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GL Wand Simplifies Project Accounting at HBO

6 August 2009
With just a year of experience since their implementation of Oracle R12 in August 2008 and the purchase of GL Wand, HBO accounting professionals are singing the praises of using GL Wand for their project accounting. More than 50 members of the Pittsburgh OAUG were treated to a presentation by Michael Hinck from HBO’s New York headquarters during the group’s quarterly meeting in June.

Although initially brought in for GL reporting, the ease of using GL Wand quickly had ideas flying at HBO about using the tool in the Project Accounting area. Projects at a company like HBO are of gargantuan size. They include all of their original programming, such as wildly successful series like Sex in the City, the Sopranos, and Entourage, as well as dozens of projects that are in development every season. Projects are tracked from inception through production, and once produced and airing, the projects success may mean many are destined for syndication to other networks, both domestic and overseas. Projects also have video components and merchandise, and tracking revenue per project, on a show that lasts many seasons, can be a complex and difficult thing. Or at least it was before GL Wand. Since each show includes its own independent expenses, executives require P&L statements for each program. On traditional networks, revenues come from advertising, but on a network like HBO, it comes from distribution, flowing through a variety of revenue streams.

“We had purchased GL wand for our GL reporting. We loved the tool, but our GL reporting was really simple, so we decided to try to use it with our Project Accounting. By using SLA in R12, we were able to change our core data and point it in different directions, so we send it to GL Wand. Now we can track our revenue not only within each project, but across category lines. Our executives often want to know how a certain genre is performing, such as all one hour dramas or all half hour comedies,” Hinck says.

To assist in adapting GL Wand for Project Accounting, the team at Excel4apps created a way for users to query DFF attributes. This allowed for reports to be created that compared various projects to each other and combined revenues and other information. “The fact that the team at Excel4apps would work with us to customize the product really blew us away,” Hinck says. “It’s customer service that is out of this world.”

Today if an executive at HBO asks for how much sales and marketing expenses have occurred with one hour dramas that are in development, the number can be found with a few simple clicks. Users at HBO particularly appreciate the product’s reporting tools that allow you to drill down or expand upon information and send reports that correspond to user’s security clearances. This allows them to slice and dice data within programs, genre, or function.

“With GL Wand, it’s simple to create different reports for non-finance users and end-users who need the detail. You create your queries and get information, and then you can drill down to the vendor detail, but users will only see what they have the security clearance to see,” says Hinck. “The best thing is you build your reports in Excel using GL Wand and you save them. Then every month you just have to change the date field and use the Get Balance formula to update the report. You refresh the screen, and you have an updated report. The report manager creates the emails that send the customized reports to all your users. It couldn’t be easier,” Hinck says.
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    Michelle Wallace, Arbonne International, LLC

  • "It’s great to work with a group so committed to providing not only a great product but stellar service as well."

    J Raffensberger (MBA), Corporate Controller, Glatfelters

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    Donna Holley, Spectranetics

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    J Raffensberger (MBA), Corporate Controller, Glatfelters

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    Chris Hebden, Cairn Energy PLC

  • "It took less than two hours to train report users. The time savings for everyone is incredible."

    Francis Nocom, Applications Manager, Cochlear

  • “GL Wand has proven extremely valuable in accessing our Oracle data with Excel."

    Michael Hinck, Finance Systems Project Manager, HBO

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    Martin Stanton, Chief Information Officer, Destination Hotels & Resorts

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    Paul Simpson, Lancashire County Council