On October 30, 2023

Unleashing Tribal Knowledge by Evan Dowd

Leveraging OneStream for Comprehensive Financial Insight

In the dynamic world of corporate finance, “tribal knowledge” refers to the understanding of a company’s financial intricacies that seasoned employees accumulate over time, often at an operational level. This type of knowledge is invaluable because it comes from work experience and cannot be found in documented procedures or reports but resides in the minds of experienced team members. Unlocking this tribal knowledge and translating it into actionable insights is a critical challenge for financial planning and analysis (FP&A) professionals.

But this knowledge isn’t documented for a reason: there are severe limitations on where finance professionals can put and update it consistently and methodically. The challenge is that for most organizations, who rely on discrete and disparate tools for reporting, planning, analysis and forecasting, these kinds of critical operational knowledge and team communication fall between the systems. While each of these systems or tools might have “commentary” capabilities, they aren’t share-able across systems, and it is too easy to over-write or otherwise lose important but historic comments.

Enter OneStream, a robust, Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Unified Platform, designed to help organizations capture and harness this wealth of information. Every software solution has a “comments” capability, however on a unified platform these comments go much further. OneStream enables companies to combine financial data, analysis, and reporting, transforming tribal knowledge into a structured and consistent framework for more successful and efficient decision-making. Here’s how this can be achieved:

Highest level of Granularity Analysis OneStream empowers organizations to dive deep into their financial data by offering the capability to analyze financial performance at the most granular level, be it by product, program, department, SKU or any other dimension. This level of granularity is where tribal knowledge often holds its greatest value. Long-serving employees can provide insights into specific products or programs, historical trends, customer behaviors, or operational challenges.

Variance Report Commentary: OneStream allows users to attach comments and files directly to variance reports, offering a space for employees to share their insights, experience, and tribal knowledge about the underlying data. This functionality helps preserve the institutional memory of the company, as employees can provide context and explanations for significant discrepancies or trends, making it easier for others to understand the ‘why’ behind the numbers.

Rolling Up to Corporate or Executive Reports: OneStream is a versatile tool that allows data aggregation and consolidation. The insights captured at the product or program level can be rolled up into corporate or executive reports, providing leadership with a comprehensive view of the company’s financial landscape. This transition from granular insights to high-level reports ensures that tribal knowledge is integrated into the overall decision-making process.

Data Governance and Audit Trail: OneStream provides data governance and an audit trail, ensuring that tribal knowledge is captured with accuracy and transparency. This not only helps in preserving the integrity of the information but also aligns with regulatory and compliance requirements.

Consistency and Accessibility: With OneStream, tribal knowledge is not lost when an employee leaves the company or retires. The comments and insights are securely stored within the system, making them accessible to all authorized users. This creates a knowledge repository that is far more reliable and accessible than informal discussions or undocumented expertise.

In summary, OneStream’s solution enables organizations to capture and harness tribal knowledge effectively. By allowing employees to annotate variance reports, analyze data at a granular level, and seamlessly roll up insights into corporate reports, OneStream becomes a bridge between the invaluable insights residing in employees’ minds and actionable financial decision-making. This not only enhances financial transparency but also preserves and leverages the institutional memory of the company, ultimately leading to more informed, unified, and strategic financial planning.

Evan is an Account Manager for Strategic iQ. He helps clients in their consideration of OneStream and has worked especially with Manufacturing and Automotive companies. You can follow Evan here.
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