Philip Bichard

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Philip Bichard
- Principal Consultant

An Interview with Sempre Principal Planning Consultant, Philip Bichard: Giving Finance Leaders their weekends back 

It may sound to many like an impossibility to give finance leaders their weekends back. And maybe it is impossible for many, but Sempre Analytics Principal Consultant, Philip Bichard is not like other Planning Analytics experts. His tenacity and expertise when problem-solving for clients have earned him a global reputation for excellence amongst his peers. 

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Philip brings a wealth of experience to the table, with over 25 years working with IBM Planning Analytics or Cognos Planning (TM1). Before joining Sempre, Philip developed planning analytics models for esteemed investment banking institutions and prestigious fashion houses. 

Transforming Financial Landscapes 

At Sempre Analytics Philip is currently working with two giants of one of the world’s largest global media, marketing and communications groups. Credera is a full-service consulting firm that operates at the intersection of strategy, innovation, data and technology. The second, CPM delivers data insight-led sales, marketing and customer experience strategies. Both are transitioning from IBM’s Cognos platform to IBM’s Planning Analytics or Cognos Planning (TM1), but needed the transition complete in a tight four-month window. What began as a UK-centric endeavour swiftly evolved into a Pan-European effort, with Cognos Planning (TM1) implementation spanning seven countries.  

The updated models, crafted with precision, offered a consolidated view of financial operations, allowing senior finance professionals to review both high-level insights and granular details.  

Change is not always welcome and along the journey, initial resistance and roadblocks were surmounted through the delivery of a model that massively improved upon the existing Cognos solution. 

A Catalyst for Change 

Despite initial apprehension, Cognos Planning (TM1) emerged as a game-changer, revolutionising financial operations and prompting a hunger for more transformative features. Its implementation marked a significant shift in business operations at the two consultancies, empowering finance leaders to make informed decisions with clarity and confidence marking a pivotal shift in the way financial operations were conducted. 

Navigating Challenges: Overcoming Obstacles for Success 

As with any transformative journey, the path from Cognos Planning (TM1) to Planning Analytics was not without its hurdles. With years of experience from which to draw on to solve the complex business challenges presented, it was possible to find practical solutions that deliver for the business.  

  1. Business Model and Profitability: Determining the profitability at the consultancies was no easy feat, given the complex day-rate business model and overhead allocation. However, through strategic financial planning and cost management, the teams successfully identified key metrics for profitability and resource utilisation, driving financial transparency and accountability at the firms. 
  2. Human Resource Planning: The intricacies of human resource planning, from hiring to promotion decisions, presented additional challenges for the teams. Yet, with careful consideration of staffing needs and operational impact, they devised comprehensive HR strategies that aligned with the project’s objectives and overarching business goals. 
  3. Cognos Planning (TM1) Implementation and System Performance: The initial challenges with the Cognos Planning (TM1) implementation, including sluggish performance and system inefficiencies, threatened to derail the project. However, through Philip’s expertise and relentless dedication, significant re-engineering efforts were undertaken to enhance system reliability, speed, and agility, ultimately ensuring a seamless transition to Cognos Planning (TM1). 

Delivering Financial Excellence 

In revisiting the shift from Cognos Planning (TM1) to Planning Analytics orchestrated by Sempre Analytics Principal Consultant, Philip Bichard, the outcomes have been significant.  

The transformation ushered in new efficiencies, delivering for the client streamlined financial operations, global expansion capabilities, and heightened customer satisfaction. Philip’s wealth of experience and attention to detail has meant some meticulously crafted models that offer scalability and adaptability, laying the groundwork for future growth and expansion for each of these two advertising giants. From reducing time-consuming processes to running practice-level profit and loss analyses, the value derived has been transformative, enabling smart decisions and positioning them for continued success. 

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