By Tim Reed, Big4.com Guest Blogger
Financial Consolidation Software – Corporate Performance Management – Evaluation
The winds of technical change and opportunity are in full force today… just look at what is going on in the area of Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and the new suites of tools and capabilities. The legacy toolsets used for financial consolidation and financial reporting are attempting to weather the storm. Long standing decision support toolsets and business intelligence tools for functional areas like Finance, Treasury, Tax and other key business functions are ripe for significant change…more like full out replacement! If you haven’t started, you need to be evaluating the new world of Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software and the improved set of capabilities. Making the effort to understand how much the CPM world of Financial Consolidation has changed is critical.
I have a view on what you need to consider when evaluating the current players, whether those in the Gartner magic quadrant as well as those new tools that have not hit the quadrant. I recently completed an in depth evaluation and analysis of the following vendors and their tools; Oracle – Hyperion Financial Management, IBM – Congo’s Controller, SAP – Business Objects 4.0, OneStream – OneStream XF (Extensible Finance) , SAS – Financial Intelligence , Tagetik – Tagetik4 , Longview – Corporate Performance Management, Host Analytics– Complete CPM, Consolidation, Budgeting, Analytics, Decision Hub, Infor – Office of the CIO, Prophix – CPM, Consolidations, Express, G/L Reporter, Board International – BI and CPM Solution. The new players have changed the landscape of CPM solutions, which is great news for some organizations, but also presents a new dilemma. Several financial organizations have been using toolsets (from one of the above named for over 10 years) and are now faced with either updating the current tool or selecting a new toolset. Having recently completed a robust evaluation of the CPM marketplace and the players listed, it was fascinating to see how much has changed, what has improved and what still needs to be considered.
When making the critical decision about the toolset that can make or break your financial engine, make sure you look into the following financial areas: financial close, reporting, budgeting, forecasts , SG&A, general ledger mapping, inter-company accounting, tablet solutions, dashboards, MS Office integration, job costing, WIP and cash flow modeling. You will find that there are key differentiators, as well as nuances for each vendor’s solution. Assuming the each vendor can do the “basics” as listed above, take a deeper look at integration, knowledge management, training, hosting, software as a service and other key capabilities in today’s marketplace. Not only does your decision on the right toolset hinge on key functional requirements, but it also has to be the right decision for a range of users, ranging from the CFO to the Staff Accountant who must dig into the details each month.
How did we get in front of this critical decision, weigh the alternatives, and make the right decision? We defined a set of key criteria, criteria that guided every step of our process. Our process started with an RFI and then RFP, engaged the finalists in deep dive onsite reviews, and finished with contractual negotiations to identify the best software with the best value for the client. A sample of the key criteria we used throughout our process included the following:
- Software and Toolset Capabilities
- Vendor Viability
All of this was predicated on having the right internal team and the right external support to assist throughout the process. In many cases, since the current financial close processes and tools are still working well, companies struggle when faced with moving away from ‘out of support’ software tools that still work and are critical to key processes like financial close. Instead of struggling with the inevitable change, make an effort to understand the new and exciting set of CPM and Decision Support capabilities. Go beyond the data in the Gartner magic quadrant of Corporate Performance Management Suites and take a look at some of the new capabilities mentioned above.
Tim Reed, Principal at ReedITC worked at E&Y , focusing on Global Fortune 250 Firms. ReedITC is a strategic IT & Operations consulting firm focused on CIO , CFO and CEO Advisory Services. Working with multiple global firms, the ReedITC Team has led several IT and Operational Transformation initiatives. Tim also founded the IT and Operations Transformation Group on Linkedin, the largest global group focused on IT Transformation.