Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Professional Services Automation Makes Sense in the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 22, 2011 9:34:53 AM

Cloud computing has changed the fundamental economics of business software, bringing new capabilities within reach of large numbers of small and midsize companies for the first time. Cloud-based ERP, for example, enables many midsize companies that in the past might have continued to use an entry-level accounting package to have more capable and sophisticated systems. The investment in software and IT capabilities to implement an ERP system on-premises is considerable enough that midsize companies often put up with a less-capable one. As well, midsize companies can now have their own call center operations because cloud-based offerings that support these operations require substantially lower up-front investments and have significantly lower operating costs than their on-premises counterparts. Consequently, a company that once outsourced all of its call center activities now has a greater degree of control of this strategic capability, often at a lower overall cost. The economic aspects of adopting the cloud are compelling, but there are other reasons as well. In some business software categories, even if the company has the IT resources and money to manage it on-premises, it makes better business sense to obtain this capability as a service in the cloud. For example, expense management is not a strategic process, and software users are often operating outside the company firewall.

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Topics: Big Data, Operational Performance Management (OPM), ConnectWise, Consulting, NetSuite OpenAi, PlanMill, ProjectHelp, Projector, PSA, Unanet Technologies, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Professional Services, Professional Services Automation, Project Management

Manage Your Software and Providers or Waste Money Unnecessarily

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 19, 2011 11:51:10 AM

I was reminded by a recent piece in InformationWeek about the need to manage the mounting cost of software more carefully that this issue never seems to become old news. I have read variations of it in IT trade publications for two decades now, reminding me of the quip attributed to Mark Twain: Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody ever seems to do anything about it. (Like many of Twain’s “quotes,” he wasn’t the author of this one either.) I believe that at the heart of this issue is a lack of oversight on software contracts, at the time of signing and especially in subsequent billings. Some companies don’t let these costs get out of hand because they have defined processes and responsibilities for managing them. The careless ones are fodder for the aforementioned articles, while the rest are somewhere in between. 

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Topics: assets, Office of Finance, Portfolio Management, contract management, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Software

Mining Its Business, Alight Partners with Scope Systems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 14, 2011 9:30:13 AM

Alight has announced that it is partnering with Scope Systems to provide the mining industry with planning and financial reporting systems tailored for extraction companies. Scope creates ERP solutions for companies engaged in mining, drilling and natural resource exploration.

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Topics: Planning, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), driver-based, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Integrated Business Planning, Spreadsheets

Accelerating the Close Makes Business Sense

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 13, 2011 9:06:05 AM

As the third calendar quarter draws to an end, most companies will be preparing their financial close, which is part of the ongoing accounting cycle. Periodic closing is a core finance function. Since companies found they could substantially shorten their closing intervals with computer-based accounting systems in the 1990s, there has be an ongoing focus to keep shortening the time it takes to close, and for good reason. For companies that must file financial statements with investors, closing the books sooner provides more time to devote to preparing and organizing the statements. And as regulations shorten deadlines for these filings, it puts pressure on the accounting department to finish this phase sooner. In our last benchmark research, a majority of companies wanted to accelerate their close, especially if it takes more than five business days, and nearly one-third (31%) of companies wanted to shorten their close to have more time for analysis and auditing before publishing their financial statements. Since this data is usually the most important component of a periodic review, a faster close lets assessments take place sooner and therefore become more actionable. Indeed, more than half (58%) of participants in our research said the major benefit of accelerating the close is getting financial or management information out sooner.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, Consolidation, Fast close, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, SEC

Global Tax Optimization Is Worth the Effort

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 9, 2011 10:04:41 AM

The globalization of business is having a profound impact on corporate taxation worldwide, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who covers international tax laws. The impacts on corporations operating in multiple national jurisdictions (which today, especially in Europe, includes a large number of midsize companies) are both positive and negative. Positive in the sense that corporate tax rates, tax benefits, reporting and other aspects of tax regulation are subject to competitive moves by countries as a way of attracting businesses. Ireland, for example, long ago crafted the most aggressively company-friendly tax structure in Europe, but now the U.K. and other countries are reducing rates and providing tax incentives for investment and operations within their borders. Even the United States seems poised to overhaul its corporate tax structure. At the same time, there are negative trends in the sense that increasing government cooperation in areas such as transfer pricing reduces a company’s freedom to optimize its tax incidence by artfully managing revenue recognition.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Tax, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM)

Rolling Forecasts Are a Good First Step toward Smarter Financial Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 6, 2011 10:00:14 AM

I recently participated in a panel discussion about the rise in the use of rolling forecasts in corporate planning. I’m not surprised by this trend; I have encouraged it. Ever since the financial crisis started three years ago, I’ve been writing that companies should rethink how they plan and budget to respond to increasing business volatility. Rolling forecasts are useful because they continually extend the formal planning horizon out more than a year rather than having it stop abruptly at the end of a company’s fiscal year. They can be the right first step in improving the effectiveness of a company’s budgeting process, but ultimately I believe that organizations need to adopt a better approach to planning – what I refer to as integrated business planning. Moreover, companies that want to adopt a rolling forecast approach must first make important changes to their planning and budgeting processes to make them leaner, more focused and faster. 

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Social Media, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, IBP, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, COO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Integrated Business Planning

Algorithmics Acquisition Deepens IBM Software for Financial Services

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 2, 2011 1:02:42 PM

IBM’s announced pending acquisition of Algorithmics is an important addition to the company’s portfolio of business applications aimed at financial services companies, and it is thematically consistent with its other acquisitions in risk management and analytics such as IBM’s OpenPages risk management documentation that I have already assessed. It’s also a good fit for IBM’s professional services organization, which has a significant position in the financial services industry.

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Topics: GRC, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Dodd-Frank, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), compliance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), capital adequacy, financial regulation, Financial Services

Finance Now Lives in the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 1, 2011 8:25:49 AM

This year’s Dreamforce is likely include a focus on the value of moving a company’s accounting systems and related record management processes (for instance, invoicing and ordering) to the cloud.’s annual conference is never short on hyperbole and promotion of everything cloud, which can be off-putting to staid finance department types (like me). And while some departments (notably Sales) have been quick to seize on the advantages of using the cloud, others (notably Finance) have not.

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Topics: Office of Finance, finance cloud, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), accounting software, financial systems