Norman Hay & Synapse – A Case Study

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4 Ways Synapse Improved Norman Hay’s Financial Close & Reporting 

Norman Hay is a Coventry-based global manufacturing group company; with their main business sectors including surface coatings, impregnation sealants and process plant. With circa 30 subsidiaries and divisions distributed around the world, the group finance team has considerable work to do each month end to produce consolidated Management Accounts. 

It therefore goes without saying that Norman Hay use spreadsheets to consolidate the trial balances extracted in disparate formats from each of their subsidiaries, which meant dealing with multi-entities and multiple currencies. This process was very manual and needed numerous copy and paste operations, introducing greater data quality risks as well as consuming the team’s time; all proving to be very inefficient. The bulky spreadsheet used for the consolidation made adding or removing subsidiaries even more time consuming and not scalable as the many formulae involved required careful manual adjustments.  

As part of this transformation, we identified 4 key areas in which we improved their processes:  


Simplification of Norman Hay’s Spreadsheets 

Being the most critical and clear issue, Norman Hay’s spreadsheets needed to be improved. Their main consolidation spreadsheet was overly complicated, and had been designed by an accountant that had left the company years beforehand. With the current spreadsheet devoid of an audit trail and not being understood by all members, we stepped in to solve these overbearing problems. 


“The monthly close process has been reduced by 3 days, from 13 to 10,” – Group CFO Nick Ogden, FCA. 


The implementation of our Cloud CFO package was a smooth one, as this provided an automated and seamless solution to Norman Hay’s spreadsheets. Chris Sampson, Group Financial Controller at Norman Hay, reached this point and the live Cloud CFO system now produces a more efficient application, saving time and effort each month across the finance team. 

The visual specifics of how Cloud CFO is beneficial to all Finance teams in any business 


Ease of Implementation 

Chris was keen to stick with their current spreadsheets, but he knew he had to eliminate the known problems and streamline the process. Hesitancy to commit to other alternatives to Synapse was a real issue, due to their high failure rate of adoption by group finance teams; financial analysts estimate that 30% of these implementations fail primarily because the finance team are forced to change their business as usual processes in order to adapt to the new systems.  

We at Synapse recognised this. Therefore as a workaround, we offered to implement our Cloud CFO solution in parallel to the current manual system so that Chris could see a complete replica of the manually generated accounts produced by our automatic Cloud CFO system.

The benefits of using Cloud CFO 


The Synapse team agreed to run and maintain this system as a Service Level Agreement supported service for a flat monthly OPEX fee only when Chris was completely satisfied with the functionality and outputs.  Chris reached this point fairly quickly and went live with Cloud CFO which now produces an automated and seamless solution, saving time and effort each month across the finance team. “The monthly close process has been reduced by 3 days, from 13 to 10,” says Group CFO Nick Ogden, FCA


Group Consolidation & Accountability (no pun intended). 

As new subsidiaries were added and the complexity involved with the spreadsheets increased, a surge in pressure to get the monthly management accounts prepared in a timely manner arose With today’s ever-increasing pressure on finance teams to produce reliable numbers these multifaceted spreadsheets make that impossible to deliver.   

By using Cloud CFO, Norman Hay could now see the benefits of a clear audit trail and a full overall group understanding of their spreadsheets – where does the data originate from? Who edited the spreadsheet last? All of these questions were now answered in one simple file format. 


“I could see that Synapse offered an evolution of our current system leading to a streamlined version of our processes in a way that would not impact our entity finance teams in a negative way.” – Chris Sampson


Chris says the immediate tangible benefit is the management time saved and the corresponding faster time to reliable numbers. “Norman Hay comprises a diverse group of businesses and we feel that we can now cope with information being captured from various financial systems and being put into a uniform reporting product.”  Group CFO Nick Ogden FCA sees the removal of a single point of failure and consequent risk reduction as a principal benefit. The local entity financial controllers have all adapted well to Cloud CFO as they are able to stay with their familiar spreadsheet interfaces, with no interruption to their existing business as usual on a daily basis. 

The easy to use Cloud CFO tool installed in Excel 


Ongoing Support 

A huge benefit to working with us at Synapse is our ongoing support included for the entire duration of the Cloud CFO package.  

Chris described the Synapse team as responsive, creative and able to come up with rapid solutions to the problems he posed.  Here at Synapse, we have a team of qualified accountants with the exact experience required to work with Chris on ironing out the many challenges of multi-company, multi-currency group consolidations whilst the team of computer scientists can adapt the Cloud CFO platform as needed.   


The most important difference in working with us is having access to this team as expert partners, with a very complete understanding of the challenges Norman Hay faced.  This is a much better approach than dealing with a software company that lacks this domain expertise,” says Chris.  Chris has now been working with the Synapse team on implementing the automation of the Statutory Accounts production process. As an organisation we continue to invest in and improve our Cloud CFO solution with a dedicated product roadmap and team in place to deliver it, constantly taking feedback from our customer base as we develop functionality. 

Nick Ogden Group CFO at Norman Hay, for the full interview click here 


As an additional benefit of Cloud CFO, the Norman Hay Group have been able to grow and expand with less pain, Group CFO Nick Ogden FCA commenting, “having made a couple of acquisitions this year, the benefits of having a product like Cloud CFO have been made very clear. We haven’t had to face the challenge of bolting more spreadsheets on and we can be confident that we have the checks and balances in place to tell us what is and isn’t working.  Entities can easily be added or removed by the group finance team themselves or the team at Synapse is on hand to assist with this.” 


Interested in understanding how best we can help improve your processes with Cloud CFO? Contact us here for more information  


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