Lyft and Oracle execs agree: The key to big strategic moves is finance

March 18, 2021 | 4 minute read
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By Margaret Harrist, Director of Content Strategy and Implementation, Oracle

It is time for companies to go big. The business environment is forever changed, and those that don’t adapt their strategies to a more digital world will risk falling behind.

Making the right moves takes insight. Yet many finance leaders and their teams spend much of their time tracking down information and reconciling data about company performance rather than analyzing opportunities.

“We know some of our competitors close their books in 45 days; that means they're spending half of the quarter on the past,” said Maria Smith, senior vice president and corporate controller at Oracle, during the Oracle ERP Virtual Summit in early February. “And it's not just finance; that is the entire company.”

Oracle, on the other hand, released its earnings in just ten days this March —and is aiming for a one-day close. By automating more processes and taking full advantage of the capabilities of Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP, Smith and her team are moving toward that goal.

“When you're going through your corporate close, there are many things to do around fiscal allocation costs, and we have reduced that by 98%—which has enabled us to close the books so much faster,” she said. “My team and I are spending more and more time with our customers— time we used to spend on reporting past earnings.”

They’re also working closely with the Oracle Cloud ERP development team, discussing further enhancements for the application suite.

“Because my team is on the same public cloud as our customers (we have no customizations), all the feedback we share with product development is valid for every single customer,” Smith said. “We are working together on ideas for getting to that full continuous close and full automation. And everyone is completely all-in on making sure that this happens.”

Speed and scale at Lyft

At Lyft, Chief Accounting Officer Lisa Blackwood-Kapral is also looking forward to a much shorter close process.

“It’s taking us 12 days to close the books now,” she said during the summit. “My expectation is, once we have Oracle Cloud ERP implemented, we’ll shave that in half. Then once we continue on the journey with other products in the Oracle suite, we’ll further shave that down by three more days. That’s the ultimate goal.”

She also anticipates incorporating technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to automate manual processes and enable her team to focus on analysis rather than reconciliations between systems.

“The world's going 1,000 miles an hour, so for me to say, ‘Wait, I need another week!’ just doesn't work anymore,” she said. “Oracle is reimagining the financial systems footprint; it's a true transformation at Lyft with the products that we're implementing.”

And Lyft is going all in, said Jay Weiland, the company’s director of financial solutions.

After the company implemented Oracle Accounting Hub in just four months, he said, “We absolutely loved the speed that we were operating, and we wanted to do an entire ERP implementation—everything top to bottom with accounting, general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, assets, cash management, financial close, consolidation, account reconciliation. And we wanted it in one year.”

Scalability is key for Lyft, and Weiland said that being on a single platform gives the company the flexibility it needs.

“When you have 30 plus systems and you try to scale, often one will break,” he said. “When you have a single platform like what Oracle provides and you start scaling up, there is an even keel. Everything is going up to move at that same motion.”

Access to new innovations

Lyft is among the more than 7,500 organizations that have adopted Oracle Cloud ERP solutions. Today, more than 5,800 of them have gone live—and that trend accelerated in the last year, said Rondy Ng, senior vice president of Applications Development at Oracle.

“Even with the tough environment since last March, implementations and go-lives were even more active than the year before,” he said during the summit. “Just over the past few holiday weeks, we have had over 120 go-lives on core ERP; that's about three times the same period last year.”

The pandemic has accelerated change in many organizations, said Matt Bradley, senior vice president of Product Development at Oracle. Companies are realizing that once an annual operating plan is put in place, the world has shifted and assumptions no longer hold.

Another big change: CFOs are moving closer and closer to the customer to understand the leading indicators of what's happening in the business and to bring those into the forecasting process as operational drivers, he said.

“Time is of the essence,” Bradley said. “Your competition isn’t deferring decisions; they’re moving faster and faster and you’re getting further and further behind.”

Which is why Oracle’s quarterly releases of new enhancements and capabilities for its cloud ERP suite is key, Ng pointed out.

“In just the last 12 months alone, we have delivered over 1,700 new features in our cloud ERP suite,” he said. “Half of these innovation ideas came directly from partnering with our customers through multiple channels, including our online forum, Oracle Cloud Customer Connect. Many of these innovations are incremental steps towards our broad finance vision, which includes two broad themes: touchless operations, and continuous insights.”

Companies can no longer afford to be slowed down by manual processes and inaccuracies; implementing more automation in the close process is critical. For insight into best practices for an automated close and guidance on how to get started, check out this starter kit.

Watch the Oracle ERP Virtual Summit, which also includes insights from Oracle CTO Larry Ellison and leaders from PwC, Square, goPuff, M&G Plc, and Williams Sonoma, and access a range of resources on the bold moves businesses need to make.

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