Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Tidemark Enables More Effective Business Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 12, 2015 10:22:49 AM

Tidemark Systems offers a suite of business planning applications that enable corporations to plan more effectively. The software facilitates rapid creation and frequent updating of integrated company plans by making it easy for individual business functions to create their own plans while allowing headquarters to connect them to create a unified view. I coined the term “integrated business planning” a decade ago to highlight the potential for technology to substantially improve the effectiveness of planning and budgeting in corporations, and it remains true that integrating business planning can produce superior results. Companies that maintain direct links between functional or departmental plans more often have a planning process that works well than others. Our next-generation business planning benchmark research shows that two-thirds (66%) of those that maintain such links have a planning process that works well or very well, compared to 40 percent that copy information from individual plans into an overall plan and just 25 percent in which plans have little or no connection.

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Topics: Planning, Reporting, Budgeting, Human Capital, user experience, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Planning, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Tidemark, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Demand Planning, headcount planning marketing, Integrated Business Planning, Predictive Analytics, Project Planning

Infor Presents Itself as a Large Software Startup

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 30, 2012 11:28:33 AM

Infor described this year’s Inforum user group meeting as a coming-out party for a large startup company. Such a debut was necessary because Infor had been operating in something of a stealth mode for the past three years: a limited marketing presence, no unified message and a weak, sometimes inconsistent brand identity. It also needed to formally introduce Infor to customers of Lawson, the ERP supplier it acquired last year. The “startup” designation is meant to signal that Infor has been able to render a decade-long consolidation of dozens of smaller companies into one cohesive entity.

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Topics: Performance Management, Salesforce.com, SAP, Social Media, Sustainability, ERP, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Epiphany, expense management, Lawson, strategy, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, Business Intelligence (BI), CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management

BizNet Enables Enterprise Spreadsheet-Based Reporting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 19, 2012 10:39:24 AM

I’ve been advocating more intelligent use of spreadsheets for the better part of a decade. Ventana Research coined the term “enterprise spreadsheet” in 2004 to describe software applications that marry a Microsoft Excel user interface with a business rules server and a relational or multidimensional data store. This approach offers the best of both worlds in the sense of taking advantage of widespread familiarity and training with Excel while substantially reducing issues stemming from the desktop spreadsheet’s lack of data integrity, referential integrity and limited dimensionality as well as limited auditability and control. One example of the enterprise spreadsheet is data consolidation and data reporting software offered by BizNet Software. It enables business users to work within an Excel environment to assemble, manage and deliver periodic reports from enterprise data sources. It offers greater efficiency than stand-alone spreadsheets while effectively addressing the above-mentioned core issues.

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Topics: Planning, Social Media, Sustainability, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, BizNet Software, Budgeting, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, Microsoft Excel, Spreadsheets

Host Analytics Introduces Its Own Business Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 16, 2012 11:57:38 AM

Host Analytics has added new analytics and reporting resources to its cloud-based performance management suite. Business Analytics will offer a broad set of built-in analytics and reporting capabilities or, for companies with an existing business intelligence infrastructure (from vendors such as IBM, Infor, Oracle or SAP), the option of a self-service approach. I believe these new analytics and reporting capabilities give companies considering only on-premises performance management deployments another reason to consider a cloud-based option; for Host Analytics it broadens the set of features it has to compete with other cloud-based vendors.

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Topics: Planning, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, Host Analytics, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), benchmark, Decision Hub, Financial Performance Management, SEC

Data Plays a Key Role in the Close-to-Report Cycle

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 22, 2012 9:09:23 AM

Ventana Research recently completed an update to our last benchmark research on the financial closing process. It shows that many companies are taking longer to close today than they did five years ago. Whereas nearly half (47%) were able to close their quarter or half-year period within six business days five years ago, just 38 percent are able to do so in our latest benchmark. Similarly, five years ago 70 percent of companies were able to complete their monthly close in six days; today only half can. The research confirms that most companies (83%) view closing their books quickly as important or very important. Participants acknowledge that they can do better, saying on average that their company can cut at least two days from both the monthly and quarterly closes. Moreover, the longer it takes their company to close, the more time participants think they could save.

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Topics: close, Consolidation, Controller, process management, report, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management

SAP Rolls Out Business Planning and Consolidation on HANA at SAPinsider

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 19, 2012 10:42:24 AM

For me, the most significant announcement to come out of the recent SAPinsider conference was the company’s formal release of Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) running on HANA, SAP’s in-memory computing appliance. For me, HANA is a potential “game changer” for planning, statutory consolidation and other analytics-supported financial processes because of the substantial reduction it enables in processing time from loading to reporting. In-memory systems provide a substantial edge in speed of processing large data sets or complex calculations, whereas the latency between thought and answer in complex scenario analyses on disk-based systems often prevents a collaborative dialogue around possible situations and their potential outcomes. Today, companies have to simplify the analysis, severely limit the amount of detail or find some combination of the two. More than likely, they wind up not having a potentially valuable collaborative dialogue in activities such as weekly or monthly review and revision of operating plans and their financial consequences, closing the books or assessing the impact of pricing changes on profitability. In the case of planning, I expect that in-memory systems will enable make it easier for companies to make changes to detailed plans (such as the budget or production plans), which is difficult today for many of them.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, SAP, Social Media, ERP, forecasting, GRC, Mobile Computing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, IFRS, process, shared services, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, GAAP, HANA

Office of Finance Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 23, 2012 9:43:00 AM

As this year begins, “finance transformation” is a trend gaining favor with strategic consultants. The term is associated with the objective of shifting the focus of CFOs and finance departments from transaction processing toward more strategic and higher-value functions. This objective is hardly new – it has been the purpose of my practice for the past nine years. Our research confirms that most people want their finance department to take a more strategic role in the management of the company. But although some progress has been made, Finance still spends too much time and effort on the mechanics of day-to-day operations.

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Topics: Social Media, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Workday’s Financials: Maturing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 10, 2012 1:37:15 AM

I recently got an update from Workday that focused mostly on its Financials software. This part of the company’s business management suite has received less development attention than the HR aspects since the company’s founding in 2005. The bulk of Workday’s development investment has aimed at making its human capital management applications an industry leader and adding related capabilities such as payroll. It’s hard to argue against this strategy, if only because Workday is the spiritual offshoot of PeopleSoft; founded the company after Oracle’s hostile takeover of PeopleSoft, which he also founded. This pedigree gave the new company an advantage with workforce management software buyers. Moreover, adoption of cloud-based ERP has lagged far behind that of other cloud-based applications such as sales or workforce management, especially in the larger companies that have been Workday’s target market.

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Topics: ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), expense management, financial, PSA, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Tidemark, Workday, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Professional Services, Project Management

Reorganized Epicor Has Strategy for Competing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 19, 2012 7:42:48 AM

I recently received an update from ERP software vendor Epicor, my first since it was acquired in May 2011 by Apax Partners, a private equity company, and simultaneously merged with Activant, an ERP and point-of-sale software company serving midsize retailers and distributors. In my view, taking the company private is a good idea since it will have to make ongoing investments that would not have been treated kindly by the stock market. Bringing Epicor and Activant together (and perhaps adding other companies to the portfolio) could allow the entity to spread some development costs over a broader base of revenues, but software combinations are difficult to execute well.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SAP, Social Media, ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Dynamics, Epicor, Sage, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CRM, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Social, Activant, Apax, Financial Performance Management, integration

Infor’s Management Outlines Corporate and Software Strategy

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 16, 2012 10:58:19 AM

I recently met with Infor’s management team, led by CEO Charles Phillips. Phillips joined Infor in October 2010 after leaving Oracle, taking several other executives with him, including Duncan Angove, now president of Infor, and Pam Murphy, now the COO. In addition to the changes in the executive suite, Soma Somasundaram, who had been at Infor and its predecessor companies since 1995, became EVP in charge of R&D. A private company, Infor had been keeping a low profile for the past several years, probably because results were nothing to brag about, and I suspect Phillips wanted to wait until there were substantive improvements to point to before fully engaging with analysts. Subsequent to his arrival, Golden Gate Capital, the private equity firm that assembled Infor from dozens of once-independent software companies, acquired ERP vendor Lawson Software in July 2011. Lawson itself had merged with Intentia, a Swedish ERP company in 2005. I estimate pro-forma 2011 revenues for Infor plus Lawson for a full year at $2.7 billion (the company has not published this number). This is only a fraction of 2011 revenues for SAP (about $14.5 billion) and Oracle’s applications ($6.8 billion). Infor reported that organic growth in license revenues was 17 percent, roughly in line with comparable companies, and executives indicated in the meeting that maintenance renewals have improved.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Social Media, ERP, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Epiphany, expense management, Lawson Software, supply chain management, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management