How Starburst enabled powerful what-if analysis by creating a single source of truth for headcount

With Nir Tropp, Director of FP&A • Starburst


Nir Tropp, Director of FP&A • Starburst

, • Starburst

Nir Tropp
Director of FP&A
Used by
Finance team
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Implementation time
Integrations with

At a glance

  • Starburst’s spreadsheet solution wasn’t scalable, and there was no single source of truth, limiting the value FP&A could add
  • The cost and expense model was live in Pigment in under 2 months, with the customer fully autonomous within it
  • What-if analysis is now super fast, and decisions can be confidently made based on the output since Pigment is the source of truth

In search of solutions for both finance and business

In Nir Tropp’s experience as Director of FP&A for Starburst, most other financial planning solutions don’t do a good job of balancing the finance need with the business need. This inevitably leads to different teams using different systems and processes, which is part of what had contributed to the pain he was experiencing as the inaugural member of the FP&A team at Starburst. Spreadsheets may have been well known, but the data was coming from so many different sources in so many different formats and structures that it was a huge effort to consolidate it into something usable.

Starburst was also growing fast, and spreadsheets were simply not going to allow them to scale. Because of the way the headcount cost model is structured, the level of growth made it far too cumbersome to manage a growing employee base in spreadsheets.

But worst of all, there was no single source of truth. Using data across Salesforce, NetSuite, UKG and Quickbooks, it took a long time to navigate through all the systems, pull the appropriate data, consolidate it, and then get it to a place where it’s actually usable, much less do things like what if planning. This also made version control very difficult, and the various data sources weren’t always aligned, creating lots of manual work to restructure it and then extract the insights needed to make strategic recommendations.

Having used many other tools in the past, Tropp knew that he needed something different; something modern and easy to use so he could get key business partners bought in, but also powerful enough to facilitate the strategic analysis he wanted to achieve. 

How Pigment solved for both the business and finance needs in record time

In the battle of finance need versus business need, Pigment addressed both brilliantly. Many other solutions were considered, but Pigment’s powerful flexibility, ease of use for end users, and elegant and modern look and feel set it apart from the competition. Additionally, the voice we give to our customers in shaping the direction of the product convinced one startup to invest in another, and the Pigment + Starburst partnership was born.

Even with just Tropp involved in the build, our team helped them go live with their cost and expense model in less than 2 months. Tropp was able to use it autonomously straight away, only leveraging our team as he considers new functionality.

“Within 7 or 8 weeks of implementation, we had the model up and running.”

Nir Tropp, Director of FP&A, Starburst

Tropp may have been a Pigment believer from the beginning, but he was determined to put Pigment through the paces. Throughout the implementation, he did all of the work in both Excel and in Pigment. We’re pleased (yet unsurprised, of course!) to report that the result in Pigment was not only just as accurate as Excel, but was achieved in much less time and in a more usable format.

FP&A leading the transformation journey

Headcount planning at Starburst has been completely transformed, and FP&A is able to achieve greater granularity and follow employee movement through the business in a way that would have been impossible in spreadsheets. 

Most importantly, of course, they now have a single source of truth for all cost and expense data. This is enabling them to confidently run what-if scenarios and make decisions based on the results. Recently, they used this functionality to run some what-if analysis around merit increase percentages, watching the impact of the changes in real time throughout their model. They even analyzed the impact of the changing exchange rates in a matter of minutes – something which would have taken loads of manual changes and modeling time in spreadsheets. 

“The process is much faster. You can sit in a meeting with our CEO and he asks “what if?” and I don’t have to go back to my desk, make changes, and hope I did it right. We’re more confident in the system. I can sit with him and see right away, and he can make decisions right away.”

Nir Tropp, Director of FP&A, Starburst

When a colleague recently got in touch with an urgent request, thinking it was going to create an all-night task for Tropp, he was able to achieve the result in just 15 minutes.

A scalable solution for the Starburst of tomorrow

As unscalable as spreadsheets were, Pigment is proving to be the opposite. Now that the cost and expense model has been built out and established as the source of truth, adding in new use cases like the capacity model and cash flow will be much easier. But before that, Tropp is focused on maximizing the models that are already there and bringing other stakeholders into the platform.

“I’m to the point where I’m asking them what they want to see when we go live, because we’ll be able to customize it for each one. That’s very, very nice to be able to do.”

Nir Tropp, Director of FP&A, Starburst

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