Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Optimizing Subscription Management for Finance and Accounting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 24, 2023 3:00:00 AM

The subscription and recurring revenue business models became a significant part of the economy this century with the advent of streaming services for entertainment and software as a service. They have grown in popularity because they enhance customer lifetime value by evolving what had previously been a one-time-sale relationship into a delivery of ongoing services which can create a more loyal customer relationship as well as provide a regular, more predictable revenue stream. I recommend that corporations that have adopted or are planning to adopt either of these business models take a continuous accounting approach to managing their record keeping. Ventana Research asserts that by 2026, one-half of subscription organizations will use continuous accounting to remove constraints limiting sales and marketing flexibility, streamline back-office processes, shorten the accounting close and improve customer satisfaction.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

Office of Finance 2023 Market Agenda: A Brave New World

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 19, 2023 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance, profitability management, Revenue, Lease and Tax Accounting

Professional Services Automation Increases Efficiency

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 17, 2023 3:00:00 AM

A professional services automation application marries front- and back-office functions, helping services organizations address core business challenges by ensuring that:

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Workiva Simplifies ESG Reporting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 28, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance

The Data Pantry Accelerates Actionable Analytics for Decision-Making

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 22, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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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

Accelerate Closing with a Faster Tax Provision Process

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 7, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Managing corporate income taxes is a challenge for chief financial officers and their tax department professionals. Tax codes are often complex, so tax accounting as well as the data required for tax provisions and tax compliance are different enough from statutory accounting to create significant workloads for the tax department. The provision for income tax expense and, for public companies, the assembly of information related to tax-related disclosures, can be a factor holding up the completion of the accounting close.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, digital finance

Vena Provides Practical Support for Integrated Business Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 30, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance

Technology Puts the ‘A’ Back in FP&A

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 22, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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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 Enables Agility Based on Insight

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 18, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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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

Planning for a More Uncertain World with Board International

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 15, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance

Prophix’s Finance Platform Boosts Midsize Departments’ Effectiveness

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 10, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

A New Approach to ERP for a More Effective Finance Department

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 4, 2022 3:00:00 AM

ERP systems have been a fixture of organizational process management and record keeping for so long (more than three decades) that it is likely that few who use the software are aware that ERP is an acronym for Enterprise Resources Planning. Its smooth and uninterrupted functioning is essential to an organization’s accounting and finance processes. In manufacturing and distribution, ERP manages inventory and logistics. Some organizations use it to handle human resources functions like tracking workers, payroll and related costs. Its initial introduction represented a major advance, but its subsequent evolution has been slow and mainly a series of incremental refinements.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

A Finance Department Data Strategy for ESG Compliance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 31, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Sensitivity to environmental, social and governance issues – or ESG – has grown over the years and with it, increasing attention by some investors and government entities urging organizations to measure and disclose ESG metrics. 

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

The Rising Expectations for Finance Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 26, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance

Planful Acquires for Marketing Performance in Planning Suite

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 19, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Marketing Performance Management, Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, intelligent marketing, digital finance

Profitability Management Conquers Inflationary Pressures

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 11, 2022 3:00:00 AM

A year ago, I wrote about how technology could be useful in an inflationary period, correctly anticipating the world we live in now. Responding effectively to changes in costs is always challenging, but even more so because of the choppy and chaotic nature of the current environment. Many organizations have a limited or no ability to raise prices, and are forced to find ways to minimize the impact of rising costs. And while it’s true that some organizations have a degree of pricing power, behind this generalization there is a more complex reality because this ability to raise prices often varies depending on specific products, customers and channels. Companies can best address the challenges of inflation by adopting a technique that Ventana Research calls “profitability management.”

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, digital finance, Revenue Management, profitability management, Revenue Performance Management

Building a More Predictive Finance Department

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 5, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Data Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance

Workday Rising Shows Advances for the Office of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 28, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

External Data Supports a More Predictive Finance Department

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 15, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance

To Attract the Best Talent, Make Accounting Cool

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 24, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Especially in the United States, baby boomer retirements and fewer graduates with accounting degrees is posing a growing challenge to finance department executives in attracting and retaining the best accounting talent. The solution, which may not seem obvious, is to make accounting cool, again.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

Sourcing and Purchasing Need Digital Transformation

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 17, 2022 3:00:00 AM

“Digital finance transformation” became an even more important topic over the past two years as finance and accounting departments have had to cope with an unrelenting set of new challenges that have had a profound impact on business operations, financial markets and regulatory environments. Digital technologies enable organizations to cope with change and improve performance by increasing efficiency, reducing risk, achieving greater visibility into opportunities, shortening process cycles and completing core processes. Digitizing department operations helps attract and retain the best talent because professionals spend less time on mechanical, repetitive tasks. Unfortunately, our research suggests that transformation is more talked about than done. I assert that by 2025, only one-third of finance departments will have achieved a level of technology competence to be described as digitally transformed while the CFOs of those that do will have greater influence in their organization's management.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

Anaplan at a Crossroads

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 10, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, continuous supply chain, digital finance, profitability management

Adopt the Fast Follower Paradigm for Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 26, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Although the digital transformation of the finance department was a topic of discussion before 2020, it became a front-and-center issue as organizations locked down and in-office interactions became impossible. Finance and accounting departments were immediately confronted with a challenge because of their limited adoption of technology that would support a virtual working environment. As our 2019 Office of Finance Benchmark Research found, they are technological laggards: 45% are at the tactical or lowest level of competence in using technology across multiple processes and functions, while only 12% are at the highest. In my experience, many finance and accounting professionals and those running the department do not necessarily think that such competence is necessary, but this thinking is outdated because, increasingly, technology is the only practical way to address the department’s responsibilities (for example, the new revenue recognition for contracts accounting standards). To gain full advantage of technology, finance and accounting organizations must become “fast followers,” avoiding the bleeding edge but breaking the habit of waiting until the last possible moment before adopting proven advances.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

A Faster Close Fixes Other Accounting Issues

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 21, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Since its inception 20 years ago, Ventana Research has advocated for a shorter accounting close because it can improve the performance of the entire organization, not just finance and accounting. An important benefit of a shorter close is increased staff time for analysis and the preparation of reports and narratives that improve communications with the board and outside investors. Similarly, the department can provide those in operating roles the financial and managerial accounting results to highlight opportunities and issues they must address.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

Finance Research Reveals No Progress to a Shorter Close

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 19, 2022 3:00:00 AM

We conducted our recent Smart Close Dynamic Insights Research in part to assess to what extent the substantial disruptions of the pandemic have impacted the accounting close. When office lockdowns began in the first quarter of 2020, many finance departments were challenged by having to do their quarterly close remotely without their normal face-to-face interactions. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission was so concerned that corporations would be unable to meet their filing deadlines that they gave registrants carte blanche to extend their filing if necessary. As it turned out, only a relative handful did, and all but one of those was based in China; but for many, that first calendar close required a heroic effort. Since then, organizations have made concerted efforts to adopt and use technology to enable them to operate resiliently under any conditions. Our research finds that while organizations have to some extent adapted to operating a more remote working environment, progress toward a faster close has been elusive. The research also confirms that organizations that use technology effectively to automate processes are better able to complete their close sooner.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

OneStream’s Sensible ML Tasks AI for Business Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 15, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance, profitability management

A Data Pantry Speeds Development of Machine Learning Models

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 12, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Data Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance

AI Will Create Strategic Advantage for the Office of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 24, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Planning, Machine Learning, Budgeting, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, forecasting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance, profitability management

Using External Data in Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 12, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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. 

HubSpot Video
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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, digital finance

Reordered Global Trade Requires Agile Sales and Operations Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 29, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Continuous Planning, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, continuous supply chain

Unit4 Expansion Targets Enhancements for People-Centric Organization

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 9, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Talent Managment, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Total Compensation Management, digital finance

Progress for AI in Office of Finance Applications

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 18, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Data Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance

The Office of Finance Market Agenda for 2022: Effectiveness and Profits

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 9, 2022 3:00:00 AM

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.

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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

Configure, Price and Quote Software Supports Profitability Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 7, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Pricing is an issue that almost every for-profit company confronts – and usually agonizes over. Chief financial officers must play a part in setting the strategic direction of pricing in their organization. They should not be involved in tactical pricing decisions because they are not close enough to markets and customers, but they should be part of the strategic design of pricing, especially as part of a profitability management effort, which I’ve discussed before.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Analytics, Financial Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Digital Business, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement

Digitize Tax Departments for Increased Strategic Value

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 26, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Managing corporate income taxes is a challenge for chief financial officers. Tax codes are often complex, so tax accounting as well as the data required for tax provisions and tax compliance are different enough from statutory accounting to create significant workloads for the tax department. Today, the worldwide trend to higher taxes and growing tax code complexity is increasing the payoff for digitizing an organization’s tax function.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, digital finance, lease and tax accounting

Managing Price Inflation Effectively with Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 21, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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?

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Meet the Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting Challenge

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 30, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Environmental, social and governance reporting by public corporations has become a top-of-mind issue for senior executives and boards of directors as countries increasingly consider or mandate its implementation in some form. The fundamental rationale for ESG reporting is rooted in the inability of purely financial measures to capture externalities (such as greenhouse gas emissions) or provide metrics that enable an objective assessment of management’s ability to properly determine trade-offs between short-term results and long-term sustainability. And, while in the United States the Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandates that auditors assess governance, the focus of this assessment is on preventing financial fraud as opposed to broader objectives that may be important to the functioning of the company as a sustainable entity.

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Data, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Finance IT Improves Departmental Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 6, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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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

Palantir Earns Overall Digital Innovation Award for 2021

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 4, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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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

Controllers: Always Be Closing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 29, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Digital Process Reengineering Improves Business Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 28, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, lease and tax accounting

Reduce Risk and Improve Departmental Effectiveness with Intercompany Financial Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 24, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, robotic finance, lease and tax accounting

Integrated Business Planning Uses Zero-Based Budgeting to Improve Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 21, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, robotic finance, Predictive Planning

Subscription Pricing Changing for Sustained Customer Growth

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on May 20, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Subscription pricing models are no longer new. Many companies have experience with this pricing model even if there has not been complete adoption across their entire product and service offerings. Companies that use this model, or have spent time looking at the approach, understand the approach of a recurring revenue stream based on a repeating flat fee.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Subscription Management

Unit4 Democratizes Agile, Data-Driven Decision-Making

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 17, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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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

Consolidation Software Builds Staff Effectiveness in Midsize Companies

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 14, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Financial consolidation software assists companies in executing their accounting close process - especially those that use multiple ERP systems or have multiple legal entities - and with other characteristics that can complicate the process such as keeping books in multiple currencies. Not every midsize company needs consolidation software because many find their ERP (or financial management) software satisfies their needs. Our Office of Finance research finds that just 5% of midsize companies (which we define as those with 100-999 employees) use consolidation software to manage the process while 30% use their ERP system and another 51% use desktop spreadsheets either completely or to a significant degree. Using consolidation software can help shorten the close, especially when it substantially reduces the use of spreadsheets. Consolidation software supports the management discipline of continuous accounting.

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Topics: Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

FourQ Builds Confidence and Trust in Intercompany Financial Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 23, 2021 3:00:00 AM

FourQ is an intercompany financial management (IFM) Solution-as-a-Service provider. IFM is a discipline for structuring and handling transactions within a corporation and between its legal entities, and 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. Here’s why:

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, robotic finance, lease and tax accounting

Modern ERP Improves Organizational Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 16, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The ERP system is at the core of nearly every organization’s record keeping and business process management. Its smooth and uninterrupted functioning is essential to an organization’s accounting and finance functions. In manufacturing and distribution, ERP manages inventory and logistics. Some organizations use it to handle human resources functions like tracking workers, payroll and related costs.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance

A Virtual Audit Enables Savings Through Efficiency

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 5, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The challenges of the pandemic prevented auditors from visiting client offices, which led to widespread adoption of remote audit processes. Although there are outward similarities between a remote audit and a virtual audit, they aren’t the same. A remote audit uses technology to adapt the existing audit processes to an environment where in-person interactions are impossible. A virtual audit uses technology to redefine and streamline how auditors conduct an annual audit.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

Streamlining Spending for Savings and Control

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 2, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Irked by the need to account for every penny of his college expenses, poet Robert Frost penned the lines:

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, digital finance

Robotic Process Automation is a Core Finance Competency

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 30, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning

Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 15, 2021 3:00:00 AM

With modern enterprises adopting and expanding their digital business with subscription and usage business, organizations need to think beyond the primacy of sales as their source of business success. A sustained customer experience is key, representing an organizational and cultural shift from the traditional emphasis on new sales to an equally important focus on customer retention and upsell/cross-sell opportunities. This mindset is also important to organizations involved in digital commerce where the cost of customer acquisition and narrow margins means retaining customers for repeat purchases, which is vital to a sustainable business.

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Topics: Sales, Marketing, Analytics, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Subscription Management

The Office of Finance Market Agenda for 2021: Accelerating Adoption of Digital Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 28, 2021 5:00:00 AM

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.

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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

Use Software for More Effective Tax Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 10, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The post-pandemic world will see much returned to normal, but there will also be change. For businesses that faced shutdowns, these changes will include higher taxes to pay for the costs of mitigating the economic impact, and the loss of tax revenue. In addition to imposing higher tax rates, some governments will strive to raise revenue by accelerating their adoption of digital technologies to enhance compliance. Taxes are the largest single expenditure for most corporations, both taxes on their income, and indirect forms of taxes such as value-added taxes (VAT) and sales and use taxes. Minimizing tax expense within the limits of the law must be a priority for CFOs.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, robotic finance, lease and tax accounting

BlackLine Matches Receivables for Continuous Accounting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 5, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning

Continuous Planning is Optimized with AI and External Data

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 1, 2021 3:00:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Information Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance

Make Accounts Receivable Pay

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 14, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Can you imagine a more arcane and boring topic than accounts receivable? Unless you are the CFO, controller, chief accounting officer or treasurer of an organization, maybe not. Anecdotally, as it’s part of the trend to the digital transformation of all things in the department, there appears to be greater interest in this area of the Office of Finance. With populations locked down and the accounting staff unable to work in an office, the need to operate virtually has accelerated the application of technology to finance and accounting departments, which has been long overdue.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, AI and Machine Learning

Profitability Management is a CFO Imperative

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2020 3:00:00 AM

One of the oddities of corporate management is that, as a rule, nobody oversees managing profitability. CEOs are accountable for meeting company-wide financial targets and assign responsibility for achieving profitability levels to business unit owners across and down an organization. Sales quotas designed to achieve revenue goals are put in place, and budget owners have cost and margin objectives. But setting profitability objectives is not the same as managing profitability.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Subscription Management

Value-Based Planning Improves Corporate Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 6, 2020 2:00:00 AM

In preparing this research note I took the precaution of searching “value-based planning” to see what came up. Over the years, the term has been used in several contexts each with different shadings. By my definition it’s an approach to planning and budgeting that maximizes the long-term value of an organization by considering all its objectives – not just the financial targets. Value-based planning is a more effective management tool for executives because it defines objectives in terms of resources used and outcomes achieved, not just the financial outcome. Value-based planning is only possible when it is fully supported by the senior leadership team and only feasible using software that can integrate operational planning and financial budgeting.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Predictive Planning

Fundamental Change is Coming to ERP Systems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 30, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are central to nearly every organization’s management of operational and financial business processes. They are essential to the smooth functioning of an organization’s record keeping, accounting and finance tasks. In manufacturing and distribution, ERP manages inventory and logistics. Some ERP software vendors incorporate an extended set of capabilities that include managing human resources as well as supply chains and logistics. In the 2020s, technology will drive fundamental change in how ERP systems operate and how companies use the software.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning

DADs Address the Mother of All Data Problems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 25, 2020 3:00:00 AM

An important recent development in software designed for the Office of Finance is the addition of what we’re calling a data aggregation device (DAD) for analytical applications. A DAD automates the collection of data from disparate sources using, for example, application programming interfaces (APIs) and robotic process automation (RPA). With a DAD, users of the analytical application have immediate access to a much broader data set; one that incorporates operational as well as financial data from internal and external sources. The larger data set enables a much more expansive set of analyses than has been feasible in the past because the process of acquiring the data is automated, and the data aggregation is handled in a controlled manner. This control means that data in the system is authoritative, accurate, consistent, complete and secure. The difference between a DAD and a finance data mart is that the former is prebuilt for the specific application, and therefore eliminates this source of implementation costs and offers faster time to value.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning

Scenario Planning is a Strategic Imperative

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 28, 2020 3:00:00 AM

A great deal has changed in how finance and accounting departments operate since the start of 2020. To cope with unprecedented conditions, many departments have found that significant changes to their processes and operating methods are not only possible, they’re necessary. With workers unable to be in office, organizations have learned how to work virtually using videoconferencing, and adopted a variety of new software that make it possible to work under any conditions. Software that automates the close, for instance, smooths the execution of processes by managing hand-offs, reviews and approvals even when face-to-face interaction isn’t feasible.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, robotic finance, Predictive Planning

OneStream Wins Our Innovation Award in Office of Finance with Analytic Blend

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 13, 2020 3:00:00 AM

One of the challenges of being a practically minded technology analyst is squaring the importance of “the next big thing” with the reality of what most organizations are doing. For decades it’s been the case that “the next big thing” in the world of information technology is easily several years ahead of where most organizations are in their use of technology. And before most organizations can realize the benefit of some whiz-bang technology, they frequently need to address a range of more mundane issues, such as data availability and accuracy, employee training and corporate culture, among other impediments. Sometimes, though, advanced technology works to uncomplicate things for organizations.

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Marketing, Work and Resource Management, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, Subscription Management, intelligent sales

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Continuous Planning Experience and Organizational Agility in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Business planning is an essential part of an organization’s focus on its future performance and overall potential because it ensures continuous operations, even in black-swan events. Planning across the entire organization needs to be a critical priority and leadership should give it the attention it deserves. In challenging times, a focus on execution tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying immediate customer and workforce needs and putting out fires, business leaders too often forget that forward-looking continuous planning is essential to achieving desired outcomes. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed to meet these needs for every business process in the organization.  

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Topics: Sales, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Data, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Total Compensation Management, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing

Workiva Chains Liberates FP&A

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 4, 2020 7:30:00 AM

Workiva recently introduced Chains, a visual workflow tool for the Workiva platform. Individuals use Chains to create and manage linear sequences of tasks that they otherwise would have to execute manually, for example, automatically updating a report with the most current dataset. Chains is like old-style Excel macros in its simplicity; users configure sequences with a drag-and-drop visual interface. There’s nothing to code and it’s easy to follow the sequence and the logic that drives the process. Organizations can take a modular approach to building chains, enabling users to string together a sequence of them. Such an approach makes it possible to standardize process execution and maintaining shorter chains is usually simpler than longer ones.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Reporting, XBRL, iXBRL, document management

2020 Reporting: Improving Visibility, Transparency and Perspective

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 26, 2020 6:00:00 AM

FP&A and business analysts can make reporting more effective by reimagining how, what and when their company does its reporting. They should provide the users of their reports the information they want in a form they want it. They should be thinking about how they can make reporting more effective by rethinking how data is presented, how interactive it is, and what visualizations are used. Rethinking how to combine narratives, data, charts and graphics to everyday communications. How to add audio and video where it’s appropriate. Reimagine reporting to make it a more effective form of communications designed to improve a company’s performance.

HubSpot Video
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Topics: FP&A, Office of Finance, CFO, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, financial standards, tax planning

The Corporate Tax Management Software Imperative

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Recent events are forcing corporations to adopt dedicated software for tax provision, transfer pricing and tax analysis. The fiscal damage that the global pandemic is inflicting on countries is likely to result in a more aggressive tax enforcement environment. This will further pressure organizations to establish centralized control and oversight in managing income taxes in corporations. This will also require visibility into tax processes by senior executives, especially for the CFO. Dedicated software for managing tax processes provides greater control and visibility compared to desktop spreadsheets. Our Office of Finance benchmark research finds that 62% of organizations that use a dedicated tax provision application say they can effectively control tax risks compared to 33% of those that use spreadsheets.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, tax; tax provision; transfer pricing

Move Finance to the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 29, 2020 10:29:16 AM

In a recent note on virtualizing the close, I observed that finance and accounting organizations that can operate in a virtual mode are better able to adapt to changing circumstances and overcome obstacles. Having systems that people can readily access remotely to collaborate and execute processes virtually makes it easier for departments to meet their commitments with confidence. The core technology underpinning the ability to work in a virtual mode is the cloud. That’s because the cloud eliminates the constraints of having to be in a specific place at a specific time; work gets done when it needs to be done.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Predictive Planning

The Central Ledger: Restructuring Accounting with Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 22, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Sometimes it takes a while for technology to fundamentally change how work is done. That’s because several innovations usually have to come together before a transformation can occur. For instance, Karl Benz created the first practical motorcar in 1885, but consumers would have to wait until the 1920s for the modern automobile. Computerized accounting systems originated in the 1950s but it’s only now that technologies have evolved and come together to fundamentally change how work is done.

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Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, close, closing, CFO, controller, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

You Can’t Plan on AI and ML

Posted by David Menninger on Apr 13, 2020 11:00:00 AM

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are all the rage right now. Our Machine Learning Dynamic Insights research shows that organizations are using these techniques to achieve a competitive advantage and improve both customer experiences and their bottom line. One type of analysis an organization can perform using AI and ML is predictive analytics. Organizations also need to plan their operations to predict the amount of cash they will need, inventory levels and staffing requirements. Unfortunately, while planning begins with predictions, organizations can’t plan with AI and ML. Let me explain what I mean.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning

Fortune Favors the Prepared

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 2, 2020 1:43:50 PM

I like Louis Pasteur’s observation that “fortune favors the prepared mind.” So-called black swan events happen regularly and can have a very negative effect on a business. Of course, risk is inherent in any commercial undertaking; organizations don’t succeed by being overly cautious and reckless ones usually fail after awhile. Those that are consistently successful are ones that manage risk intelligently. That is, they correctly identify vulnerabilities, avoid the decisions and situations where risks outweigh the benefits, insure the risks that are economically insurable and quickly mitigate the impact of negative events. They are resilient in the face of change because they are adaptable.

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, Work and Resource Management, Predictive Planning

Make Automating Finance and Accounting a Priority

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 1, 2020 11:15:00 AM

We find in our recent Change in the Office of Finance benchmark research an indication of the value of using automation to execute finance department functions. Our findings reveal an increase in the use of automation by finance organizations over the past five years and a concomitant improvement in performance. For example, 46 percent of companies close their monthly books within four business days compared to 29 percent in our earlier research. Yet the glass is only half full. Finance organizations continue to be laggards in adopting technology that measurably improves effectiveness.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting

Workday Does Source-to-Pay

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 19, 2020 12:15:00 PM

In late February I attended Spark, the Scout annual user group meeting. This was the third and likely the last such meeting, as Scout was recently acquired by Workday. Scout’s users represent a new breed of purchasing managers and executives looking to change the role of the purchasing department. This change is critical for businesses. Saving money is the essential job of sourcing and purchasing departments. But departments can go far beyond that, helping support product and go-to-market strategies that are more complex and innovative. To empower this change, the bulk of conference content included experience-driven advice from practitioners who are pioneering the evolution of sourcing and procurement.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, purchasing, procurement, sourcing

Three Essentials for a Digital Office of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 3, 2020 6:00:00 AM

One of the objectives of our recent Change in the Office of Finance benchmark research was to assess the technological capabilities of finance and accounting departments. The research confirms that today we are on the verge of a major technology-led shift. Technology that’s already available can have a greater impact on how the finance department operates over the next 10 years than it has over the past 50. Advances in columnar databases, in-memory processing and artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as a relentless reduction in the cost of computing resources, will make it possible to substantially redefine how work gets done in the department.  

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting, Subscription Management

The Next-Generation CFO

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 24, 2020 6:00:00 AM

I was invited to sit on a panel at CFO 3.0 events held in San Francisco and New York hosted by Sage Intacct. This event is about the evolution of the role that started with the archetypal CFO 1.0, the green-eye-shade-wearing bean counter. Lacking usable technology, he or she was limited to keeping the books in good order and simply reporting what just happened. Today’s CFO 2.0 relies on technology developed over the past two decades as well as the broader perception of the role, catalyzed by technology that provides deeper analysis to explain what happened and why. At the next 3.0 level, CFOs will lead an organization that can provide guidance to executives and managers so they can better shape the company’s future, providing insights through rich scenario planning.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting

The Office of Finance in 2020: Ventana Research Agenda

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 14, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2020 research agenda for the Office of Finance, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades on the practical use of technology for the finance and accounting department to help these organizations derive greater value and improve their performance. For decades organizations have discussed transforming Finance from a backward-looking “bean counter” to a more strategic advisory role — yet little has changed. One important reason is that the department is a technology laggard. Our recent Office of Finance benchmark research finds that half (49%) of organizations are at the lowest level of performance in utilizing technology. We also find a meaningful correlation between that level of performance and how well a department performs core processes.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting

The Office of Finance is a Numbers Factory

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 4, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Yes, it’s an easy metaphor, but a worthwhile one to consider. For the Office of Finance, figures are its raw material. They are transformed and assembled into financial statements, forecasts and reports. Like a factory, there are blueprints (accounting standards, models and forms) that show how the parts are to be pieced together. There’s quality control in the form of internal audit. And there are final inspections — external audits — to ensure the end product has been assembled properly.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting

Price Optimization: Cover Your Bases

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 13, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Pricing is an eternally vexing issue in business. Over the years, organizations have used different strategies to establish prices for their products, depending on custom, the nature of the business and the degree of competitiveness in the market. The most straightforward approaches to price setting are a cost-plus calculation (cost plus some mark-up) and follow-the-leader (charge what competitors are charging). More recently, demand-based pricing has achieved a following as technology has made this approach more workable. It’s a method that uses buyer demand, based on an estimate of the good’s or service’s perceived value to the buyer, as the central element in setting price.

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Topics: Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management

Sage Intacct Looks to the Future of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 23, 2019 12:00:00 PM

Sage Intacct recently hosted its annual user group meeting, Advantage, and earlier this year met with industry analysts. Both meetings shed light on how the company is addressing two key opportunities. One is building a robust offering to address rapidly evolving technology requirements for the Office of Finance. The other is broadening the scope of its offering to address the financial management and administration needs of its customers.

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Topics: Office of Finance, business intelligence, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting

Incentive Solutions Shows Potential in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Incentive Solutions drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Incentive Solutions and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

NICE is a Leader in Reliability for Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 18, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on NICE drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated NICE and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

beqom is a Value Index Leader for Manageability in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 16, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on beqom drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated beqom and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Optymyze Provides Robust Platform and Sales Performance Management Suite

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 11, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Optymyze drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Optymyze and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Anaplan is a Value Index Leader for Validation in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 9, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Anaplan drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Anaplan and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Varicent is a Value Index Leader in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 6, 2019 7:00:00 AM

With the backing of Great Hill Partners and Spectrum Equity, the company Varicent Software launched on Jan. 1st, purchasing IBM’s Sales Performance Management (SPM) assets and hiring employees from IBM’s SPM group. They will join a new team that includes Varicent’s original founders and key leadership.

This set of insights is drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated IBM, now Varicent, and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Xactly Demonstrates Strong Performance in SPM Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 4, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Xactly drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Xactly and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Cutting Audit Costs Significantly? It’s Actually Possible

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 3, 2019 7:00:00 AM

For years I’ve viewed with skepticism the claim that one technology or another will reduce audit costs. For one, there’s rarely a silver bullet. An array of moving parts drive audit fees. For example, the complexity of the corporation, accounting data management and the audit staff’s familiarity with the industry and the company all affect the time auditors must spend. Also, most of the time I’ve found that achieving significant savings was not the result of going from good to great, but from fixing deep-seated issues. If a company’s books and accounting practices are a mess, it can achieve considerable savings simply by cleaning up its act. In this circumstance, technology can play a part of a broader initiative that addresses the people, process and data management elements that are behind the mess.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, AI and Machine Learning

CFOs in Midsize Companies Face Challenges

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 25, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently published benchmark research findings on the Office of Finance, many of which show a trend in the right direction. Organizations are closing the books sooner; financial planning and analysis has improved; and companies are more frequently establishing Finance IT groups to manage the increasingly technological requirements for effectiveness.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning

FP&A Performance Is Improving, But …

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 6, 2019 7:00:00 AM

The financial planning and analysis (FP&A) group is the linchpin of any transformation effort in the Office of Finance. Our recently completed Office of Finance benchmark research was conducted against the backdrop of the idea that finance organizations must play a more strategic role in the management of the modern organization. This transformation envisions a finance department that’s more of a partner to the rest of the company — one that is less focused on “bean counting,” instead directing its resources and energy to providing more insightful analytics, facilitating transactions of value and communicating actionable data analyses that enable managers to make better decisions more consistently. The research uncovered advances in how corporations handle analytics as well as budgeting and planning. Yet the research also indicates that there is much left to be done in most companies.

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Topics: Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Analytics, Financial Performance Management, robotic finance, Predictive Planning

Identifying the Leaders in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 31, 2019 7:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insights from our latest Value Index research, which rates how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). The Ventana Research Value Index: Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. Drawing on our benchmark research and expertise, this research-based index is the first such evaluation to assess the full business value of sales performance management software. You can learn more about our Value Index as an effective vendor selection and RFI/RFP tool here and participating vendors can learn more about how to use the Value Index here.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Achieve Fatter Margins with Dynamic CPQ

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 30, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Configure, price and quote (CPQ) software has been around for decades. Lately, I’ve been using the term “Dynamic CPQ” to apply to a variant of this software category that explicitly aims to produce a quote that optimizes the trade-off between the profitability of a deal and the probability of closing a sale. Dynamic CPQ software is a hybrid of price and revenue optimization (PRO) software and CPQ, providing companies with the ability to better execute their market share and pricing strategies. It’s designed especially for business-to-business (B2B) relationships that involve sales agents in the pricing process.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Data Preparation, Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, robotic finance, revenue and lease accounting, sales enablement

The Science of Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 24, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Ensuring that the sales organization contributes as fully as possible to the success of the organization — to revenue, growth, prof itability and the overall customer experience — requires not only dedication but effective strategy and planning. A well-developed strategy and plan to utilize current and future sales talent is essential for the best possible sales performance. To carry out this mission, organizations need a set of coordinated sales-related activities, processes and systems that enable the sales organization, from leadership and operations to the manager and sellers, to operate in a coordinated and collaborative manner. We call this sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Be FIT: Modern Finance Needs Finance IT

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 17, 2019 7:00:00 AM

The traditional office of finance has five main organs: accounting keeps the books; financial planning and analysis (FP&A) analyzes performance and manages the forward-looking activities of the company such as planning, budgeting and forecasting; corporate finance raises outside money; treasury takes care of the cash and bank accounts, and tax. The modern office of finance requires a sixth: Finance IT (FIT).

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Topics: Office of Finance, Analytics, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, ERP and Continuous Accounting, blockchain, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, collaborative computing, Subscription Management

Finally, a Faster Close

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 7, 2019 7:00:00 AM

A quarter century ago the “fast, clean close” became a key measure of a finance and accounting department’s effectiveness. Since then there has been general agreement that companies should be able to close their books within a business week. Our research on the accounting close has consistently shown that companies with very similar characteristics (measured in terms of revenue, number of employees, location and industry) vary considerably in the number of days it takes them to complete their accounting cycle. The lack of connection between the structural conditions of a corporation and the time it takes to close the books suggests that the obstacles to a faster close are not innate, but the result of poor process design and execution, insufficient automation of the process as well as choices made by finance executives. One of those choices is deciding — for whatever reason — not to close sooner.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance

Dynamic Insights from Research on Finance Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 19, 2019 8:30:00 AM

By itself, data isn’t useful for business; the application of analytics is necessary to transform data into actionable information. Data analysis of one sort or another has long been a core competence of finance departments, applied to balance sheets, income statements or cash flow statements. Today, however, Finance must go beyond these basics by expanding the scope of the data being examined to include all financial and operational information that can yield actionable insights. Analysis thus should include, for example, data from the systems that manage sales operations, human resources and field service and that data must be available to all departments and applications that need it.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Voice of the Customer, embedded analytics, Learning Management, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Data Governance, Data Lake, Data Preparation, Information Management, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Data, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, ERP and Continuous Accounting, blockchain, natural language processing, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, candidate engagement, Intelligent CX, Conversational Computing, Continuous Payroll, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, total rewards management, intelligent marketing, intelligent sales

The Promise and Perils of a Platform Strategy

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 6, 2019 7:00:00 AM

“Platform,” as used in the world of technology, originally referred to an operating system on which one could construct software applications. More recently, its usage has been expanded to apply to two types of business models. One enables third parties to create products and services that are complementary to a company’s core technology. For instance, both Apple and Salesforce have attracted a wide array of third-party software developers whose offerings greatly increase the value of each software vendor’s platform to its customers. The second, such as Amazon’s marketplace, Facebook, Twitter and Uber, facilitates transactions and interactions. This latter type adds value by reducing transaction frictions and increasing efficiency and, in attracting large numbers of people to the platform, enables innovative business offerings to take advantage of Metcalf’s law — the “network effect.”

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Continuous Planning, Information Management, Internet of Things, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management

Business Planning: Establish a Continuous and More Effective Path to Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 17, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Business planning in most companies is a relic, a process hemmed in by obsolete conceptions of what it can be. “Business planning” encompasses all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage, including marketing, sales, customer, supply chain and workforce planning as well as budgeting. In our view companies today can fundamentally change how they plan thanks to the maturation of information technology. Current systems can support better business planning as well as traditional budgeting. Dedicated software can increase the business value of the time spent planning and budgeting by enabling all parts of the business to share their plans. It can substantially cut the time spent creating and updating plans. And it can allow senior executives to see a consolidated view of the plan and quickly explore alternatives and contingencies.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, revenue and lease accounting

Oracle NetSuite: Steady as She Goes

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 10, 2019 6:00:00 AM

From my perspective there were two significant takeaways from this year’s SuiteWorld. The first is that, almost two years on from the announced acquisition of NetSuite by Oracle, the combination has achieved its immediate objectives in growing NetSuite’s business, especially in Europe and Asia, and accelerating product development efforts. The second takeaway is that, at least for now, the unit appears to continue to operate as if the combination were a private equity investment by a public company.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning

Prophix Supports the Strategic Midsize CFO

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 26, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Prophix is a financial performance management (FPM) suite from Prophix Software offering statutory financial consolidation, planning, budgeting and reporting capabilities designed expressly for midsize companies and divisions of larger corporations. The chief financial officer of a midsize company faces a different set of challenges than those in larger corporations or small businesses. A midsize company typically has grown to the point where it must have capabilities similar to those of a large corporation but lacks the staff or financial resources that larger companies can afford. And when experiencing rapid growth, midsize companies typically will make investments in information technology that will allow them to scale without having to add administrative or support headcount.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Predictive Planning

Blockchain's Presence at IBM THINK 2019

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 25, 2019 6:00:00 AM

IBM’s THINK conference, just held this February in San Francisco, is IBM's annual user conference. THINK is designed to showcase upcoming product updates and releases from IBM, along with provide best practices on a wide range of topics. While many technologies were on display, there is one topic in particular I wanted to cover this year: Blockchain.

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Topics: Office of Finance, IBM, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Digital Technology, blockchain

Supply Chain Management and Sourcing in a New Era of Trade

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 22, 2019 6:00:00 AM

We’re in a new era of trade, the result of converging issues that have been building for at least a decade. Structurally and politically, the liberal ethos that drove the trade environment through the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st has changed. There will be a new equilibrium in the future; getting there, though, will be a bumpy ride. Adding to the challenges posed by a shifting trade environment are commodity and currency market volatility and the impacts of ongoing legal, regulatory and taxation changes.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Continuous Planning, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Inventory Optimization, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, Sales and Operations Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics, revenue recognition

Revenue Recognition Standards Pose Planning Challenges

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 18, 2019 6:00:00 AM

New rules governing revenue recognition for contracts have gone into effect for larger companies and are about to go into effect for smaller ones. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which administers Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the U.S. (US-GAAP), has issued ASC 606 and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which administers International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) used in most other countries, has issued IFRS 15. The two standards are very similar and will require fundamental changes in revenue recognition for companies that use even moderately complex contracts in their dealings with customers. These include, for example, contracts that are structured using tiered pricing or volume discounts or ones that routinely involve modifications, such as subscriptions that add or drop users and services or allow seasonal changes or promotional discounts.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Continuous Planning, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics, Billing and Recurring Revenue, revenue recognition

Straight-Through Processing for Business and Commerce

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 31, 2019 6:00:00 AM

“Straight-through processing” (STP) is a business process and data architecture methodology. Technology advances have made STP increasingly feasible for any business process, allowing companies to design and execute them from inception to completion in a more automated fashion, minimizing or eliminating human intervention in the process. The associated data also progresses automatically end-to-end through the process, preserving its integrity. Because there is no human intervention, data is more accurate and less prone to manipulation.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Data Governance, Financial Performance Management, Digital Commerce, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Billing and Recurring Revenue

BlackLine Exorcises Accounting Details

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 10, 2019 6:00:00 AM

I recently attended BlackLine’s annual user conference. The company aims to automate time-consuming repetitive tasks and substantially reduce the amount of detail that individuals must handle in the department. The phrase “the devil is in the details” certainly applies to accounting, especially managing the details in the close-to-report phase of the accounting cycle, which is where BlackLine plays its role. This phase spans from all the pre-close activities to the publication of the financial statements. The non-practitioner is likely unaware of the hair-curling amount of essential detail that the finance and accounting organization must handle in the close-to-report. Beyond its toll on efficiency, the time and attention involved in performing this work manually bedevils departments’ attempts to become a more strategic partner to the rest of the business.

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Topics: automation, close, closing, Consolidation, control, effectiveness, Reconciliation, CFO, compliance, Data, controller, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Sarbanes Oxley, Accounting, process management, report

Wdata Puts the “A” back in FP&A

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 13, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Workiva recently introduced Wdata, a cloud facility for centralizing financial and non-financial information from multiple sources. It frees up time for finance organizations, especially financial planning and analysis (FP&A) groups, to explore conditions and trends in their business because they need to spend less of it gathering data and preparing it for analysis and reporting. Ventana Research recently awarded Workiva our Digital Innovation award for Wdata because of its transformative potential.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Continuous Planning, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics, revenue recognition

FinancialForce Serves the Modern Service Business

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 10, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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), subscription-based or recurring revenue services. FinancialForce’s key point of differentiation is that it is built natively on the Salesforce platform. Thus, 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.

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Topics: Sales, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Billing and Recurring Revenue, revenue recognition

Kinaxis Assists in the Planning of Supply Chains for the New Era of Trade

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 6, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Kinaxis recently held its annual user conference, Kinexions, which focuses on helping the company’s customers improve their execution of supply chain and sales and operations planning (S&OP). This year’s event took place against a backdrop of what is beginning to look like a new and more challenging era of world trade. This will have a significant impact on most product companies with international operations. (I also reviewed last year’s event, which can be found here.)

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Topics: Continuous Planning, Financial Performance Management, Inventory Optimization, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, Sales and Operations Planning

Workday Supports the Finance Department of the Future

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 29, 2018 6:00:00 AM

This year’s Workday Rising, the company’s annual user group meeting, offered details of the company’s latest release, Workday 31, and provided a roadmap for the next several semiannual releases. To put these plans into a broader context, I’ve commented before that information technology is on the verge of delivering capabilities that will enable finance and accounting organizations to transform how they work. Technology will have a more profound impact on accounting and finance over the coming decade than it has over the past 50 years. Workday Financial Management, along with the company’s Prism Analytics and recently acquired Adaptive Insights, is evolving to provide to finance and accounting departments the technology underpinnings that can help them redefine how they do their work.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Continuous Planning, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, revenue recognition

Real Estate Isn’t Just a Fixed Cost

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 12, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Financial analysts typically classify real estate as a fixed cost. Strictly speaking, that’s correct, but looking at it this way leads many organizations to overlook opportunities to more carefully manage their real estate and other occupancy expenses. The changes in lease accounting that are going into effect have caused some organizations to reexamine their leasing policies and how they organize their lease accounting processes. They should take an even broader approach and consider ways to improve how they manage those leases.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Financial Performance Management, Operations & Supply Chain, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Accounting, Lease Accounting, ASC842, IFRS16

PROS Enables Modern Commerce with Dynamic CPQ

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 16, 2018 11:29:51 PM

PROS Holdings is a software vendor with two distinct but related sets of products. The company began in 1985 offering revenue management software to airlines, hospitality and rental car companies. More recently it added price and revenue management software focusing on B2B services, chemicals and energy, consumer goods manufacturers, food and beverage, healthcare, insurance and technology. This note focuses on the B2B portion of the business.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Office of Finance, Analytics, Data Preparation, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Pricing and Promotion Management, Sales Enablement and Execution

Make Accounting Cool (Again)

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 12, 2018 8:18:22 AM

Was accounting ever cool? Well, yes, in a nerdy sort of way. Double-entry bookkeeping, codified in the 15th century by Fra Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan friar and pal of Leonardo Da Vinci, was essential for the expansion of trade and the creation of the modern corporation. Bookkeeping and accounting were as important to economic development as two other financial inventions – insurance and fractional reserve banking. Double-entry bookkeeping is an elegant system, simple yet powerful. It supports the accurate recording of transactions and the economic condition of a business as well as analyses of its performance. That’s cool.

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Topics: Big Data, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, business intelligence, Analytics, Financial Performance Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting

FloQast Facilitates a Fast Close

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 27, 2018 9:05:46 AM

A quarter century after a “fast, clean close” became a key measure of a finance and accounting department’s effectiveness, companies continue to take too long to close their books. Our Office of Finance research finds that 60 percent of companies take more than six business days to complete their close despite widespread agreement that it should be done within a business week. Closing sooner provides executives with financial and management accounting data sooner. A faster close also promotes agility in responding to markets and competitors, frees up departmental resources to enable CFOs to fix process issues that hamper the effectiveness of the department and allows extra time to concentrate on more valuable analytical tasks. Moreover, it’s likely that by focusing on issues that are delaying the close, the department will uncover the root cause of other issues that diminish its performance. “We’re too busy to figure out how to save time” is a common problem in these finance organizations.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

OneStream XF: A Finance Department Platform

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 27, 2018 8:42:38 AM

OneStream XF from OneStream is a financial performance management (FPM) platform offering planning, budgeting and forecasting, statutory consolidations and reporting. The company was founded in 2010 and has been self-funded, which means that until recently its marketing and brand recognition efforts have been limited. I reviewed the company’s statutory consolidation capabilities earlier this year.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Continuous Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Longview Supports More Effective Tax Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 12, 2018 11:07:46 PM

Longview Solutions provides tax departments with a full suite of tax software to manage direct (income) taxes. This includes tax provision and reporting, tax analysis and planning as well as operational transfer pricing and country-by-country (CbC) reporting. A dedicated tax application suite speeds the tax process, enhances control, reduces the chance of errors and ensures consistency in provision, reporting, analysis and planning.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management

Make Budgeting Easier for the Budget Owner

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 18, 2018 9:07:39 AM

Budget season is about to begin for many companies. I’ve spent a few decades doing research into – as well as thinking and writing about – the planning and budgeting processes in corporations. I’ve closely examined the role of the Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) group, which is usually charged with managing the corporate budget process. About seven years ago, I published a research note, Putting the ‘A’ Back in FP&A. In it I made the point that the time saved by using dedicated planning and budgeting software and therefore not having to deal with spreadsheet machinations would enable people working in FP&A to do what they were hired to do: Analysis.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Financial Performance Management

Workday to Acquire Adaptive Insights

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 1, 2018 11:09:06 PM

Workday will acquire Adaptive Insights for $1.55 billion in cash, with the transaction scheduled to close in the third quarter of this year. The combination adds Adaptive Insight’s well-developed cloud-based financial performance management software to Workday’s workforce and financial management suite. Workday says Adaptive will operate as a standalone business and continue with its current product strategy.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance Management

Workday Advances Technology Roadmap for Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 21, 2018 6:38:56 AM

Workday recently presented a technology summit for industry analysts. The presentations focused on Workday’s ongoing product advancements as well as its approach to employing emerging technologies. These technologies include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA) and bots utilizing natural language processing. Ventana Research uses the term robotic finance to refer to these technologies when used in the office of finance. In our view, they will have a profound impact on the nature of white-collar work over the coming decade. Financial management and ERP software vendors are focusing on these technologies because they will disproportionately affect finance and accounting departments: I estimate that their adoption has the potential to eliminate one-third of the accounting department’s workload within a decade.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Mobile, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

OneStream Delivers Financial Performance Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 4, 2018 9:34:17 AM

OneStream XF from OneStream Software is a financial performance management (FPM) platform available on-premises or in the cloud. The company is a relative newcomer (it started in 2010) but its founders are industry veterans and it has a long list of referenceable customers. Being self-financed, it only recently began to raise its market profile. Its SmartCPM system consists of software for statutory financial consolidation, planning, forecasting, budgeting and reporting that’s used primarily by midsize and larger corporations, including large multinationals with complex ownership structures. Designed as a platform, OneStream XF fits into the company’s strategy to offer an array of financial applications developed by itself or third-parties that use a single authoritative source of data.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Analytics, HRMS, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics

Warning: Software Now Mandatory for Lease Accounting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 16, 2018 1:00:00 PM

Accountants love electronic spreadsheets – and for good reason. They’re a powerful and versatile personal productivity tool and just about everyone knows how to use them. Spreadsheets are the default software tool for accountants because they enable autonomy (you don’t need to ask IT for anything) and they’re free (so you don’t have to make a business case to authorize buying something). Some accountants humorously (but earnestly) invoke the line “you’ll have to pry this spreadsheet from my cold, dead hands” whenever somebody suggests eliminating them.

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Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, Continuous Accounting, FASB, IASB, CFO, controller, Financial Performance Management, Spreadsheets, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, revenue recognition, Accounting, Lease Accounting, real estate, Lease Management, ASC842, IFRS16, leasing

Pricing Software and the CFO

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 16, 2018 8:58:23 AM

Pricing is an issue that almost every for-profit company confronts – and usually agonizes over. Organizations’ approach to pricing can range from centralized to decentralized and from highly disciplined to lax. Whether pricing is best handled in a centralized or decentralized fashion depends a great deal on the markets the company is serving as well as its organizational structure and culture. However specific pricing policies are established, though, a disciplined approach to price setting and negotiation is always superior to an ad-hoc process. Discipline is key to preventing margin “leakage” caused by unnecessary price concessions. Configure, price and quote (CPQ) software is a critical component in any leakage-prevention strategy.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Enterprise Resource Planning

Prophix – Financial Performance Management for Midsize Organizations

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 12, 2017 5:47:08 AM

Prophix is an established provider of financial performance management (FPM) software for planning and budgeting, forecasting, analysis and reporting, and managing the financial close and consolidation process. Its eponymous software is designed specifically for midsize companies or midsize divisions of larger corporations. These organizations are a distinctive segment of the market in that they have almost all the functional requirements of large enterprises but have fewer resources to apply to these critical tasks. Fortunately, the evolution of information technology over the past decade has been especially beneficial to midsize customers, bringing them expanded capabilities, substantially better performance and greater automation of routine tasks at an affordable total cost of ownership.

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Topics: Planning, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Consolidation, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning, accounting close, Price and Revenue Management, Work and Resource Management, Sales Planning and Analytics

Unit4 Prevero Provides a Practical Alternative to Spreadsheets

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 22, 2017 8:15:14 AM

In 2016 Unit4 acquired Prevero, a financial performance management software company. The acquisition reflects a trend toward the convergence of transactional and analytical business applications. ERP and financial management software vendors increasingly are adding analytic capabilities – especially in financial performance management (FPM) – to the core functions of transaction processing and accounting in order to broaden the scope of their offerings. The integration of transaction processing and analytical software is especially valuable to Unit4’s core customer base of midsize organizations, which we define as those with 100 to 1,000 employees. Midsize entities have almost the same systems requirements as larger ones but lack the resources the latter enjoy.

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Topics: Marketing, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Work and Resource Management, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales Planning and Analytics

Longview Solidifies Tidemark for Cloud-Based Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 10, 2017 6:43:42 AM

Longview recently completed the acquisition of Tidemark Systems, a planning software vendor. Longview Plan powered by Tidemark is a suite of cloud-based applications that enable corporations to plan, assess performance and communicate results more effectively. The software facilitates what Ventana Research calls “continuous planning.” This is a highly collaborative, action-oriented approach to planning that relies on frequent, short cycles to rapidly create and update integrated company-wide operational and financial plans. This structural approach makes it easy for individual business functions to create their own plans while enabling headquarters to connect those plans to create a unified view. Viewed in the long term, this acquisition provides Longview with a platform that will enable it to apply its existing on-premises intellectual property to a broader suite of web-based performance management and tax applications.

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Topics: Mobile, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics

Host Analytics Empowers Office of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 27, 2017 12:44:10 AM

Ventana Research defines financial performance management (FPM) as the process of addressing the often overlapping people, process, information and technology issues that affect how well finance departments operate and support the activities of the rest of their organization. FPM deals with the full cycle of finance department activities, which include planning and budgeting, analysis, assessment and review, closing and consolidation, internal financial reporting and external financial reporting, as well as the underlying information technology systems that support them.

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Topics: Mobile, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics

Zuora Acquires Leeyo for Revenue Recognition

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 22, 2017 9:17:52 AM

Zuora, a subscription commerce and billing software company, recently acquired Leeyo, a company that provides software that automates the revenue recognition and forecasting processes. The terms were not disclosed. The acquisition is relevant to subscription-based businesses because of changes to accounting standards about to go into effect that will have a significant impact on how they account for their revenue. Leeyo and Zuora already have been deployed together with multiple ERP systems. The combined company plans to tighten integration between the two going forward.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Contact Center, Financial Performance Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Anaplan Enables Connected Planning across Business

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 27, 2017 11:04:51 AM

Anaplan recently held Anaplan Hub, its annual user group meeting. The company 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 as a central source. Companies typically use Anaplan software for financial planning or budgeting, sales, workforce, marketing and IT planning. These are the types of plans in which companies often need to create models that incorporate their specific requirements, their strategy and their business systems.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Marketing Performance Management, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, HRMS, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Work and Resource Management, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales Enablement and Execution, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics

CFO and Finance Should Take Leadership Role in Pricing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 21, 2017 9:18:10 AM

Pricing is an issue that affects almost every for-profit company that doesn’t sell purely commodity products. A corporation’s approach to pricing can range from highly disciplined to ad hoc and from fully centralized to decentralized. The issue of centralized or decentralized depends a great deal on the markets the company serves, its organizational structure and its culture. However, a disciplined approach to price setting and negotiation is always superior to an ad hoc approach. This is especially true for non-commodity B2B businesses, which I believe have lagged other types of business in managing their pricing strategically. (Some would argue that there is no such thing as a pure commodity business, but that’s another issue.) Increasing pricing discipline in the company is one way for the CFO to engage more strategically in managing the business.

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Topics: Big Data, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Pricing and Promotion Management, Sales Enablement and Execution, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics

Oracle Growing ERP in Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 17, 2017 7:22:28 AM

Oracle recently held its second ERP Cloud Summit with industry analysts. The all-day event wasn’t just about ERP. The company covered a range of its business applications, including financial performance management as well as its Adaptive Intelligent Applications. And it wasn’t just about the cloud. After more than a decade of steady developments, ERP systems have begun to change fundamentally, facilitated by the growing availability of new technologies including cloud computing, advanced database architecture, collaboration, user interface design, mobility, analytics and planning. Here are my key takeaways from the event:

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Mobile, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Analytics, Data Integration, Internet of Things, Cognitive Computing, HRMS, Financial Performance Management, Mobile Marketing Digital Commerce, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Digital Process Reengineering Drives Business Change

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 23, 2017 9:28:07 AM

Business process reengineering 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. ERP 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 to accelerate completion of that process.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Mobile, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Wearable Computing, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Data Integration, Internet of Things, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics

B2B Pricing Management Can Strengthen Bottom Line

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 20, 2017 8:45:22 AM

More businesses are using software to implement and support a strategic pricing strategy designed to optimize revenue and margins in business-to-business (B2B) transactions because it can help improve results at the bottom line. “Optimize” in this instance means managing the trade-off that usually exists between revenue and profitability objectives in order to support a company’s strategy and capabilities in a given market. Business-to-business pricing management is Ventana Research’s term for such processes and applications. Software built for this purpose centralizes control and enforces consistency in pricing while assisting sales agents in negotiating prices that achieve desired business objectives. It enables agents to use techniques that can increase the revenue from a transaction, the margin on the sale or the probability of closing the sale.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Pricing and Promotion Management, Sales Enablement and Execution, ERP and Continuous Accounting

The Office of Finance Research Agenda for 2017

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 16, 2017 6:33:20 AM

Senior finance executives and finance organizations that want to improve their performance must recognize the value of technology as a key tool for doing high-quality work. Consider how poorly your organization would perform if it had to operate using 25-year-old software and hardware. Having the latest technology isn’t always necessary, but it’s important for executives to understand that technology shapes a finance organization’s ability to improve its overall effectiveness.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Mobile, Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Inventory Optimization, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, ERP and Continuous Accounting

Vertex Enterprise Addresses Today’s Tax Challenges

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 7, 2017 12:15:01 AM

I’ve long advocated the use of effective technology in the tax function, especially for organizations that operate in multiple jurisdictions or have complex legal structures manage direct tax provision and analysis using outdated or inappropriate tools. Our Office of Finance benchmark research reveals that most organizations use spreadsheets to manage their tax provision and analysis: Half (52%) rely solely on spreadsheets, and another 38 percent mainly use them. I recommend to corporations that operate in multiple countries and that have even a moderately complex legal entity structure that they consider establishing what I call a tax data warehouse of record.

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Topics: Big Data, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

B2B Price and Revenue Optimization Goes Mainstream

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 24, 2017 12:16:47 AM

Price and revenue optimization (PRO) is a business discipline used to produce demand-based pricing; it applies market segmentation techniques to achieve strategic objectives such as increased profitability or greater market share. In essence, PRO enables companies to surf the demand curve using dynamic rather than fixed pricing to achieve the most desirable trade-offs between revenue volume and profit margins. The trade-off is defined by strategic factors such as the company’s market position, product and service portfolio, and marketing strategy.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management

Financial Performance Management Software Vendors Face Challenges

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 13, 2017 12:05:24 AM

Ventana Research defines financial performance management (FPM) as the process of addressing often overlapping issues involving people, process, information and technology that affect how well finance organizations operate and support the activities of the rest of their organization. FPM software supports and automates the full cycle of finance department activities, which include planning and budgeting, analysis, assessment and review, closing and consolidation, internal financial reporting and external financial reporting, as well as the underlying information technology systems that support them.

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Topics: Performance Management, ERP, FP&A, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Consolidation, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Treasury is More Effective with Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 2, 2017 11:09:28 PM

The treasury function in finance departments doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it’s a fundamentally important one: to ensure that all funds are accounted for and that there is sufficient cash on hand each day to meet operating requirements. Keeping track of and managing cash, especially in larger organizations, can be complicated because of multiple bank accounts, complex financing requirements and various methods of receiving and making payments; the complexity deepens when more than one currency is used across multiple jurisdictions, which also can pose regulatory issues.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, credit, debt, Analytics, CFO, cash management, controller, Financial Performance Management

Workday Planning Improves Control and Visibility

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 21, 2016 8:58:42 AM

Ventana Research recently awarded Workday a 2016 Technology Innovation Award for its newly released application, Workday Planning, because it simplifies and streamlines the budgeting and planning processes while facilitating collaboration, deepening visibility into spending and enabling tight fiscal control. These capabilities can help a variety of user organizations in several ways.

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Topics: Big Data, Marketing, Office of Finance, Budgeting, Controller, In-memory, CFO, Workday, demand management, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

The Office of Finance in 2016

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 14, 2016 11:24:47 AM

The imperative to transform the finance department to function in a more strategic, forward-looking and action-oriented fashion has been a consistent theme of practitioners, consultants and business journalists for two decades. In all that time, however, most finance and accounting departments have not changed much. In our benchmark research on the Office of Finance, nine out of 10 participants said that it’s important or very important for finance departments to take a strategic role in running their company. The research also shows a significant gap between this objective and how well most departments perform. A large majority (83%) said they perform the core finance functions of accounting, fiscal control, transaction management, financial reporting and internal auditing, but only 41 percent said they play an active role in their company’s management. Even fewer (25%) have implemented a high degree of automation in their core finance functions and actively promote process and analytical excellence.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Governance, GRC, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, Continuous Accounting, Continuous Planning, end-to-end, Tax, Tax-Datawarehouse, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Uncategorized, CFO, CPQ, Risk, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

ERP and Financial Performance Management Begin to Overlap

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 20, 2015 7:52:30 PM

The ERP market is set to undergo a significant transformation over the next five years. At the heart of this transformation is the decade-long evolution of a set of technologies that are enabling a major shift in the design of ERP systems – the most significant change since the introduction of client/server systems in the 1990s. Some ERP software vendors increasingly are utilizing in-memory computing, mobility, in-context collaboration and user interface design to differentiate their applications from rivals and potentially accelerate replacement of existing systems (as I noted in an earlier analyst perspective). ERP vendors with software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription offerings are investing to make their software suitable for a broader variety of users in multitenant clouds. And some vendors will be able to develop lower-cost business systems to broaden the appeal of single-tenant hosted cloud deployments for companies that cannot adapt their businesses to share with other tenants or prefer not to.

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Topics: Performance Management, ERP, FP&A, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Reporting, Consolidation, Reconciliation, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Uncategorized, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Workday Financial Management Gains Momentum

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 2, 2015 11:28:28 PM

Workday Financial Management (which belongs in the broader ERP software category) appears to be gaining traction in the market, having matured sufficiently to be attractive to a large audience of buyers. It was built from the ground up as a cloud application. While that gives it the advantage of a fresh approach to structuring its data and process models for the cloud, the product has had to catch up to its rivals in functionality. The company’s ERP offering has matured considerably over the past three years and now is better positioned to grow its installed base. Workday recently added Aon, the insurance and professional services company, to its customer list (becoming its largest customer to date) and reported that its annual contract value (ACV - the annualized aggregate revenue value of all subscription contracts as of the end of a quarter) has doubled since the second quarter of this year, albeit from a low base. This is an important milestone because for years the company’s growth has come from the human capital management (HCM) portion of the business, not financials. Workday has around 160 customers for its financials (more than 90 of which are live) compared to more than 1,000 customers for HCM.

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Topics: Microsoft, SAP, ERP, FP&A, Human Capital, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Reporting, close, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, IBM, Oracle, Uncategorized, CFO, Data, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct, Spreadsheets

Evolving to the Next Generation of ERP Systems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 29, 2015 1:12:02 PM

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a pillar of nearly every company’s record-keeping and management of business processes. It is essential to the smooth functioning of the accounting and finance functions. In manufacturing and distribution, ERP also can help plan and manage inventory and logistics. Some companies use it to handle human resources functions such as tracking employees, payroll and related costs. Yet despite their ubiquity, ERP systems have evolved little since their introduction a quarter of a century ago. The technologies shaping their design, functions and features had been largely unchanged. As a measure of this stability, our Office of Finance benchmark research found that in 2014 companies on average were keeping their ERP systems one year longer than they had in 2005.

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Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, FP&A, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Reconciliation, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, IBM, Oracle, Uncategorized, CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct

Oracle Must Pivot to Business Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 5, 2015 10:18:30 PM

Whatever Oracle’s cloud strategy had been the past, this year’s OpenWorld conference and trade show made it clear that the company is now all in. In his keynote address, co-CEO Mark Hurd presented predictions for the world of information technology in 2025, when the cloud will be central to companies’ IT environments. While his forecast that two (unnamed) companies will account for 80 percent of the cloud software market 10 years from now is highly improbable, it’s likely that there will be relentless consolidation, marginalization and extinction within the IT industry sector driven by cloud disruptions and the maturing of the software business. In practice, though, we expect the transition to the cloud to be slow and uneven.

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Topics: Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, SAP, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct

Continuous Accounting Enables a Strategic Finance Department

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 29, 2015 9:32:32 PM

Many senior finance executives say they want their department to play a more strategic role in the management and operations of their company. They want Finance to shift its focus from processing transactions to higher-value functions in order to make more substantial contributions to the success of the organization. I use the term “continuous accounting” to represent an approach to managing the accounting cycle that can facilitate the shift by improving the performance of the accounting function. Continuous accounting embraces three main principles:

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Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management, FPM

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

Integrated Business Planning Is More Effective

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 24, 2015 8:02:12 PM

Ventana Research recently released the results of our Next-Generation Business Planning benchmark research. Business planning encompasses all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage. The research examined 11 of the most common types of enterprise planning: capital, demand, marketing, project, sales and operations, strategic, supply chain and workforce planning, as well as sales forecasting and corporate and IT budgeting. We also aggregated the results to draw general conclusions.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Supply Chain, capital spending, demand management, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning, S&OP

Research Agenda: The Office of Finance in 2015

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 3, 2015 9:09:58 PM

Last year Ventana Research released our Office of Finance benchmark research. One of the objectives of the project was to assess organizations’ progress in achieving “finance transformation.” This term denotes shifting the focus of CFOs and finance departments from transaction processing toward more strategic, higher-value functions. In the research nine out of 10 participants said that it’s important or very important for the department to take a more strategic role. This objective is both longstanding and elusive. It has been part of the conversation in financial management circles since the 1990s and has been a primary focus of my research practice since its inception 12 years ago. Yet our recent research shows that most finance organizations struggle with the basics and few companies are even close to achieving this desired transformation.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Governance, GRC, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, end-to-end, Tax, Tax-Datawarehouse, Analytics, Business Performance, CIO, Financial Performance, In-memory, CFO, CPQ, Risk, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Office of Finance Research Demonstrates Importance of Using Effective Financial Software

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 2, 2015 8:27:14 AM

Our recently published Office of Finance benchmark research assesses a broad set of functions and capabilities of finance organizations. We asked research participants to identify the most important issues for a finance department to address in a dozen functional areas: accounting, budgeting, cost accounting, customer profitability management, external financial reporting, financial analysis, financial governance and internal audit, management accounting, product profitability management, strategic and long-range planning, tax management and treasury and cash management. Among the key findings is this: Not using the most capable software is an underlying cause, often unrecognized, of process, analytics and data issues.

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Topics: Mobile, Planning, Predictive Analytics, ERP, FP&A, Office of Finance, Reporting, Self-service, Budgeting, close, closing, computing, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Microsoft Excel, Spreadsheets

Make Automating the Office of Finance and Accounting a Priority

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 27, 2015 7:49:48 AM

Our recent Office of Finance benchmark research demonstrates the importance of using automation to execute finance department functions. Information technology systems do at least two things very well that make better use of people’s time, and both of them can substantially improve organizational performance. First, they eliminate the need for people to do repetitive tasks, which frees them to spend time on more valuable work that requires judgment and skill. IT systems also can be programmed to focus only on relevant information while eliminating the need to get immersed in detail. The latter capability supports a “management by exception” approach, which enables executives and managers to better allocate how and where they spend their time.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, ERP, FP&A, Office of Finance, Reporting, Self-service, Budgeting, close, closing, computing, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Microsoft Excel, Spreadsheets

Finance Needs Better Analytics and Analytic Skills

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 13, 2014 11:58:09 PM

Finance and accounting departments are staffed with numbers-oriented, naturally analytical people. Strong analytic skills are essential if a finance department is to deliver deep insights into performance and visibility into emerging opportunities and challenges. The conclusions of analyses enable fast, fully informed business decisions by executives and managers. Conversely, flawed analyses undermine the performance of a company. So it was good news that in our Office of Finance benchmark research 62 percent of participants rated the analytical skills of their finance organization as above average or excellent.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Predictive Analytics, ERP, FP&A, Office of Finance, Reporting, Self-service, Budgeting, close, closing, computing, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, CFO, Data, finance, Tagetik, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Microsoft Excel, Spreadsheets

Businesses Must Make Self-Service Reporting a Priority

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 3, 2014 9:12:23 AM

One of the charitable causes to which I devote time puts on an annual vintage car show. The Concours d’Élegance dates back to 17th century France, when wealthy aristocrats gathered with judges on a field to determine who had the best carriages and the most beautiful horsepower. Our event serves as the centerpiece of a broader mission to raise money for several charitable organizations. One of my roles is to keep track of the cars entered in the show, and in that capacity I designed an online registration system. I’ve been struck by how my experiences with a simple IT system have been a microcosm of the issues that people encounter in designing, administering and using far more sophisticated  ones. My most important take-away from this year’s event is the importance of self-service reporting. I suspect that most senior corporate executives – especially those in Finance – fail to appreciate the value of self-service reporting. It frees up the considerable resources organizations collectively waste on unproductive work, and it increases responsiveness and agility of the company as a whole.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Reporting, Self-service, Budgeting, dashboard, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Workforce Performance, Data, Financial Performance Management, Microsoft Excel, Spreadsheets

NetSuite Rides Wave of Cloud ERP Adoption

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 3, 2014 8:19:04 AM

Like other vendors of cloud-based ERP software, NetSuite offers the key benefits of software as a service (SaaS): a smaller upfront investment, faster time to value and potentially lower operating costs. Beyond that NetSuite’s essential point of competitive differentiation from is broad functionality beyond financial management, including capabilities for customer relationship management (CRM), professional services automation (PSA) and human capital management (HCM). These components make it easier for businesses to manage processes from end to end (such as quote- or order-to-cash) as well as to have transactions and business data available in a single system in consistent forms and synchronized. This in turn facilitates real-time reporting, dashboards and the use of analytics that integrate a wider set of functional data. Midsize companies are most likely to benefit from this integration because typically they have smaller, less sophisticated IT staffs than larger ones. A side benefit of having a single, integrated data source is improvement of situational awareness and visibility for executives and managers. It also enables organizations to reduce their use of spreadsheets for stitching together processes, doing routine analyses and reporting. These sorts of activities waste valuable time and reduce an organization’s agility.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Social Media, Customer Experience, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, communications, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, PSA, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CRM, FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Social, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex, Professional Services Automation, Workday Collaboration

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

IBM Advances Business Experience in Using Advanced Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 3, 2014 9:13:31 PM

The developed world has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to information technology. Individuals walk around with far more computing power and data storage in their pockets than was required to send men to the moon. People routinely hold on their laps what would have been considered a supercomputer a generation ago. There is a wealth of information available on the Web. And the costs of these information assets are a tiny fraction of what they were decades ago. Consumer products have been at the forefront in utilizing information technology capabilities. The list of innovations is staggering. The “smart” phone is positively brilliant. Games are now a far bigger business than motion pictures.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, IBM, finance, Sales Performance Management, Social, Financial Performance Management, SPSS

Epicor Faces a Challenging Future

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 2, 2014 9:46:51 AM

Epicor used its recent user group conference to explain its strategic direction and product roadmap. The company is the result of multiple mergers of business software corporations over the past 15 years; its target customers are midsize companies and midsize divisions of larger organizations. Its most significant products are Epicor (ERP software aimed mainly at manufacturing and distribution companies) and Activant Solutions (software for small and midsize retailers, including a point-of-sale system). The company also has software that manages CRM, HR and human capital and supply chains,  and provides financial performance management (FPM) and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) capabilities. These components of the software suites are adequate for the needs of many of the company’s target customers and are not intended as stand-alone applications.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Experience, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, communications, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Epicor, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Workday, Social, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex

Infor at the End of the Beginning

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 3, 2014 10:54:52 PM

From my perspective, Infor’s strategy to accelerate revenue growth is to offer companies more innovation and a lower and more predictable cost of ownership than its rivals in the business software market; its products include the major categories of ERP, human resources and financial performance management. It aims to innovate by focusing on improving the user experience and to lower costs by redesigning its software architecture. The innovation stems from a fresh approach to designing interactions between users and business software: simplifying it and providing a more modern user experience that people have grown accustomed to in their personal software. The better cost-effectiveness rests on designing its software to reduce the expense of integrating and customizing it. One element of this is creating richer functionality for narrowly segmented micro-verticals. Another is offering cloud-based versions built on less expensive open source infrastructure and third-party commodity services. The software markets that Infor serves are mature and offer limited growth. So to be successful the company must increase both its market share and its share of a company’s IT spend (capturing internal IT spending and outlays to third-party consultants and systems integrators). To prove that the company’s strategy is working will require sustained organic growth (excluding new acquisitions) in revenues.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Experience, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance, CFO, FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Workday, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex

Finance Analytics Requires Data Quality

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 22, 2014 9:48:30 AM

Our research consistently finds that data issues are a root cause of many problems encountered by modern corporations. One of the main causes of bad data is a lack of data stewardship – too often, nobody is responsible for taking care of data. Fixing inaccurate data is tedious, but creating IT environments that build quality into data is far from glamorous, so these sorts of projects are rarely demanded and funded. The magnitude of the problem grows with the company: Big companies have more data and bigger issues with it than midsize ones. But companies of all sizes ignore this at their peril: Data quality, which includes accuracy, timeliness, relevance and consistency, has a profound impact on the quality of work done, especially in analytics where the value of even brilliantly conceived models is degraded when the data that drives that model is inaccurate, inconsistent or not timely. That’s a key finding of our finance analytics benchmark research.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Governance, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, Finance Analytics, Tax, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), In-memory, Information Applications, CFO, Risk, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Finance Departments Still Lag in Using Advanced Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 11, 2014 9:54:34 AM

Business computing has undergone a quiet revolution over the past two decades. As a result of having added, one-by-one, applications that automate all sorts of business processes, organizations now collect data from a wider and deeper array of sources than ever before. Advances in the tools for analyzing and reporting the data from such systems have made it possible to assess financial performance, process quality, operational status, risk and even governance and compliance in every aspect of a business. Against this background, however, our recently released benchmark research finds that finance organizations are slow to make use of the broader range of data and apply advanced analytics to it.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Governance, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, Finance Analytics, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), In-memory, Information Management, CFO, Risk, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Anaplan Springs Forward with Winter Release

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 4, 2014 8:36:21 AM

Anaplan, a provider of cloud-based business planning software for sales, operations, and finance and administration departments, recently implemented its new Winter ’14 Release for customers. This release builds on my colleagues analysis on their innovation in business modeling and planning in 2013. Anaplan’s primary objective is to give companies a workable alternative to spreadsheets for business planning. It is a field in which opportunity exists. Our benchmark research on this topic finds that a majority of companies continue to use spreadsheets for their planning activities. Almost all (83%) operations departments use spreadsheets for their plans, as do 60 percent of sales and marketing units. Yet the same research shows that satisfaction with spreadsheets as a planning tool is considerably lower than satisfaction with dedicated planning applications. But despite general agreement in companies that the planning process is broken and spreadsheets are a problem, companies seem reluctant to break the bad habit of using spreadsheets. This conclusion suggests that either switching to dedicated software hasn’t been easy enough or that the results of doing it have not been compelling enough to motivate change. Anaplan intends to address both of these issues.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Marketing, Office of Finance, Operations, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Sales Planning, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

The Virtues of Automating Reconciliation

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 29, 2014 8:41:19 AM

Reconciling accounts at the end of a period is one of those mundane finance department tasks that are ripe for automation. Reconciliation is the process of comparing account data (at the balance or item level) that exists either in two accounting systems or in an accounting system and somewhere else (such as in a spreadsheet or on paper). The purpose of the reconciling process is to identify things that don’t match (as they must in double-entry bookkeeping systems) and then assess the nature and causes of the variances. This is followed by making adjustments or corrections to ensure that the information in a company’s books is accurate. Most of the time, reconciliation is a matter of good housekeeping. The process identifies errors and omissions in the accounting process, including invalid journal postings and duplicate accounting entries, so they can be corrected. Reconciliation also is an important line of defense against fraud, since inconsistencies may be a sign of such activity.

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Topics: Office of Finance, automation, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, effectiveness, Reconciliation, XBRL, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Building a Better Business Case for Buying Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 27, 2014 8:59:51 AM

When it comes to making a business case for software investments, many people fail to recognize that the case itself is just one part of what amounts to an internal sales and marketing effort that they must perform well to be successful. Focusing only on the numbers and assumptions in a spreadsheet is not enough. Making a successful business case requires an understanding of the audience’s perspective and motivations. Since the individuals who will review the business case may not be sufficiently aware of the issues that are behind it and their seriousness, it may be necessary to begin an awareness-building program before presenting the business case. And because the benefits of software investments can be difficult to quantify, executive sponsors are useful in achieving acceptance of these calculations. Unfortunately, many business cases founder because proponents do not realize the importance of taking a sales and marketing approach.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Office of Finance, Research, budgeting and planning, ROI, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CRM, business plan, capital spending, Financial Performance Management, FPM, SCM, Software

Five Priorities for the Office of Finance in 2014

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 20, 2014 1:35:32 AM

A core objective of my research practice and agenda is to help the Office of Finance improve its performance by better utilizing information technology. As we kick off 2014, I see five initiatives that CFOs and controllers should adopt to improve their execution of core finance functions and free up time to concentrate on increasing their department’s strategic value. Finance organizations – especially those that need to improve performance – usually find it difficult to find the resources to invest in increasing their strategic value. However, any of the first three initiatives mentioned below will enable them to operate more efficiently as well as improve performance. These initiatives have been central to my focus for the past decade. The final two are relatively new and reflect the evolution of technology to enable finance departments to deliver better results. Every finance organization should adopt at least one of these five as a priority this year.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, dashboard, PRO, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, In-memory, CFO, Supply Chain, CEO, demand management, Financial Performance Management, FPM, S&OP

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

Opportunity for the Office of Finance in 2014

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 13, 2014 8:23:51 AM

Senior finance executives and finance organizations that want to improve their performance must recognize that technology is a key tool for doing high-quality work. To test this premise, imagine how smoothly your company would operate if all of its finance and administrative software and hardware were 25 years old. In almost all cases the company wouldn’t be able to compete at all or would be at a substantial disadvantage. Having the latest technology isn’t always necessary, but even though software doesn’t wear out in a physical sense, it has a useful life span, at the end of which it needs replacement. As an example, late in 2013 a major U.K. bank experienced two system-wide failures in rapid succession caused by its decades-old mainframe systems; these breakdowns followed a similarly costly failure in 2012. For years the cost and risk of replacing these legacy systems kept management from taking the plunge. What they didn’t consider were the cost and risk associated with keeping the existing systems going. Our new research agenda for the Office of Finance attempts to find a balance between the leading edge and the mainstream that will help businesses find practical solutions.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Governance, GRC, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), In-memory, CFO, Risk, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Host Analytics Lifts Spreadsheets to Cloud for Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2013 9:48:54 AM

Host Analytics has introduced AirliftXL, a new feature of its cloud-based financial performance management (FPM) suite that enables its software to translate users’ spreadsheets into the Host Analytics format. I find it significant in three respects. First, it can substantially reduce the time and resources it takes for a company to go live in adopting the Host Analytics suite, lowering the cost of implementation and accelerating time to value. Second, it enables Host Analytics users who have the appropriate permissions to create and modify models and templates that they use in planning, budgeting, consolidation and reporting. This can enhance the value of the system by making it easier to maintain. Third, it can make it far easier to routinely collect and connect planning and analytical models used by all departments and business users as it has outlined in its planning cloud offering. Although it has limitations in its initial release, AirliftXL gives corporations a workable alternative to stand-alone spreadsheets and has the potential to substantially increase productivity and effectiveness of an organization in the full range of budgeting, planning, consolidation and reporting functions.

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Topics: Modeling, Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, Consolidation, Controller, Host Analytics, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Finance Can Get a Big Advantage from Big Data

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 16, 2013 8:21:59 AM

All the hubbub around big data and analytics has many senior finance executives wondering what the big deal is and what they should do about it. It can be especially confusing because much of what’s covered and discussed on this topic is geared toward technologists and others working outside of Finance, in areas such as sales, marketing and risk management. But finance executives need to position their organization to harness this technology to support the strategic goals of their company. To do so, they must have clarity as to what big data can do, what they want it to do, and what skills and tools they need to meet their objectives.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Customer Experience, Fraud, Governance, GRC, Office of Finance, audit, Controller, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Operational Intelligence, CFO, compliance, finance, Risk, Financial Performance Management, financial risk management

Tidemark Unifies New Generation of Business Planning Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 1, 2013 6:56:27 AM

Tidemark announced the release of the Fall 2013 version of its eponymous cloud-based application that my colleague assessed earlier in 2013. This new release adds capabilities for labor planning and expense management as well profitability modeling and analysis. These two areas of planning and analysis are common to all businesses. The new release adds features that enhance the software’s ability to do sales forecasting, initiative planning and IT department planning. The company continues to refine its modeling capabilities to make it easier for people engaged in the planning process to translate their expectations and concerns into a quantified view of the future. For example, users now can build models using natural-language modeling. The objective is to eliminate the need for help from business analysts or experts trained in the use of a tool and immersed the details of the IT plumbing, such as the metadata used for specific general ledger accounts or operational data.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Reporting, Controller, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Tidemark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

CEOs and Executives Need Business Planning Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 22, 2013 10:19:24 AM

Business planning is a new software category. These applications enable senior executives to integrate all the plans of business units into a single, integrated view, which helps them have more accurate plans, do more insightful what-if planning, achieve greater agility in reacting to changing business and economic conditions, and execute plans in a more coordinated fashion than was possible. Business planning software is intended for CEOs and COOs, who are not well served by current capabilities. Business planning software enables executives and managers to understand both the operational and the financial consequences of their actions, but it emphasizes the things that the various parts of the business focus on: units sold, sales calls made, the number and types of employees required, customers serviced and so on. Lines of business already do this but in a fragmented fashion using desktop spreadsheets circulated within silos via email. Business planning software provides a platform to support modeling in individual business units, individual planning processes and visualization of the impacts of changes in what-if scenarios. It offers a central data repository for all plans; our benchmark research shows the advantage of this approach: Companies that directly link individual business unit data to an integrated plan get more accurate results. To be specific, 22 percent of those with such links have very accurate budgets compared to just a handful with less direct links and none that employ summarized data.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

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

It’s Past Time for the Next Generation of Business Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 11, 2013 12:17:50 PM

Business planning as practiced today is a relic, a process hemmed in by obsolete conceptions of what it should be. I use the term “business planning” to encompass all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage, including, for example, sales, production and head-count planning as well as budgeting. Companies need to take a fresh view of all these, adopting a new approach to business planning that while preserving continuity makes a substantial departure from what most companies do now. Currently, in most organizations the budget is the only companywide business plan. However, while necessary for financial management and control, budgets are not especially useful for running an organization.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

Find Out Which Is the Hottest Financial Performance Management Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 9, 2013 8:55:51 AM

We recently issued our 2013 Value Index on Financial Performance Management. Ventana Research defines financial performance management (FPM) as the process of addressing the often overlapping people, process, information and technology issues that affect how well finance organizations operate and support the activities of the rest of their organization. FPM deals with the full cycle of finance department activities, which includes planning and budgeting, analysis, assessment and review, closing and consolidation, and internal and external financial reporting, as well as the underlying IT systems that support them. Our Value Index is informed by more than a decade of analysis of how well technology suppliers and their products satisfy specific business and IT needs. We perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability to task in five categories as well as of the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. Our resulting index gauges the value offered by each individual vendor and its products in supporting FPM, which is necessary for running an organization efficiently and effectively.

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Topics: Mobile, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, contingency planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, CFO, Value Index, Financial Performance Management

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