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August 2, 2023

Case Study: UCAN (Chicago) Boosts Productivity with Workday Adaptive Planning and Has Fun Doing It!

When you’re implementing a new software there will be a lot of major thoughts going through your head, such as: 

Will people adopt this? 
Are we designing this the right way? 
How will it work?
Does it meet industry standards? 

Long story short, change can be scary but, in the’s always more fun 

UCAN (Chicago) is a Non-Profit Organization founded in 1869 focused on building up youth through compassionate healing, education, and empowerment. UCAN partnered with Active Cyber in late 2021 to help design their Workday Adaptive Planning instance. Their vision was to create something easy-to-use, meets their industry needs, and has an effective output on dashboards and reports.  

The Challenge: 

UCAN has been creating manual budgets and forecasts for each individual program for years. This resulted in many hours spent entering data, validating formulas and formatting reports that really should have been spent analyzing and interpreting results – AKA the more effective way to use analyst time. 

The Target Areas of Improvement were:  

  • A less manual forecasting tool. 
  • An integration to create a live data feed from their ERP & Payroll application. 
  • Elegant reporting and dashboarding tools. 

The Design: 

UCAN (Chicago) worked with Active Cyber on a 2-phase deployment. Phase one included integrating their Financial ERP System into Workday Adaptive Planning and ensuring that best practices were made to design high-performing Executive Dashboards. This involved cleaning their COA structure to be Adaptive friendly and integrating dimension splits to be able to rotate and pivot data quickly and easily inside Adaptive’s reporting and dashboarding tools.  

Phase one also paired a global planning tool specific to the industry and company expectations. Planning included Workforce Planning, Revenue Planning, Grant Planning, and many more types of financial planning one would see in a Non-Profit Organization like UCAN (Chicago). Active Cyber ensured best practices were followed to provide a scalable long-term product that can adapt to future company needs and changes that may occur.  

Phase two of the deployment included a live integration to UCAN’s payroll application that allowed the team to add program allocations for their labor expenses. Due to the best practices followed in phase one the Active Cyber team was able to transform the initial planning tool to a new allocated model that didn’t need a major reconfiguration. With a live connection to their payroll tool, UCAN can now accurately plan out their labor allocations for each of their rolling forecasts and FY budgets.  

Phase two also brought Capex modeling and leveraged Adaptive’s allocation module to streamline both overhead and program-related expenses that needed to spread based on headcount. The above practices allowed for a more accurate forecast that the team inevitably was extremely happy with.  

"The knowledge and professionalism of the Active Cyber team has been extremely helpful to us. Their team has even been able to train our outsourced Finance Team." - Nicolas P. Liakopulos, CIO at UCAN

The Result:  

Active Cyber has worked with UCAN (Chicago) for quite some time and has received positive feedback on their experience with Adaptive.  Nicolas Liakopulos, the CIO at UCAN, who played a large role in bringing together the right people to design the system, said, “Adaptive planning has impacted UCAN tremendously by allowing us to integrate our ERP application - Dynamics and UKG for payroll and personnel. For the first time, we can see live changes of business data. Active Cyber has been a key player in helping to put that all together. 

UCAN (Chicago) has been able to design multiple full budget cycles inside of Workday Adaptive Planning. Furthermore, the team has been able to leverage Adaptive’s dashboarding and reporting features to seamlessly put together reporting decks and visualizations.  

UCAN (Chicago) has also taken advantage of Active Cyber’s consultant expertise. The CIO said, “The knowledge and professionalism of the Active Cyber team has been extremely helpful to us. Their team has even been able to train our outsourced Finance Team.” UCAN was eager to learn and Active Cyber was eager to teach. UCAN is now self-sufficient in reporting and dashboarding but still partners with our team to consistently make enhancements to their planning tool.  


Active Cyber is proud to have worked with UCAN (Chicago) for as long as we have and we look forward to continuing to grow our partnership.  

With UCAN’s help, Active Cyber was able to implement a healthy Workday Adaptive Planning instance that is ready to grow with the company. It only took a short time for a well-established organization like UCAN (Chicago) to adopt the new planning tool and now UCAN is having fun coming up with new creative ways to plan other areas of their business. Yes, you read that right, having fun! Don’t take it from me, take it from their CIO who said, “My favorite part of the Active Cyber team is the camaraderie of the team members. Even though it was a lot of complicated work, especially with the integrations, we had fun and made the work a lot more pleasant.”  

Active Cyber and UCAN (Chicago) are always looking for ways to enhance the planning instance, but the relationship was really made on a few key pillars; be innovative, be effective, and be inclusive, and of course… don’t forget to have fun.  

Contact us today to see what using Workday Adaptive Planning can look like for you.  


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