Together with inlumi, Howden delivered a truly next generation reporting and analytic platform using OneStream XF.
Howden Group is an international firm of insurance brokers and underwriters. With over 4,500 employees worldwide, Howden is one of the world’s leading insurance intermediary groups. Since humble beginnings in 1994 as a small London broker, Howden has become a leading independent, international insurance group.
London, United Kingdom
Type of business:
“When I came in four years ago, we were using a patchwork of legacy systems across a very diverse business internationally,” said Andy George, the System Owner from Howden Group.
Highly acquisitive and geographically dispersed, Howden Group had a pronounced need for controls and standardisation. Yet the group experienced reconciliation issues between models and felt that their existing system lacked the built-in reporting functionality they needed. Audit logging was very basic, and their system did not provide the ability to segregate user roles. These challenges drove the group’s need to move to a next-generation corporate performance management (CPM) platform.
The selection process
Against a backdrop of massive growth and the need for standardised global controls, Howden began a CPM evaluation process. They wanted a platform that was cloud-ready, modern, agile and scalable. “What we were looking for was something that would meet the needs of the business going forward for the next five, even 10 years,” said George.
Howden Group needed to create a controlled close process, yet they also wanted to support granular-level reporting. “Internal governance had become very important for us, and the structured close process was challenging in the system we were using,” George added. “We needed something centralised, where users could easily access data for reporting while still having data controls in place.”
Howden Group looked at a shortlist of cloud vendors, but OneStream quickly stood out. Everyone involved was excited about the product. What began as a replacement project quickly turned into evaluating new possibilities of what could be done with OneStream’s unified platform. “We really loved the full platform approach with controls and compliance from top to bottom of the organisation,” said George. “And we knew we needed an extensible platform for growth that provided analytic value across the business.” So, Howden chose to move to OneStream for financial consolidation, management reporting, account reconciliations, budgeting and forecasting.
Now the individual businesses can do local management reporting with a deeper level of data for analysis. We’ve been able to create a very seamless connection between our Unit4 ERP and OneStream, which works really well. Delivering a solution as valuable to the local businesses as to Group was critical for user adoption and our collective success. Something we are very proud of.
Andy George, System Owner, Howden Group
Implementing a modern Cloud platform
Geographically spread over 30 countries, Howden Group’s four main divisions each have their own specific requirements. “The main drivers behind the transformation project were control and corporate governance and to create a solution scalable for the future,” said George. “We needed flexible options to accommodate different submission processes and make it more streamlined by integrating OneStream with our Unit4 ERP system.”
Phase 1 of the OneStream implementation began with a focus on financial consolidation and management reporting, followed by Phase 2, which consisted of planning, budgeting and forecasting. Phase 3 focused on implementing the Account Reconciliations solution in OneStream. “We’re using OneStream across a broad scope,” George added. “We’re doing financial consolidation, management reporting, budgeting, employee costing, task management and more. We’re really using it to its full potential.”
Howden is also leveraging the Reporting Compliance solution from the XF MarketPlace. As a highly acquisitive business, many of Howden’s acquisitions are part cash and part share options. The Reporting Compliance solution gives them a way to easily track and revalue share options and calculate the FX. “That was something previously completed offline on spreadsheets, which only delivered half the job,” George added. “The advantage of OneStream’s Reporting Compliance is that it posts the consolidation journals directly into the main financial cube and provides a systemised audit trail. That’s something very valuable to our Group Finance team.”
People Planning, another XF MarketPlace solution, is being used heavily at Howden Group. “We load in payroll data and compare the actuals against budget,” said George. “It’s been crucial to have control and data at the right level for our business units.”
Howden Group’s regional and local teams have seen many benefits operationally from OneStream. “OneStream is a centralised data model where on one side it provides you the control, with the data all in one place, and audit capabilities wrapped around,” said George. “And on the other side, the users can go in and easily use the dimensionality of OneStream to get down into the detail they need for their reporting.”
Before OneStream, the business units were hungry for more information. They wanted a deeper level of detail on their P&L to deliver for their business. Previously, the group would use third party ETLs like Informatica, but OneStream has the built-in capabilities Howden Group needed. Now with a direct connect between Unit4 ERP and OneStream, Howden can do more interesting types of reporting with employee detail, project codes and local reporting codes.
Financial Consolidation and Reporting
Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting
Unified platform for consolidation, forecasting, planning and reporting
Built-in ETL capabilities eliminated need for third party tools
Powerful management reporting for business users
Clear overview on status and progress of international business units
Deeper insight into results through Extensible Dimensionality
“Achieving transparency, control, and governance across our international businesses was our biggest challenge with the system we were using before OneStream,” said George. “And now the individual businesses can do local management reporting with a deeper level of data for analysis. We’ve been able to create a very seamless connection between our Unit4 ERP and OneStream, which works really well. Delivering a solution as valuable to the local businesses as to Group was critical for user adoption and our collective success. Something we are very proud of.”
Howden Group now has a well-controlled, month-end close process, which is driven by guided workflows. “We’re running a close process across 40 countries and across four divisions, and OneStream has really helped our central teams monitor and control that close process with the level of detail in reporting that we need,” said George. “Having both of those things together has been important for us. OneStream is such a deep product with so much capability. The potential really is huge.”
We’re running a close process across 40 countries and across four divisions, and OneStream has really helped our central teams monitor and control that close process with the level of detail in reporting that we need.