Talking CPM/EPM: The Accordion Experience
A Q&A with Solution Leads Kristin Tutchstone & Evan Leffler
Two years ago, Accordion’s CFO Technology Team was comprised of less than ten employees: a scrappy group of technology gurus that were eager to help the practice grow. And their hard work paid off, as today, Accordion’s CFO Tech Group is the second largest of Accordion’s eight practice areas (though the team is still as scrappy as ever).
Within this CFO Tech Practice is our CPM/EPM sub-practice. Experts at implementing and rebuilding performance management technologies — such as Anaplan, Oracle, OneStream, Adaptive Planning (Workday), Pigment, and more — this collaborative, dedicated, fun-loving team of practitioners is only continuing to expand.
We talked with Solution Leads Kristin Tutchstone and Evan Leffler about what it’s like working in CPM/EPM on our CFO Tech Team. Here’s what they said:
Q. Tell us about how you’ve expanded your expertise in CPM/EPM throughout your time at Accordion.
I joined Accordion with prior EPM experience, specifically within the Oracle space. But at Accordion, I’m not limited to Oracle. We take a tech-agnostic approach to all of our engagements, which ensures that our clients get the right tool to address their needs while we expand our skillsets in technologies that might be less familiar to us.”
While there’s no denying hands-on development during a CPM/EPM implementation is one of the best ways to gain experience, I’ve personally benefited most by shadowing senior leadership on multiple projects throughout my time at Accordion. Our practice has a growing list of A-team individuals who can offer 20+ years of invaluable industry expertise, and I’ve been able to learn new CPM/EPM suite products and advance in my career just by observing and utilizing their leadership styles and system processes. ”
Q. At Accordion, our consultants work on all stages of the project lifecycle (from pain point identification to early-stage requirements, to implementation and client management). How have you learned from these experiences?
Each project has its pain points, but I’ve learned that these pain points can always be addressed with solutions or processes — and oftentimes these processes are repeatable. Project re-work is almost unavoidable in most cases, so thinking steps ahead can help reduce our efforts and establish efficient processes for future projects. In other words, experience working across all stages of the project lifecycle helps us work smarter, not harder. ”
I have full lifecycle implementation experience from engagements at other firms, but the atmosphere is different at Accordion. Here, before I’m assigned to a project, someone always asks me, “Are you comfortable with this?”. And while it may sound trivial, it’s the first time I’ve been asked this question; I’ve always just been thrown into the deep end. It goes to show not only that our projects are efficiently staffed with the best people for the job, but also how much Accordion cares about the employee experience. ”
Q. At Accordion, we take an “execution-oriented” approach to our engagements — we’re practitioners, not just theorists. Can you talk about how the CFO Tech Team embraces that?
Everyone on the CFO Tech Team has an open-door policy and is more than willing to help at the drop of a hat, so those with less product or consulting experience are able to use the more senior members as a sounding board to help execute projects. What’s more, our onboarding and training program is second to none, which helps effectively ramp up resources for more junior staff to help them gain the confidence to directly engage with our clients and be true practitioners from day one. ”
Each sub-practice within CFO Tech is passionate about its CPM/EPM skillset and delivering best-in-class performance management solutions. Our teams are great at spotting a demand and then executing a tailored demo or accelerator to showcase our subject matter expertise. And each internal CPM team meets regularly to discuss technology releases and updates to stay current for all project work — ongoing and future. ”
Q. Describe the collaborative culture at Accordion. In what ways do Accordionites support each other, both on and off projects?
Accordion’s culture is that of a family. Team members are always able to lean on one another for help, regardless of practice area or position level, and we see that collaboration shine through in the quality of our deliverables. We also have a Slack channel designated solely to giving praise, allowing team members to shout out one another. It’s a really great way to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments and make outstanding work known across the firm. ”
I joined Accordion by way of the acquisition of Platform Specialists, and since then I’ve been nothing but impressed by Accordion’s collaborative culture. I always appreciate the firm-wide “Monday Morning Meetings,” where teammates show off cross-functional initiatives in a digestible way. It’s really nice for each team to have a moment in the spotlight, and it’s a good reminder of all the networks of expertise that we have available to tap into. ”
Q. At Accordion, “work hard, play hard” is real. Can you tell us about a favorite memory with the team?
Every team get-together is like a family reunion. Everyone is extremely welcoming and embraces new team members with open arms. Whether it be the smaller quarterly team meetups, regional office meetups, or company-wide initiatives like Accordion Live [our firm-wide offsite, which was based in Austin, TX in 2022], it’s always so much fun. ”
I work remotely in the greater Pittsburgh area, so I always look forward to any in-person meeting or event. Every time I travel to the New York office, everyone is focused…until happy hour hits and the fun begins. One of my all-time favorite team events is when we went for drinks and bowling; it was so much fun to spend time together and see everyone’s competitive side come out. ”
Q. Tell us what Accordion’s core value “think like an owner” means to you.
At Accordion, there are countless ways to go the extra mile and get involved with in-house training or new initiatives. Taking advantage of these opportunities and advocating for yourself in the process is a great way to “think like an owner.” And if you have questions along the way, our mentors and senior leadership team always make themselves available to offer support and guidance. ”
In the context of performance management, “think like an owner” means stepping into the shoes of the client. I think about the pain points in the financial process that might have led them to leverage Accordion’s services, and how I can design a solution that meets their needs in a sustainable way. I think of myself as the end-user and consider what I’d want if I took ownership of the solution day-to-day. This helps me be a true partner to the client and deliver a solution that will benefit their business long-term. ”
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