KeyBank: One of America’s largest Workday finance transformations


Modernizing the finance function

While KeyBank is a 200-year-old financial institution, the Cleveland-headquartered organization has never shied away from making critical business investments. Case in point: when the bank—which caters to retail, small business, corporate and investment clients—needed to replace a decades-old mainframe finance application, leadership wanted to do more than buy new technology. Instead, they went all in on a business-altering finance transformation.

Priority number one? Replace the critical, but soon-to-be-retired, general ledger solution and their finance data platform, which stores important financial information.

KeyBank, however, looked at the bigger picture. It wanted to dramatically reduce transaction processing time and lower compliance costs by automating controls and reporting processes. This, in turn, would help reduce time spent manipulating and reconciling data and allow business lines to focus on analysis powered by real-time insights.

By streamlining the planning and forecasting process—and aligning expense drivers—KeyBank leaders would be able to make more informed decisions and help maximize ROI.

When KeyBank began its finance transformation, it maintained thousands of accounts and cost centers and had too many people manually inputting general ledger data. Plus, the institution’s regulatory and reporting process was mostly manual, meaning long hours and more room for hiccups and mistakes. Meanwhile, financial analytics were created in silos outside of the finance department. When conducting its analysis, KeyBank also realized that its shadow finance accounting and reporting activities could be centralized and rationalized to further improve service and reduce cost.

KeyBank took a holistic approach, addressing digital disruption head on—leading with automations, data consistency and preventive monitoring. This digital agility would help position KeyBank as competitive, operationally effective and attractive to top talent in the midst of a talent war.

KeyBank’s goal: Move being a steward of critical financial information and use new tools to drive strategy and decision-making. Meet targets, manage risk, find new opportunities, be more agile and join the frontier of predictive analysis with decision-ready information.


Investing in the future of finance

Using BXT principles, which combine business strategy (B), experience design (X) and immersive technology (T), the PwC team identified business capabilities across finance, data and architecture to update and improve. The joint PwC-KeyBank team used out-of-the-box thinking to assess where finance is today vs. where it could be in five years.

Throughout the transformation—which is ongoing and expected to wrap in early 2023—the teams have continually pushed each other to reimagine how work is done in the organization.


Banking on more efficient business focus and insights

KeyBank’s mission is to empower clients, communities and employees to thrive. But to continue thriving itself, the company needed a system that could help it reach business goals. The joint team came up with a two-step process to finance transformation:

Step one: Centralize and rationalize the operating model. Adopt a unified finance data model and common process standards. Digitize what was once done in manual spreadsheets and move to a cloud-based platform, using Workday Financial Management, Workday Adaptive Planning, Workday Prism Analytics and Workday Accounting Center.

Step two: Fully digitize. Adopt a finance-of-the-future operating model with real-time analytics. In the past, if a KeyBank employee wanted to look at a loan portfolio, they would see one large loan balance rather than multiple balances reflecting individual loans, and would have to crunch the numbers themselves. KeyBank’s new solution gives them deeper insights into their loans in seconds, so staff can spend more time collaborating on ways to boost business.

Before the transformation, about 85% of the finance team’s time was spent on processing transactions, gathering and collating data and completing compliance and reporting activities. Just 15% went to developing business insights, like identifying where a division might be underperforming.

These insights are crucial to keeping the business on track for growth. As they work through subsequent phases of the transformation, KeyBank expects to continue to automate a number of processes and further reduce the time it takes to close its books.


Elevating the workplace experience

KeyBank chose Workday, a PwC Alliance Partner, to underpin its transformation—which included revamping transaction processing, supporting new Federal Reserve reporting requirements and providing on-demand learning resources—because the software can satisfy a seemingly endless variety of demands. It could also flex to the institution’s needs, such as automating data collection and adapting to regulatory changes in real time, while maintaining a consistent user experience.

Given the enormity of this transformation, PwC and KeyBank upskilled employees through workshops, videos and in-person software testing sessions. These training sessions helped employees think differently about their work, easily adjust to new processes and learn about the time savings the wide-reaching technology solutions offered.

As additional tasks are increasingly automated, KeyBank’s workforce can expect to have even more time and opportunities to think strategically, become more responsive to business needs and develop new ways to invest company dollars. And getting everyone on the same system means each employee can access the same data and quickly get on the same page.

Part of KeyBank’s success can also be attributed to the company's flexibility. It changed its business processes to align to Workday’s platform designed on leading practices—like automating financial consolidation, which reduces overall reporting cycles.


Tapping into Workday’s time-saving tech

KeyBank’s technological requirements were complex, but Workday was a natural fit for the task. In fact, KeyBank has a history with Workday that dates all the way back to 2014, and it was clear there would be potential for long-term advantages with this latest implementation.

During phase one of the transformation, which wrapped in the summer of 2021, PwC and KeyBank implemented Workday Financial Management and Workday Adaptive Planning. This replaced the company’s old core financial system, streamlining its general ledger, accounts receivable and financial planning and analysis. Furthermore, by having all of KeyBank’s people and financial data in one Workday platform, they could create even more long-term synergies, insights and the opportunity for further automations.

The teams are now collaborating to expand Workday Prism Analytics, which will create a finance data hub, helping to instill employee trust and confidence that everyone is accessing the same data.

KeyBank also selected Workday Adaptive Planning for budgeting and planning and Workday Accounting Center to centralize accounting rules. Using Workday as a single platform across its entire finance function also makes it easier for KeyBank to integrate disparate systems and data. That, in turn, saves staff time and reduces headaches caused by to use multiple systems.


Compounding skills and digital agility for a more flexible finance function

KeyBank is now one of the largest financial companies in the US to use Workday Financial Management. While phase two of the finance transformation is still in progress, ongoing work is expected to enhance the company’s new accounting rules engine, potentially moving older financial systems onto Workday and improving the quality of various data models.

And it’s already produced significant results. 

The Workday adoption made KeyBank far more efficient—eliminating thousands of cost centers and dramatically reducing the number of financial and operational reports. The team remediated about 300 integrations, allowing employees to avoid reverse mapping and instead access financial data in one cloud-based dashboard.

They also automated numerous processes, saving countless hours of manual task time, and creating a digital-enabled workforce with skills to adapt to whatever comes next. Once the remaining phases of the transformation are complete, KeyBank’s objective is to close its books on the first day of the month, as opposed to a three-day close process, allowing them to deliver information to investors and stakeholders faster. In addition, they aim to be able to view financial results in real time, providing agility to adjust operations if they are in danger of missing projections.

As an added bonus, every simplified process helps KeyBank become more agile, meaning they can more easily adapt to customer wants and needs.

Reduced the number of cost centers from 18,000 to 1,300, eliminating duplicate work, unnecessary complexities and saving KeyBank significant time

Reduced the number of financial operational reports from 1,400 down to 100, further boosting efficiency

Automated 40% of SOX controls—the safeguards that help prevent errors—up from 17%

“PwC gave us an industry perspective of what’s possible from a finance standpoint. No one else we spoke with pushed beyond the basic questions.”

Douglas Schosser 
EVP, Chief Accounting Officer and Head of Finance Transformation, KeyBank

“It’s not just technology that changes, but the way employees do their jobs—human-led and tech-powered combination.”

Hal Houser

Principal, PwC

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Hal Houser

Principal, Consulting services, PwC US

Mike Roberts

Principal and Workday Financials Practice Leader, PwC US

Arjun Katyal

Managing Director, Financial Services, PwC US

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