Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Tagetik Advances Disclosure Management for Office of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 16, 2014 9:05:58 AM

Tagetik provides financial performance management software. One particularly useful aspect of its suite is the Collaborative Disclosure Management (CDM). CDM addresses an important need in finance departments, which routinely generate highly formatted documents that combine words and numbers. Often these documents are assembled by contributors outside of the finance department; human resources, facilities, legal and corporate groups are the most common. The data used in these reports almost always come from multiple sources – not just enterprise systems such as ERP and financial consolidation software but also individual spreadsheets and databases that collect and store nonfinancial data (such as information about leased facilities, executive compensation, fixed assets, acquisitions and corporate actions). Until recently, these reports were almost always cobbled together manually – a painstaking process made even more time-consuming by the need to double-check the documents for accuracy and consistency. The adoption of a more automated approach was driven by the requirement imposed several years ago by United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that companies tag their required periodic disclosure filings using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), which I have written about. This mandate created a tipping point in the workload, making the manual approach infeasible for a large number of companies and motivating them to adopt tools to automate the process. Although disclosure filings were the initial impetus to acquire collaborative disclosure management software, companies have found it useful for generating a range of formatted periodic reports that combine text and data, including board books (internal documents for senior executives and members of the board of directors), highly formatted periodic internal reports and filings with nonfinancial regulators or lien holders.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, ERP, Human Capital Management, Modeling, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, Finance Financial Applications Financial Close, IFRS, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, compliance, Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, GAAP, Integrated Business Planning, Profitability, SEC Software

Anaplan Springs Forward with Winter Release

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 4, 2014 8:36:44 AM

Anaplan, a provider of cloud-based business planning software for sales, operations, and finance and administration departments, recently implemented its new Winter ’14 Release for customers. This release builds on my colleagues analysis on their innovation in business modeling and planning in 2013. Anaplan’s primary objective is to give companies a workable alternative to spreadsheets for business planning. It is a field in which opportunity exists. Our benchmark research on this topic finds that a majority of companies continue to use spreadsheets for their planning activities. Almost all (83%) operations departments use spreadsheets for their plans, as do 60 percent of sales and marketing units. Yet the same research shows that satisfaction with spreadsheets as a planning tool is considerably lower than satisfaction with dedicated planning applications. But despite general agreement in companies that the planning process is broken and spreadsheets are a problem, companies seem reluctant to break the bad habit of using spreadsheets. This conclusion suggests that either switching to dedicated software hasn’t been easy enough or that the results of doing it have not been compelling enough to motivate change. Anaplan intends to address both of these issues.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Marketing, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Operations, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Sales Planning, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

Tidemark Unifies New Generation of Business Planning Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 31, 2013 8:00:44 PM

Tidemark announced the release of the Fall 2013 version of its eponymous cloud-based application that my colleague assessed earlier in 2013. This new release adds capabilities for labor planning and expense management as well profitability modeling and analysis. These two areas of planning and analysis are common to all businesses. The new release adds features that enhance the software’s ability to do sales forecasting, initiative planning and IT department planning. The company continues to refine its modeling capabilities to make it easier for people engaged in the planning process to translate their expectations and concerns into a quantified view of the future. For example, users now can build models using natural-language modeling. The objective is to eliminate the need for help from business analysts or experts trained in the use of a tool and immersed the details of the IT plumbing, such as the metadata used for specific general ledger accounts or operational data.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Analytics, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Tidemark, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

CEOs and Executives Need Business Planning Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 22, 2013 10:16:21 AM

Business planning is a new software category. These applications enable senior executives to integrate all the plans of business units into a single, integrated view, which helps them have more accurate plans, do more insightful what-if planning, achieve greater agility in reacting to changing business and economic conditions, and execute plans in a more coordinated fashion than was possible. Business planning software is intended for CEOs and COOs, who are not well served by current capabilities. Business planning software enables executives and managers to understand both the operational and the financial consequences of their actions, but it emphasizes the things that the various parts of the business focus on: units sold, sales calls made, the number and types of employees required, customers serviced and so on. Lines of business already do this but in a fragmented fashion using desktop spreadsheets circulated within silos via email. Business planning software provides a platform to support modeling in individual business units, individual planning processes and visualization of the impacts of changes in what-if scenarios. It offers a central data repository for all plans; our benchmark research shows the advantage of this approach: Companies that directly link individual business unit data to an integrated plan get more accurate results. To be specific, 22 percent of those with such links have very accurate budgets compared to just a handful with less direct links and none that employ summarized data.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

Oracle Hyperion Products Challenged by New Generation of Expectations

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 16, 2013 7:23:32 AM

Oracle continues to enrich the capabilities of its Hyperion suite of applications that support the finance function, but I wonder if that will be enough to sustain its market share and new generation of expectations. At the recent Oracle OpenWorld these new features were on display, and spokespeople described how the company will be transitioning its software to cloud deployment. Our 2013 Financial Performance Management Value (FPM) Index rates Oracle Hyperion a Warm vendor in my analysis, ranking eighth out of nine vendors. Our Value Index is informed by more than a decade of analysis of technology suppliers and their products and how well they satisfy specific business and IT needs. We perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability-to-task as well as the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. Our assessment reflects two disparate sets of factors. On one hand, the Hyperion FPM suite offers a broad set of software that automates, streamlines and supports a range of finance department functions. It includes sophisticated analytical applications. Used to full effect, Hyperion can eliminate many manual steps and speed execution of routine work. It also can enhance accuracy, ensure tasks are completed on a timely basis, foster coordination between Finance and the rest of the organization and generate insights into corporate performance. For this, the software gets high marks.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Social Media, ERP, Human Capital Management, Modeling, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, driver-based, Finance Financial Applications Financial Close, Hyperion, IFRS, Tax, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, CIO, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, compliance, Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, GAAP, Integrated Business Planning, Price Optimization, Profitability, SEC Software

It’s Past Time for the Next Generation of Business Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 11, 2013 12:07:59 PM

Business planning as practiced today is a relic, a process hemmed in by obsolete conceptions of what it should be. I use the term “business planning” to encompass all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage, including, for example, sales, production and head-count planning as well as budgeting. Companies need to take a fresh view of all these, adopting a new approach to business planning that while preserving continuity makes a substantial departure from what most companies do now. Currently, in most organizations the budget is the only companywide business plan. However, while necessary for financial management and control, budgets are not especially useful for running an organization.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, In-memory, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

Rising Rates Will Catch Companies Flat-Footed

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 13, 2013 10:37:08 AM

One of the important lessons company executives should have learned over the past 15 years is that it’s dangerous not to do contingency planning, a subject that I’ve written about before. By this I mean real, think-outside-the-box contingency planning (not just extrapolating), which is especially important when doing long-range planning. The past decade or so has been punctuated by periods of elevated volatility in financial and product markets, and there’s a good probability it will occur again in predictable yet improbable ways. The dot-com boom and its resulting bust as well as the real estate bubble and collapse were in part liquidity-driven events. Many people recognized the artificiality of the rise in values during both of those boom times. There were naysayers questioning the longevity of the upturns, but as they continued unchecked and proved the skeptics wrong, most investors, analysts and advisors grew complacent and unwilling to consider truly unfavorable scenarios. By not planning for a bust, companies and individuals were not in position to react as swiftly and intelligently as they could have.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, contingency, currency, driver-based, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

Why Maturity is Important for More Effective Planning and Budgeting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 28, 2012 9:09:18 AM

Ventana Research does benchmark research that assesses the maturity of organizations across four dimensions: people, process, information and technology. We examine business issues along those dimensions because we recognize the interconnected relationships among them. Especially in larger companies, data issues such as accuracy and accessibility are often a root cause of poor performance of a core function. It may be a factor in such areas as poor customer service, sales execution or operations planning, to name just three.  Addressing only the people-related issues of some challenge a company faces (such as communications, training or management style) may produce positive results in the short run, but these gains are likely to fall short of their potential or prove to be transitory unless companies tackle related process, technology and information problems at the same time. Our comprehensive approach is the foundation for our research, and what makes our benchmark research different and relevant to executives and managers.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Social Media, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, driver-based, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

Adaptive Planning Helps the University of Central Florida Plan Faster and More Accurately

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 18, 2012 11:26:18 AM

When they were first introduced three decades ago, electronic spreadsheets provided a major advance in corporate planning compared to the paper spreadsheet-and-adding-machine systems they replaced. However, time passes and, as our research shows, desktop spreadsheets often hamper productivity because they were designed for personal productivity, not for managing repetitive, collaborative, enterprise-wide processes such as financial planning. The finance organization at the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine was grappling with this reality.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, driver-based, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

Longview Helps 3M Shape Its Future in Business Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 14, 2012 11:47:05 AM

Effective planning has always been a challenge for companies, and it’s all the more so today. Even when companies deploy dedicated planning applications, they often do not or cannot use them to full advantage. I had a chance to learn more about 3M Corp. use of business planning in our recent 2012 Leadership Awards, who is the diversified global manufacturer of consumer and industrial products, several years ago acquired a dedicated planning application, but because the system could not scale to handle all of its planning contributors, it was forced to collect data from its worldwide business units using Excel templates. Desktop spreadsheets impose severe constraints in the planning process and do not readily handle the complexities of a large multinational firm, such as intracompany allocations, multiple currencies and changes in organizational structure. Modeling both product and financial elements is difficult and, for a company of 3M’s size, the processes do not scale well. The planning process was therefore prolonged, complex and could not readily adapt to change.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, driver-based, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning