“It takes less time and there is less hassle. There’s no second guessing. The budgeting process and report generation are a lot quicker, a lot more reliable, and it adds value to decision makers.
It’s a big leap forward from using Excel for budgeting.”
Mountain View Hospital
Mountain View Hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho, was founded in 2002 and has grown to encompass a wide array of specialty practices and services in addition to its 43-inpatient-bed hospital. The variety of departments in the hospital system hits several healthcare needs in the region, including an on-site urgent-care service, speech and language therapy, advanced wound care, an infusion center and a health and fitness academy.
The care Mountain View Hospital and its staff provide to their local community extends beyond the inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic and rehabilitative services that they offer patients. Mountain View is also generous with its community involvement and sponsors dozens of charities each year, with events ranging from summer concerts to toy drives.
Mountain View, a Surgery Partners facility, recently surpassed the 1,000 employee mark and currently budgets for just over 60 different departments and cost centers. On a steady growth trajectory, Mountain View set out to conduct a comprehensive search for a budgeting and forecasting solution. As Controller Russell Taylor put it, “Excel had become extremely painful whenever I needed to layer on another acquisition or modify my projections.” Relatively simple modifications posed significant risk of errors because of the formula and format changes needed.
Mountain View Hospital’s expansive budget spreadsheet had grown to over 40 tabs. Performing meaningful what-if scenarios and slicing and dicing the data was just not possible. If they continued using Excel for their budgeting and forecasting process and continued to grow as expected, Taylor reflects he would likely have needed additional staff.
Mountain View began evaluating several budgeting and forecasting solutions. Its parent, Surgery Partners, was initially attracted to an industry-specific option, but quickly abandoned interest after seeing what Centage had to offer.
The solution’s clean, user-friendly interface and comprehensive what-if scenario planning would enable Taylor to uncover options and considerations that likely would have gone unnoticed before. In addition, Centage’s robust analytics capabilities would give Taylor both the metrics he needed and the ability to mold the report presentations to the format that his management team was accustomed to, easing the adoption process.
With the Centage solution at a significantly lower price point than its competitors, Taylor was able to persuade Mountain View’s parent company that it was the perfect fit and exactly what Taylor had envisioned.
Through one-on-one work with a Centage trainer, the budget was loaded into the solution along with several prior year actuals. That solid start delivered immediate value by giving Taylor and his management team access to variance analyses and reporting capabilities that they weren’t able to capture before. Formula errors that led to last-minute scrambles, and accuracy concerns about a missing cost center in the consolidated budget became an issue of the past.
The budgeting and forecasting process at Mountain View Hospital reflects the hands-on nature of their business. Several department heads now routinely enter their volume and expense expectations directly into the the new system. This streamlined process cut out a layer of data entry and gives users instant feedback while eliminating the time and error-potential of rekeying the data. It also results in a more accurate consolidated budget plan with a bottom-up approach.
Cost center managers were also trained to understand how drivers, sales volume and the data all interact to create more accurate budget and forecast reports–so they could recognize how a seemingly independent cost item would actually vary with a known metric. Taylor recounts that the first year required some hand-holding, but the computer-savvy managers were fine going forward. The two- to three-day data entry process is now completely eliminated.
Taylor said that in the first year he realized the immediate value the solution had on the decision-making process. Modeling and comparing different scenarios was now easy, and Mountain View has saved significant time each budgeting season by using the report templates and drivers.
Today, Mountain View Hospital’s budgeting process is far less complicated and they see a time savings each month, especially when scenario planning or modifications are needed. After month-end, the general ledger trial balance is imported, the data is validated by Taylor’s team and the reporting cube is downloaded. A data refresh is done, and the package of monthly reports is kicked out and ready for analysis. Each month, this step alone saves a complete day’s work and is performed in just half an hour.