Enterprise performance management (EPM) isn’t new. It’s been around for many years. What’s critical, though, is how your EPM software grows with your business.
Will it provide the more advanced functionality you’ll need? Will it support the reporting needs of internal and external stakeholders? Will it easily support multidimensional analysis and modeling of the business? If you cannot affirmatively say yes to those, perhaps you don’t have the right EPM software in place.
EPM typically includes:
- Setting goals and objectives
- Creating strategic, financial, and operational plans
- Closing the books periodically (monthly, quarterly, annually)
- Reporting results to internal and external stakeholders
- Analyzing financial and operating results and adjusting plans and resources as needed
All organizations, regardless of size, perform this process in some fashion. In the early stages, most of them will leverage their accounting system along with personal productivity tools, such as MS Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, to support their EPM process.
These tools can only take you so far.
As the organization grows and expands, running the business on Excel spreadsheets will no longer suffice. It becomes too challenging to collect and share budgets, plans, and reports with large numbers of managers and staff in different functions and across multiple locations.
Then there’s the complexity of doing business in different countries, with different currencies, intercompany transactions, maybe even minority ownership. The workflow and data volumes can explode quickly—beyond what spreadsheets can handle.
The next step is to adopt a packaged EPM suite that can work with your Accounting/ERP system and provide specific support for the EPM processes. There’s a caveat here, though.
Don’t Outgrow Your EPM Solution
The mistake many organizations make at this point is selecting an entry-level EPM solution that meets current requirements but runs out of gas quickly. What I mean here is the solution provides limited functionality and scalability to meet future requirements. It’s quickly outgrown.
Some examples of key requirements include the ability to support:
- Robust, multi-entity financial consolidations
- Flexible reporting and analysis
- Advanced planning and forecasting, modeling
- Integration of real-time data from multiple internal and external sources
- Scalability to 100s or 1000s of users
A better approach is to accommodate your current business needs, but also consider future requirements over a 3-5 year period as your organization grows and evolves. To use a hockey analogy, you need to “skate to where the puck is going, not where the puck is now”—this is what made Wayne Gretsky a great hockey player. This concept applies in business as well as in sports.
What to Look for in an EPM Suite
So what attributes should organizations look for as you evaluate packaged EPM software suites? Here’s my recommendation. You can remember it by using the mnemonic CREAM:
Complete Suite – to support budgeting, planning, forecasting, consolidations, reporting, and analysis— with no compromises in any area. Make sure the functionality can meet your current and future needs.
Reporting That's Comprehensive - to address the needs of everyone from senior executives to power users in Finance. This includes balance sheets, income statements, cash flow, P&Ls, variance reports, interactive dashboards, and scorecards.
Excel Integration – to make the transition from spreadsheets easy and reduce the learning curve. See my prior article on Making More Intelligent Use of Excel for examples.
Ad Hoc Modeling – to support the needs of Finance and operations staff to perform “what-if” scenario analysis with flexibility and autonomy while staying aligned to financial plans.
Multidimensional OLAP – for flexible, high performance analysis of financial and operating results by division, department, product, region, customer segment, and over time. If the EPM solution doesn’t have an OLAP back-end, then someone will need to manually create and maintain “views” of your data.
… And one more M – Multi-tenant Cloud Solution.
According to industry analysts, such as Gartner and Forrester, cloud-based EPM suites are the solution of choice for small, medium, and large enterprises in today’s market. With robust functionality, cloud-based EPM suites can:
- Be deployed faster than traditional on-premises tools
- Offer lower total cost of ownership (TCO) through subscription-based pricing
- Provide more agility for dynamic, fast-growing organizations
But buyer beware of false clouds - look for cloud-based solutions with true “multi-tenant” architecture to ensure fast upgrades and continuous innovation. Many software vendors are claiming that they provide “cloud” solutions. Not all clouds are created equal, though. Some are just on-premises software being hosted by the vendor. Here’s a link to a prior article on this topic.
An EPM Solution You Won’t Outgrow
Host Analytics provides a cloud-based suite of EPM applications in a true multi-tenant architecture. Our solution is often selected by customers to replace spreadsheets that were being used for budgeting, forecasting, financial reporting, and analysis functions.
But in many cases, our solution has been selected to replace a low-end or legacy EPM tool, either deployed on-premises or cloud-based, that customers outgrew. These solutions just didn’t have the functionality and scalability needed to support the expanding needs of a fast-growing organization.
Our solution is one that grows with your business. See examples in these video interviews and case studies showcasing customers who implemented Host Analytics Cloud EPM Suite to replace spreadsheets or other EPM tools: iCIMS, Physio Control, Skygolf, Axioma, Baxa, Zep.
Ready to learn more about Host Analytics Cloud EPM Suite and how it can ensure your organization doesn’t outgrow its EPM solution? Check out these resources: