Christine Harms has been the controller for the Arizona Cardinals for 10 years. She works with tons of financial data at the NFL’s oldest franchise and she’s always used Excel for account reconciliations, budgeting and reporting.
Like all experienced finance pros, Harms knows that Excel on its own isn’t very efficient. But even after implementing two different software solutions for help, her struggles with offline spreadsheets just wouldn’t go away.
“We used Blackline for account reconciliations and in recent years, we realized that for our purposes, it was just a digital binder. We still did everything in Excel,” says Harms. “For budgeting, we used Adaptive Insights. We bought the tool for four years and never used it because we couldn’t make it work.”
This resulted in hours of time spent copying data into Excel, emailing spreadsheets to different stakeholders for review and then aggregating multiple versions to produce finalized reports. Commission statements would take up to 10 full days to produce. 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, Harms was instantly drawn to the software’s ease-of-use and front-end Excel interface. Her team implemented Vena in early 2019, effectively eliminating manual data entry from the account reconciliation process and replacing both Adaptive and Blackline completely.
“Right from the get go, we said ‘this is what we want,’” says Harms. “The [Vena] demo was checkmark, checkmark, checkmark, okay, this does everything!”
She was especially impressed by the platform’s flexible functionality with Excel, as well as its ability to link with any existing source systems and provide a single source of truth for all finance processes. Other key requirements for the Cardinals were headcount planning and advanced financial 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,” says Harms. “It really is a partnership.”
This really isn’t surprising, considering all the data Papp was working with at AEG. The company operates more than 10,000 live shows every year, including Coachella—one of the most famous music festivals in the world.
AEG was growing fast and Papp knew she needed help solving the data integrity and version control problems she was experiencing with offline spreadsheets. She couldn’t really perform any meaningful analysis because all of her time was spent manually inputting numbers into Excel.
“It was frustrating,” she says. “So I started thinking ‘OK, we need a solution to aggregate all this data.’”
The Cardinals’ results with Vena 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. Thanks to Vena’s flexible Excel interface, Harms is constantly experimenting with additional use cases and discovering new ways to deliver value for her team.
“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 Harms and her teammates to serve as strategic partners to the organization. She says that since implementing Vena, the end-user experience has been “incredible” across her entire department.
“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!”