At Place, we talk about using “a one-platform approach” - here, we explain the business value of that.
What do we mean by a one-platform approach?
Place is a finance platform that caters to all of a company's strategic finance and business planning needs. It's a part of a tech stack that sits within the Salesforce platform. Like a set of Lego bricks, these are all made of the same material and click together to make a whole.
The business challenges created by a multi-platform approach
There is a wide range of software in use in most organizations today. Different teams and departments may select different solutions because they like the interface, or they feel it is designed for their role, or because it is what they are used to using. Perhaps the sales team is on one platform and the finance team is on another. Each one of these may be useful by itself - but linking them requires a bridge - as you would need to go from a Lego structure to one made of wooden building blocks.
Here are some of the challenges this approach can create:
Over-reliance on manual effort
If there are several places where information that is vital for the running of the company is stored, then that data has to be moved from one solution to another. That often takes a time-consuming manual effort. The process tends to involve unwieldy spreadsheets. People are forced to waste time on data entry instead of more important tasks.
Errors are introduced
Wasting people’s time doing data entry costs money - but the risk to the business is more serious than that. Manual processes tend to increase the chance that data is missed, or that errors are introduced. Once mistakes are introduced into shared data, they can be amplified and compounded. It can take even more effort to locate and remove them.
Too many sources of the truth
If you have too many sources of the truth then people don’t know which one to focus on. This can end up creating a sense of confusion. Management meetings are dominated by an effort to simply disentangle the information trail and work out what is really going on. That is an opportunity cost - the management team should be looking ahead.
Data gets siloed
We see in many organizations, information is seen as the property of the team that creates it - sales looks after ‘their’ data, finance looks after ‘theirs’. Data gets siloed. Finding out what the state of play is, often requires picking up the phone, or sending a message to someone in another team.
Information is out-of-date
This two- or three-step process often means that the information is not passed on right away, there is a delay. Sometimes the process breaks down and people don’t have access to the best and most current data. That can be a problem because the decision-making within the company relies on this information. If people don’t have an up-to-date view, they are likely to make poorer judgments.
The benefits of a one-platform approach
A one-platform approach means that all of the data can flow smoothly into one solution. Here are some of the benefits that can provide.
Bring everyone together
The primary benefit of a one-platform approach is that it brings everyone together. Instead of disparate systems which need to be integrated, everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet. There is one source of the truth, and everyone can see what it says. That is a good basis for collaboration across different departments.
Democratize the data
When data flows into a shared system, people across the business can access it easily. That means they can stay in the loop about where the company is and what needs to happen to reach the shared goals and objectives. That is more engaging for them and it allows the business to operate in a more agile way.
Bring financial data into operations
Using a one-platform approach when it comes to finance means that people in other areas can see their numbers and calculate the effect of each step they take on the bottom line before they take it. Marketing can easily see what their total spend is across different channels when they plan a campaign; sales can see the cost of pre-sales, recruitment can see all the costs of hiring a specific new resource, not just an average.
Grow the business faster
When a business has the opportunity to grow fast, there are particular challenges involved in taking advantage of that. Processes have to be in place to support a smooth scaling up, doing more work, involving more people without losing control of the business. A one platform approach is best for a growing business because it can grow organically, without the need for more integrations.
A one platform approach puts everyone on the same page
When you have a robust platform in place where information is gathered and shared, when the organization begins to ramp up you can cope with the extra demand. There is no need to bring on more admin staff and to train them in the use of unwieldy spreadsheets or to build more integration software. The one-platform approach puts everyone on the same page.