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

International Integrated Reporting Framework Takes Shape

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 23, 2013 10:45:13 AM

The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) recently published a draft framework outlining how it believes businesses ought to communicate with their stakeholders. In this context the purpose of an “integrated report” is to promote corporate transparency by clearly and concisely presenting how an organization’s strategy, governance, and financial and operational performance will create value for shareholders and other stakeholders in both the short and the long term. Such a report aims to address broader needs than only those of investors’ and therefore must be more than a simple extension of a company’s external financial reports, which are aimed at a specialist audience including analysts, regulators and lawyers.

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Topics: Business Analytics, closing, FPM, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), SASB, SEC, Sustainability, XBRL, Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, financial reporting

Infor Presents Itself as a Large Software Startup

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 30, 2012 11:28:33 AM

Infor described this year’s Inforum user group meeting as a coming-out party for a large startup company. Such a debut was necessary because Infor had been operating in something of a stealth mode for the past three years: a limited marketing presence, no unified message and a weak, sometimes inconsistent brand identity. It also needed to formally introduce Infor to customers of Lawson, the ERP supplier it acquired last year. The “startup” designation is meant to signal that Infor has been able to render a decade-long consolidation of dozens of smaller companies into one cohesive entity.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Epiphany, ERP, expense management, finance, Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Human Capital Management, IBM, Infor, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Lawson, Marketing, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Oracle, Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM),, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sustainability, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Business Intelligence

BizNet Enables Enterprise Spreadsheet-Based Reporting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 19, 2012 10:39:24 AM

I’ve been advocating more intelligent use of spreadsheets for the better part of a decade. Ventana Research coined the term “enterprise spreadsheet” in 2004 to describe software applications that marry a Microsoft Excel user interface with a business rules server and a relational or multidimensional data store. This approach offers the best of both worlds in the sense of taking advantage of widespread familiarity and training with Excel while substantially reducing issues stemming from the desktop spreadsheet’s lack of data integrity, referential integrity and limited dimensionality as well as limited auditability and control. One example of the enterprise spreadsheet is data consolidation and data reporting software offered by BizNet Software. It enables business users to work within an Excel environment to assemble, manage and deliver periodic reports from enterprise data sources. It offers greater efficiency than stand-alone spreadsheets while effectively addressing the above-mentioned core issues.

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Topics: Analytics, Budgeting, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Data, Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Microsoft Excel, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Planning, Reporting, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social Media, Spreadsheets, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sustainability, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Business Intelligence

Disaster, Risk Management and the Lean Supply Chain

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 5, 2011 1:43:54 PM

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant trifecta that devastated Japan has had a negative impact also on companies that embraced the concept of managing a lean supply chain – one that minimizes inventories at each stage. If news accounts are to be believed, there seem to be legions regretting that decision as disruptions caused by the disasters have a ripple impact, hampering manufacturers’ ability to deliver goods worldwide. But although current events are a wake-up call highlighting the risks inherent in a lean supply chain approach, a worse danger is that some companies may overreact, especially those where blame for bad outcomes – not bad decisions – are the focal point of damaging reviews and assessments.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Operational Performance Management (OPM), Performance Management, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sustainability, Analytics, Marketing, Human Capital Management

Sustainability and Performance Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 3, 2010 5:20:52 PM

Years ago I was given a tour of a company’s factory by the CEO who was credited with engineering its recent turnaround. We were walking along a gallery one story above the shop floor when he pointed down to it and told me that when he first looked down on this scene he saw people dashing madly back and forth. Rather than taking that as a good sign of a busy factory, he said it was a clear indication to him of how inefficient the operation was and why the company was losing money. He immediately went about realigning the factory’s layout to smooth out physical flows and re-examined its manufacturing processes, and soon the business was profitable.

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Topics: CFO, Environment Management, finance, Green, Sustainability

Perillon Takes Sustainability to the Next Level

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 11:55:11 AM

Ecology and economy are two words with the same root. Similarly, the focus on sustainability in business has two sorts of "green" impacts: on the environment and (if you do it right) on the bottom line. Perillon has an on-demand and cloud computing-based solution for companies that want to manage their double-green sustainability efforts more effectively. Perillon Workspace Suite offers "sustainability performance management" for organizations in energy and environmental management. It delivers the kind of benefits that all enterprise performance management systems are designed to provide: the ability to assemble all relevant performance-related data, put that data into the proper context, present it relative to objectives, provide individual managers with alerts when results require their specific attention and incorporate a mechanism for ensuring that out-of-tolerance situations are addressed adequately. Moreover, because of its engineering history, Perillon captures data, in effect, all the way from the smokestack and not just in the technology stack. This differentiates the product from reporting tools that, while intelligent enough to have already built data and reporting structures designed to support sustainability efforts, must obtain the data from separate systems.

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Topics: Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Perillon, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sustainability