For the last 11 years, Christine Harms has been the Controller for the Arizona Cardinals. She works with tons of financial data at the NFL’s oldest franchise and she’s always used Excel for budgeting, reporting and account reconciliation.
But like all experienced finance pros, Christine knows offline spreadsheets just aren't very efficient at all. Her struggles with manual Excel were pretty crippling prior to Vena—even after implementing two other softwares for help.
“We used Blackline for account reconciliations and we realized that for our purposes, it was just a digital binder. We still did everything in Excel,” says Christine. “We used Adaptive Insights for budgeting. We bought the tool for four years and never used it because we couldn’t make it work.”
This resulted in countless hours spent copying data into Excel, emailing spreadsheets around and then aggregating multiple versions to come up with consolidated reports. Commission statements would take up to 10 full days to produce. GL trial balances weren’t being updated efficiently either.
“We went on the hunt for something that could do exactly what we wanted,” she says. “But our team came back and said, ‘you know, we just want to stick with Excel. We want this to be a lot more user-friendly.’”
When Vena came to the table, Christine was instantly drawn to the platform’s automation power and ease-of-use. She partnered with Vena in early 2019 and built one central database for budgeting and account reconciliation—ultimately replacing both Adaptive and Blackline completely.
“Right from the get go, we said ‘this is what we want,’” says Christine. “The Vena demo was checkmark, checkmark, checkmark, okay, this does everything!”
She was especially impressed by Vena's native Excel interface as well as the freedom to integrate with any existing source systems. This gave the Cardinals one source of truth for Complete Planning, but without forcing budget owners to abandon their comfort with spreadsheets. Other key requirements for Christine were headcount planning and advanced scenario modeling—both of which Vena delivered.
“What stood out most about Vena was that when we asked them to prove their value, there was no hesitation. When we asked them to take a spreadsheet and build a data model around it so I could get that report quicker, Vena could do it,” she says. “It really is a partnership.”
The Cardinals’ results so far include no more offline spreadsheets, entire days worth of time saved and a more proactive, strategic outlook for the office of finance and accounting. With Vena’s Extended Planning and Beyond Planning configurations at her disposal, Christine is constantly growing with Vena and finding new ways to deliver value.
“We’ve been able to produce the commission statements and that function used to take about 10 days. Now that function takes about four or five seconds,” she says. “I can look at any data source and say, ‘I wonder how I could pull that together in Vena.’”
All that freed-up time is making it easier for Christine and her teammates to serve as strategic partners to the rest of the organization. Cross-functional stakeholders are more involved in strategic planning and the end-user experience has been “incredible” across the franchise.
“It’s really exciting because now our users are able to come forward and say, ‘I have an idea.’ They’re getting way more in-depth with what they’re working on,” says Harms. “They have more time to learn. They have more time to analyze. They’re more engaged. They’re not as rushed. Vena has given us that time back!”