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J&J Consolidates Financial Planning

ISA helped J&J tie together more than 200 different departments so that its managers could have a common Web-based, real-time view of its budgeting and financial-planning systems.

Johnson & Johnson's global IT organization needed some major first aid last year. Its disparate budgeting and financial systems were so out of synch that the company didn't have a handle on its IT spending. The solution it eventually chose underscores the potential of corporate performance management (CPM) software. While not having a handle on widely dispersed budgeting data is hardly unusual for a multinational organization as large and decentralized as J&J, the approach it took in utilizing the services of ISA Consulting and Hyperion Solutions illustrates the premium customers are placing on getting a better handle on monitoring the performance of their businesses.

ISA helped J&J tie together more than 200 different departments so that its managers could have a common Web-based, real-time view of its budgeting and financial-planning systems. Prior to this solution, budget information was handled through Excel spreadsheets, which were FTPed from all the various business units worldwide into a master spreadsheet. J&J's central IT organization, Network Computing Services (NCS), had such little visibility to its finances that the business case for deploying a dashboard did not even require an ROI study.

"We took a look at where we were," recalls Ana Trujillo, project manager at J&J NCS, speaking in late April at the Hyperion User Group Conference. "The lack of productivity, the lack of transparency of our numbers--we were just so kludge."

What NCS required was a system that would allow analysts in NCS' finance department to still access data in their Excel spreadsheets while giving IT management real-time, Web-based access to the data. The system had to aggregate data from multiple operation systems ranging from SAP to legacy applications. After choosing a solution that consisted of Hyperion's Essbase, Planning and Application link software and an Oracle database, the company brought in partner ISA Consulting, which rolled the application out in 10 weeks and is now helping develop new functionality.

"This is definitely a unique use of these tools," says Colleen Pietrobono, director of Blue Bell, Pa.-based ISA Consulting's Hyperion practice.

Ernest Iocca, the ISA consultant working with J&J, adds that demand for such solutions has picked up because customers need a better handle on budgeting and cost planning. Recent customers include Olympus, The Hartford and BMW. "It can actually change the way they look at their numbers and do budgeting and forecasting," Iocca says.

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