Aerospace manufacturers needed to react quickly to global pandemic challenges, and the crisis became an opportunity for those embracing digital transformation. While the finance department was once relegated to number crunching and keeping its grip on revenue streams, it’s evolved into a strategic business partner equipped with tools to address challenges more directly. Now, the finance department can shine as a control-based body that adds value across the enterprise. Part of that evolution includes extended planning & analysis (xP&A), an approach that provides unified, extended strategies for finance with better insights and decision-making across the organization, helps leaders measure business performance more accurately, and identifies trends and anomalies faster than a spreadsheet ever could.
xP&A provides the entire organization with a bird’s eye view of planning, going beyond finance to include sales and marketing to operations and human resources (HR). It ensures the entire enterprise is aligned through smart data management. According to a recent xP&A study by the Association of Financial Professionals (AFP), there’s been a measurable increase in finance’s collaboration levels with the rest of the business, no matter the sector. However, the adoption and use of technology (automation) to support that collaboration hasn’t increased enough. In fact, 60% reported they had missing or minimal automated business and operational planning processes. The AFP also predicts that chief financial officers (CFOs) will increasingly become stewards of capital, placing them in the role of valued business partners who contribute to the organization’s overall strategy.
According to business research firm Gartner, 69% of board members surveyed say they want to accelerate digitalization, a key component in automating business processes, while 82% of CFOs surveyed reported their digital investments have increased and exceeded investments in other areas such as HR, supply chain, business services, or fixed assets. To pivot quickly, CFOs are increasingly required to pay attention to automation and enterprise-wide collaboration as never before. An example from the civil aircraft industry illustrates what’s possible.
AviationPower goes digital
Founded in 2004 as a joint venture of Lufthansa Technical Training and Manpower Germany in Hamburg, Germany, AviationPower provides a range of aeronautic services including technical and commercial areas; ground handling; flight management; engineering; maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO); and other specialties. Employing specialists from all areas of the aviation industry, the service provider has multiple international partners and sites in Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf, Germany and Mold, UK.
A few years ago, an increase in AviationPower’s product portfolio and the integration of more group companies created bottlenecks in its planning and reporting processes. The company required a flexible, digital solution to meet its growing needs with easy, 24/7 access to information from anywhere. It required a streamlined process to address the business’ growing complexity.
Dynamic planning, comprehensive reporting
AviationPower found its beginnings in recruitment services, successfully positioning itself as a specialist for comprehensive aviation services since 2011. In response to its rapid growth in employees and revenue, the organization needed to divide its business into various companies and divisions. Its reporting processes became extremely complex due to the increased flood of data and product diversification. Manual planning and reporting with its existing solution based solely on Microsoft Excel became too labor-intensive and users were no longer satisfied with static reports that lacked filters. AviationPower decided to implement a professional digital solution to replace manual tasks with automated ones. It selected a software solution that processes data, automatically loads data from various sources, enables ad hoc business analysis through an intuitive Excel add-in, and supports web reporting with dynamic filters in a spreadsheet-like environment. The software implementation was fast, and users were accepting of the new solution because of its intuitive nature.
The implementation process started with reporting actuals, followed by budgeting a year later. The solution was similar to Excel, making the entire experience familiar and easy for end-users, resulting in minimal training following the rollout. AviationPower’s reporting and planning processes are completely based on this central data model, which includes profit and loss (P&L) and balance sheet data, statistics, and user input. The solution also enriches income statements, cost and revenue planning, and gross profit calculations with HR data from the company or the entire industry. It helps operational managers calculate salaries for HR planning as well. The tool also computes tax depreciations and helps assess the best use for new investments. The solution provides ready access to all relevant data at the click of a button so when new requirements or requests arise, the controllers can implement them in the digital solution without information technology (IT) support.
AviationPower’s commitment to automation enabled the company to deliver tailored reports on its highly diversified business. Replacing manual tasks with automation, along with its centralized web access to reports and budget templates, saved the company time. Compared to its past processes, budgeting and reporting have become much faster and more efficient and not just in the finance department, but managers in other areas also benefit from mobile access to reports.
While the rise of digital transformation isn’t new, the urgent need for it increased dramatically in the past two years. Through unforeseen circumstances, the aerospace industry has had to rise to the occasion by finding innovative ways to navigate new frontiers. Manufacturers that embrace automation and explore new ways to do business will be better equipped to succeed.