Erickson Retirement Communities is realizing the benefits of changing its budgeting and planning approach from reactive to proactive using business performance management solutions from Hyperion.

With nearly 10,000 residents in eight campuses in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Michigan, Erickson Retirement Communities builds and manages communities for middle-income seniors. Because our financial budgeting and reporting was critical, but time-consuming and cumbersome, we enlisted Hyperion solutions to streamline financial processes and meet aggressive growth objectives to expand to 30 communities within the next five years.

Erickson Retirement Communities implemented a J.D. Edwards enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that helped integrate data and compare business units; but the system did not provide the reporting, budgeting and forecasting proficiency desired.

Reporting was a cumbersome and complicated process, and budgeting took too long to keep up with the company's growth.

Prior to Hyperion, the finance team would build spreadsheets to be used by all department managers. It would take several weeks to build the spreadsheets, make copies, pre-fill information, enter budget amounts and upload the results into our ERP system. Only after completing this process could we review the consolidated budgets. Because we needed to cycle-through this process several times, the overall budget process required approximately six months to complete. Additionally, because this process was so difficult, we could not update departmental forecasts throughout the year. Therefore, we did not have very accurate forward-looking information.

We considered Cognos, Oracle, Hyperion and other J.D. Edwards products, and then narrowed the search down to Cognos and Hyperion. Although both companies offered products for budgeting and had a Web interface, the selection committee chose Hyperion for its technical superiority and market leadership. The committee felt Hyperion had a more comprehensive business performance management solution that would best meet both our immediate and long-term needs.

With more than 300 business managers who create their own budgets, we needed a standardized system that could be pushed out over the Web. That gave Hyperion a competitive advantage over Cognos. Plus, the sophisticated reporting, analysis and modeling that was available through Hyperion's Essbase XTD (Hyperion's open, integrating platform for business performance management) made the decision easy.

Hyperion eliminated the hassles of budgeting and analysis. Budgeting used to be a complex process taking six months to complete. Now, because the mechanics of collecting and reporting budget data are handled by Hyperion, we are able to complete the planning process in significantly less time. The Analysis Studio component of Hyperion Essbase XTD provides an easy-to-use solution for a growing list of reporting and analysis requirements, departmental budget variance reporting, profit and loss reporting, cash flow reporting, etc.

We have a large number of users who need to retrieve and modify data, perform ad hoc analysis and create standard packages of reports such as P&Ls, departmentals and forecasts. The drag-and-drop graphical interface made it fast and easy to deploy Analysis Studio to both line managers and executives. In addition to providing clear, consistent and accurate reports that tie the numbers together, we can provide highly visual information, which includes a variety of OLAP-aware charts, animated pinboards, traffic lighting and personalized displays.

Erickson Retirement Communities has grown from five communities three years ago to eight campuses today with two more under development. The goal is to have 30 communities within the next five years –­ a growth of more than three times the current size.

In order to maintain profitability during this fast growth, we have built a tailored application using Hyperion Essbase XTD to manage our construction and development process. For every community constructed, we track detailed costs associated with each phase of building, such as the costs of drywall and on- site labor. Hyperion Essbase XTD pulls thousands of cost code combinations from the general ledger system and uses that information in collaboration with other Hyperion applications to manage future expenses by identifying the most cost-effective construction plans.

We also see major benefits with Hyperion Planning, the predictive planning component of Hyperion's business performance management solution. It provides our 300+ business unit managers with better information to manage their areas of responsibility. Senior executives are using that information to modify forecasts throughout the year. By being able to predict risks and opportunities, we can take action early to improve financial results instead of reacting at the last minute.

The Hyperion Essbase XTD application includes the Hyperion Analyzer, Hyperion Essbase XTD and Hyperion Planning products. Hyperion meets reporting requirements of line managers and executives and tracks job costs, supporting fast growth and proactive planning which leads to improved cash flow.

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