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Tagetik is a long-established vendor of financial performance management (FPM) software. Its full-featured suite includes planning, budgeting, consolidation, close management, disclosure management, analysis, dashboards and reporting. The software can be deployed on premises or in the cloud as multitenant software as a service or in a private cloud. Tagetik also offers pre-built integration with SAP and SAP HANA, Microsoft SharePoint and Qlik to best support a range of financial management needs.
The current release, Tagetik 5, has a pleasing and productive consumer-style interface. Its design approach aims at enhancing the user experience and making it easier and less time-consuming to perform common tasks in finance and accounting departments. FPM is a mature software category that generally deals with the full cycle of finance department activities as well as the underlying information technology systems that support them. Thus there are limited differences between vendors’ suites in the required features and functions. We find that buyers often select products by how they execute particular tasks and especially how easy it is to perform them. In response FPM vendors have been putting greater emphasis in the design of their software to enhance the user experience, often through a consumer-style interface.
Tagetik addresses the ease-of-use issue in its current release, Tagetik 5, by making it easier for business analysts to create and update basic dashboards without the need for IT department involvement or coding. This facilitates communication and performance monitoring. Users can work in Microsoft Excel, but behind this interface are all of the capabilities of a well-developed software application and database, which eliminate issues that occur when desktop spreadsheets are used in any repetitive collaborative enterprise process such as financial planning and closing. Unlike in desktop spreadsheets, rolling up and consolidating data submissions of any number of participants in a process is almost instantaneous in Tagetik 5. Moreover, unlike desktop spreadsheets, it stores the data with important attributes such as the time period, corporate structure (division or regions, for example), product (anywhere from families down to specific stock keeping units – SKUs – if desired) and currency.
The software also offers comprehensive and easy-to-use administrationcapabilities, especially in creating and modifying business processes for the full range of financial performance management activities. This capability is more than just a convenience for a few people in the finance department. It can make it easier for whole companies to accelerate planning cycles and facilitates high-participation planning and budgeting processes. Modifying processes also enables companies to tightly manage their accounting close process. Our benchmark research on the fast, clean close shows that companies that successfully shorten their close most often (in 71%) attributed their success to being able to manage the process effectively and consistently. With a limited amount of training and no coding, finance department users of Tagetik can define and manage every step of the close process. It supports a continuous improvement approach to managing the close by making it straightforward for the department to modify these individual processes and subprocesses as they assess sources of delay and inefficiency in their close.
Tagetik also supports more strategic finance processes. For example, it provides a platform that enables all parts of the business to plan in ways that conform to their needs and preferences and while still combining these plans into an integrated view as our next generation business planning research found makes planning processes to work better. For another, it facilitates the integration of long-term and strategic plans and company budgets. Our research in strategic and long-range planning finds that two-thirds of those that have fully or mostly integrated the two types can respond to changes immediately or soon enough, compared to just 22 percent of companies that have little or no integration.
The suite’s Disclosure Management offering was designed to help corporations manage the creation, editing and publication of external disclosure documents such as those required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory bodies such as bank regulators in European countries for their Common Reporting (COREP)requirements. However, this capability is also useful for automating a range of report creation functions, especially documents for internal or external use that combine text and data. For instance, users can create Microsoft PowerPoint and Word templates with text, numbers and graphics that can be automatically updated with the latest period’s data. Using this capability accelerates production of reports while cutting the staff time required to produce them. It’s easy to achieve bullet-proof accuracy since the numbers in the tables are assembled from a single authoritative source, and references in the text to a specific item in a table (an absolute amount or a percentage change, for example) are always in agreement, even when there are last-minute changes. Thus it is relatively easy to put together a periodic PowerPoint presentation for the senior leadership team or board of directors. It’s especially handy for creating monthly, quarterly and annual reports because once designed, the numbers can be quickly updated to the latest period.
I recommend that companies looking for a financial performance management suite – especially those that are replacing a point solution (such as obsolete financial consolidation software) or those moving away from spreadsheets – add Tagetik to their list of vendors to consider.
Robert Kugel – SVP Research
In our benchmark research at least half of participants that use spreadsheets to support a business process routinely say that these tools make it difficult for them to do their job. Yet spreadsheets continue to dominate in a range of business functions and processes. For example, our recent next-generation business planning research finds that this is the most common software used for performing 11 of the most common types of planning. At the heart of the problem is a disconnect between what spreadsheets were originally designed to do and how they are actually used today in corporations. Desktop spreadsheets were intended to be a personal productivity tool used, for example, for prototyping models, creating ad hoc reports and performing one-off analyses using simple models and storing small amounts of data. They were not built for collaborative, repetitive enterprise-wide tasks, and this is the root cause of most of the issues that organizations encounter when they use them in such business processes. Software vendors and IT departments have been trying – mainly in vain – to get users to switch from spreadsheets to a variety of dedicated applications. They’ve failed to make much of a dent because, although these applications have substantial advantages over spreadsheets when used in repetitive collaborative enterprise tasks, these advantages are mainly realized after the model, process or report is put to use in the “production” phase (to borrow an IT term). To date most dedicated applications have been far more difficult than spreadsheets for the average business user to use in the design and test phases. To convince people to switch to their dedicated application, a vendor must offer an alternative that lets users model, create reports, collect data and create dedicated data stores as easily as they can do it in a desktop spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are seductive for most business users because, even with a minimum amount of training and experience, it’s possible to create a useful model, do analysis and create reports. Individuals can immediately translate what they know about their business or how to present their ideas into a form and format that makes sense to them. They can update and modify it whenever they wish, and the change will occur instantly. For these business users ease of use and control trump putting up with the issues that routinely occur when spreadsheets are used in collaborative enterprise processes. Moreover, it’s hard to persuade “spreadsheet jockeys” who have strong command of spreadsheet features and functions that they should start over and learn how to use a new application. Those who have spent their careers working with spreadsheets often find it difficult to work with formal applications because those applications work in ways that aren’t intuitive. Personally these diehards may resist because not having control over analyses and data would diminish their standing in the organization. Nevertheless, there are compelling reasons for vendors to keep trying to devise dedicated software that an average business user would find as easy and intuitive as a desktop spreadsheet in the design, test and update phases. Such an application would eliminate the single most important obstacle that keeps organizations from switching. The disadvantages of using spreadsheets are clear and measurable. One of the most significant is that spreadsheets can waste large amounts of time when used inappropriately. After more than a few people become involved and a file is used and reused, issues begin to mount such as errors in data or formulas, broken links and inconsistencies. Changes to even moderately complex models are time-consuming. Soon, much of the time spent with the file is devoted to finding the sources of errors and discrepancies and fixing the mistakes. Our research confirms this. When it comes to important spreadsheets that people use over and over again to collaborate with colleagues, on average people spend about 12 hours per month consolidating, modifying and correcting the spreadsheets. That’s about a day and a half per month – or five to 10 percent of their time – just maintaining these spreadsheets. Business applications vendors started to address business users’ reluctance to use their software more than a decade ago when they began to use Microsoft Excel as the user interface (UI). This provides a familiar environment for those who mainly need to enter data or want to do some “sandbox” modeling and analysis. Since the software behind the UI is a program that uses some sort of database, companies avoid the issues that almost arise when spreadsheets are used in enterprise applications. There also are products that address some of the inherent issues with such as the difficulty of consolidating data from multiple individual spreadsheets as well as keeping data consistent. Visualization software, a relatively new category, greatly simplifies the process of collecting data from one or more enterprise data sources and creating reports and dashboards. As the enterprise software applications business evolves to meet the needs of a new generation of users, as I mentioned recently, it’s imperative that vendors find a way to provide users with software that is a real alternative to desktop spreadsheets. By this I mean enterprise software that provides business users with the same ability to model, create reports and work with data the way they do in a desktop spreadsheet as well as update and modify these by themselves without any IT resources. At the same time, this software has to eliminate all of the problems that are inevitable when spreadsheets are used. Only at that point will a dedicated application become a real alternative to using a spreadsheet for a key business process. Regards, Robert Kugel – SVP Research