Case study

Large media company's latest hit isn't a show—it's a finance transformation

Client: Large media company

Our goal: Help to provide enhanced forecast accuracy to better prepare and adapt to changes in the marketplace through a finance transformation.

Industry: Technology, Media and Telecommunications

Services: Finance, Operations, Accounting advisory services

Solution: Finance transformation

Client Challenge:

Bringing the frame into focus: rationalizing a kaleidoscope of finance applications, systems and processes

There are few industries as complex and fluid as the media and entertainment industry. The internet and digital technology have enabled new creative possibilities, economies of scale, entirely new ways to consume media, content production processes, distribution channels and business models. And the pace of change has been relentless. Our client, a large media company, understood that to thrive in this rapidly changing environment they needed increased transparency and visibility into their financial results, and at speed. Specifically, they needed enhanced forecast accuracy to better prepare and adapt to changes in the marketplace.

This was a tall order for a company with multiple, semi-autonomous business units (BUs) including TV and Film production, content licensing and distribution across news, sports and entertainment networks and domestic and international entertainment properties. And the challenge was compounded by the fact that each BU had its own finance applications, IT systems, procedures and processes, and many of the accounting and finance processes were largely or even completely manual.

“There is a mindset shift across the board. Corporate leadership stepped up and made their expectations clear, and people are getting the message. Now we’re starting to see and feel the benefits of a more unified culture. Business units are embracing these new ways of working, and we’ve laid the foundation for a broad spectrum of additional improvements.”

Ed Ponagai, PwC Advisory Partner

Approach:

Beginning the journey: creativity, strategy, execution

The journey started with a workshop co-hosted by PwC’s Experience Center, which is dedicated to helping clients execute transformations quickly, successfully and sustainably by leveraging PwC’s Business, Experience and Technology (BXT) philosophy. (Prior to this, to get some context, PwC conducted a high-level benchmark to understand where our client, and each of the BUs stood relative to their peers.) The sandbox gathered representatives from each BU, the Shared Service teams, the Corporate Group and other finance representatives from Tax and Treasury to identify areas of weakness and brainstorm solutions. Despite some initial wariness and skepticism, participants quickly warmed to the format and engaged in a lively discussion that produced some 75 ideas for improving processes and eliminating some of the most manual and inefficient aspects of their jobs.

Focused at the outset on building capabilities rather than implementing new technologies, the PwC team worked with members of the Controllership and FP&A teams to identify several areas for immediate action, including improving reporting by shifting towards a monthly close, establishing an organization to manage finance systems and streamlining processes through data rationalization and process automation. We were able to directly leverage the work we had done on similar engagements in the areas of finance IT, organizational strategy, robotics and digital to help accelerate solution delivery to our client. One of the primary objectives was for finance to redirect its efforts from routine “scorekeeping” activities to providing more value and proactive insights to the business. Our team fanned out across the company and began to execute the plan, launching “sprints” that provided immediate benefits while informing the future state of finance. The team focused on reducing manual entries, KPI and reporting package assessments and improving monthly activities such as payroll accruals.

Impact:

Improved finance effectiveness and collaboration.

About a year and a half into the multi-year transformation, our client and PwC have already scored several high-impact wins:

  • Several BUs are now closing their books monthly with an established roadmap for the remaining business areas
  • The company has increased centralization of general finance responsibilities so that BUs can increasingly focus on local challenges
  • A pilot robotic process automation project has successfully condensed a data collection and consolidation process that once took 40 hours down to approximately 20 minutes
  • HR and Corporate now have a firmer grasp on headcount and open positions through automated reporting
  • The company has set up standardized organization-wide monthly compensation and benefit accrual calculations and postings to the GL
  • Optimized domestic and international intercompany content licensing processes have been set up, to quicken the period end close.

Perhaps the most significant win is the cultural change that has started taking hold across the company. People accustomed to working within the four walls of their business or function are now collaborating with one another and sharing information previously held close to the vest. There is a new awareness and appreciation of the importance of team work. Once unable to take advantage of its scale, the organization is on its way toward centralizing data and standardizing financial systems. The original kaleidoscope is turning into a powerful model for efficiency, collaboration and insight.

Contact us

Ed Ponagai

PwC Advisory Services, PwC US

Jeff Mandler

Partner, Advisory, PwC US

Brian Updike

Principal, Advisory, PwC US

Noam Heller

Director, Advisory, PwC US

Karlie Humphreys

Director, Advisory, PwC US

Chris Paley

Director, Advisory, PwC US