Prior to the supply chain disruptions of recent years, Polaris Inc., a leading provider of powersports equipment, forecasted production and shipments based on innovation and market demand. However, since these disruptions occurred, the business environment became constrained by supply. Recognizing a need for more speed and agility across planning processes, the Polaris Finance team turned to the power of OneStream’s Sensible Machine Learning (Sensible ML) solution to assist with demand forecasting.
In previous years, Polaris’ business units had relied on a highly manual financial planning model with inputs such as SIOP-generated shipped unit forecasts by product, product costs and MSRPs, freight cost, and dealer discounts to arrive at a gross margin view. This model was referred to as the “Driver-Based Revenue Model,” and it provided the perfect opportunity to incorporate machine learning-driven forecasting and transition to a unified planning process within OneStream.
Polaris decided to focus their Sensible ML project on their North American Off-Road Products GBU, looking at a 12-month forecasting time horizon with a focus on variables impacting their Shipped Units forecast. These variables included Commodity Prices, Presold Orders, “Clean Build” Percentage and Build-to-Ship Durations. Historic data representing these variables would be combined with historic shipped units to generate the ML models and their forward-looking forecasts.
The historic data model covered 181 products, with weekly units sold from 2016 through 2022. Sensible ML crunched through this data, combined with commodity prices for steel and aluminum, factored in events such as holidays, and generated over 2,800 models for comparison. The OneStream ML models proved to be the most accurate, based on the historic data. The ML forecasts were run monthly and were incorporated into a driver-based forecast.
The results were impressive. Not only were the forecasts more accurate than with prior approaches, but with Sensible ML, Polaris added speed and efficiency to their forecasting processes, reducing forecasting cycles from days to hours. Polaris also now has more transparency into what’s behind the ML models, including insights into the key forecast drivers for more informed decision-making.
It provides a finance-run ML forecasting process that integrates seamlessly across planning and forecasting processes in the same user experience used for financial close and consolidations, account reconciliations and reporting.
“The ability to quickly generate driver-based forecasts is essential to adapting to our changing business conditions,” said Melanie Hermann, Director, Finance Process & Systems at Polaris Industries. “Incorporating AI into our planning and forecasting through the OneStream Sensible ML solution accelerates the forecasting process and further elevates it with powerful ML data-driven forecasts. Sensible ML forecasts have shown to be more accurate, and the Value-Add Dashboard provides the business users with insights into the key features driving the forecast to easily manage, improve and enhance the model.”
The Polaris Data Science team was impressed with the process and results. “Sensible ML commoditizes the part of my job that can be commoditized and allows me to focus on where I can add value… with the output that Sensible ML provides,” said Luke Bunge, Manager Data Science Product. “It’s an incredible timesaver and gets you to the best answer possible. The team did a great job immersing us in the tool…as opposed to turning it into a black box.”
For companies across fast-changing industries such as CPG manufacturing, retail and hospitality, Sensible ML reduces the traditional barriers to ML forecasting and improves both the speed and accuracy of demand planning. This enables organizations to fine-tune production plans, optimize inventories as well as reduce volatility and fluctuations in labor planning.
To lean more, download the Polaris Inc. case study and contact OneStream if you are ready to learn how your organization can take advantage of the power of machine learning.
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Last February, we held our first annual Partner Appreciation Month to celebrate and spotlight all the great achievements within our partner community. Based off its success, I’m happy to announce we will be hosting our second annual Partner Appreciation Month!
At OneStream, we firmly believe that it takes a village in all that we do and accomplish. And our village would not be complete without our partner network, which now encompasses over 240 partners around the globe. The role each partner plays in helping us attract and sell to prospects and customers, implement our Intelligent Finance platform, as well as provide stellar customer service is invaluable and a continuation of our mission and vision to be the operation system for the modern business.
Throughout the month, we will celebrate our partners’ many contributions and achievements with great incentives, including a chance to win a FREE ticket to Splash in North America or EMEA, as well as a chance to win an autographed hat by OneStream’s Brand Ambassador and PGA Tour Pro, Sepp Straka. Additionally, hear directly from some of our global partners on why they chose to work with OneStream and what the partnership means to them.
Also, our sales leaders will talk about partners as our strongest allies and why OneStream is stronger than our competition. The OneStream partner community is successful because of the full support of the entire OneStream organization. The relationship between our partners and each OneStream team is based on mutual trust, open communication and transparency. Collectively, this results in a unified effort and cohesive message when speaking with customers and prospects, ensuring the highest level of customer success in all we do.
During this month, I ask that if you are in contact with our partners, wish them a great appreciation month and thank them for the wonderful job they do in assisting our customers and us every day.
Thank you again, and Happy Partner Appreciation Month! Interested in joining the OneStream partner ecosystem? join here.
Stephanie Cramp, Sr. Vice President, Global Alliances, OneStream Software
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This year has been truly unprecedented. While there’s no need to name some of the events, suffice to say they’ve been significant and life-changing for many people, companies and even countries! The many organisations closing out the year thus have a lot to be positive about. And now is a good time to not only reflect on the past year but also look ahead and determine what actions today will help the organisation streamline financial close and consolidation processes to weather the storms ahead.
Many Finance organisations are still bogged down by inefficiencies in routine processes within the period-end financial close and reporting cycle. And that situation makes it difficult to shift time to value-added analysis and decision support. In fact, many organisations are still closing the books much in the same way they did 10-15 years ago. Even those organisations that have changed and updated over time can still struggle with routine period-end processes.
Here are some of the reasons organisations are still struggling with financial close and consolidation processes:
Collectively, the above aspects dilute the ability of Finance teams to focus on driving performance and supporting critical decision-making. These problems are then only further compounded when key functionality isn’t in place to deal effectively with the increasingly complex requirements and common challenges across the financial close process.
An inefficient financial close process can have a material impact on Finance team members or – worse – negatively impact organisational performance. How? Here are just a few examples:
And the best way for organisations to avoid those pitfalls year after year?
Make New Year’s resolutions related to financial close and consolidation processes.
A good way to define such New Year’s resolutions is to focus on the desired outcomes. These outcomes could include the desire to react faster to changes, increase visibility and transparency, save time through automation, or reduce the cost to report.
While those outcomes can change from one organisation to the next, successful organisations will have adopted many of the following outcome-based New Year’s resolutions:
The benefits of such New Year’s resolutions can be significant. How? Well, when more reliable financial information is available earlier, management can make prompt, informed and effective decisions. The early, effective external publication of financial results also indicates strong financial management and positively impacts the external stakeholder view of the organisation.
With a streamlined financial close and consolidation process, organisations can then better align Finance and the business with actual results and forward-looking strategies – opening-up significant new opportunities.
Organisations that successfully automate their financial close, consolidation and reporting have, in turn, been more successful at driving financial performance and delivering value. And perhaps most importantly, such organisations have gained the agility required to lead at speed, adapt to changing business and industry requirements, and weather whatever storms lie ahead.
To learn more about how organisations are conquering the complexity in their financial close and consolidation processes, click here to read our whitepaper. And if you’re ready to take the leap from spreadsheets or legacy CPM solutions to start your Finance Transformation, let’s chat!
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