We live in a time of uncertainty, not unpredictability. Managing an organization in uncertain times is always hard, but tools are available to improve the odds for success by making it easier and faster to plan for contingencies and scenarios. Software makes it possible to quickly consider the impact of a range of events or assumptions and devise a set of plans to deal with them. Dedicated planning and budgeting software has been around for decades but is about to become all the more useful as vendors increasingly incorporate artificial intelligence using machine learning to assist in scenario planning. Organizations can quickly investigate the impact of different contingencies and the consequences of a range of reactions to them.
Topics: Office of Finance, Data Management, Business Planning, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
insightsoftware provides applications for finance departments and other business users in midsize and larger organizations, offering a broad range of functions including analysis, internal and regulatory reporting, planning, consolidation, tax provision and treasury. The software brings together applications that enable business users to maximize data collected in existing systems and streamline the performance of a range of office of finance functions, all while limiting or eliminating the involvement of IT professionals.
Topics: Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance, profitability management, Revenue, Lease and Tax Accounting
FinancialForce offers cloud-based ERP and professional services automation (PSA) software. The company targets midsize and larger services companies, especially those that provide professional services (such as consultants or field service organizations) as well as those that offer subscription-based or recurring revenue services and products. FinancialForce’s key point of differentiation is that it is built natively on the Salesforce platform, ensuring that CRM data is already located on the same platform as accounting and back-office data so organizations can orchestrate end-to-end, front-office to back-office processes without having to integrate different systems.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Digital Commerce, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Subscription Management, digital finance, Revenue, Lease and Tax Accounting
Ventana Research recently announced its 2023 Market Agenda for the Office of Finance, continuing the guidance we have provided since 2003 on the practical use of technology for the finance and accounting department. Our insights and best practices aim to enable organizations to operate with agility and resiliency, improving performance and delivering greater value as a strategic partner.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance, profitability management, Revenue, Lease and Tax Accounting
Workiva offers an environmental, social and governance application that enables organizations to manage the highly distributed tasks necessary for reporting to regulators and stakeholders on ESG matters. ESG issues have grown increasingly pressing over the past few years as investors and government entities urge organizations to measure and disclose relevant metrics. I’ve already covered the broader topic as it relates to external reporting and how financial planning and analysis groups are likely to own this mandate going forward. I’ve also addressed the data strategy that finance organizations should adopt to meet regulatory compliance requirements. Notably, I assert that by 2025, more than one-half of corporations required to comply with ESG reporting will centralize responsibility for preparing reports and filings with financial planning and analysis to achieve accuracy, control and efficiency objectives.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance
Ventana Research uses the term “data pantry” to describe a method of data storage (and the technology and process blueprint for its construction) created for a specific set of users and use cases in business-focused software. It’s a pantry because all the data one needs is readily available and easily accessible, with labels that are immediately recognized and understood by the users of the application. In tech speak, this means the semantic layer is optimized for the intended audience. It is stocked with data gathered from multiple sources and immediately available for analysis, forecasting, planning and reporting. This does away with the need for analysts to repeatedly perform data extraction, enrichment or transformation motions from the required source systems, all but eliminating the substantial amount of time analysts and business users routinely spend on data preparation.
Topics: Continuous Planning, Business Intelligence, Data Management, Business Planning, Data, Financial Performance Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, AI and Machine Learning, continuous supply chain, data operations, digital finance, profitability management, Analytics & Data, Streaming Data & Events
In the face of a very uncertain future, companies have been discovering the value of rapid planning and budgeting cycles. As events unfold, they’re changing expectations for the future significantly on a daily or weekly basis. However, even when the world returns to a steadier state, companies will benefit from making their planning and budgeting processes faster, easier, more relevant, more strategic, more agile and more accurate.
Topics: Office of Finance, IBP, Business Planning, CFO, Integrated Business Planning
Vena Solutions offers organizations a platform for financial planning, analysis and reporting as well as software to manage accounting consolidation and close processes. From the start, Vena has designed its applications to meet the needs of midsize organizations, which typically have the same requirements as large enterprises but with significantly fewer resources to acquire, manage and maintain technology. Ventana Research named Vena a Value Index Leader in Adaptability and a Vendor of Merit in its 2022 Value Index on Business Planning.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance
The starting point of an era is never precise and rarely conforms to neat calendar delineations. For example, the start of the 20th century is associated with the outbreak of war in 1914. So I expect that decades from now, the consensus will hold that what became known as the 21st century began in the year 2020, with the pandemic serving as a catalyst that accelerated already existing trends and forced changes to prevailing norms and practices. This and other disruptive events that have followed are reverberating through economic and social networks and will ultimately result in some new equilibrium, but the ructions on the way there will be sharp and ever-present. Large-scale disruptions in most aspects of doing business have forced change on organizations. In this climate, the financial planning and analysis group can play a far more important role by using technology to enhance organizational agility and improve performance.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance, profitability management, operational data platforms
IBM Planning Analytics with Watson is a comprehensive, cloud-based business planning application that supports what Ventana Research calls integrated business planning. We coined this term in 2007 to describe a high-participation approach to business planning that integrates strategy, operations and finance. Our Next Generation Business Planning Benchmark Research demonstrated the value of IBP: Organizations that link planning processes get better results. Sixty-six percent of organizations that have an integrated method say it works well or very well, compared to only 25% that have little or no connection between plans.
Topics: Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Watson, Digital transformation, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance, profitability management
The door opened to a new world in 2020, one that renders old assumptions suspect and future outcomes more varied and uncertain. It’s likely that the transition to what’s next will be bumpy, which makes planning more effectively that much more strategic.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance
Prophix offers cloud financial software for planning, budgeting, reporting and statutory financial consolidation designed to meet the requirements of midsize organizations and divisions of larger corporations. The company was one of the first to offer a planning platform capable of bringing together a company’s diverse planning processes and financial planning and budgeting. Its consolidation and close automation enable a shorter close and improved accounting staff productivity for midsize corporations that have even moderately complex legal entity structures that operate in multiple currencies. Increasingly, organizations are finding that having the right finance and accounting department software tools helps attract and retain the best talent.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance
It’s likely that finance analytics trace back to when people first began to record transactions on clay tablets. Financial analytics were given a boost with the codification of double-entry bookkeeping, an elegant system for recording transactions that facilitate the assessment of the performance and health of an organization. Further advances were achieved with the first mechanical – and then digital system – for automating computations, while personal computing devices made the numbers accessible to all.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance
Planful recently acquired Plannuh, a marketing-performance management application, to integrate into the Planful platform so that organizations can connect their marketing planning and analysis group with the finance department. There’s the old story of a CEO who said, “I know half my marketing spend is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” Plannuh is designed to answer that question.
Topics: Marketing Performance Management, Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, intelligent marketing, digital finance
A predictive finance department is one that can command technology to be more forward-looking and action-oriented while still fulfilling its core role of handling the financial elements of its organization including accounting, treasury and corporate finance. Beyond just automating rote tasks, technology also facilitates a shift toward becoming a predictive finance organization. Greater amounts of information, now available in near real time, and the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), enable more immediate analyses and assessments of possible courses of action, providing executives and managers the ability to better anticipate change and the agility to adapt quickly to unexpected circumstances.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Data Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
Workday held its first in-person Rising user group meeting since 2019 in Orlando. Three topics are worth commenting on: Workday’s Extend offering, its industry accelerators and its progress with the Workday Adaptive Planning offering.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance
Kinaxis recently announced it has acquired a Netherlands-based company, MPO, a cloud-based software offering that orchestrates multiparty supply chain execution. The combination is designed to enable Kinaxis to extend its concurrent planning platform to handle core elements of supply chain execution. Kinaxis acquired all the shares of MPO for approximately US$45 million, with some of the final consideration dependent on performance. MPO will continue to operate as a standalone business, but will be increasingly integrated into Kinaxis’ operations worldwide.
Topics: Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, AI and Machine Learning, continuous supply chain
Organizations do not live in a vacuum and things happening outside their walls have a direct impact on how they perform. So, it is essential for them to incorporate external data in their forecasting, planning and budgeting, especially for predictive analytics and machine learning (ML) to support artificial intelligence (AI). I use the term external data to include any information about the world outside an organization (including economic and market statistics), competitors (such as pricing and locations), and customers. Until recently, it was adequate for organizations to regard external data is a “nice to have” item, but that is no longer the case. External data is necessary for many functions, including useful and accurate competitive intelligence used by sales and marketing groups. It is also essential for the effective applications of AI using ML for business-focused planning and budgeting and predictive analytics.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
Anaplan offers a cloud-based business planning platform that incorporates a modeling and calculation engine. The tool makes it relatively easy to add or expand the scope of plans that can be connected and monitored on a single platform. This Integrated Business Planning (IBP) approach enables organizations to use the software for financial planning or budgeting, sales, supply chain, workforce, marketing and IT planning. These are the types of plans in which companies often need to create models that incorporate their specific requirements, business systems and strategy. I expect that by 2025, one-fourth of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) groups will have implemented IBP.
Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, continuous supply chain, digital finance, profitability management
OneStream offers a platform designed to serve the needs of accounting and financial planning and analysis organizations. The software handles financial close and consolidation, planning and budgeting, analysis and reporting. For me, the most significant announcement at the company’s recent user conference was the unveiling of its Sensible ML (Machine Learning) offering, which is in limited general release. I’ve commented on the importance of artificial intelligence in business applications, and Sensible ML is a promising and important step in that direction.
Topics: Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance, profitability management
A few years ago – somewhat tongue in cheek – I began using the term “data pantry” to describe a type of data store that’s part of a business application platform, created for a specific set of users and use cases. It’s a data pantry because, unlike a general-purpose data store such as a data warehouse, everything the user needs is readily available and easily accessible, with labels that are immediately recognized and understood.
Topics: Data Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
Artificial intelligence using machine learning has passed through the bright, shiny object stage and software vendors are well into the process of making the concept a reality in their offerings. Ventana Research defines AI as the use of technology to process information in much the way humans do, including improving accuracy in recommendations, actions and conclusions as more data is received. I like the alternative term “augmented intelligence” because it emphasizes that these systems enhance – rather than replace – the capabilities of the humans employing them, especially through improved decision-making and eliminating the need to perform repetitive work.
Topics: Planning, Machine Learning, Budgeting, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, forecasting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance, profitability management
Kinaxis is a sales and operation planning software company headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. Its RapidResponse is an S&OP platform for concurrent planning, designed to integrate an organization’s supply chain planning silos, accelerate planning cycles and optimize supply chain execution to match customer demand.
Topics: Continuous Planning, Business Planning, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, continuous supply chain
Organizations need to use external data in planning and budgeting, both data and third-party forecasts. This need also extends to external data in training artificial intelligence systems to assist in planning and for predictive analytics. Companies do not live in a vacuum and things occurring outside physical facilities have a direct impact on how an organization performs. Incorporating external data and third-party forecasts in any systemic fashion is really only practical if you’re using dedicated planning and budgeting software. And increasingly, planning and budgeting software will be incorporating AI capabilities. Watch this brief video presentation by Ventana Research SVP and Research Director Robert Kugel to uncover the benefits of organizations using external data.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance
I first wrote about a new era of trade a few years ago to make the point that the period of optimizing supply chains for the lowest cost was over, and that companies needed to redesign them to achieve greater resiliency. That observation proved correct. Now we are hearing about “the end of globalization,” a hyperbolic phrase describing the effects of ongoing changes to the international political order that have been underway for more than a decade. These changes are forcing companies to make sometimes significant adjustments to sourcing and supply chain management. Globalization, which started in 1492, isn’t over, but managing international trade requires the ability to deal with shifts in strategic planning assumptions and agility in dealing with tactical events. Software will play an important role in enabling corporations to meet these ongoing challenges caused by a major reordering of global trade.
Topics: Continuous Planning, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, continuous supply chain
Ventana Research recently published the results of our Business Planning Value Index Research and I commented on its connection to our emphasis on using software to unify planning processes across an enterprise to improve performance. Since 2007, we have advocated what we call Integrated Business Planning (IBP): a high-participation, collaborative, action-oriented approach to planning and budgeting built on frequent, short planning sprints. Short planning cycles enable companies to achieve greater agility in responding to market or competitive changes.
Topics: Business Planning, digital finance, Finance Performance Management
I recently attended an analyst conference held by Unit4, an enterprise resource planning vendor focused on midsize organizations in people-centric industries. The conference was intended to communicate the company’s strategy, product updates and roadmap. The meeting took place shortly after announcement of the availability of Unit4 Industry Mesh and the acquisition of Compright, which does compensation planning as well as in the context of the broad technology shifts affecting ERP applications.
Topics: Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Talent Managment, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Total Compensation Management, digital finance
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) using machine learning (ML) will be the single most important trend in business software this decade because it can multiply the investment value of such applications and provide vendors an important source of differentiation to achieve a competitive advantage in what are today very mature software categories. I assert that by 2025, almost all Office of Finance software vendors will have incorporated some AI capabilities to reduce workloads and improve performance. However, software vendors will be challenged to apply innovations in this area quickly while ensuring that the AI capabilities function well enough in the real world to foster rapid adoption while avoiding user frustration. The failures of the Apple Newton and Microsoft’s Clippy office assistant stand out as examples of too-ambitious-too-soon attempts at infusing intelligent automation.
Topics: Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Data Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
I am happy to share insights gleaned from our latest Value Index research, an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index: Business Planning 2022 is the distillation of a year of market and product research. Drawing on our Benchmark Research, we apply a structured methodology built on evaluation categories that reflect real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to business planning vendors supporting the spectrum of planning. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories: five relevant to the product experience ﹘ Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability ﹘ and two related to the customer experience ﹘ Total Cost of Ownership/Return on Investment and Vendor Validation.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning
Having just completed the 2022 Ventana Research Value Index for Business Planning, I want to share some of my observations about the business planning software market and how it has advanced as an important part of our market coverage for almost two decades. Dedicated applications for planning and budgeting have been around since the 1980s and are, therefore, quite mature, with robust features and functionality as well as continual refinements in usability and performance. Outwardly, the specifications for offerings in this category appear very similar, but how the software works is at least as important to buyers’ preferences. Moreover, planning is not a mechanical process, so despite limited differentiation at the surface, an organization can find that one vendor’s offering is a better fit for its individual approach to planning than others.
Topics: Planning, Office of Finance, Budgeting, Business Planning
Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for the Office of Finance, continuing the guidance we have offered since 2003 on the practical use of technology for the finance and accounting department. Our insights and best practices aim to enable organizations to operate with agility and resiliency, improving performance and delivering greater value as a strategic partner.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, blockchain, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, lease and tax accounting, profitability management
Several years ago, I noted the importance of gaining resilience in managing supply chains. The world had entered a new era of trade following the financial crisis of 2007, as multilateral relationships were steadily fragmenting. For decades, sourcing and supply chain management was focused almost exclusively on achieving the lowest cost, and the world’s trade environment supported this approach. However, I observed that the new era of trade, supply chain planning and execution, would be more complex, and organizations needed to shift focus to emphasize business continuity and sustainability, accommodating change with the least disruption at the lowest cost. Sourcing decisions, logistics and product design would be crafted with an eye to a far-from-perfect and changeable world. Higher costs would be balanced against necessary resilience and sustainability, supported by the ability to make changes rapidly with assurance and limited risk.
Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Business Planning, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, continuous supply chain
Over the past decade, how organizations manage processes and record data related to transactional events captured by an enterprise resource planning system has undergone a significant evolution. Some of the more recent changes have been the result of a steady migration to the cloud, since these systems are typically updated frequently, require less maintenance, have better performance and are more readily available than those operating on-premises.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance
Subscription management and billing services help organizations offer unique benefits and enhance delivery to customers. By making services more personalized, organizations can acquire – and retain – more customers.
Topics: Sales, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Product Information Management, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, natural language processing, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, continuous supply chain, Subscription Management, partner management, digital finance, Process Mining, Streaming Analytics, supplier relationship management
A looming challenge for companies in the developed world is price inflation, an issue periodically fretted over – but not experienced at a macroeconomic level in most developed economies – over the past four decades. Price inflation has been a frequent bugaboo that never emerged because of persistent disinflationary forces in the world economy over the past forty years. It remains to be seen to what extent recent price rises are persistent or transitory but “what if?” was the most important phrase organizations used in 2020. What if this time it really is different?
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting
A year of business uncertainty, lockdowns and operational disruptions forced finance and accounting organizations to adapt and change in many ways that are proving to be permanent. The need to operate virtually resulted in some organizations accelerating their adoption of technology, bringing them closer to achieving a transformation of the finance and accounting function: reshaping the department into an organization that is more forward-looking and strategic. Strategic in the sense of providing greater visibility into how the company and each of its business units is performing and insight into how to achieve better results going forward. Its focus is on what is happening next and not merely on what just happened. It does not only explain past results but uses that context to provide guidance about the choices executives and managers have, and the likely impact of those choices. To truly achieve this degree of transformation requires a different departmental structure, one that incorporates a Finance IT capability.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, blockchain, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning
The annual Ventana Research Digital Innovation Awards showcase advances in the productivity and potential of business applications, as well as technology that contributes significantly to the improved processes and performance of an organization. Our goal is to recognize technology and vendors that have introduced noteworthy digital innovations to advance business and IT.
Topics: Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Continuous Planning, embedded analytics, Learning Management, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Information Management, Internet of Things, Business Planning, Contact Center, Data, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, blockchain, natural language processing, data lakes, Total Compensation Management, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, employee experience, candidate engagement, Conversational Computing, Continuous Payroll, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, continuous supply chain, Subscription Management, agent management, extended reality, intelligent marketing, sales enablement, work experience management, lease and tax accounting, robotic automation
These days it strikes me that the motto of successful salespeople – "ABC: Always Be Closing!" – should apply equally to corporate controllers, albeit in the accounting sense. This is a reference to an approach to managing the finance department that I have been advocating, which I call "continuous accounting." It is a holistic way of managing the accounting function that, in large part, emphasizes using technology to distribute workloads more evenly over an accounting period, spreading closing activities as evenly as possible over time rather than waiting until the end of the month or quarter. Continuous accounting also stresses improving staff efficiency by automating repetitive processes as well as enhancing organizational effectiveness by improving data integrity in finance processes.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting
There has been a lot of market activity around vendors offering sales-forecasting products (or functionality to address sales forecasting) as part of a wider technology offering for sales and revenue management. As I have discussed in my Analyst Perspective: The Art and Science of Sales from the Inside Out, the pandemic accelerated the prior trends that are now forcing sales leaders and sales teams to reexamine traditional notions of how B2B sales are conducted. In addition, with the rise of the subscription business model and digital e-commerce, a more holistic approach to identify where revenue is coming from and how to manage and optimize a predictable revenue stream is becoming a pressing need. I cover the basic premise of this management of revenue streams in my Analyst Perspective: Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization.
Topics: Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Planning, Sales Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, AI and Machine Learning
Business process reengineering (BPR) was a consulting fashion in the early 1990s that spurred many companies to purchase their first ERP systems. BPR proposes a fundamental redesign of core business processes to achieve substantial improvements in market and customer responsiveness, productivity, cycle times and quality. Those early ERP systems provided a platform to manage cross-functional business processes with much greater flexibility and efficiency than had been possible in the past, partly because it took advantage of the commercialization of relational database technology, the graphical user interface, client-server networks and event-driven programming. ERP and other digital systems support business process reengineering by guiding the step-by-step execution of the redesigned process to ensure that it is performed consistently. They also automate the handoffs between individuals and departments as well as manage approvals and exceptions to accelerate completion of that process and permit supervisory personnel to spend more time focusing on matters that require their judgement and experience and less time on administrivia.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, lease and tax accounting
Ventana Research defines intercompany financial management as a discipline for structuring and handling transactions within a corporation and between its legal entities. IFM is designed to maximize staff efficiency and accounting accuracy while optimizing tax exposure, minimizing tax leakage and ensuring consistent tax and regulatory compliance. Today, IFM is an obscure topic, but I assert that by 2025, one-half of organizations with 10,000 or more employees will have implemented intercompany financial management to achieve tax, risk-management and financial close benefits.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, robotic finance, lease and tax accounting
The objectives of zero-based budgeting are well aligned with what I call integrated business planning, a technology-enabled approach to managing the forward-looking activities of a corporation including forecasting, planning and budgeting. IBP enables every business unit to plan their business in a way that makes sense to them but also makes the numbers in those plans available for company-wide planning, budgeting analysis and reporting. IBP combines operational planning and financial budgeting using models constructed around the things that managers manage, translating those elements into a financial budget. This approach can compress the time required to create and update operating plans from days or weeks to hours or minutes. Our Next-Generation Business Planning Benchmark Research found that IBP is a superior approach.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, robotic finance, Predictive Planning
Unit4’s Financial Planning and Analysis (formerly Prevero) is a planning and budgeting application designed for the requirements of midsize corporations and the public sector. These organizations are challenged in buying software because they have almost all the requirements of larger enterprises but have a smaller budget and limited technical resources.
Topics: Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Technology, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing
IBM Planning Analytics, formerly known as TM1, is a comprehensive planning and analytics application designed to integrate and streamline an organization’s planning processes. It can support multiple planning use cases on a single platform, including financial, headcount, sales and demand planning. The software automates enterprise-wide data collection to make it repeatable and scalable across multiple users and departments. It supports sophisticated driver-based modeling that enables rapid what-if or scenario-based planning, while its built-in analytics provide deep business intelligence capabilities. This enables senior executives and managers to work interactively to immediately assess their current position and consider the impact of various options to address opportunities and issues rather than laboring through a lengthy process.
Topics: Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Business Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning
Organizations have long sought ways to achieve a fast but “clean” (accurate) financial close. The most widely accepted benchmark is to be able to close within one business week. Organizations that close within a business week are almost always more competent in how they manage the process and therefore use resources more efficiently. Also, organizations that close their books within six days after the end of the quarter are more likely to provide executives with timely information and respond to markets and competitors with greater agility. While there have been some improvements in efficiency from modern accounting systems, our research shows that one-half of organizations still take more than a business week to complete their quarterly close.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as a core digital technology for finance and accounting organizations. It can drive significant gains in productivity and efficiency by automating mechanical, repetitive accounting processes in a continuous, end-to-end fashion. RPA improves efficiency, ensures data integrity and enhances visibility into processes.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning
Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 market agenda for the Office of Finance, continuing the guidance we’ve offered since 2003 on the practical use of technology for the finance and accounting department. Our insights and best practices aim to enable organizations to operate with agility and resiliency, improving performance and delivering greater value as a strategic partner.
Topics: Office of Finance, enterprise profitability management, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, blockchain, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, lease and tax accounting, virtual audit, virtual close
BlackLine recently held its first virtual user conference, Beyond the Black, where it detailed numerous additions and enhancements to its applications. Of note was the launch of BlackLine Cash Application, an accounts receivable (AR) processing software based on software originally developed by recently acquired Rimilia. The new application fits the company's product strategy of providing accounting departments with software that automates time-consuming repetitive tasks and substantially reduces the amount of detail that individuals must handle in performing core processes.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning
In the context of planning, budgeting and benchmarking, external data includes information about the world outside an organization such as economic and market statistics, competitors and customers. Today, a comprehensive set of external data is a “nice to have” item in most organizations, but that’s likely to change. External data is necessary for useful and accurate business-focused planning and budgeting, and for performance benchmarking. It is also essential for the effective applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to these functions.
Topics: Information Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
Augmented reality (AR) is a critical component of digital technology. The role of AR is to virtualize the visualization and engagement of assets and products with information that can enhance the value of it for many purposes including manufacturing, marketing, sales and service. Consider how manufacturing and field service organizations are starting to use AR technology for hands-free call-up of service manuals using glasses so technicians can verify progress without looking away from their work.
Topics: Sales, Business Continuity, Internet of Things, Business Planning, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Digital transformation, mobile computing, extended reality
Through 2021, one-half of organizations will realize that digital transformation (DX) investments have not met the organizational readiness requirements of business continuity, leading to a new focus on innovative digital technologies that more reliably sustain operations. Which processes does your organization need to prioritize most to operate continuously? Who are the organization’s stakeholders and champion coordinators that will be called upon when an incident arises? What business applications and technologies will help optimize your digital experiences? How can these approaches be applied to a long-term business strategy and planning process rather than a knee-jerk reaction to the unexpected?
These questions and more are addressed in this Ventana Research Analyst Perspective. Join Ventana Research CEO & Chief Research Officer Mark Smith for this brief video as he uncovers the current market situation and recommends three steps that organizations can take to plan for business resilience.
Topics: Business Continuity, Business Planning, Digital transformation
In this Analyst Perspective from Robert Kugel, learn how FP&A can redefine its mission to achieve the long-stated goal of making it more of a strategic partner with the rest of the organization. This means fully adopting integrated business planning, a high participation, collaborative, action-oriented approach to planning and budgeting built on frequent, short planning sprints. Short planning cycles enable companies to achieve greater agility in responding to market or competitive changes, and in the face of a very uncertain future, companies have been discovering the value of rapid planning and budgeting cycles. Watch the video to learn more.
Topics: FP&A, Office of Finance, Budgeting, Business Planning, CFO, financial planning, forecasting
The Business Continuity Imperative: The Workforce Experience and Human Capital Management in 2020 and Beyond
The workforce is an essential part of an organization’s overall business potential because it ensures continuous operations, even in black-swan events. The workforce is the core of the organization and should get the attention it deserves. In challenging times, a “customer-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying customers and opportunities, business leaders too often forget that the workforce experience is essential to achieving desired results. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed to meet these human capital management (HCM) objectives. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into the workforce experience is essential to an organization’s sustainability and operational effectiveness.
Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Continuous Planning, Business Continuity, Analytics, Business Planning, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Management, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Robotic Process Automation, employee experience, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, agent management, People Analytics
Centage recently released Budget Maestro Version 9, a complete revamping of its longstanding budgeting application designed for midsize companies. The software, now offered as a multitenant cloud-based offering, delivers several structural improvements that can enhance the effectiveness of a company’s planning processes and at the same time is easier to use. Budget Maestro Version 9 is designed to support what Centage is calling a “Smart Budgets” approach to replace traditional budgeting. This approach is consistent with what we have been calling integrated business planning.
Topics: Planning, Reporting, Budgeting, Consolidation, Analytics, Business Planning, headcount planning
Tidemark Systems offers a suite of business planning applications that enable corporations to plan more effectively. The software facilitates rapid creation and frequent updating of integrated company plans by making it easy for individual business functions to create their own plans while allowing headquarters to connect them to create a unified view. I coined the term “integrated business planning” a decade ago to highlight the potential for technology to substantially improve the effectiveness of planning and budgeting in corporations, and it remains true that integrating business planning can produce superior results. Companies that maintain direct links between functional or departmental plans more often have a planning process that works well than others. Our next-generation business planning benchmark research shows that two-thirds (66%) of those that maintain such links have a planning process that works well or very well, compared to 40 percent that copy information from individual plans into an overall plan and just 25 percent in which plans have little or no connection.
Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Experience, Human Capital, Marketing Planning, Reporting, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Business Performance Management (BPM), Business Planning, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, Project Planning
Our benchmark research on next-generation business planning finds that a large majority of companies rely on spreadsheets to manage planning processes. For example, four out of five use them for supply chain planning, and about two-thirds for budgeting and sales forecasting. Spreadsheets are the default choice for modeling and planning because they are flexible. They adapt to the needs of different parts of any type of business. Unfortunately, they have inherent defects that make them problematic when used in collaborative, repetitive enterprise processes such as planning and budgeting. While it’s easy to create a model, it can quickly become a barrier to more integrated planning across the business units in an enterprise. As I’ve noted before, software vendors and IT departments have been trying – mainly in vain – to get users to switch from spreadsheets to a variety of dedicated applications. They’ve failed to make much of a dent because although these applications have substantial advantages over spreadsheets when used in repetitive, collaborative enterprise tasks, these advantages are mainly realized after the model, process or report is put to use in the “production” phase (to borrow an IT term).
Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Marketing Planning, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning
Adaptive Insights held its annual user group meeting recently. A theme sounded in several keynote sessions was the importance of finance departments playing a more strategic role in their companies. Some participating customers described how they have evolved their planning process from being designed mainly to meet the needs of the finance department into a useful tool for managing the entire business. Their path took them from doing basic financial budgeting to planning focused on improving the company’s performance. This is one of the more important ways in which finance organizations can play a more strategic role in corporate management, an objective that more finance organizations are pursuing. Half of the companies participating in our Office of Finance benchmark research said that their finance organization has undertaken initiatives to enhance its strategic value to the company within the last 18 months.
Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Human Capital, Marketing, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, Project Planning
Business planning includes all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage. Companies do a great deal of planning. They plan sales and determine what and how they will produce products or deliver services. They plan the head count they’ll need and how to organize distribution and their supply chain. They also produce a budget, which is a financial plan. The purpose of planning is to be successful. Planning is defined as the process of creating a detailed formulation of a program of action to achieve some overall objective. But it’s more than that. The process of planning involves discussions about objectives and the resources and tactics that people need to achieve them. When it’s done right, planning is the best way to get everyone onto the same page to ensure that the company is well organized in executing strategy. Setting and to a greater degree changing the company’s course require coordination. Being well coordinated in this case means being able to understanding the impact of the policies and actions in your part of the company on the rest of the company.
Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Marketing, Office of Finance, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, Project Planning, S&OP
Organizations succeed through continuous planning to achieve high levels of performance. For most organizations planning is not an easy process to conduct. Planning software is typically designed for only a few people in the process, such as analysts, or organizations might use spreadsheets, which are not designed for business planning across an organization. Most technologies only allow you to examine the past and not plan for the future. For decades organizations have tried to focus planning on driving better results through higher participation, but they have usually failed, as technology has not advanced enough to support this business need.
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Mobile Technology, Operations, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Cloudera, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Workforce Performance, Business Planning, CFO, finance, Tidemark, Workday
Planning portfolio risk follows the same basic tenets as other sorts of business planning. It must be done in the context of a time dimension. In business, short-term plans are developed with a lot of givens or constraints. For example, capacities are fixed, because it’s impossible to wave a magic wand and bring a new factory on line, stuff more machine tools into already jammed facilities or source more raw materials in a capacity-limited supply chain. Short-term plans also incorporate assumptions about external forces (such as the economy, competitive moves or regulation) that are fixed or change very little in this period. By contrast, long-range or strategic planning is relatively unconstrained. The countries, markets or products that an organization can offer, for example, are not limited by current conditions. Indeed, that’s an essential point of long-range planning: assessing the impact of significant changes to today’s givens or assessing how to manage the impact of expected future trends.
Topics: Sales Performance, GRC, Office of Finance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Business Planning, Risk
The recent buzz around business analytics has generated resurgent conversation about what businesses need from their data to optimize business processes and make better decisions. Our benchmark research on business analytics in more than 2,500 organizations produced unprecedented information about business and IT usage and competency with analytics. It confirmed that effective use of business analytics requires a balance of people and skills, processes, information and technology not just to provide capabilities but also to engage business analysts and users across the organization. The research also identified significant challenges facing organizations in terms of inefficient analytics processes and ineffective technology.
Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Business Technology Innovation, IT Performance, IT Research, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Workforce Performance, Business Planning, CFO
Ventana Research has just announced its Value Index for Financial Performance Management (FPM) for 2010. Our value indexes are user-focused assessments of how well software vendors and packages enable companies to improve their execution of core processes. This one is designed to help businesses, especially the finance organization, evaluate the FPM software suites offered by major vendors in the context of their specific needs. Ventana Research defines financial performance management as the practice of managing the efficiency and effectiveness of financial processes including analytics, budgeting, consolidation, planning, reporting and strategy. The methodology we use to produce the Value Indexes involves evaluating in detail aspects of product functionality and suitability-to-task as well as the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance.
Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, Financial Applications, Business Performance, Business Technology, Financial Performance, Business Planning, CFO, finance, Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management
I’ve written quite a bit about integrated business planning (IBP), which is the process of connecting aspects of the planning function across an organization to improve its internal alignment and financial performance. IBP begins with operational – rather than financial – planning (that is, budgeting) because it’s about running the business and figuring out how to make the financial aspects work to support the business plan. IBP is especially important for corporations in which projects can have a noticeable impact on expenses, revenue and cash flow. This is because of two key differences that set project-type businesses apart from process ones. Planning and managing the financial elements of discrete, high-value activities such as capital investments or important business projects can be time-consuming and problematic. Projects are irregular in both time sequence and use of resources whereas processes are routine and have well-defined inputs. Projects are planned as discrete efforts while processes are recurring and routine and so do not require definition before they are started. It’s really difficult to manage the project-related parts of a business that’s most process driven. To address this problem, Planview introduced an operational planning application earlier this year. Planview’s objective was to address an important gap in the planning software market: enabling companies to plan, manage and assess the both operational and financial performance of their business critical initiatives or (more formally “projects”). Most senior executives would say: “Sure, but can’t we can use our ERP system to do that?” The answer is, unfortunately, no.
Topics: Performance Management, Project Portfolio Management, IT Performance, Operational Performance, CIO, Financial Performance, Business Planning, CFO, Initiatives Management, Initiatives Planning, Operational Planning