Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Workiva Chains Liberates FP&A

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 4, 2020 7:30:00 AM

Workiva recently introduced Chains, a visual workflow tool for the Workiva platform. Individuals use Chains to create and manage linear sequences of tasks that they otherwise would have to execute manually, for example, automatically updating a report with the most current dataset. Chains is like old-style Excel macros in its simplicity; users configure sequences with a drag-and-drop visual interface. There’s nothing to code and it’s easy to follow the sequence and the logic that drives the process. Organizations can take a modular approach to building chains, enabling users to string together a sequence of them. Such an approach makes it possible to standardize process execution and maintaining shorter chains is usually simpler than longer ones.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Reporting, XBRL, iXBRL, document management

The Corporate Tax Management Software Imperative

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Recent events are forcing corporations to adopt dedicated software for tax provision, transfer pricing and tax analysis. The fiscal damage that the global pandemic is inflicting on countries is likely to result in a more aggressive tax enforcement environment. This will further pressure organizations to establish centralized control and oversight in managing income taxes in corporations. This will also require visibility into tax processes by senior executives, especially for the CFO. Dedicated software for managing tax processes provides greater control and visibility compared to desktop spreadsheets. Our Office of Finance benchmark research finds that 62% of organizations that use a dedicated tax provision application say they can effectively control tax risks compared to 33% of those that use spreadsheets.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, tax; tax provision; transfer pricing

Move Finance to the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 29, 2020 10:29:36 AM

In a recent note on virtualizing the close, I observed that finance and accounting organizations that can operate in a virtual mode are better able to adapt to changing circumstances and overcome obstacles. Having systems that people can readily access remotely to collaborate and execute processes virtually makes it easier for departments to meet their commitments with confidence. The core technology underpinning the ability to work in a virtual mode is the cloud. That’s because the cloud eliminates the constraints of having to be in a specific place at a specific time; work gets done when it needs to be done.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Predictive Planning

The Central Ledger: Restructuring Accounting with Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 22, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Sometimes it takes a while for technology to fundamentally change how work is done. That’s because several innovations usually have to come together before a transformation can occur. For instance, Karl Benz created the first practical motorcar in 1885, but consumers would have to wait until the 1920s for the modern automobile. Computerized accounting systems originated in the 1950s but it’s only now that technologies have evolved and come together to fundamentally change how work is done.

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Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, close, closing, CFO, controller, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Make Automating Finance and Accounting a Priority

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 1, 2020 11:15:00 AM

We find in our recent Change in the Office of Finance benchmark research an indication of the value of using automation to execute finance department functions. Our findings reveal an increase in the use of automation by finance organizations over the past five years and a concomitant improvement in performance. For example, 46 percent of companies close their monthly books within four business days compared to 29 percent in our earlier research. Yet the glass is only half full. Finance organizations continue to be laggards in adopting technology that measurably improves effectiveness.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting

Workday Does Source-to-Pay

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 19, 2020 12:15:00 PM

In late February I attended Spark, the Scout annual user group meeting. This was the third and likely the last such meeting, as Scout was recently acquired by Workday. Scout’s users represent a new breed of purchasing managers and executives looking to change the role of the purchasing department. This change is critical for businesses. Saving money is the essential job of sourcing and purchasing departments. But departments can go far beyond that, helping support product and go-to-market strategies that are more complex and innovative. To empower this change, the bulk of conference content included experience-driven advice from practitioners who are pioneering the evolution of sourcing and procurement.

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Topics: Office of Finance, expense management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, purchasing, sourcing

Three Essentials for a Digital Office of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 3, 2020 6:00:00 AM

One of the objectives of our recent Change in the Office of Finance benchmark research was to assess the technological capabilities of finance and accounting departments. The research confirms that today we are on the verge of a major technology-led shift. Technology that’s already available can have a greater impact on how the finance department operates over the next 10 years than it has over the past 50. Advances in columnar databases, in-memory processing and artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as a relentless reduction in the cost of computing resources, will make it possible to substantially redefine how work gets done in the department.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting, subscription management

The Next-Generation CFO

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 24, 2020 6:00:00 AM

I was invited to sit on a panel at CFO 3.0 events held in San Francisco and New York hosted by Sage Intacct. This event is about the evolution of the role that started with the archetypal CFO 1.0, the green-eye-shade-wearing bean counter. Lacking usable technology, he or she was limited to keeping the books in good order and simply reporting what just happened. Today’s CFO 2.0 relies on technology developed over the past two decades as well as the broader perception of the role, catalyzed by technology that provides deeper analysis to explain what happened and why. At the next 3.0 level, CFOs will lead an organization that can provide guidance to executives and managers so they can better shape the company’s future, providing insights through rich scenario planning.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting

The Office of Finance in 2020: Ventana Research Agenda

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 14, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2020 research agenda for the Office of Finance, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades on the practical use of technology for the finance and accounting department to help these organizations derive greater value and improve their performance. For decades organizations have discussed transforming Finance from a backward-looking “bean counter” to a more strategic advisory role — yet little has changed. One important reason is that the department is a technology laggard. Our recent Office of Finance benchmark research finds that half (49%) of organizations are at the lowest level of performance in utilizing technology. We also find a meaningful correlation between that level of performance and how well a department performs core processes.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting

The Office of Finance is a Numbers Factory

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 4, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Yes, it’s an easy metaphor, but a worthwhile one to consider. For the Office of Finance, figures are its raw material. They are transformed and assembled into financial statements, forecasts and reports. Like a factory, there are blueprints (accounting standards, models and forms) that show how the parts are to be pieced together. There’s quality control in the form of internal audit. And there are final inspections — external audits — to ensure the end product has been assembled properly.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting