Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

What a Bugatti Can Teach Us About Information Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 29, 2012 11:37:25 AM

One of the community groups to which I donate my time is an organization that puts on a Concours d’Élegance – a vintage car show. Such Concours date back to seventeenth-century France, when wealthy aristocrats gathered to see who had the best carriages and most beaudacious horses. Our Concours serves as the centerpiece to a broader mission of raising money for several charities. There a many such events in the United States and elsewhere, but this one, which has been held every year since 1956, has the distinction of being the longest continuously running Concours in the United States.

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Topics: Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, CIO, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FPM, GRC, Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Talent Management

Good Data Stewardship Is Critical for Business Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 24, 2012 12:29:51 PM

Our research consistently finds that defects in data are the root cause of a wide range of problems encountered by modern corporations. The magnitude of the problem correlates with the size of the company: Big companies have bigger headaches than midsize ones. Data issues diminish productivity in every part of a business as people struggle to correct errors or find workarounds. Issues with data are a man-made phenomenon, yet companies seem to treat bad data as some sort of force of nature like a tornado or earthquake – something that’s beyond their control to fix. At best they look for one-off workarounds and Band-Aids without tackling the root causes or recognizing the need to keep data issues in check. Data stewardship can and should be a part of a disciplined approach to management in the same way organizations implement quality control, cash management and legal compliance.

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Topics: Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, CIO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FPM, GRC, Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Midsize Companies Find ERP in the Cloud Increasingly Attractive

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 23, 2012 11:55:22 AM

Midsize businesses “pay” for their use of entry-level accounting systems by not having the essential information they need readily available and by using up valuable time that could be better spent generating business, finding issues or responding to opportunities sooner or simply enhancing the efficiency of the organization. Nevertheless, the transition from an entry-level accounting package such as QuickBooks to an on-premises system can be daunting for companies whose entry-level software no longer addresses their needs. Usually, the shortcomings start off as minor annoyances for companies that have between 100 and 500 employees and grow over time, and usually the pain grows with the number of employees and the volume and complexity of the underlying business. As business volumes expand and complexity grows, entry-level accounting systems are increasingly less able to support the underlying business. Yet finance executives usually don’t want to migrate to a new system until their old software threatens the orderly management of the business or becomes an overwhelming burden on finance operations. I know this firsthand, since not all that long ago I worked at a company where the CFO thought his biggest IT challenge was finding spare parts for the ancient Burroughs mainframe on which our financial system ran.

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Topics: accounting software, Business Performance Management (BPM), business process execution, Business Process Management, CFO, Cloud Computing, end-to-end, ERP, finance, finance cloud, Financial Performance Management (FPM), financial systems, FPM, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Office of Finance, Customer Experience

Making Better Use of Ratios in Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 17, 2012 12:01:56 PM

For the past several years Ventana Research has focused more on analytics and their importance to improving business performance. We’ve done extensive benchmark research in business analytics, detailing how they are used generally in business and in major functional areas of companies as well as their application in specific industries. We adopted this focus  because technology advances are changing the landscape of analytics. Its use in business management, for example, is getting new scrutiny these days because of three important changes in information technology.

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Topics: Analytics, best pracices, Big Data, Budgeting, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), business value, challenge, Customer Performance Management (CPM), driver-based, Financial Performance Management (FPM), financial planning, In-memory, Modeling, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Performance Management, Planning, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Office of Finance, Human Capital Management, cash management

Put a Smile in Your Last Mile of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 15, 2012 12:08:06 PM

People used to use the phrase “the last mile” solely to refer to a condemned prisoner’s path to execution. Then the telecommunications industry picked it up to describe that part of a circuit between a major trunk line and a subscriber. Later still a defunct software company, Movaris (now part of Trintech), used the phrase in an analogy to refer to the set of activities that take place between when a company closes its books and the point where it finishes its external reporting activities, such as disclosing periodic earnings and financial conditions to investors or filing financial statements with regulators or lenders. It was an attempt to focus attention on the need to automate and better coordinate the multiple, disparate but interconnected threads that have to be orchestrated to complete the external reporting tasks accurately and on time. Personally, I’ve never cared for the phrase being used in this context; there are really multiple “last miles,” with multiple and sometimes overlapping destinations. I prefer “the close–to-report cycle” because it’s more precise in its description, and because rather than pointing to finality, “cycle” defines it for what it is – a repetitive periodic activity. And because it is periodic and repetitive, it benefits from process optimization and automation, which can substantially reduce the effort required to complete a cycle and alleviate the stress certain departments often feel as deadlines loom.

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Topics: audit, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, close, compliance, Consolidation, Controller, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FPM, Governance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), GRC, Reporting, SEC, XBRL, Office of Finance, Customer Experience

Make IT Spending Transparent

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 9, 2012 10:17:50 AM

What does it cost to run an IT department? That’s an easy question to answer, but for most companies, why it costs that amount is not. IT departments often complain that most of their budget is devoted to funding daily operations and basic maintenance (“keeping the lights on”), but often, one big overlooked problem is the chargeback process that most companies use to assign IT department operating costs.

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Topics: Budgeting, Business Performance Management (BPM), chargebacks, Financial Performance Management (FPM), IT cost, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Office of Finance, Sales, Business Intelligence

Meeting the XBRL Challenge Takes Inventiveness

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 8, 2012 11:22:11 AM

For several years the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has mandated that filers apply eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) tags to their financial statements. XBRL was developed to make it easier for investors to use a company’s financial information. Now XBRL US has kicked off its second annual XBRL Challenge, a contest designed to encourage development of open source analytical tools that can use XBRL-formatted corporate financial data from the SEC’s EDGAR database. Sponsoring the effort are the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the CFA Institute (of which I am a member) and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. XBRL US hopes to raise awareness of the wealth of available XBRL data and provide incentives for application developers to create open source software that enables broader and more frequent use of the standard. The contest will award $20,000 grand prizes to the two teams, and judging will be based on how well each submission improves access to corporate data and provides analytic capabilities in an original, user-friendly way. This competition is a terrific idea because it addresses the least well developed element in the drive to improve the communication of corporate data to investors. Earlier this year I reviewed some of the submissions to the first XBRL Challenge. Although the first round of software offered a good start, much more needs to be done to encourage use of XBRL.

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Topics: Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), closing, finance, Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Reporting, SEC, XBRL, Office of Finance