Supporting healthier financial outcomes at Novotech

Clinical research company automates forecasting and reporting to save time and increase accuracy

Getting onto a platform like Anaplan allowed us to have one source of truth.
Daisy Lui, Group Financial Planning and Analysis Director, Novotech


faster report compilation gets key data to leaders more quickly


time savings on forecasting enables rapid response to changing conditions


data accuracy and granularity ensures trust in plans and budgets

Following a period of rapid company growth through mergers and acquisitions, the finance team at clinical research organization Novotech struggled with an increasing number of data sources and reporting procedures. To streamline financial workflows and reduce the time required to produce monthly reports and forecasts, the team chose Anaplan. After a staged deployment, the finance team’s accuracy has improved even as reporting and forecasting times have been slashed by up to 80%.

As a leading clinical research organization, Novotech has operations that span the globe. More than 2,500 staff across 30+ locations provide clinical services for drug development, protocol design, feasibility assessments, and regulatory submissions.

Since 2019, Novotech has grown through mergers and acquisitions, including several in North America and Europe, expanding into more than 12 regions. While this growth boosted revenues and profits, it also put added pressure on the company’s Australia-based finance department.

Greater complexity leads to decreased confidence

“Each merger brought with it new systems and processes, which ended up making our financial workflows very complex and inefficient,” says Daisy Lui, Group Financial Planning and Analysis Director at Novotech. “We also had to work with data from many different locations and in different formats and currencies, which had an impact on accuracy and made reporting challenging.”

The finance team relied on spreadsheets as its primary data management and analysis tool, Lui recalls. However, as the company grew its financial workflows became too complex for spreadsheets to handle.

“Overall, we had less confidence in our data integrity because of all the manual data consolidation steps that we had to undertake each month,” Lui says. “This made the slicing and dicing of data even more difficult and time-consuming. As the company continued to grow, these challenges would only increase. We knew we had to find a better alternative.”

Phased rollout eases transition

In early 2022, the Novotech team set out to find a replacement for its spreadsheet-centric financial workflows. In parallel, they began consolidating data sources across the company.

Lui and the finance department knew about Anaplan and had received positive reports from peers in other companies. They looked at a number of tools, but Anaplan stood out because it would let Novotech start with a small deployment and then scale up over time.

Working with technology partner Sumlookup, the finance team focused initially on consolidated reporting, then moved onto development of annual budgets. This was followed by additional reporting and forecasting functions. The three-phase rollout took less than a year and included building several APIs to connect to Novotech’s ERP and Salesforce CRM systems directly with Anaplan.

“Sumlookup was instrumental to the success of our rollout,” says Lui.  “They took the time to understand what we were trying to achieve and made sure that the Anaplan platform met all our requirements. They continue to be very responsive when we have questions or need technical support.”

Sumlookup Director Nick Cimini is pleased with the benefits that Novotech has achieved with Anaplan to date. “It demonstrates the way in which the technology can reshape work processes, delivering significant performance gains while also improving the accuracy of output,” he says.

Greater accuracy in less time

With Anaplan in place and operational, Novotech’s lean FP&A department quickly saw significant benefits. Workflows that had previously required numerous manual processes have been replaced with faster, streamlined alternatives. For example, routine reporting times were cut by 66%. “Previously, our month-end reporting would typically take up to three days,” says Lui.  “With Anaplan it’s done within a day.” The time required to create revenue forecasts for senior management is up to 80% faster: Forecasts that took as long as two weeks to complete can now be finished in just two days with Anaplan.

“We no longer spend time collecting source data, cleansing it, and reformatting it before reports and forecasts can be compiled,” Lui says.

With Anaplan, Novotech has improved forecast accuracy and detail. Data is collected at a detailed level from across the company and around the world, which ensures that all relevant information is available before forecasts are created. “Getting onto a platform like Anaplan allowed us to have one source of truth,” Lui says, “and to shift our focus from spending time consolidating data and fulfilling reporting requirements to driving value-add analysis and driving insights to the business.”

The Novotech finance team now looks forward to the future as Anaplan usage expands into other parts of the company.  “Anaplan has changed the way we function as a team,” Lui says.

Daisy Lui, Group FP&A Director, Novotech: Novotech is a clinical research organization, a professional services firm for biotech and pharma companies who want to outsource their clinical trials across 30 office locations around the globe with over 2,500 employees.

Planning is extremely important to our company as we need to ensure that we allocate the right resources and that we plan ahead. And as the team grew, as the business grew, the reporting requirements were constantly shifting and changing and we had to constantly go back and re-reconcile data, reconsolidate data, and slice and dice it in different ways. Unfortunately, the spreadsheets that we were using were starting to reach its limits with how flexible it could be as we were trying to map and cleanse the data.

So getting onto a platform like Anaplan allowed us to have one source of truth and to shift our focuses from spending time consolidating data and fulfilling reporting requirements to driving value-add analysis and driving impact to the business and really allowing us to feel more empowered and confident in our data and our recommendations to the business.

I'm Daisy Lui, FP&A Director of Novotech. And we plan with Anaplan.

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