Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Find Out Which Is the Hottest Financial Performance Management Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 9, 2013 8:56:33 AM

We recently issued our 2013 Value Index on Financial Performance Management. Ventana Research defines financial performance management (FPM) as the process of addressing the often overlapping people, process, information and technology issues that affect how well finance organizations operate and support the activities of the rest of their organization. FPM deals with the full cycle of finance department activities, which includes planning and budgeting, analysis, assessment and review, closing and consolidation, and internal and external financial reporting, as well as the underlying IT systems that support them. Our Value Index is informed by more than a decade of analysis of how well technology suppliers and their products satisfy specific business and IT needs. We perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability to task in five categories as well as of the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. Our resulting index gauges the value offered by each individual vendor and its products in supporting FPM, which is necessary for running an organization efficiently and effectively.

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Topics: Mobile, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, contingency planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Value Index, Financial Performance Management

IBM’s 2013 Vision Bodes Well for Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 3, 2013 9:55:17 AM

I recently attended Vision 2013, IBM’s annual conference for users of its financial governance, risk management and sales performance management software. These three groups have little in common operationally, but they share software infrastructure needs and basic supporting software components such as reporting and analytics. Moreover, while some other major vendors’ user group meetings concentrate on IT departments, Vision focuses on business users and their needs, which is a welcome difference. For me, there were three noteworthy features related to the finance portion of the program. First, IBM continues to advance its financial performance management (FPM) suite and emphasizes its Cognos TM1 platform to support a range of finance department tasks. Second, the user-led sessions illustrated improvements that finance departments can make to their core processes today, ones that improve the quality of these processes and go a long way toward enabling Finance to play a more strategic role in the company it serves. Third, the Cognos Disclosure Management product has better performance and useful new features to support the management of a full range of internal and external disclosure documents, including the extended close, which I have discussed.

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Topics: Planning, Reporting, Budgeting, closing, XBRL, Analytics, Data Management, IBM, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM, SEC, TM1, Digital Technology

Infor Demonstrates Steady Stream of Advances to Customers

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 26, 2013 10:58:55 AM

At this year’s Inforum user group conference, Infor representatives showed the progress the organization has made since last year in transforming itself from a ragbag of mostly small, often obsolete software companies to a competitive vendor of a modern enterprise management software suite. Infor was created by private equity investors employing a “rollup” strategy, aimed at combining smaller companies within an industry to form a single larger company that could achieve economies of scale and greater market presence. Others have tried this in the software industry in the past and encountered difficulty in making it work for two primary reasons. One is the technical challenge of achieving economies of scale in enterprise applications by turning a set of similar but separately developed software pieces into a single offering. Computer Associates achieved economies of scale through acquisition in the 1990s in the IT infrastructure software segment. But it did this largely by forcing customers of the various acquired companies to migrate to its single offering in the specific category. This is not a practical approach for business and finance enterprise applications because customers are willing to go off maintenance and eventually look for another vendor. The second difficulty is that newer or larger competitors can focus on innovation and overtake the rollup company while its attention and resources are focused on stitching the pieces together.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Social Media, GRC, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, closing, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), FPM, SEC

International Integrated Reporting Framework Takes Shape

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 23, 2013 10:45:13 AM

The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) recently published a draft framework outlining how it believes businesses ought to communicate with their stakeholders. In this context the purpose of an “integrated report” is to promote corporate transparency by clearly and concisely presenting how an organization’s strategy, governance, and financial and operational performance will create value for shareholders and other stakeholders in both the short and the long term. Such a report aims to address broader needs than only those of investors’ and therefore must be more than a simple extension of a company’s external financial reports, which are aimed at a specialist audience including analysts, regulators and lawyers.

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Topics: Sustainability, Office of Finance, closing, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), financial reporting, FPM, SASB, SEC

Getting to the Next Generation of Finance Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 19, 2013 11:12:55 AM

One of the most important IT trends over the past decade has been the proliferation of ever wider and deeper sets of information sources that businesses use to collect, track and analyze data. While structured numerical data remains the most common category, organizations are also learning to exploit semistructured data (text, for example) as well as more complex data types such as voice and image files. They use these analytics increasingly in every aspect of their business – to assess financial performance, process quality, operational status, risk and even governance and compliance. Properly applied, business analytics can deliver significant value by deepening insight, supporting better decision-making and providing alerts when situations require attention from managers or executives.

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Customer, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, close, closing, Finance Analytics, PRO, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Risk, costing, FPM, Profitability

IBM to Acquire Star Analytics for Financial Data Integration

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 7, 2013 7:00:08 AM

IBM this week announced its pending acquisition of the Star Analytics product portfolio. Star Analytics is a privately held company that offers products designed to provide easy access to and integration with Oracle Hyperion data sources. While Star Analytics has a good product and solid references, it has lacked critical mass to support more effective sales and marketing efforts. Star Analytics’ strategic value to IBM lies in its ability to unlock data held in Oracle Essbase multidimensional databases, which is the repository for applications such as Hyperion Enterprise, Financial Management and Planning. It supports IBM’s aim to offer comprehensive business analytics capabilities, which means it must be able to facilitate access to all data sources. Longer term, it enables IBM to compete with Oracle for finance department customers with IBM’s own financial performance management applications. Star Analytics gives IBM a means of fostering relationships with existing users of Hyperion applications and a more graceful migration path to using IBM’s financial, analytics and business intelligence software.

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Topics: Reporting, closing, Essbase, Hyperion, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Data Integration, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Financial Performance Management, Star Analytics, TM1

California Blue Shield Foundation Uses FinancialForce to Improve Finance Effectiveness

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 2, 2013 11:23:00 AM

As I’ve noted before, it’s common for CFOs of companies that are transitioning from being a small to a midsize business (that is, when they grow past about 100 employees) to find that the entry-level accounting package that they have been using no longer fits their needs. This software may be inexpensive to purchase and easy to use but it lacks many of the customization and business process management capabilities that become increasingly important as organizations grow. The transition from such an application is especially difficult when it involves an on-premises system, because the up-front and ongoing costs of implementing and using these can be daunting. 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 increases with the number of employees and the volume and complexity of the underlying business. Yet because of the cost, 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. For that reason, increasingly we are finding companies choosing to migrate to a cloud-based ERP system sooner in their evolution because it is usually a more affordable and easier transition than using on-premises software.

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Topics: Planning, Salesforce.com, ERP, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, close, closing, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, FinancialForce.com

What Every CEO Should Know About Software for Finance and Sales

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 26, 2012 7:11:51 AM

This is the third in a series of blog posts on what CEOs (and for that matter, all senior corporate executives) need to know about IT and its impact on running a business. The first covered the high-level issues. As I noted, it’s not necessary for a CEO to be able to write Java code or master the intricacies of an ERP or sales compensation application. However, CEOs must grasp the basics of IT just as they must understand basic corporate finance, the production process and – at least at a high level – the technologies that support that process. My second post was about four supporting technologies that will drive change in business computing over the next five years. It relates examples of how applications can help every part of a business operate more effectively, not just efficiently. Now let’s turn our attention to finance and sales – and as I’ve noted in the previous posts, what follows is an “elevator pitch” treatment of what could be a much longer discussion.

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Customer, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, close, closing, PRO, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), CEO, FPM, Profitability, SPM

Using the Close as a Finance Department Diagnostic

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 7, 2012 11:12:59 AM

Earlier this year we published our Trends in Developing the Fast, Clean Close benchmark research findings. The most significant was that, on average, it takes longer for companies to close their books today than it did five years ago. In 2007, nearly half (47%) we closing their quarters within five or six days, but now only 38 percent can do it as quickly.

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Topics: Office of Finance, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, effectiveness, XBRL, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM

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