How OneStream Can Help You Become a Compelling FP&A Storyteller

4 min. read

Beyond the numbers and spreadsheets, FP&A professionals are the true storytellers of their organization. FP&A storytelling relies heavily on the past to provide insights that drive effective decision-making for the future. We tell stories to educate, to sell, and to provide real-time guidance.

For many FP&A teams, the burden of piecing together the story detracts from having appropriate time to understand why certain events unfold or determine how to respond to them. In this blog, we delve into my experience with OneStream Software and the pivotal role it can play in transforming raw data into a compelling narrative that defines our company's past, present, and future.

Drilling to Extract Insights

Before OneStream, analysts who wanted to investigate the details of a value on the Financial Statements would either consult the original data or navigate to a different site or software. OneStream uses drill-down and drill-back capabilities to allow users to investigate where the data came from. For example, if total spending on office supplies in a given month is suspiciously high, retrieving a summary of expenditures per office is simply one right-click away using the OneStream drill-down functionality.

Suppose you are using another general ledger system. In that case, you can easily waste 20 minutes diving deeper to understand a particular metric, but with OneStream, everything is visible and verifiable from one source system. This saves time and allows FP&A to focus on decision-making and analysis.  

Calculation drill-down functionality allows users to investigate why a particular metric or calculated amount appears the way it does. Determining how and why a calculation behaves a certain way without backtracking multiple sheets and formulas saves plenty of time and headaches. If the fuel costs per mile seem suspicious, a calculation drill down could display the total fuel costs and miles driven for further detail. Additionally, drill-back functionality allows users to determine where the data came from. For example, let's say you have a direct connection to an external database. OneStream can display the source of data and any other associated data from the database.

Leveraging Dimensionality

Minimizing human error is half the battle, and OneStream can do that with dimensional security. With dimensional or layered security, OneStream allows companies to divide the contributions of departments and specialty teams into separate sections.  Alternatively, segregation via Workflow or Cube View security allows individuals to work on precisely what they need to. If a cube is shared with the Accounting team, calculations specific to the FP&A team can be specified. For example, if onboarding costs are calculated from an additional headcount, this calculation can be done automatically for forecast and budget purposes but left as the precise value for accounting.

Many of these items previously managed by an external Excel calculation can be done automatically with a full consolidation or even automatically visible if a Dynamic Calculation is refreshed.

Versioning can make collaborative projects difficult, especially when sharing files. OneStream can ensure everyone’s on the same page using Scenarios and Workflows. Scenarios can be utilized to save budget versions or forecasts throughout a cycle, each sharing both metadata and properties if so specified. This integrated task management tool can automate workflows and streamline critical processes.

Upgrade your FP&A Toolkit:

A model is only as valuable as the story it tells and how it can be used. From month-end close summary presentations to varying analyses, OneStream offers solutions to streamline the update process. As your business grows, reports and artifacts will update seamlessly for all users.

In the case of presentations, OneStream utilizes Extensible Documents to ensure standardization. These configurable formulas are stored within a Microsoft Office template file, and each time they are run, they are automatically updated to the most recent value in the Cube. Gone are the days of copying and pasting each data point or refreshing each individual dependent data source. This ensures consistent compatibility with complex formatting and quick updates should values change, allowing a team more time to create a narrative for the numbers.

In the case of reports, OneStream offers Books. Books are a collection of specified tables, graphs, or dashboards for any given purpose. For example, a quarterly summary can contain each of the Financial Statements, an operational driver summary, a variance analysis, and internal metrics all from one Export.

Seamless Distribution:

Many reports are sent out at varying cadences throughout the year. Rather than using an email template, recipient group, and manually attaching files, OneStream offers automation via its Marketplace Solution, Parcel Services. In tandem with either Extensible Documents or Books, OneStream can create an email connection that automatically sends out key updates with attachments to specified users. Worry of “Did I send that out?” or “Was that the right version?” are eliminated with this solution.

Ever-Growing Toolkit

The OneStream Marketplace is ever-growing. Think of It as your smartphone’s app store. It contains countless solutions specifically for Planning, such as Sales Planning, Cash Planning, Capital Planning, People Planning, Thing Planning, and Scenario Analysis 123.

If a user wants to explore more advanced functionality, downloadable solutions are accessible without interfering with frequently used items on the interface. All these benefits in one application or Excel add-in significantly improve comprehension of how everything ties together.

Final Thoughts

In a field where FP&A storytellers race to gather, consolidate, and present data, time is of the essence. Change is inevitable, and having the tools to respond quickly gives teams more time to focus on what really matters. Using OneStream, teams can expect to work more efficiently today and have the tools to be prepared for whatever may come tomorrow.

If you are new to the OneStream community or have comments regarding FP&A storytelling, share your experience with us. Reach us via Twitter , Linkedin, or send us a message.

Vincent Phan

Blending Creativity with Data. Passionate about Excel & Finance Software.