clearly caused some major headaches for Laura Szreider and the finance team at iPSL—a payment processing firm that clears checks for most major banks in the U.K.—prior to implementing Vena.
“We would need to consolidate all of our different functional areas up into a budget or forecast, then break them down again to give a report to each of our shareholder banks,” says Szreider, who’s the Head of FP&A at iPSL. “There were lots of interlinked spreadsheets, unreliable data, lots of errors and lots of manual intervention. It was quite a risky process.”
Data consolidation would take days to complete manually, which led to a gruelling six-week cycle for basic budgets and forecasts. By the time Szreider was ready to share her reports with stakeholders, the data she was working with was already out of date. Empowering key decision makers with real-time numbers was impossible which made agile, data-driven business planning very difficult to achieve. At a time when iPSL was evolving to accommodate digital check processing, stakeholders needed more visibility into how their planning decisions would affect the transition.
“We needed to standardize things because we had people building reports in a number of inconsistent ways,” she says. “We really just weren’t efficient.”
Szreider knew Excel was not feasible on its own, but she didn’t want a new tool her team would have to learn from scratch. So when Vena came to the table, she was impressed by the flexibility of the platform’s native Excel interface. It gave her the freedom to keep everything she liked about Excel, but level it up even further with the automation functions she’d always wanted.
“We were really struck by how easy it was to customize Vena just for us. That’s why it’s helpful to have Excel as the main way we interact with the tool,” says Szreider. “This is not just an off-the-shelf solution. You can build your data models yourself in the way that you need them for your business.”
Other key requirements were standardized reporting and a single source of truth to power finance-led planning processes. Vena made it happen by integrating with iPSL’s existing ERP system (Oracle) and bringing cross-functional data into one secure location. Now the finance team works more collaboratively with other departments as they all help the business plan confidently for the future.
“We’re all on the same workflow, with all the data we need in one place,” says Szreider. “The way that we serve the business and deliver insights to our stakeholders has really changed.”
Today, instead of sifting through spreadsheets to find the numbers they’re looking for, Szreider and her teammates can load their data with just a few clicks. Vena’s Excel interface ensures comfort and ease of use. Issues with version control, data integrity and manual processes are ancient history.
“With Vena, our six-week cycle has reduced to 10 days,” she says. “Now everything is done in a way that’s streamlined, transparent and the same for everybody. It really helps us.”
But the biggest result with Vena has been the clarity and actionable insight the finance team provides for the business. As iPSL continues to evolve, Szreider can rest easy knowing that the company’s long-term vision is based on strategic financial analysis her stakeholders can always trust. With Vena, iPSL’s leaders can make proactive planning decisions and lead the business forward with confidence—even in the face of change.
“We can interrogate our data way more easily. We can slice and dice it in all the ways that we need to as we look ahead to the future,” she says. “I can compare a budget to a forecast and a forecast to our actuals. I can look at this year, last year or the year before—all with the touch of a button.”