Johannesburg, 16 May 2023
There's an old Spanish proverb that translates roughly to the saying “the cobbler's children have no shoes”, meaning that someone with a specific skill is often so busy assisting others that their own affairs go unattended. For African Rainbow Capital (ARC), this was pretty close to the truth until recently, with ARC’s finance team relying on manual processes and multiple spreadsheets to manage the investment firm’s reporting needs.
Formed in 2015, ARC is a fully Black-owned and controlled company specialising in helping companies grow. ARC focuses on opportunities in financial services and diversified investments among South African and African companies. The firm usually acquires a minority interest in the companies invested in, offering assistance at a strategic level to ensure value is unlocked.
With an extensive footprint across the continent, ARC has an extremely complex reporting environment. The finance team traditionally relied on spreadsheets to manage the many areas needed to meet ARC’s financial and governance obligations, but this became cumbersome and time-consuming as more and more spreadsheets were added over time – not to mention inefficient.
Time to modernise
According to ARC’s FD, Refiloe Nkadimeng, the team was working extremely long hours when she joined the company, with many people having to sit idle while waiting on processes or approvals and being forced to work late or on weekends as a result. “The manual processes were only part of the problem. With the number of spreadsheets that were needed and the volume of data that was being processed, there was a high possibility of human error creeping in. Version control was also a challenge, along with broken links in some of the documents that were being used, resulting in duplication of efforts and even more time wasted,” she explains.
“This situation wasn’t ideal, to say the least, and it certainly wasn’t sustainable long-term. We put together a list of all of the areas where we wanted to see improvements and decided to look for a system that would save us time and make the year-end process easier.”
Leveraging a longstanding relationship with Futuresense, Nkadimeng used the specialist EPM solution provider to help identify the right solution to meet ARC’s needs. In addition to a system that would solve ARC’s immediate challenges, she was looking for a solution that would not only scale easily in the future, but that would help ARC identify and resolve inefficiencies in other areas.
Futuresense recommended OneStream for its comprehensive approach and scalability. OneStream’s intelligent finance platform would enable ARC to break away from the limitations of spreadsheets and legacy applications while unifying financial consolidation, planning, reporting and analysis through a single, extensible platform.
Futuresense provided the ARC team with a demo of OneStream’s capabilities and they fell in love with the system, Nkadimeng says. While they were keen to start the migration immediately, the team had to follow the company’s approval process. This delayed the start of ARC’s modernisation journey and required a number of presentations to the board to justify the decision to move on to OneStream.
“This process helped us pinpoint exactly what we wanted, and even though it caused a delay in our timelines, it proved to be a good way to identify what kinds of questions we needed to be asking. Futuresense helped us understand all of the intricacies that would be involved in the OneStream implementation and provided invaluable input that helped us make the case for the solution,” she explains.
“Futuresense has been a true partner, providing support and expertise at every stage of the project. From helping us identify potential issues and risks well in advance to providing assistance whenever we needed it, even if it was at night, over holidays or on weekends. Futuresense helped us navigate this challenging journey.”
OneStream has not only enabled the ARC team to work more reasonable hours, it has significantly improved many other aspects of their day-to-day tasks. Pinpointing share prices, for example, used to be a process that relied on manual estimation, but the ARC team can now load accurate information at the click of a mouse. More controls are now in place, providing peace of mind by allowing anything in the system to be traced. This not only reduces company risk, but will ensure that any audit of a consolidation in the future will be easier, Nkadimeng says.
“Using OneStream has also helped us ensure business continuity. With the workflows, profiles, systems and processes in place, we are no longer dependent on relying on individuals to know where things are saved, or which version of a document is the latest one. At the same time, this has allowed the team more freedom to grow professionally, providing new opportunities to learn.”
She adds that the team members are appreciating the benefits they are already seeing from the OneStream implementation and are planning to add further functionality in the future. For example, the fact that OneStream’s workflow forms almost act as check boxes once their work is done, ensuring that the data is correct and accurate the way it’s supposed to be presented, has made their job much easier. Similarly, OneStream offers a single source of truth, offering far more confidence in the data – particularly since that data is stored in a safe cloud environment, so is always available and up to date.
Nkadimeng says one of the highlights of the project was the post-implementation audit. Conducted by PWC, the audit results were excellent, with the analyst firm finding no issues. She adds that no project is without its challenges and ARC’s OneStream implementation was no exception. “From the delays caused by the lengthy approval process to the COVID-19 pandemic to technical glitches, the Futuresense team had their work cut out for them, but they went above and beyond to overcome every challenge. We now have a fantastic financial system that was seamlessly integrated into the company and is helping us find new ways to be more effective.”