Building Financial Planning Processes

Kimball Hill Homes standardizes financial processes on Cognos Planning to reduce budgeting and forecasting cycles, improve performance management

Chicago — May 19, 2005 — Kimball Hill Homes, in an effort to standardize on an enterprise planning solution, has tapped Cognos and reseller partner Lodestar Solutions Inc.

Based in Rolling Meadows, Ill., Kimball Hill Homes is a U.S. homebuilder with revenues of $927 million. The company initially plans to use the Cognos planning solution to increase budgeting and forecasting efficiencies across its finance and land acquisition departments. Treasury is expected to be added to the project later this year.

Kimball Hill Homes said it wanted improved financial planning to replace a spreadsheet-based system that was used across departments and products and required a lot of time-intensive, manual rework. Cognos Planning offers the company both a Web browser and a Microsoft Excel interface option for end-users, allowing the company to use its spreadsheet systems to initiate plans. Kimball Hill Homes can then go "beyond spreadsheets" to accept driver-based performance planning that delivers high frequency, high participation and control, Cognos said.

"We wanted more accurate and meaningful financial information in a more timely fashion with a documented audit trail," according to Anabel Lopez, manager of Financial Planning, Kimball Hill Homes. "Cognos Planning fits our needs, and we expect to be able to have a single, consistent view of business plans and forecasts across the organization with a solid return on investment in terms of time savings, reduction of resources required to manage the process and improved reliability."

Lodestar Solutions Inc. of Geneva, Ill., supported Kimball Hill Homes and Cognos to prototype models and pilot the solution. Lodestar is a reseller of Cognos Planning, servicing the Mid-West region.

Cognos said enterprise planning is a core element of its corporate performance management solution, which, it explained, helps Finance departments define and link the operational drivers for the company's entire planning process, enables broad-based collaboration in planning across organizations and helps managers make resource allocation decisions in response to changing market conditions. Cognos said its Planning solution provides customers with an integrated operational and financial view of their business so they can proactively address business challenges for greater operational effectiveness across the organization.

"With Cognos Planning, Kimball Hill Homes will be able to simplify, connect and coordinate its planning efforts to reflect its evolving business and accelerate progress toward business goals," said Doug Barton, vice president, Product Marketing, Cognos Inc. "Use of the Excel interface allows Kimball Hill Homes to leverage the familiarity of spreadsheets, while improving plan accuracy and integrity by integrating personal spreadsheets into the enterprise planning environment."

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