Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

SAP’s New Fraud Management Analytical Application

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 2, 2013 11:20:35 AM

SAP recently announced its new Fraud Management analytic applications. Currently in “controlled” (limited) release, it’s a promising start for the product and a good example of the type of business process revolution that’s possible when companies can execute complex analytics on big data sets using in-memory and other advanced processing techniques. Over the next several years a wide swath of basic corporate processes will be transformed by the shift to in-memory processing and big data technology, two key foundational elements of my office of finance research agenda. HANA has been a consistent element of SAP’s product strategy and underlies many recent new releases, such as Business Suite on HANA.

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Topics: SAP, Fraud, Governance, GRC, Office of Finance, audit, Analytics, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), compliance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Risk, HANA

Software to Fend Off Earnings Restatements

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 15, 2013 9:51:03 AM

I’m wondering whether the rapid rise in earnings restatements by “accelerated filers” (companies that file their financial statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that have a public float greater than $75 million) over the past three years is a significant trend or an interesting blip. According to a research firm, Audit Analytics, that number has grown from 153 restatements in 2009 to 245 in 2012, a 60 percent increase. What makes it a blip is that the total is still less than half the number that occurred in 2006 as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act began to take effect. As well, the number of companies restating is still less than one percent of the total. Yet it’s a blip worth paying attention to, since the consequences of a restatement pose a serious professional challenge to finance executives. The right software can help address some of the underlying causes that lead to the need to restate earnings.

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

Addressing Key Operational Risk Requirements

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 13, 2013 10:00:22 AM

I’ve frequently commented on the artificiality of the emerging software category of governance, risk and compliance (GRC). The term is used to a cover a combination of what were once viewed as stand-alone software categories, including IT governance, audit documentation and industry-specific compliance management, to name three examples. While it’s still common for specific types of software to be purchased piecemeal by different departments, these disparate areas have started a long convergence process. Since just about all controls and risk management efforts require a secure IT environment to be effective, there is a growing interdependence between effective IT governance and everything else connected with enterprise GRC.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Customer Experience, Governance, GRC, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Management, Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), compliance, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Risk, financial risk management, IT Risk Management, Sarbanes Oxley, SOX

Office of Finance Research Agenda for 2013

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 10, 2013 9:02:37 AM

Businesses always see a lag between when technology makes some advance possible and when a majority of companies actually adopt it. There’s even a longer lag between the emergence of an advance in a business process or technique and the time it takes to become mainstream. When we write our research agendas at the top of each year, we have to strike a balance between focusing on the new and different, which is still many years away from general acceptance, and the mainstream, which has been anticipated for so long that it almost seems passé. Our research agenda for office of finance to support business for 2013, which I just finalized, is once again an attempt to balance the leading edge and the mainstream with an eye to practical solutions.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Governance, GRC, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, close, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, CIO, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Hewlett Packard Charges Fraud at Autonomy– Lessons Learned?

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 23, 2012 11:13:52 AM

Many people enjoy mystery stories or crime thrillers; in the same vein of savoring the whodunnit and howdunnit, I like a good accounting scandal. My fascination with cooking the books started when I was young with the “great salad oil swindle”, which wound up causing losses in excess of $1 billion in today’s money and even threatened a Wall Street collapse. This disaster was averted by the assassination of President Kennedy, which kept markets closed on Monday, November 25, 1963, and gave the parties involved an extra day to resolve the matter. Nowadays I look forward to receiving FIRST, a compendium prepared by IBM’s Risk Analytics group of the previous month’s financial shenanigans. So, the recent Hewlett-Packard-Autonomy imbroglio fascinates me.

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Topics: Fraud, Governance, GRC, Office of Finance, audit, IFRS, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Hewlett Packard, Meg Whitman, SEC

Using Maturity Assessments to Improve Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 30, 2012 11:04:07 AM

The idea of devising and using maturity assessments to improve business performance has been a staple of management, functional and strategic consultants for decades. It’s based on two unassailable principles. One is the general assertion that companies differ in their ability to do anything along a range from nonexistent to advanced. The second is that at any time it’s possible for a knowledgeable individual to construct a scale of competence for some business function from least to most mature based on the important characteristics about how an organization designs and executes that function. Using maturity scales is a handy way for executives and managers to size up where they lie on a continuum of capabilities and an easy way to define the steps necessary for improvement. Maturity assessments have the advantage of being straightforward, but there’s the danger that they can be overly simplistic.

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Topics: Performance Management, Social Media, Customer Experience, Governance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Operational Intelligence, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), benchmark, FPM

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

Companies Need Unified Approach to GRC for IT

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 12, 2012 11:55:22 AM

One of the most important trends in business over the past 20 years has been the broadening use of information technology to manage and support activities. In the early decades of business computing, companies developed islands of automation for largely numeric functions such as billing, inventory management and accounting. Each ran on a proprietary system and engaged the time of a relative handful of employees. Today, just about everyone works with an IT system for at least some of their operational or administrative tasks. They rely on these systems to support many of their daily routines, from recording transactions to using analytics to provide alerts, insights and decision support.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Customer Experience, Governance, GRC, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Management, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), compliance, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Risk, financial risk management, IT Risk Management

Operational Risk Management Is a New Imperative

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 29, 2012 12:36:45 PM

Risk has always been an integral part of business, but our recent Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) benchmark research shows that companies deal with risk with varying degrees of effectiveness – especially operational risk. A majority of companies lag in their overall GRC maturity, as I covered in a recent blog post. Operational risk management should be of greater interest to executives today because they can have greater control of it than before. The expansion of IT systems to automate and support most business processes has made it easier than ever to measure, monitor and report on what’s going on in a company. It’s now practical to expand the scope of operational risk management and improve companies’ effectiveness in handling risk events when they occur.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Customer Experience, Governance, GRC, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Management, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Operational Intelligence, Business Performance Management (BPM), compliance, Customer Performance Management (CPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), financial risk management

Companies Are Lagging in GRC Maturity

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 7, 2012 10:51:48 AM

Ventana Research recently completed benchmark research on governance, risk and compliance (GRC), three business activities that are naturally linked. Although managing them requires separate and sometimes very different processes, on the whole these activities affect each other: Effective corporate governance ensures compliances with laws, regulations and company policies, and without governance, there’s no way to control risk. Separately or considered together, managing governance, risk and compliance is increasingly important.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Experience, Governance, GRC, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Management, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), compliance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Risk, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), financial risk management