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: Mobile, ERP, forecasting, Modeling, Reporting, Budgeting, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, Finance Financial Applications Financial Close, IFRS, multinational Tagetik, process management, report, strategy, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Chief Financial Officer, compliance, Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, GAAP, Integrated Business Planning, Profitability, SEC Software, spreadsheet

The Virtues of Automating Reconciliation

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 29, 2014 8:40:50 AM

Reconciling accounts at the end of a period is one of those mundane finance department tasks that are ripe for automation. Reconciliation is the process of comparing account data (at the balance or item level) that exists either in two accounting systems or in an accounting system and somewhere else (such as in a spreadsheet or on paper). The purpose of the reconciling process is to identify things that don’t match (as they must in double-entry bookkeeping systems) and then assess the nature and causes of the variances. This is followed by making adjustments or corrections to ensure that the information in a company’s books is accurate. Most of the time, reconciliation is a matter of good housekeeping. The process identifies errors and omissions in the accounting process, including invalid journal postings and duplicate accounting entries, so they can be corrected. Reconciliation also is an important line of defense against fraud, since inconsistencies may be a sign of such activity.

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Topics: automation, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, effectiveness, process management, reconcile, Reconciliation, report, XBRL, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM

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: Mobile, Planning, Social Media, ERP, forecasting, Modeling, Reporting, Budgeting, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, driver-based, Finance Financial Applications Financial Close, Hyperion, IFRS, multinational Oracle, process management, report, strategy, Tax, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, CIO, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Oracle, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Chief Financial Officer, compliance, Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, GAAP, Integrated Business Planning, Price optimization, Profitability, SEC Software, spreadsheet

Adaptive Planning “Suitens” Its Offering

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 17, 2013 8:50:24 AM

For four years Adaptive Planning has been building out its cloud-based financial software. Starting with budgeting, planning and forecasting, it added analytics, data visualization, dashboards and alerting as well as flexible reporting and collaboration tools. It recently announced the general availability of consolidation functionality in its cloud-based suite. This addition eliminates a notable gap in the company’s functionality, giving it a more complete financial performance management suite. The addition of the consolidation capability should increase its appeal to larger companies and broaden usage within its existing customer base. According to Adaptive Planning, already about one-fourth of its customers are organizations or parts of organizations that have annual revenue in excess of US$500 million.

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Topics: close, Consolidation, Controller, process management, report, Cloud Computing, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Adaptive Planning, Financial Performance Management

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: Governance, GRC, Reporting, audit, close, Consolidation, Controller, process, process management, report, Tax, tax data warehouse, tax provision, XBRL, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, compliance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FPM, SEC

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: close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, effectiveness, process management, report, XBRL, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM

Tagetik Offers a Suite Spot for Financial Performance Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 5, 2012 11:49:56 AM

If you’re considering purchasing a financial performance management (FPM) suite, you shouldn’t overlook a recent entrant in the category, Tagetik (which sort of rhymes with “magnetic”). The company, which was founded in 1986 and is based in Lucca, Italy, began by focusing mainly on Europe, but has extended its efforts in the United States in the past two years. Tagetik 4.0 is an elegant implementation of a financial performance management suite running on Microsoft’s SharePoint infrastructure.

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Topics: Planning, forecasting, Reporting, Budgeting, close, Consolidation, Controller, process management, report, SharePoint, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Dashboards, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Tagetik, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), FPM, scorecards, spreadsheet

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: Governance, GRC, Reporting, audit, close, Consolidation, Controller, process, process management, report, XBRL, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, compliance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FPM, SEC

The Financial Close Measures CFO Effectiveness

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 2, 2012 11:07:18 AM

What’s a fast, free and reasonably reliable way of gauging the effectiveness of a finance department’s management? It’s the number of days it takes it to close the books. Companies that take six days or fewer after the end of the period to close their monthly, quarterly or semiannual accounts demonstrate a basic level of effectiveness that those that take longer do not. In my judgment, finance executives should regard a slow close as a negative key performance indicator pointing to less-than-effective management on their part. I draw this conclusion from our recent benchmark research, which  followed up similar research we completed in 2007.

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Topics: close, Consolidation, Controller, process management, report, XBRL, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Financial Performance Management

Consolidation Software Is a Key to Faster Closing

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 10, 2012 9:41:09 AM

For at least a couple of decades completing the financial close within five or six business days after the end of the period has been accepted as a best practice. As such, that creates an expectation that finance organizations that take longer should work to reduce their closing intervals. In updating our last benchmark research on the closing process, Ventana Research has found this not to be the case. In fact, the latest research shows that many companies are taking longer to close today than they did five years ago. Whereas nearly half (47%) were able to close their quarter or half-year period within six business days back then, just 38 percent are able to do so now. Similarly, five years ago 70 percent of companies were able to complete their monthly close in six days; today only half can. To be sure, closing quickly still gets lip service: The research confirms that most companies (83%) view closing their books quickly as important or very important. Yet far from demonstrating progress, the results show slow closers are regressing.

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Topics: close, Consolidation, Controller, process management, report, XBRL, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Financial Performance Management