The Finnish National Opera and Ballet: The Complicated Choreography of Salary Forecasting

Flexible and versatile Clausion FPM helped the Finnish National Opera and Ballet navigate the difficult twists and turns of salary forecasting. End users praise the intuitive and easy-to-use system.

From Excel to Business Planning and Clausion FPM

Before FPM, the Finnish National Opera and Ballet were already familiar with its predecessor, Business Planning. Previously, Business Planning had replaced Excel which had proved inadequate for complicated salary forecasting needs.

”Salaries make up a big part of our costs, and we have a lot of different collective agreements”, Business Controller Ulla Paavola explains.

The financial planning cycle at the Finnish National Opera Ballet is long. During the year, a production level estimate is made until the end of the year and for the next two years. The estimates are updated along the way.

For example, choreographer and director contracts are made for several years into the future, and decisions on guest performers and set and costume design plans change and become more accurate over time. Forecasting the supplementary pensions of singers and dancers is also challenging due to outside factors that affect the costs.

The Finnish National Opera and Ballet decided to switch to FPM in 2011 when they learned that the development of Business Planning was coming to an end.

”At the same time, our different departments had started to take more and more responsibility of their own forecasts and budgets. We needed a system that would be easy to use for end users”, Paavola adds.

System implementation by skilled professionals

The Finnish National Opera and Ballet’s FPM system includes financial reporting and forecasting, investment and depreciation forecasting, monthly salary forecasting, vacation salary calculation and personnel statistics. In addition, they use the add-on reporting functionalities Analytics and Dynamic Reporting.

Several interfaces connect the FPM system to different source systems. For example, actuals are transferred from the accounting system to FPM every night, forecast and actual performance numbers from the production planning system, depreciation and amortization forecast from the fixed asset management system, and salary and vacation information from the salary system.

As a whole, the demanding system implementation project went very smoothly. Information Systems Specialist Petra Tarkiainen remembers the professional expertise of the FPM consultants:

”The consultants understood what we wanted to accomplish and offered their knowledge in planning the system so that it would serve us in the best possible way.”

Naturally, a project this big was not completely without challenges. The implementation of a complicated salary forecasting solution required several trial-and-error rounds, but Paavola and Tarkiainen are satisfied with the result:

”We are very happy with how well it has worked.”

Everything essential in one package

FPM has proven to be an easy-to-use and versatile system which offers everything essential.

”FPM is very flexible. There have been very few issues the consultants haven’t found a solution for’”, Tarkiainen says.

The Finnish National Opera and Ballet consists of five departments which comprise the financial forecasts: opera, ballet, technology, administration and communications. Typically, FPM users are the heads of different departments and their assistants.

According to Tarkiainen, end users have adopted the system very quickly:

”FPM is intuitive. It has received a lot of praise from users, because it is so easy to use.”

Maintaining the system is also mostly done by in-house FPM administrators. With a little practice, changes are easy and quick to do.

All in all, the system has met the needs of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet remarkably well.

”New employees often suggest new systems when they first join us. But after a while no-one wants another system anymore”, Paavola laughs.