Vena guarantees performant, accurate budgeting and forecasting at EMG Belgium

About EMG Belgium

EMG Belgium logo

EMG Belgium is a Belgian facility partner for the audiovisual industry and belongs to the International EMG Group, active in 10 countries.

The company was founded in 1980 as Videohouse, is active worldwide and has 335 employees today. EMG Belgium has its own studios for the recording of TV programs, offers camera crews, captures events, is responsible for post production, and much more. The company’s customers are not only production houses, public and commercial broadcasters, but also regional, federal and European government institutions. EMG Belgium is the facility partner behind very popular programs such as ‘De Slimste Mens’ and ‘Temptation Island’.

EMG Camera shot


Searching for a streamlined budget process

The EMG Belgium Group consists of 5 companies. The group’s financial team has 8 employees. For its financial management, EMG Belgium uses Microsoft Dynamics NAV as its financial ERP. Initially, reporting was based on a complex process. “We made a copy of the data from Dynamics NAV and put it in Excel,” says Bart De Mayer, CFO at EMG Belgium. “We drew up a detailed budget in it.” From there onwards, the figures went to Oracle Hyperion and a solution from CXO Software.

EMG Belgium wanted to make this way of working more performant and streamlined. “Excel is a very strong tool, but we extracted so much data from our ERP system that it was no longer workable in Excel.” Especially for budgeting – analyzed on 4 dimensions – the risk of errors was too high with the old way of working. “We wanted a faster, more performant system, also allowing us to work very accurately,” Bart De Mayer says.

Detailed forecasting

Previously, element61 had implemented its ‘Out-of-the-Box’ Power BI solution for Microsoft Dynamics BC/NAV at EMG Belgium. This way, the company created a data warehouse serving as a source for reporting with Microsoft Power BI. “This solution perfectly works for actuals reporting,” Bart De Mayer explains. “However, we also wanted a solution to support our budgeting and planning process.” In order to meet that demand, element61 proposed to integrate the existing data warehouse with the ‘Out-of-the-Box’ equivalent for Budgeting and Forecasting -based on Vena Solutions - and adapt it to the specific requirements of EMG Belgium. Vena Solutions is a Microsoft solution partner, that markets a Planning, Budgeting & Forecasting solution that tightly integrates with a Microsoft data platform, Microsoft Excel and with native Power BI connections.

element61 also provided training on Vena report building. The objective for the EMG Belgium team: be able to make a comparison between budget and actuals, with the possibility to follow up the figures based on 4 dimensions and time indications. “It’s all about turnover, cost of sales, Opex and depreciations. However – and that makes it special –, we are budgeting at job level (a project or television show); not at the client level.”

At job level, EMG Belgium has the best view of fluctuations. “75% of a job’s budget is contractually determined and thus fixed. The remaining 25% fluctuates. We also budget that part, but there’s no certainty about it.” So, there will always remain an unknown factor to which EMG Belgium links an amount, based on its experience. “The purpose is to gain insight into the margins of every job. On an annual basis, we perform 1.000 jobs on average.”

Efficiency and time saving

EMG mixing consoleThe master data are automatically flowing from the Microsoft based data warehouse to Vena Solutions, replacing the manual import of data into Excel from the past. This way, a first manual barrier was already removed. In Excel, EMG Belgium also didn’t have any standard reports; now, it does. “In Excel, we always had to set the parameters manually,” Bart De Mayer continues. “In Vena, we can choose from the list of possible, but predefined dimension values. This immediately eliminates the risk of human error.”

Furthermore, Vena provides templates, allowing the team to detail budget amounts. “We used to do that in yet another Excel file, which made the whole process rather messy in the long term. Now, everyone uses the same templates. This leads to uniformity, allowing the colleagues to work together on reports much more efficiently.”

Moreover, a new forecast always starts from the previously available information about actuals and budget. “This allows us to save lots of time. It used to take us too much effort to delve into the details again and again, due to which this job inevitably remained superficial. Now, we draw up a budget every month, so that we have an incredibly detailed rolling forecast.”

Rolling forecast responding to change

Especially during the Covid-19 crisis, the rolling forecast turned out to be extremely useful. “Customers have often been moving events, or sports competitions,” Bart De Mayer says. “The situation changed almost every week. Vena Solutions allowed us to keep the overview. We were able to quickly switch with budget modifications and to immediately respond to the market changes.”

Thanks to element61’s support and training, EMG Belgium already has a lot of knowledge about Vena Solutions in the meantime. “We have personally built the reports we are using, as Vena Solutions is very intuitive. element61 gave us the necessary templates, which we started using ourselves. This went smoothly because Vena blends well with Excel, the front-end for all our reporting. Vena requires a certain effort in the beginning, but subsequently, it smoothly and quickly allows us to do a lot ourselves. This is a big difference with many other budgeting and forecasting tools as well as a huge advantage for us,” Bart De Mayer concludes.

Bart De Mayer, CFO at EMG Belgium: “Thanks to Vena and element61, we now have a detailed and flexible rolling forecast process. This allows us to respond very specifically to market changes.”

About Vena Solutions

Vena uses the flexibility of Excel and the structure of a controlled application environment in a single unified platform. With an Excel interface and cube-like technology, Vena is an enormously powerful cloud-based solution that seamlessly integrates and secures your data. It is a unique Planning & Reporting solution that leverages the native Microsoft Excel interface.

For more information on Vena, the solution and our offering, please visit this link: Vena at element61.