Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Transforming Tax Departments into Strategic Entities

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 1, 2016 8:26:11 AM

The steady march of technology’s ability to handle ever more complicated tasks has been a constant since the beginning of the information age in the 1950s. Initially, computers in business were used to automate simple clerical functions, but as systems have become more capable, information technology has been able to substitute for increasingly higher levels of human skill and experience. A turning point of sorts was reached in the 1990s when ERP, business intelligence and business process automation software reduced the need for middle managers. Increasingly, organizations used software to coordinate activities as well as communicate results and requirements up and down the organizational chart. Both were once the exclusive role of the middle manager. Consequently, almost every for-profit organization eliminated management layers so that today corporate structures are flatter than they once were. Technology automation also eliminated the need for administrative staff to perform routine reporting and analysis. Meanwhile, over the course of the 1990s, the cost of running the finance department measured as a percentage of sales was cut almost in half as a result of eliminating staff and because automation enabled companies to scale without adding headcount. During the last recession, companies in North America and Europe once again made deep reductions to their administrative staffs, relying on information technology to pick up the slack.

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Topics: Sustainability, ERP, GRC, Office of Finance, audit, finance transformation, Human Capital, LongView, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Vertex, FPM, Innovation Awards, Thomson-Reuters multinational

Workday Financial Management Gains Momentum

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 2, 2015 11:37:53 PM

Workday Financial Management (which belongs in the broader ERP software category) appears to be gaining traction in the market, having matured sufficiently to be attractive to a large audience of buyers. It was built from the ground up as a cloud application. While that gives it the advantage of a fresh approach to structuring its data and process models for the cloud, the product has had to catch up to its rivals in functionality. The company’s ERP offering has matured considerably over the past three years and now is better positioned to grow its installed base. Workday recently added Aon, the insurance and professional services company, to its customer list (becoming its largest customer to date) and reported that its annual contract value (ACV – the annualized aggregate revenue value of all subscription contracts as of the end of a quarter) has doubled since the second quarter of this year, albeit from a low base. This is an important milestone because for years the company’s growth has come from the human capital management (HCM) portion of the business, not financials. Workday has around 160 customers for its financials (more than 90 of which are live) compared to more than 1,000 customers for HCM.

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Topics: Microsoft, SAP, ERP, FP&A, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Human Capital, Reconciliation, Tax, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Uncategorized, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct

Evolving to the Next Generation of ERP Systems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 29, 2015 1:19:13 PM

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a pillar of nearly every company’s record-keeping and management of business processes. It is essential to the smooth functioning of the accounting and finance functions. In manufacturing and distribution, ERP also can help plan and manage inventory and logistics. Some companies use it to handle human resources functions such as tracking employees, payroll and related costs. Yet despite their ubiquity, ERP systems have evolved little since their introduction a quarter of a century ago. The technologies shaping their design, functions and features had been largely unchanged. As a measure of this stability, our Office of Finance benchmark research found that in 2014 companies on average were keeping their ERP systems one year longer than they had in 2005.

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Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, SAP, Social Media, ERP, FP&A, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Human Capital, Reconciliation, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Uncategorized, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct

Oracle Must Pivot to Business Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 5, 2015 10:26:32 PM

Whatever Oracle’s cloud strategy had been the past, this year’s OpenWorld conference and trade show made it clear that the company is now all in. In his keynote address, co-CEO Mark Hurd presented predictions for the world of information technology in 2025, when the cloud will be central to companies’ IT environments. While his forecast that two (unnamed) companies will account for 80 percent of the cloud software market 10 years from now is highly improbable, it’s likely that there will be relentless consolidation, marginalization and extinction within the IT industry sector driven by cloud disruptions and the maturing of the software business. In practice, though, we expect the transition to the cloud to be slow and uneven.

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Topics: Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, SAP, ERP, FP&A, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Human Capital, Tax, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct, Spreadsheets

Giving Tax Departments More Corporate Clout

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 8:03:45 PM

One of the issues in handling the tax function in business, especially where it involves direct (income) taxes, is the technical expertise required. At the more senior levels, practitioners must be knowledgeable about accounting and tax law. In multinational corporations, understanding differences between accounting and legal structures in various localities and their effects on tax liabilities requires more knowledge. Yet when I began to study the structures of corporate tax departments, I was struck by the scarcity of senior-level titles in them. This may reflect the low profile of the department in most companies and the tactical nature of the work it has performed. Advances in information technology have the potential to automate most of the manual tasks tax professionals perform. This increase in efficiency will enable tax departments to fill a more strategic, important role in the companies they serve.

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Topics: Big Data, ERP, GRC, Office of Finance, audit, finance transformation, LongView, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Vertex, FPM, Innovation Awards, Thomson-Reuters multinational

Giving Tax Departments More Corporate Clout

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 7:58:00 PM

One of the issues in handling the tax function in business, especially where it involves direct (income) taxes, is the technical expertise required. At the more senior levels, practitioners must be knowledgeable about accounting and tax law. In multinational corporations, understanding differences between accounting and legal structures in various localities and their effects on tax liabilities requires more knowledge. Yet when I began to study the structures of corporate tax departments, I was struck by the scarcity of senior-level titles in them. This may reflect the low profile of the department in most companies and the tactical nature of the work it has performed. Advances in information technology have the potential to automate most of the manual tasks tax professionals perform. This increase in efficiency will enable tax departments to fill a more strategic, important role in the companies they serve.

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Topics: Big Data, ERP, GRC, Office of Finance, audit, finance transformation, LongView, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Vertex, FPM, Innovation Awards, Thomson-Reuters multinational

Tax Data Warehouses Become Essential as Governments Raise the Ante

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 3, 2014 9:20:18 PM

I’ve written before about the increasing importance of having a solid technology base for a company’s tax function, and it’s important enough for me to revisit the topic. Tax departments are entrusted with a highly sensitive and essential task in their companies. Taxes usually are the second largest corporate expense, after salaries and wages. Failure to understand this liability is expensive – either because taxes are overpaid or because of fines and interest levied for underpayment. Moreover, taxes remain a political issue, and corporations – especially larger ones – must be mindful of the reputational implications of their tax liabilities.

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Topics: ERP, GRC, Office of Finance, audit, finance transformation, LongView, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Oracle, Uncategorized, CFO, Vertex, FPM, Innovation Awards, Thomson-Reuters multinational

The Challenge of Making ERP Systems More Configurable

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 31, 2014 9:43:58 AM

In the wake of the past year’s usual crop of failed ERP implementations, I’ve read a couple of blogs that bemoan the fact that ERP systems are not nearly as user-friendly or intuitive as the mobile apps that everyone loves. I’ve complained about this aspect of ERP, and our research confirms that ERP systems are viewed as cumbersome: Just one in five companies (21%) said it is easy to make changes to ERP systems while one-third (33%) said making changes is difficult or very difficult. Yet as with many such technology topics, addressing the difficulty in working with ERP systems is not as straightforward as one might hope. ERP software vendors must make it easier, less expensive and less risky for customers to adapt the systems they buy to their changing business needs. To do this, vendors must design products to be more configurable. The goal should be that organizations can make changes and add new capabilities to their ERP system in far less time than it takes today and without having to engage outside consultants.

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Topics: Mobile, SAP, ERP, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Workday, Social, business process, FPM, Intacct

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

Next-Generation ERP Must Take a Giant Leap

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 25, 2013 12:09:01 AM

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems emerged in the 1990s. Even though they don’t do much in the way of planning, the systems provide companies a means of centralizing and consolidating transaction data collection (such as purchase orders, inventory movements and depreciation), automating the management of processes, and handling the bookkeeping and financial record keeping for these transactions and related processes. ERP systems are an indispensable piece of IT infrastructure in today’s enterprises. Alas, they also are inherently flawed. But perhaps not for much longer.

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Topics: Mobile, SAP, Social Media, ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workday, Social, FPM, Intacct