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OneStream Implementations: Risks and how to fail

8 minute read

You have decided as an organization to implement one of the best corporate performance management (CPM) systems in the industry. Having decided to take this step, invest in your company’s efficiency, automation and future innovation, what now is required of your implementation team, and are there risks of failure?


One of the reasons OneStream has become one of the most switched-to CPMs is because of its extensible framework, allowing the efficiency and flexibility that each individual company needs. This, however, comes with the need for a professional implementation solution that tailors the software to your environment with a sophistication that only comes from experts. This blog talks about the largest risks during implementation, which can cause pain points during and after implementation.



How to fail


While this blog is titled ‘how to fail’ on a OneStream implementation, this has never happened with Ascend Partners. While there have been ‘less than optimal’ implementations with expected pain points and extra attention needed post-implementation, the reason you hire experts such as Ascend is to avoid complete failure on such a core business system implementation.


The risks listed below contribute to external failures that the Ascend team has been called on to fix for other implementation partners, or risks our team sees consistently that we try to mitigate in our own implementations.  


Inadequate planning

One of the largest pitfalls with a major business process implementation is the lack of planning. Yes, that’s right, it’s a business process project, not a technology upgrade. Some business leaders believe that because it is a software implementation, it should be limited to the information technology and the finance departments of companies.


However, because OneStream automates data integration, data quality across multiple legacy systems and supports business financial decision-making, your implementation is not a simple software upgrade. In fact, the planning process should be one of the most robust parts of any OneStream implementation. There is a reason why the training certification for OneStream refers to these experts as ‘architects.’ It is because, for every company, the solution needs to be custom-tailored with a high level of sophistication.


Within this process, you need to consider all the various aspects of your data silos, financial reporting requirements and differences between business operations in various locations and for different purposes. Too often, we see not enough input from data validators within the organization during planning which causes delays in later stages.


This is not to say the end solution is as muddled as other ERP rules-based CPM systems. For example, if you read our Terex case study, you will notice that data mapping rules can often be substantially reduced with OneStream. At Terex, mapping rules were dramatically reduced from 15,000 rules to just over 1,000 rules. So, while you may spend considerably more time planning your OneStream implementation compared to other solutions, the end result is a system that is fully integrated, has fewer rules, provides higher degrees of automation, and is tailored to your needs now and allows for easier expansion later.


Not enough staff to cover implementation requirements

Not enough time spent on planning can also lead to an inadequate plan that covers how much labour will be required within your company to complete the full implementation. On a full financial close and consolidation and data integration implementation of OneStream, expect your implementation team (such as Ascend) to quote between 2,500 to 3,500 hours. This one-time cost more than makes up for the mistakes if your main CPM is not implemented correctly.


While the requirements that we typically see are not onerous, too often, companies are not willing to have enough dedicated staff for the project internally as well. The best results for OneStream implementations are achieved with a full understanding of the requirements from the implementation team as well as what falls on internal staff. At the very least, you can expect: 

      1.    A senior finance manager /executive tasked to make decisions on the project

a.    Time requirement equal to 35-50% of their daily work volume

     2.    A project manager to oversee the process across all your organizational compartments

a.    At least 50% of their time during implementation should be dedicated to the project

     3.    A production employee to carry out internal requirements of the plan

a.    Expect this position to be a full-time position during the implementation


The senior finance manager or executive assigned to the project should have the authority to make decisions on the project. Often our teams experience delays, sometimes substantially, simply because there is no one willing to make decisions on the project. This executive should have an understanding of financial processes and a general understanding of ERPs and CPMs.

Without integrated project management between the implementers (our team) and your team, too many of the implementation processes go unanswered, unfulfilled or are not completed to the level needed before go-live launch.


The production employee should be an accounting professional with experience in both ERPs and CPMs that can help guide the team on internal processes and help with the implementation of OneStream.


Inexperienced project management

Another point of concern our team sees regularly is not having your own project management office or PM professionals on staff. While Ascend Partners has completed many OneStream implementations and the project planning process and outline provided to our clients is one of the best, it still requires effective management within your organization.


Here are just some of the planning-stage document requests that our team may need:


  • Current process documentation
  • Reporting packages
  • Chart of Account definitions
  • Documentation on source systems, i.e., connection strings, field names, etc.
  • Legacy CPM metadata, hierarchies, models
  • Calculation definitions


Also, during the build-out process, your internal team and experts at Ascend will work daily to achieve template success. These templates form the backbone of the finished product for your company and ensure that every need for data integration, quality and needs are met.


The internal PM can expect to hold daily briefings of tasks to be completed, cross-compartment communications and even knowledge or training sessions with those working on the implementation to ensure a smooth process.


You forgot to train concurrently

Leaving training to ‘after’ the build-out process is a common implementation failure. Not only will your employees expected to use OneStream, have a much larger knowledge gap to overcome, but concurrent training offers visibility on many possible issues with templates, processes and missing architecture needed for your organization. The employees that use the system on a daily basis will be able to raise these concerns earlier in the process, and they can be addressed before launch.


Furthermore, after launch, you will start seeing automation efficiencies, innovation potential and reporting consistency immediately, instead of having to review and revise your implementation because there was insufficient planning and training in place throughout the process. If you do not put in the time planning, you will pay for it in the end anyway.


Side Note: Agile vs Waterfall?


While many companies prefer an Agile system of implementation, in the OneStream environment of core architecture, especially during the first two critical phases of discovery and planning, it is important to use a traditional waterfall process. This allows for the necessary upfront heavy planning requirements. There are pockets where clients can opt for switching to an Agile system to have employee testing and training conducted concurrently, although a waterfall process is still preferable. 


If you would like more information on OneStream or Ascend Partners, a globally renowned consulting and implementation team, contact us today.


Ascend Partners Implementation Team:


  • Peter Popalis, Managing Partner
  • Colin Sawford, Managing Partner
  • Dave Jasper, Chief Delivery Officer
  • Richard Masterman, Director PMO



Ascend Partners Implementation Team, ”ERP vs CPM for Financial Close Brief,” Internal Brief,  April 2021.

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