Before implementing Vena, finance-led business planning was far from agile at ATB Financial. Budgeting at the Alberta-based bank was a static annual process, while forecasting was only done once every quarter. In order to look ahead and adapt to ever-changing business conditions, ATB’s finance team needed to make some adjustments.
“Our existing software before Vena was over 10 years old,” says Michael To, ATB’s Director of Finance Data Services. “We only had four admin licences, and they all had the same user ID. When people made data entries, we couldn’t even tell what those entries were, or who made them.”
This led to major inefficiencies for Michael and his colleagues in finance. The team spent more time verifying data manually than actually analyzing it—making it tough for key stakeholders to make quick, data-driven business decisions.
“A lot of our audit processes involved printing out emails and spreadsheets and storing them in a binder. You can imagine how much work that involved,” says Michael. “We couldn’t get granular with our financial modeling either. We had to be able to react quicker.”
When Michael implemented Vena in the Fall of 2016, he was especially impressed by the platform’s user-friendly Excel interface. By integrating with existing source systems and enabling real-time data analysis, Vena delivered custom planning templates for all of ATB’s cross-functional leaders.
With their new workforce planning model in Vena, ATB’s finance team plans compensation, employment insurance and pension plan contributions 18 months ahead. Another crucial item is the net interest income model, which measures consolidated earnings and margin figures for more than 100 unique banking products.
“This is the first time since I've been at ATB that we can achieve models with this level of granular detail,” says Michael. “We now have the capability to look back at actual vs. budget during our monthly analysis and see, are these variances due to our margins, or due to our price/volume variances? That's something we'd never really talked about before. Vena provides that capability.”
Another important consideration was quick time-to-value and teamwork through the implementation. After looking at some other software vendors, Michael realized Vena could work with ATB’s finance team and build a custom solution—instead of just handing them an instruction manual.
“We looked at Cognos, Anaplan, Board and a few others. We found Vena to be the most capable in terms of meeting our needs and working with us on a short implementation timeline,” he says. “The customer support, the learning, the project implementation team—they were all just first class. Vena really made sure they went above and beyond for us.”
In just three months with Vena, ATB’s finance team rolled out a brand new budgeting and forecasting model and trained 35 cross-functional users. Today, instead of relying on their annual budget to plan for the entire year, Michael and his colleagues update plans monthly and keep the business on track with agile scenario modeling.
“I've been on previous projects where just writing the project blueprint took over three months. I couldn't believe what we were able to achieve with Vena,” he says. “Even though we still have annual budget data, we version it every month so our users have a snapshot of what changes have happened. We can also audit back to see who made those changes, and why. That's one of Vena's best capabilities.”
Now ATB's leadership can keep a firm pulse on the health of the business and always react quickly when market conditions or interest rates change. As ATB continues to evolve, they're excited to learn more about what Vena can do for them next.
“Our business partners are talking about what we can do with the system, not what we can't do.”