Mapping – the first step towards automation and standardization of financial planning

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Mapping – the first step towards automation and standardization of financial planning

June 26, 2021, In All news, Fairmas Blog

How mapping breaks down data silos and ensures high data quality

Summary:

The result of the mapping process is a binding set of rules for information integration. Mapping is the basis for an automated data import and export to maximize data quality and the first step towards a BI solution. More than any other area, performance controlling and financial planning are dependent on a maximum of data quality.

What does mapping mean and why is it important

Why do we need mapping?

Mapping is somewhat like setting the points in the railway. If the switch is set incorrectly, the train will not reach its predetermined destination. But unlike a misrouted train journey, misrouting data is less obvious and can thus lead to undetected economic damage – starting with missed opportunities and ending with a drop in sales and/or profits. 

The term mapping literally means “making a map.” If the term mapping is used in the context of process automation by software solutions, the explanation of the term only sounds slightly modified: The path between the data source and the data target is mapped, i.e., mapped in the sense of being defined. This is necessary because the most diverse applications (software programs) are used in the most diverse places in companies.

 

This is also the case in the hotel industry. Here, property management systems (PMS), accounting and document management systems (DMS), revenue management systems (RMS), rate shoppers, benchmarking, and many more are used to collect, process, and store data. These programs are usually self-contained and encapsulated, comparable to a storage facility or a grain silo, except that they deal with data instead of grain. If data from different sources is to be merged, this is often because it is done outside the programs, i.e., the data is merged manually via copy-and-paste in separate Excel tables.

BI software shows all decision-relevant information from various applications on one common platform. The data is imported automatically and rules must be created to ensure that no important data is lost, falsified or incorrectly mapped.

 

Data mapping is required as the first step for various information integration tasks.


 

When systems communicate Incorrectly – The Effect of Mapping on data quality

When data is lost, or incorrectly mapped, there are consequences for the quality of evaluations and analyses. Similar to how incorrect manual entry decreases data quality, incorrect mapping leads to (unintentional) alteration of the data pool. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture how reduced data quality affects the quality of decisions.

However, high data quality and maximum up-to-date data are essential in controlling and financial planning. Just as decisions based on outdated information lead to potentially wrong decisions, incorrect data, whether caused by manual input or incorrect mapping, lead to deviating key performance indicators.

So before opening the floodgates through which data is to flow automatically to minimize time and effort, the set of rules for the links must be defined. In programming, the result is called an interface, often an API (Application Programming Interface).

Immediately ready for use – An extensive range of existing interfaces.

The number 70+ stands for the number of interfaces currently offered by Fairmas. For many years, ease of integration has been a high priority at Fairmas. That is why Fairmas started early to build up a diverse range of interfaces. This service is constantly being expanded.

Below is a small selection of the currently existing interfaces to many common PMS, accounting and document management systems and other providers in the field of rate shopping, benchmarking systems, etc..

(For more information, read: “Interface integration – the essential for better decisions“).

An excerpt from our range of interfaces

Special case: Mapping from hotel accounting program to FairPlanner

A special topic is the mapping from the accounting program of a hotel, such as DATEV or Filosof, to the hotel-specific financial planning solution FairPlanner.

First and foremost, the accounting department is bound by the legal requirements of each country according to “proper” accounting. In addition, the rules of which costs are booked to which cost centre with which account number differ from hotel to hotel.

However, FairPlanner aims to standardize, i.e., to overcome existing national borders and to enable the comparison of hotel performance regardless of the size of the hotel, regional or national differences. Therefore, for many customers, the planning function and the evaluations are based on the accounting principles following the USALI standard. At this point, the mapping performs the function of standardization for the comparability of performance values, as required in multi-property companies.

The great advantage of this is that the mapping decisions in FairPlanner do not affect the accounting (data source) in any way. Here, the defined accounting principles continue to apply and remain unchanged, even if the allocation in FairPlanner may be different.

In 1926, the hotel industry was the first industry to develop its own standard in terms of the chart of accounts for the profit and loss account, which is now recognized worldwide. USALI stands for Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry. (Read also: USALI* the 11th – The International Accounting & Reporting Standard for the Hotel Industry

The following picture shows a mapping table from FairPlanner. The first 4 columns on the left contain account number, name and profit centre as they are used in accounting. The import specifications for FairPlanner are entered to the right of the vertical grey line.

In this example, the costs for paper towels are assigned to the Food & Beverage cost centre in FairPlanner. But an assignment to another cost centre, e.g., rooms, would also be possible.

Mapping tool within FairPlanner

The importance of actual sales and costs in forecasting and controlling

The following picture shows, marked with the arrows, in which summation the costs flow depending on the selected allocation. If they are assigned to the Rooms cost centre in FairPlanner, green arrow, the red arrow marks the Food & Beverage cost centre.

The assignment during mapping can therefore lead to shifts within the ACTUAL column in FairPlanner from one cost centre to another, with consequences for key performance indicators (KPIs).

Actual column from accounting in FairPlanner

Hotel financial planning – a reflection of a highly complex reality

To show how complex the hotel market is, here are two examples.

Example: Simplifying to focus on the essentials

With the first one, it becomes clear how fragmented the (accounting) reality is. However, separate planning of costs for tableware, glassware and cutlery implies effort that is not matched by any real benefit in financial planning. At this point, standardization makes sense for simplification.

Example: Hotel segmentation on the various consolidation levels.

Hotel segmentation is another good example of showing the complexity of hotel reality.

Hotels in a hotel group can use different PMS solutions and work with different hotel segments in Sales and Marketing. So this important segmentation can be included in the planning at all levels (region, hotel group headquarters, etc.), they are transferred (mapped) from the systematics of the PMS per hotel into a standard segmentation for FairPlanner and PickupTracking at the same, and additionally assigned to segment groups for consolidation at regional, country or brand level.

Financial planning is more than the sum of its parts

So, if one would like to draw a conclusion at this point, it can be: FairPlanner is an information platform for the 360-degree company view with integrated financial planning based on the ability to know the questions that need to be answered and to offer the user the appropriate functionalities at the right place.

Fairmas solutions have been and are constantly being developed based on our own hotel experience in combination with feedback from more than 5,000 hotels and 15,000 users. The design is logical, intuitive, and well structured. The easily adaptable requirements to the needs of every hotel make Fairmas particularly user-friendly.

The interfaces between the source systems and the Fairmas solution handle automated data transfer based on the USALI standard. Fairmas BI solutions are “cloud-native”, which means that information can be accessed at any time and from anywhere, and furthermore, there are no additional costs for hardware and its maintenance.