Having come from some other budgeting & planning tools, we'd like to share some automation/self-service techniques we learned along the way but translated into Vena!
(Please keep in mind that this post assumes a working knowledge of Vena templates in the Vena Manager role!)
Let's look at a common situation we've seen with clients where there are a large number of accounts, but most are only relevant to specific departments and entities. Then when users try to work on their budgeting or forecasting, they see a ton of irrelevant empty accounts that clutter up the workspace and take focus away from the ones they need to work on. Here's a screenshot of what a typical user could see. Can you easily find all the accounts that need to be forecasted?
Applying zero suppression (such as with MDR) is likely the first thing that comes to mind. While it may work in many cases, situations can arise where zero suppression can also eliminate accounts we actually want to keep. Examples include needing to budget/forecast under brand-new accounts that don't have any history yet or a particular department needing to budget/forecast under an account it hasn't used before.
Now let's look at one way to get around this and apply zero suppression while keeping relevant empty accounts. First, let's set up the template/model:
- In the model, create a new "Valid" measure that will contain a non-zero value whenever an account is supposed to be valid under the current entity/department context. (will need the modeler role for this)
- On the template, map the original "Value" measure onto the regular template columns using a new hidden row. (see the yellow highlighted row in the screenshot below)
- May also need to remove the "Value" measure as a page mapping depending on the original template setup
- On the template, add a new hidden column to pull the new "Valid" measure in line with each account using the same section and block. (see the yellow highlighted column in the screenshot below)
- Map to "Undefined" for dimensions like Period and/or Currency where you don't want different valid account definitions. (Thanks to Juan-Pablo Marenco from Vena for this tip!)
Next, let's give users a way to mark specific accounts as "Valid" on their own without needing modeler/manager support:
- On the template, create a new tab called "Set Valid Accounts" to display an unsuppressed list of all accounts with the current entity/department as page context. (see rows on the screenshot below)
- Make sure the page options from the original template tab are also used on the "Set Valid Accounts" tab to keep everything aligned. The examples shown in this post would be entity and department.
- Create a column to pull in the "All Periods" value for each account so users can see which accounts are/aren't empty. (see the "Reference" column in the screenshot below)
- Create a column mapped to the new "Valid" measure. Use the same mappings as on the original template tab. Users can enter any non-zero value here to mark an account as "Valid" and cause it to show up on the main tab through zero suppression (see "Input" column highlighted in blue on the screenshot below)
- Note that trying to hide accounts by putting in 0 under the "Valid" measure won't work if the accounts already have amounts stored under them
Finally, we need to enable zero suppression on the main template tab (for example, using MDR), and users can now choose which empty accounts they want to show up on their specific template without manager/modeler support. Just remember to "Save Data" and "Refresh" after marking new accounts as "Valid".
While we used accounts as the example in this post, this technique can be more generally applied to any blank rows/records you want to keep while enabling zero suppression. We hope this helps generate some ideas around leveraging Vena for automating and enhancing the budgeting/forecasting process! Please let us know if you have any thoughts or questions about the technique we've outlined today.
This post will be the first of many, so stay tuned for more!