Stout Drives Growth Through Digitization

Jon Leins, finance and accounting director at global investment bank and advisory firm Stout, explains why his team decided to replace more than 10 legacy systems with Workday in one big-bang deployment—and how its new enterprise management cloud is delivering game-changing efficiencies.

Stout helps organizations with mergers and acquisitions, transactions, valuations, investigations, and risk management. For decades, the company had added standalone systems to manage its expanding workflows. However, Stout recently realized that its existing IT model was no longer sustainable, so the firm deployed Workday to improve processes and increase productivity.

Jon Leins, finance and accounting director at Stout, sat down with us and explained the company’s Workday deployment strategy and how the new solution saves time, increases business insights, and simplifies growth.

Why did you decide to adopt Workday and deploy Workday Financial Management, Human Capital Management (HCM), Payroll, Recruiting, Expenses, Projects, and Professional Services Automation (PSA) all at once?

Everything is more efficient, and having holistic views of data is a game-changer, especially for accounting teams, because they have one place they can go to complete tasks. In Workday Financial Management, the team can drill down and see supplier invoices and expense report details. In Workday Expenses, we can organize data into spend categories, business categories, and other groupings, which is useful to report on.

What processes are you automating with Workday PSA?

We are automating project reporting and billing processes. We’ve created a billing dashboard app that our project managers use to provide information to our billing team, which streamlines invoicing. We’ve also configured the system to accommodate project-level write-ups and write-downs. Many of our projects have fixed rates, but if we have a project with a $20,000 fee that only incurred $15,000 in time, we need a mechanism to recognize the $5,000 write-up. Our solution allows our billing team to do that. We also have automated timecard reporting built out, which provides live visibility into time spent on projects.

At a high level, how is having one Workday system affecting your business?

We’ve saved significant money by deprecating all our legacy systems, and it’s also easier to scale our business. Since we launched Workday, we've grown the company headcount by approximately 20%. Despite this growth, we haven't added meaningful headcount in our back-office functions in accounting, IT, or HR. We now have greater visibility into our business, so decisions are more accurate. And because it’s easier to access data and reconcile accounts, we’re spending more time on strategic, forward-looking tasks.

With Workday, we can also map business processes. Before, we managed transaction approvals through email and submitted invoices offline. There was no easy way to see if someone had approved a payment. But Workday automatically routes invoices to the appropriate person for review, which improves payment accuracy, and it’s very easy to look at an invoice in Workday and see who approved it.

What are the big influencers and trends in the professional services industry today?

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be an influencer, but our industry has fared relatively well. The investment banking business is especially hot right now.

As far as trends go, professional services firms are using analytics to increase data insights and create better forecasts. There’s never been a time in history when we’ve had access to this much data, and a lot of firms are paying to access as much information as they can. There’s been a lot of talk about how robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can streamline workflows and leverage all that data. There’s also a trend toward digital automation, and just digitization in general, to drive greater efficiency and profits.

By adopting Workday, we have the modern, cloud-based platform we need to stay ahead of these trends. Not only do our users have on-demand insights into increasing data, but we can also expand our use of automation to save time, increase accuracy, improve control, and deliver better services to our customers.

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