Jess Willard, Director of FP&A at Recorded Future, shares how Carlson’s exceptional services and support help him make the most of Adaptive Insights to elevate SaaS reporting and business planning at their organization.
Please provide a description of your organization and mission.
Recorded Future’s unique technology collects and analyzes vast amounts of data to deliver relevant cyber threat insights in real time. Our solution aggregates this rich intelligence with any other threat data sources, empowering security teams to collaborate on analysis and delivering intelligence wherever you need it most, including rapid integration with your existing security solutions.
Please provide a description of your role and responsibilities within your organization.
As the Director of FP&A at Recorded Future, I collaborate with the leadership team, including the executive and management teams across the organization.
Together, we create an annual plan as well as a forward-looking, multi-year plan that drives growth and keeps FP&A performance aligned with benchmarks. I also work directly with all managers to ensure hiring is on-plan during monthly budget review meetings.
Please describe the challenges that your organization faced which led you to seek out a new cloud-based CPM solution.
Most of our needs are focused on SaaS metrics. Prior to using Adaptive Insights, we were managing our budgets manually in Excel. Whenever we created a budget, it would involve about 50 tabs with large amounts of linked information, formulas, and references. Additionally, anything can break in Excel and errors can sometimes take awhile to find.
Another challenge we faced was refreshing forecasts based on new data. For example, we would set our budget for the next year, but then conditions would change as we received new data. The hiring plan may differ, or we may have new priorities.
To refresh the forecast in Excel based on new information, we had to make those changes manually. It was very cumbersome, requiring about a day’s worth of effort for a full reforecast. It was a time-consuming process.
For high-level initiatives like managing budgets, Excel works for awhile, but is not the ideal solution.
What factors made you decide that Adaptive Insights was the right solution for your organization? Did you look at other solutions?
As we were making our decision, we were determined to find the best technology solution for Recorded Future.
We considered other CPM solutions, but ultimately decided Adaptive Insights was the best solution for our needs.
When exploring Adaptive Insights, I found its flexibility of use compelling. It was also great going through the sales process with Adaptive Insights’ partner, Carlson Management Consulting (Carlson), which came highly recommended.
Specifically, I’m a member of a high-tech financial executive network. My connections and I bounce ideas off each other all the time. When I asked them what solution they prefer for business planning, their responses were overwhelmingly in favor of Adaptive Insights.
For Adaptive Insights partners, the responses were overwhelmingly in favor of Carlson. In fact, I received the most recommendations for Carlson than for any other partner. After hearing such enthusiastic reviews, on top of our own diligence, I felt like we were choosing both the best cloud financial technology solution and implementation partner.
Those recommendations contributed to our decision to implement Adaptive Insights with Carlson’s services and support. It’s been great since day one. Josh Ladd, Director of Adaptive Insights Implementations, and Laura Hayes, Senior Associate, have been amazing.
Which systems are you using Adaptive Insights with? What are the key benefits?
The primary system we’re using Adaptive Insights with is Salesforce. Salesforce is the basis for our financial reporting and SaaS metrics. We import data from Salesforce into Adaptive daily, with the ability to push manually whenever we choose, so we can view information and update forecasts in real time.
We’ve also recently completed our Netsuite integration with Adaptive Insights. Our accounting information is transferred to Adaptive Insights via an automated workflow at the click of a button and takes about 20 seconds to complete. This allows for the ability to recreate reporting quickly on the fly during month-end close. Should changes to Netsuite be required, it is only a 20-second push away from being reflected in Adaptive Insights.
Salesforce and NetSuite are the two main systems we’ve integrated with Adaptive Insights that give us 90% of what we need. In the future, we may also integrate our HR system, so we can automatically import our personnel roster into Adaptive Insights.
The Results and ROI:
With Adaptive Insights, what abilities do you now have that you didn’t prior to implementation?
The time we save from using Adaptive Insights really elevates our business planning. Firstly, we always have a real-time forecast with minimal effort and time spent on updating it.
For sales performance, we now have an automated sales capacity model for each of our geographies and business segments, all tied to hire dates of our sales personnel and ramp assumptions, that informs us how much new business annual recurring revenue (ARR) we can expect from our sales force. Having those insights is a huge win for our organization. We can also create a sales capacity for every segment of our business. These interconnected financial models help us identify trends and patterns.
ARR is a key SaaS metric we use to measure our business and that allows us to model our P&L output based upon ARR input. By using our own historical salesperson performance data, fed directly from our Sales Force integration, in conjunction with Adaptive Insights, we have been able to build an automated ARR-driven P&L for most of our forecasting outputs.
This information is now available in real time. As we receive updates from various departments, we can make those changes live in the platform. With those insights, we can make decisions that benefit our business much quicker.
With a click of a button, I can do so much more with Adaptive Insights. It’s more robust, and we now have the capabilities to achieve our goals.
What are some of the other benefits you have experienced that may be less quantifiable?
There’s a lot of value we get from storing data in a secure, centralized location. With Adaptive Insights, we have one single source of Truth. This ensures accurate, high-quality information. It’s a more cohesive solution. Adaptive Insights helps us track all those key metrics that matter to our business. The depth of its reporting helps us deeply understand our business better than ever before.
The Carlson Experience:
Can you please describe the customer experience you enjoy at Carlson that makes the most difference for you?
The level of service and support we’ve enjoyed from Josh and Laura is impressive. Josh’s responsiveness and follow-through is always phenomenal.
With Josh and Laura, we’re able to talk through our needs at a high-level and explore solutions in-depth. Because of their expertise in Adaptive Insights, they help us make the most of it in creative ways.
I really enjoy leveraging their expertise to the benefit of Recorded Future. With my job, I don’t have the time to learn every aspect of the platform. The amount of time I’d have to spend to get to Josh’s and Laura’s level of expertise is not feasible.
Being able to leverage their knowledge of Adaptive Insights and counsel is incredibly valuable. I can say to Josh and Laura, “These are my goals. What’s the most efficient way to accomplish them using Adaptive Insights?” They then provide solutions that make those goals happen.
I know they’re balancing other clients, but it doesn’t feel like it with the personalized service they provide. They make their clients feel like they’re the only client.
I have recommended them to many people in the financial network of which I’m a member. I’m always happy to give these reviews because of the high level of service and support they provide.
Why do you recommend Carlson Management Consulting?
When you choose Carlson Management Consulting, you have at your fingertips the technical expertise in Adaptive Insights that helps you elevate FP&A processes and business planning at your organization.
Your organization will benefit from the smooth implementation of Adaptive Insights as well as a high level of continuous post-implementation support. I’ve worked with many partners of other technology solutions. Carlson provides the strongest service and support we’ve ever experienced in a technology solutions partner.
That’s why I would recommend Carlson Management Consulting.
Why do you recommend Adaptive Insights?
Adaptive Insights helps you move from Excel to an easy-to-use financial technology solution. With Adaptive Insights, you can automate your forecasting and easily build complex, interdependent models. It also helps you store your data in a safe environment. To get financial results, it requires far less input and saves you a lot of time.
That’s why I would recommend Adaptive Insights.