Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

IBM Provides Clarity for Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 24, 2011 1:31:20 PM

IBM Software recently held a user group conference called Vision 2011 that focused on its Clarity Systems acquisition’s users but also covered broader finance department topics. For me, the highlight of the show was the continued evolution and enrichment of the Clarity FSR external reporting application designed to automate the close-to-report cycle. This process is commonly referred to as “the last mile of finance,” a term coined by a now-defunct company, Movaris, and adopted by Gartner. If you think about it, though, it isn’t “the last mile” for the tens of thousands of companies that don’t publish financial statements and is only one of several important finance department processes that follow the accounting close (such as internal reporting and tax statement preparation).

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Topics: last mile of finance, tagging, XBRL, Financial Performance, Uncategorized, CFO, Corporate Finance, SEC

SAP Advances Enterprise Performance Management in Version 10

Posted by Ventana Research on May 18, 2011 5:09:17 PM

SAP announced the release of version 10 of its SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Solutions suite, an enhanced and updated set of applications and capabilities for executives and managers. In our Value Index assessment of financial performance management suites and my analysis of it last year, Ventana Research gave SAP’s offering the highest score, and this new release builds on that solid foundation that I already assessed in my blog. It has been several years since SAP began acquiring and assembling its performance management and analytical software assets, and the company has progressed to the point where discussing the integration efforts is becoming irrelevant. This release revamps the user interface of the different components to provide a more consistent look and feel – a crucial factor in facilitating training and improving user productivity. Outside of the suite itself, the current release is designed to integrate better with ERP, SAP NetWeaver BW, risk management and BI. In facts it establishes a foundation for finance analytics that I have researched and is essential for doing what I call and have written about in putting the “A” back in FP&A

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Topics: Planning, SAP, Forecast, Operational Performance Management (OPM), budget, Budgeting, rolling forecast, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Mobility, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), agile planning, budgeting software, CEO, Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

Acquisition of Lawson Complements Infor’s Portfolio

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 28, 2011 8:38:20 AM

Golden Gate Capital and Infor (which is owned largely by Golden Gate Capital) will acquire Lawson Software for approximately $2 billion  in a transaction that is expected to be completed sometime in this year’s third quarter. Lawson is the latest in a string of enterprise software acquisitions made or financed by Golden Gate that began almost a decade ago. Today, Infor is made up of legacy companies such as Baan, Comshare, ePiphany, Dun & Bradstreet Software, SSA, Sun Systems and Symix, to name just a handful. Compared to Oracle’s acquisition approach, I would describe Golden Gate’s as more of a “rollup” of applications software vendors because it incorporates a larger number of smaller companies. While Oracle has focused primarily on serving the largest corporations, Infor’s customers tend to be midsize to large companies or divisions of very large corporations. Nonetheless, with this acquisition Infor will have a larger base of revenue and installations to work from in an industry where size and economies of scale drive profitability and competitiveness.

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Topics: ERP, Human Capital Management, human resources, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Technology, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Talent Management, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

Infor Helps Midsize Multinationals Manage Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 14, 2011 10:38:18 PM

While Europeans have long had to adapt to working in many languages, currencies and legal jurisdictions, a generation ago most midsize companies in the United States did all their business in their home country and in U.S. dollars. Today, though, the relentless globalization of the world economy means that an increasing number of midsize companies in North America are functionally multinational and face the challenges of managing a more complex and demanding accounting and financial management function.

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Topics: ERP, multinational, Sunsystems, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Corporate Finance, FMS

Bringing Tax Into Mainstream Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 28, 2011 7:03:59 AM

Taxes are a big expense for most companies, profitable or not. Many larger and midsize companies must traverse a complex and constantly shifting landscape of tax rules, rates, and jurisdictions. I’ve previously written about the need for corporations to manage their taxes more intelligently, and that that may require someone in the tax department who understands both the department’s functional requirements and what information technology can do to improve those functions. Today I am going to discuss some organizational changes that are required to transform the tax department from a poorly understood, isolated and tactically driven silo into a mainstream finance function that is tightly integrated with the rest of that organization.

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Topics: Tax, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

Your Company Needs a Tax Technology Expert

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 21, 2011 2:00:26 PM

To manage taxes more intelligently  tax departments need to focus more on execution than compliance. I’ll confess that this observation is based on informal rather than rigorous research, so I’ll leave it up to individuals that work in these departments and in the finance function generally to consider whether this applies to their company.

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Topics: Tax, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

XBRL Filing Errors Point to Need for Automation through Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 12:45:15 PM

The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) “Interactive Data” initiative continues to progress forward. Thus far, some 1,500 corporations have filed their financial information using XBRL tags to facilitate review and analysis, of which almost 400 have had done detailed tagging of their footnotes. By June 2011 all public companies will have to provide an XBRL-tagged, interactive version of their financial statements. As I’ve noted in the past, I think companies should find ways to automate the XBRL tagging process to make it as efficient as possible and make this a part of a close-to-report process automation effort that can lower the cost of compliance, and give companies more time to review the substance (not just the details) of their filings.

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Topics: Accounting and Finance, XBRL, Business Technology, Business Performance Management (BPM), Chief Financial Officer, Financial Performance Management (FPM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

What is the Value of Your Financial Performance Management Software?

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 12:42:31 PM

Ventana Research has just announced its Value Index for Financial Performance Management (FPM) for 2010. Our value indexes are user-focused assessments of how well software vendors and packages enable companies to improve their execution of core processes. This one is designed to help businesses, especially the finance organization, evaluate the FPM software suites offered by major vendors in the context of their specific needs. Ventana Research defines financial performance management as the practice of managing the efficiency and effectiveness of financial processes including analytics, budgeting, consolidation, planning, reporting and strategy. The methodology we use to produce the Value Indexes involves evaluating in detail aspects of product functionality and suitability-to-task as well as the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance.

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Topics: ERP, Accounting and Finance, Financial Applications, Business Technology, Business Performance Management (BPM), Business Planning, CFO, Chief Financial Officer, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

Corporations Must Manage Taxes More Intelligently

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 12:02:12 PM

For the past couple of years I’ve been asserting that most larger companies (those with 1,000 or employees) need to adopt a new approach to using software to handle their taxes comprehensively, both the direct sort (income taxes) and the indirect variety (sales and use taxes as well as value-added or goods and services taxes). This is a necessary response to an emerging challenge from more competent and determined tax enforcement by governments worldwide. It will require corporations to make changes in how they employ software to manage their taxes, structure their tax-related data and manage their tax processes. Increasingly, corporations will need to have better control over the way they manage tax data, calculate taxes and handle associated processes so they can minimize their tax liabilities and their tax risk exposure.

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Topics: Accounting and Finance, Enterprise Tax, Tax Software, Business Performance Management (BPM), Chief Financial Officer, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management, International Finance