Nearly one year ago Ensono, previously the IT division of Acxiom, split from its parent company. Now, the newly independent mainframe, infrastructure, and cloud services company has a plan for aggressive growth. This plan requires a financial management and HR system that supports its 700 employees across the globe, and will easily scale with Ensono as it makes future investments in talent and new innovations.
Ensono Vice President and Controller Alan Cole spoke with us about the company’s systems strategy after the split, and the benefits his team is realizing with Workday.
How did you go about setting up your core enterprise system as a newly independent company?
Before we became Ensono, we were using the same system as the rest of Acxiom, including Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management. When we decided to split, we needed to find a way to manage our own financial and human resources data. Over a period of two months, Deloitte helped our team copy over employee profiles and production images to Workday, and by Aug. 1, 2015 we were live. Our staff worked incredibly hard to get our system working in that short amount of time, but we were thrilled to have all our data in one place quickly in order to continue to support the business.
What are some of the benefits you’re seeing?
We’ve seen a huge benefit with using one system. Before we deployed Workday at Acxiom, we were using PeopleSoft for HR and finance, Concur for expense reporting, Taleo for talent succession planning and reviews, and CA Clarity for project management. We were able to eliminate all of these systems, and at Ensono, we estimate we’re saving roughly $1 million a year compared to what it would have cost to maintain those functions in separate systems.
“We have aggressive revenue growth goals . . . we have to ensure we have a strong enterprise system in place to withstand all the inevitable changes.”
From a maintenance perspective, one system is much more streamlined with just two major updates each year. We also don’t have to stop what we’re doing or worry about updates in sandbox and our development environments because of Workday’s single codeline approach. Workday rolls out minor updates each week, and we can choose when to adopt those features. This is especially beneficial when you are working on something big and don’t want to constantly refresh.
Ensono has positioned itself for significant growth. What are the biggest goals from a systems perspective over the next few years?
We have aggressive revenue growth goals over the next five years; in order to successfully meet our goals we have to ensure we have a strong enterprise system in place to withstand all the inevitable changes.
We also have a lot of opportunity to standardize our products and automate processes, like billing transactions, to ensure we are providing the high quality services our customers expect. If we were stuck doing all of these things manually, there would be no way to handle the growth we want to achieve. So one of our objectives is automating more processes within Workday, and integrating Workday with our other operational tools so that we can have a cohesive set of information flowing between all systems. This will allow us to spend more time working side-by-side with clients to help them achieve their business goals.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face today, and how do you build a team capable of taking those on?
Right now, getting ourselves set up and established within the company is really important, and adding more staff members to our team comes along with that. Recruiting the right talent is probably our biggest challenge right now. We’ve relied a lot on our technical recruiters as well as Workday Recruiting to find prospects with the right skills and experience. It’s really important we hire people that have solid leadership skills, not so much to manage people, but to manage projects. We need people who can lead something all the way through with little direct support and a lot of cross-functional communication.
How do you think the role of controller will evolve in the future?
Having access to the right information on a timely basis will be the key. We’ve already seen improvements in this with Workday from a financial perspective. It would typically take us about 7-10 days to close our monthly books, but now it takes us five. Having accurate financial data is not only critical for us to have on day six, but on a quarterly basis as well when we meet with our board. It goes without saying that having accurate information for those meetings helps us make more efficient business decisions. The more value we can provide to the executive team, the more direct impact we will have on future growth.