Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

How to Get Business Users to Switch from Spreadsheets

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 26, 2015 3:27:06 AM

In our benchmark research at least half of participants that use spreadsheets to support a business process routinely say that these tools make it difficult for them to do their job. Yet spreadsheets continue to dominate in a range of business functions and processes. For example, our recent next-generation business planning research finds that this is the most common software used for performing 11 of the most common types of planning. At the heart of the problem is a disconnect between what spreadsheets were originally designed to do and how they are actually used today in corporations. Desktop spreadsheets were intended to be a personal productivity tool used, for example, for prototyping models, creating ad hoc reports and performing one-off analyses using simple models and storing small amounts of data. They were not built for collaborative, repetitive enterprise-wide tasks, and this is the root cause of most of the issues that organizations encounter when they use them in such business processes.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, ERP, Forecast, GRC, Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, dashboard, enterprise spreadsheet, Excel, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Data, Risk, application, benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Tagetik Advances Disclosure Management for Office of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 16, 2014 9:06:01 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: Big Data, Mobile, ERP, Human Capital Management, Modeling, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, Finance Financial Applications Financial Close, IFRS, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), CFO, compliance, Data, benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, GAAP, Integrated Business Planning, Profitability, SEC Software

Payroll Management Needs Integration with Human Capital Management

Posted by stephanmillard on Jun 6, 2014 9:58:08 AM

Our recently released benchmark research on optimizing payroll management assesses how organizations use payroll information, processes and technology. It finds that most of them still need to improve. Our analysis compared the forces motivating investment in payroll management systems to broader strategic drivers for human capital management (HCM) that I previously outlined and found substantial agreement. Three of the five leading factors – demand for higher employee productivity (48%), limited alignment between pay and performance (36%), and inconsistent execution of performance goals (24%) – are part of a broader HCM agenda as seen in previous research projects and discussions with clients. But apart from that the research found a disconnect between what motivates companies and what they actually are doing.

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Topics: Big Data, HCM, Office of Finance, Employee Productivity, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, HR, Talent Management, Workforce Management, benchmark, Pay for Performance, Payroll Management

New Generation of Learning Management Systems

Posted by stephanmillard on Apr 22, 2014 10:07:02 AM

Learning is an integral component of human capital management, and a new generation of learning management systems advances learning in organizations around the world. These systems have evolved over the years from a classroom scheduling tool that facilitated instructor-led and classroom training into an array of enterprise applications that deliver and track various types of training. Recently new technologies, such as business analytics, cloud computing, social collaboration, and mobile technology have become part of the learning management process. To assess the impacts of this ongoing shift, Ventana Research is conducting benchmark research on how organizations are implementing and using this new generation of systems.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Social Media, HCM, LMS, Learning Management, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Workforce Performance, HR, Training, benchmark, HR research

Boardwalktech Addresses Spreadsheet Woes in Business

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 15, 2014 10:17:39 AM

Our benchmark research on enterprise spreadsheets explores the pitfalls that await companies that use desktop spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel in repetitive, collaborative enterprise-wide processes. Because people are so familiar with Excel and therefore are able to quickly transform their finance or business expertise into a workable spreadsheet for modeling, analysis and reporting, desktop spreadsheets became the default choice. Individuals and organizations resist giving up their spreadsheets, so software vendors have come up with adaptations that embrace and extend their use. I’ve long advocated finding user-friendly spreadsheet alternatives.

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Topics: Sales Performance, GRC, Office of Finance, Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Workforce Performance, Risk, benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Oracle Hyperion Products Challenged by New Generation of Expectations

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 16, 2013 7:22:36 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, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Oracle, CFO, compliance, Data, benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, GAAP, Integrated Business Planning, Price Optimization, Profitability, SEC Software

Spreadsheets Consume More Time Than It Seems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 7, 2013 10:47:02 AM

The spreadsheet is one of the five most important advances in business management over the last 50 years. It has changed all aspects of running an organization. It was the original “killer app” that made people go out and buy personal computers. So you see I’m enthusiastic about spreadsheets, but I realize they have limits that must be respected to work efficiently. One of the more important findings from our benchmark research Spreadsheets for Today’s Enterprise was about the time spent in maintaining spreadsheets. We asked participants how much time they spend per month in updating, revising, consolidating, modifying and correcting the spreadsheet used in the most important process associated with their job. The answers varied depending on the intensity with which people work with spreadsheets. On average, the heaviest users – those whose work requires them to spend all or almost all of their time using them – spend 18.1 hours per month on maintenance – the equivalent of more than two days per month! Even those who spend more than half their time in this fashion use up nearly two days (15.7 hours). For a tool designed to enhance personal productivity, these results should be sobering to executives and managers.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Visualization, Workforce Performance, Risk, benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Investigate User-Friendly Spreadsheet Alternatives

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 18, 2013 10:11:08 AM

I’ve been using spreadsheets for more than 30 years. I consider this technology tool among the five most important advances in business management of the 20th century. Spreadsheets have revolutionized many aspects of running an organization. Yet as enthusiastic as I am about them, I know the limits of desktop spreadsheets and the price we pay if we fail to respect those limits. The essential problem arises when people use desktop spreadsheets for purposes beyond what they were originally designed to do. Desktop spreadsheets were designed to be a personal productivity tool, and they are good for prototyping models and creating analytics used in processes, performing one-off analyses using simple models and storing small amounts of data. They were not designed built to be used to manage or support repetitive, collaborative enterprise-wide processes. As a rule of thumb, when a spreadsheet is used by more than six people six or more times, it’s time to look for an alternative. Otherwise, errors and inconsistencies easily creep in and undermine the accuracy and value of important data.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Visualization, Workforce Performance, Risk, benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Spreadsheet Denial is a Big Issue

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 1, 2013 9:16:59 AM

Our recent benchmark research project, Spreadsheet Use in Today’s Enterprise, demonstrated that some companies have made modest progress in addressing spreadsheet issues, but there’s still much left to be done. Desktop spreadsheets can be an important source of productivity but, as I’ve noted, you need to understand their limitations and understand the practical alternatives. Users underestimate the impact of spreadsheet problems on their productivity because they tend to overlook the myriad little issues that constantly crop up. Being human, they overlook the ill effects that occur when spreadsheets are misused, and may be spurred to look for alternatives only when disaster strikes (as it did for one major bank).

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Visualization, Workforce Performance, Risk, benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Use – Don’t Abuse – Spreadsheets

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 21, 2013 9:45:41 AM

I’ve been using electronic spreadsheets for more than 30 years. I consider this technology among the 20th century’s top five most important advances in business management. Spreadsheets have revolutionized every aspect of running any organization. A spreadsheet (specifically, VisiCalc) was the original “killer app” that made business people feel the necessity to buy a personal computer.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Visualization, Workforce Performance, Risk, benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Get to Know Alternatives to Desktop Spreadsheets

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 1, 2013 9:53:51 AM

The electronic spreadsheet is among the top five most important advances in business management to come along in the last hundred years. It revolutionized almost all aspects of running an organization. It was the original “killer app” that made it necessary for people to go out and buy a personal computer. Yet our recent benchmark research project Spreadsheet Use in Today’s Enterprise confirmed advice we have been giving for the past decade: Spreadsheets are a fabulous tool but they have limits, and those who fail to respect those limits wind up paying a price. The consequences may be obvious, as JP Morgan found when faulty spreadsheets used by its trading desk cost it dearly. Or it may be more subtle, as with all the time people waste trying to make spreadsheets do things they were never designed to do.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Visualization, Risk, benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Using Maturity Assessments to Improve Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 30, 2012 11:04:04 AM

The idea of devising and using maturity assessments to improve business performance has been a staple of management, functional and strategic consultants for decades. It’s based on two unassailable principles. One is the general assertion that companies differ in their ability to do anything along a range from nonexistent to advanced. The second is that at any time it’s possible for a knowledgeable individual to construct a scale of competence for some business function from least to most mature based on the important characteristics about how an organization designs and executes that function. Using maturity scales is a handy way for executives and managers to size up where they lie on a continuum of capabilities and an easy way to define the steps necessary for improvement. Maturity assessments have the advantage of being straightforward, but there’s the danger that they can be overly simplistic.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Experience, Governance, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, benchmark, FPM

Why Our Benchmark Research Is Different and Matters

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 18, 2012 12:06:12 PM

We started Ventana Research a decade ago, with the objective of providing the highest quality in business-focused information technology research available. We were particularly interested in offering fact-based market research that would focus on the practical needs of getting the most value from technology in business and IT functions. Since then many of the observations we make and much of the advice we offer are grounded in our benchmark research. In a field that often blurs the distinction between fact and opinion, we stress the former. The quality of our research stems from the methodology and the processes we use in benchmarking organizations’ performance. We believe our approach makes our research highly credible and worthy of your attention.

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Topics: Research, close, Uncategorized, benchmark, S&OP

Host Analytics Introduces Its Own Business Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 16, 2012 11:57:33 AM

Host Analytics has added new analytics and reporting resources to its cloud-based performance management suite. Business Analytics will offer a broad set of built-in analytics and reporting capabilities or, for companies with an existing business intelligence infrastructure (from vendors such as IBM, Infor, Oracle or SAP), the option of a self-service approach. I believe these new analytics and reporting capabilities give companies considering only on-premises performance management deployments another reason to consider a cloud-based option; for Host Analytics it broadens the set of features it has to compete with other cloud-based vendors.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Reporting, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, Host Analytics, XBRL, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Data, benchmark, Decision Hub, Financial Performance Management, SEC

Host Analytics Decision Hub Offers Central Financial Repository

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 4, 2011 11:26:34 AM

Host Analytics is taking advantage of one of the inherent advantages that vendors of software as a service (SaaS) have compared to on-premises ones: It’s easier for them to offer their customers data services and shared data repositories. The company’s  Decision Hub has been available since last summer. Although it doesn’t break new ground, it is a solid offering of this type and its value should be considered in any evaluation of Host’s offering.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Reporting, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, Host Analytics, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Data, benchmark, Decision Hub, Financial Performance Management, SEC

Accelerating the Close Makes Business Sense

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 13, 2011 9:03:18 AM

As the third calendar quarter draws to an end, most companies will be preparing their financial close, which is part of the ongoing accounting cycle. Periodic closing is a core finance function. Since companies found they could substantially shorten their closing intervals with computer-based accounting systems in the 1990s, there has be an ongoing focus to keep shortening the time it takes to close, and for good reason. For companies that must file financial statements with investors, closing the books sooner provides more time to devote to preparing and organizing the statements. And as regulations shorten deadlines for these filings, it puts pressure on the accounting department to finish this phase sooner. In our last benchmark research, a majority of companies wanted to accelerate their close, especially if it takes more than five business days, and nearly one-third (31%) of companies wanted to shorten their close to have more time for analysis and auditing before publishing their financial statements. Since this data is usually the most important component of a periodic review, a faster close lets assessments take place sooner and therefore become more actionable. Indeed, more than half (58%) of participants in our research said the major benefit of accelerating the close is getting financial or management information out sooner.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, Consolidation, Fast close, Business Performance, Financial Performance, benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, SEC

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