Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Time To Consider How Accounting Rules Changes Will Affect IT Systems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 1, 2012 11:17:29 PM

The evolution from United States Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (US-GAAP) to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) has been under way for more than a decade. I’ve commented on IFRS adoption before. It’s a hot topic for accountants and auditors because it goes to the heart of how companies keep their books.

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Topics: Office of Finance, closing, Controller, FASB, IASB, IFRS, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), financial statement, GAAP, SEC

Data Plays a Key Role in the Close-to-Report Cycle

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 22, 2012 9:09:23 AM

Ventana Research recently completed an update to our last benchmark research on the financial closing process. It 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 five years ago, just 38 percent are able to do so in our latest benchmark. Similarly, five years ago 70 percent of companies were able to complete their monthly close in six days; today only half can. The research confirms that most companies (83%) view closing their books quickly as important or very important. Participants acknowledge that they can do better, saying on average that their company can cut at least two days from both the monthly and quarterly closes. Moreover, the longer it takes their company to close, the more time participants think they could save.

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Topics: Office of Finance, close, Consolidation, Controller, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management

Process Improvement Is Key to a Faster Close

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 21, 2012 11:43:46 AM

Ventana Research’s new financial close benchmark research reveals 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 five years ago, just 38 percent are able to do so in our latest benchmark. Similarly, five years ago 70 percent of companies were able to complete their monthly close in six days; today only half can. The research confirms that most companies (83%) view closing their books quickly as important or very important. Participants acknowledge that they can do better, saying on average that their company can cut at least two days from both the monthly and quarterly closes. And the longer it takes their company to close, the more time participants think they could save. Although there is some evidence that external factors such as economic and regulatory events have increased the workload in the close process, which in turn has extended some companies’ close period, I believe that organizations that take more than a business week to close their books have not made much effort to shorten the close, as I noted in a recent blog.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), close, Consolidation, Controller, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Slow Closers Aren’t Serious about Improving Financial Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 20, 2012 9:31:38 AM

The most intractable issues that face finance departments are those that “everyone” knows must be addressed but somehow never muster the collective urgency to do so. Many couch potatoes know they need to watch their diet and exercise regularly. If asked, they would say it’s important or even very important. Yet there they sit. Based on our newly completed benchmark research “Trends in Developing the Fast, Clean Close”, it appears that closing falls into this category. This is especially true for companies that are slow closers, by which we mean those that take more than five or six business days (essentially one business week) to complete their monthly, quarterly or, for those that publish their financial statements only twice yearly, semiannual close. Our research shows that in general there has been no progress in achieving fast closes – indeed, there’s been some backsliding – over the past five years and, indeed, since our initial research on this subject in 2004.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), close, Consolidation, Controller, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

SAP Rolls Out Business Planning and Consolidation on HANA at SAPinsider

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 19, 2012 10:42:24 AM

For me, the most significant announcement to come out of the recent SAPinsider conference was the company’s formal release of Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) running on HANA, SAP’s in-memory computing appliance. For me, HANA is a potential “game changer” for planning, statutory consolidation and other analytics-supported financial processes because of the substantial reduction it enables in processing time from loading to reporting. In-memory systems provide a substantial edge in speed of processing large data sets or complex calculations, whereas the latency between thought and answer in complex scenario analyses on disk-based systems often prevents a collaborative dialogue around possible situations and their potential outcomes. Today, companies have to simplify the analysis, severely limit the amount of detail or find some combination of the two. More than likely, they wind up not having a potentially valuable collaborative dialogue in activities such as weekly or monthly review and revision of operating plans and their financial consequences, closing the books or assessing the impact of pricing changes on profitability. In the case of planning, I expect that in-memory systems will enable make it easier for companies to make changes to detailed plans (such as the budget or production plans), which is difficult today for many of them.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, SAP, Social Media, Customer Experience, ERP, GRC, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, IFRS, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Business Performance Management (BPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, GAAP, HANA

GAAP and IFRS Harmonize Revenue Recognition Standards

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 21, 2012 10:50:41 AM

The melding of the world’s two main financial accounting standards – United States Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (US-GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) – continues apace. Initially, the idea was to converge the two into a single, global standard. Although there was general agreement that the concept was a noble one, there were enough differences to produce practical concerns about implementing these changes, especially in the United States. Then, in December 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which mandates accounting standards for publicly traded companies, indicated that while in principle it favors a single international accounting standard, the Commission was going to take a “condorsement” approach, which I covered in a note last year. The SEC’s move essentially derailed the prior objective of replacing US-GAAP with IFRS by the middle of this decade. Still, the coming together of US-GAAP and IFRS continues to forge ahead even without acceptance of full adoption in the U.S. The two bodies that administer accounting standards, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which manages US-GAAP, and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which manages IFRS, are attempting to standardize wherever possible and harmonize as best they can elsewhere. One important area where there’s been significant progress is revenue recognition.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Controller, FASB, IASB, IFRS, XBRL, CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), financial statement, GAAP, SEC

IBM Provides Clarity for Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 24, 2011 1:31:20 PM

IBM Software recently held a user group conference called Vision 2011 that focused on its Clarity Systems acquisition’s users but also covered broader finance department topics. For me, the highlight of the show was the continued evolution and enrichment of the Clarity FSR external reporting application designed to automate the close-to-report cycle. This process is commonly referred to as “the last mile of finance,” a term coined by a now-defunct company, Movaris, and adopted by Gartner. If you think about it, though, it isn’t “the last mile” for the tens of thousands of companies that don’t publish financial statements and is only one of several important finance department processes that follow the accounting close (such as internal reporting and tax statement preparation).

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Topics: Office of Finance, XBRL, Financial Performance, Uncategorized, CFO, Corporate Finance, SEC, Digital Technology

SAP Advances Enterprise Performance Management in Version 10

Posted by Ventana Research on May 18, 2011 5:09:17 PM

SAP announced the release of version 10 of its SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Solutions suite, an enhanced and updated set of applications and capabilities for executives and managers. In our Value Index assessment of financial performance management suites and my analysis of it last year, Ventana Research gave SAP’s offering the highest score, and this new release builds on that solid foundation that I already assessed in my blog. It has been several years since SAP began acquiring and assembling its performance management and analytical software assets, and the company has progressed to the point where discussing the integration efforts is becoming irrelevant. This release revamps the user interface of the different components to provide a more consistent look and feel – a crucial factor in facilitating training and improving user productivity. Outside of the suite itself, the current release is designed to integrate better with ERP, SAP NetWeaver BW, risk management and BI. In facts it establishes a foundation for finance analytics that I have researched and is essential for doing what I call and have written about in putting the “A” back in FP&A

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Topics: Planning, SAP, Forecast, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), budget, Budgeting, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), agile, budgeting software, CEO, Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

XBRL Filing Errors Point to Need for Automation through Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 12:45:15 PM

The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) “Interactive Data” initiative continues to progress forward. Thus far, some 1,500 corporations have filed their financial information using XBRL tags to facilitate review and analysis, of which almost 400 have had done detailed tagging of their footnotes. By June 2011 all public companies will have to provide an XBRL-tagged, interactive version of their financial statements. As I’ve noted in the past, I think companies should find ways to automate the XBRL tagging process to make it as efficient as possible and make this a part of a close-to-report process automation effort that can lower the cost of compliance, and give companies more time to review the substance (not just the details) of their filings.

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Topics: Office of Finance, XBRL, Business Technology, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

Australia Adopts XBRL for "Standard Business Reporting"

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 11:42:25 AM

In July, Australia adopted what it calls "Standard Business Reporting" (SBR), which is designed to reduce the reporting burden imposed on businesses by the country's federal and state governments by streamlining the information submission ("lodging" for the Oz) process. In essence, the country is on its way to a file-once-use-many approach whereby companies provide data using a single secure sign-on known as "AUSkey"  As of now, SBR reports include the Business Activity Statement, Tax File Number Declarations, payment summaries, payroll tax returns and financial statements. While the data can be compiled manually, the objective is to have SBR-enabled software to pre-fill and complete government forms directly from their own accounting and other business systems. The Australian initiative has been in the works for several years and appears to be off to a good start.

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Topics: XBRL, Business Performance Management (BPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), SEC