Teenage student using the microscope in the laboratory

New flexibility for Wellcome Sanger Institute fuels COVID-19 fight-back

Better forecasting, clearer scenarios and centralized assumptions deliver improved planning at world-leading research body.

Although it’s one of the world’s premier scientific institutions, the Wellcome Sanger Institute was struggling with an outdated Finance solution. The over-reliance on spreadsheets and manual updates this caused added massively to the challenges of an already complex organization.

The most urgent demands facing Allen Swann, Head of Commercial Finance, included the need for better forecasting, planning and delivery of day-to-day activities. “We wanted a single platform where all data, workings and assumptions are in one place, enabling anyone to understand exactly where they are.”

That’s precisely what they got with Workday Adaptive Planning.  But then the world changed. “Much of our science was immediately diverted to COVID studies. And overnight our senior leaders were asking, ‘How’s this going to affect our finances?’”

“The main advantage is clear visibility around what’s been done, who by, and who’s approved it.”

Head of Commercial Finance

Faster, simpler, more efficient, and effective.

Implementing Workday Adaptive Planning, in collaboration with deployment partner ICit,​​ has empowered Swann and the Financial Planning and Reporting team to radically improve the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of their day-to-day activities.

As Swann says, “It’s fundamentally changed how we work with the Research Managers running the scientific programmes. Rather than talk in finance language, they can now tell us what systems, processes, and scientific activities they’ll be using. We put that information into the system, which automatically converts it into a budget and allocates costs to the correct places. It’s revolutionary.”

The new system is also greatly improving the team’s ability to understand the impact of diverting focus to COVID-19 research on the Institute’s finances. According to Swann, “Thanks to our much-enhanced data-analysis and forecasting capabilities, the leadership team can now make decisions, faster and more accurately than ever before, about what to spend money on and where to reallocate spending.”

Simple scenario-planning for rapid understanding.

In Allen Swann’s view, Workday has proved exceptionally powerful in its ability to play scenarios and change assumptions. “When we recently made changes for revised national insurance charges, we could easily model the impact of changing contribution rates.”

This would have been a huge exercise in the Excel era, involving major changes to all spreadsheets and altering the costs of every member of staff.

But now everything is simpler. “Suddenly we could do it at the touch of a button. You just change the contribution rate on the assumptions sheet, and everything flows through to the staff salary and costs input sheets. You can see the impact immediately—and we’re doing that more and more.”

Regular forecasts support decision-making.

The Finance team’s new ability to regularly update forecasts is directly benefiting management’s ability to make important decisions on where to spend money and where to reallocate budgets.

“With all the changes COVID has made to our scientific activity, budgets have been changing virtually every day,” Swann explains. “Finance has supported this by reforecasting month by month, something we could never have done so quickly.

“Now, we can simply copy last month’s forecast and make any big known changes and tweaks to underlying assumptions. It’s a great step forward—the current climate has made it especially useful for senior management to see and react to these regular reforecasts.”

Easy access to accurate data.

COVID-19 has impacted the Institute much more than most organizations. It’s not only enforced changes to working conditions—it’s also diverted the scientific focus onto COVID-specific projects.

This has greatly increased the value of a streamlined route to up-to-date, accurate data. As Swann says, “With Workday, we can quickly access the crucial data that really empowers us to make better, more informed decisions.”

Public Sector Executive, Feb/March, Cover

PSE Feb/March, 23

Greater choice, greater results

Our February/March 2023 edition of PSE brings you expert comment and analysis on a range of key public sector topics, from EV infrastructure to Digital transformation and reducing carbon emissions. Learn how the UK Government is investing in highway and freight innovation or read Cllr Matthew Hicks discuss the first step towards an exciting future for Suffolk, alongside so much more…


View all videos
#PSE365: Public Sector Decarbonisation

Be A Part Of It!

PSE365: Public Sector Decarbonisation Virtual Event | 21 Mar 2023

PSE has created a full calendar of events to address the most important issues that influence the delivery of public sector services. 

Over 365 days you’ll have the opportunity to hear from a range of highly motivating, informative and inspirational speakers. These speakers will equip you with knowledge and unique insight to enable you to overcome the challenges that you face.

Industry Survey

What are the biggest issues facing the Public Sector?

 Public Sector Executive is undergoing some in-depth research around the issues the Public Sector is facing and the importance of deploying and using new technology within Public Sector organisations. 

We are asking for your help to better understand how public sector organisations are utilising technology to support their digital strategy and your opinion on what the biggest issues facing the public sector are.

This survey only takes a couple of minutes to complete and to thank you for your time and for filling out our survey, we'll enter you into a prize draw to win a £50 Amazon voucher.

In order to assist public sector organisations with improving their existing technology estate, we hope to leverage our findings to share best practises and innovations across the public sector.

More articles...

View all