Finance transformation is an elusive topic that the industry has been talking about for years. But what does it really mean? Transformation from what to what? And how do EPM solutions help support Finance transformation?
Host Analytics recently sponsored a webinar on this topic featuring two industry experts: Chris Iervolino, Research Director at Gartner, and John O’Rourke, VP of Product Marketing at Host Analytics. In the webinar, Mr. Iervolino provided Gartner’s perspective on corporate performance management (CPM) solutions, how they support finance transformation, and some of the key market trends influencing CPM.
Mr. O’Rourke followed with his perspective on how the role of Finance and EPM/CPM has evolved over the past 10 years, and how Host Analytics has been innovating to help Finance departments move from counting and scorekeeping – to considering the possibilities and being a better business partner. Here are some of the highlights of the webinar.
Gartner’s View on Finance Transformation and CPM Software
Corporate performance management (CPM) solutions can support both financial and strategic processes. Financial CPM solutions are focused on Finance processes and mainly benefit the office of Finance. Financial CPM solutions address the following business challenges:
- Financial consolidation and close management
- Management and external reporting
- Enhanced financial control and automation:
- Account reconciliations
- Disclosure management
- Intercompany transaction management
From a Finance transformation standpoint, financial CPM solutions enable organizations to streamline financial close and reporting processes, ensure compliance with regulations, reduce the financial risks to the organization, and improve flexibility to support initiatives, such as mergers and acquisitions.
Strategic CPM solutions benefit the office of Finance, as well as the broader organization. Strategic CPM solutions address various business challenges:
- Financial budgeting and planning
- Integrated financial planning
- Financial modeling, such as profitability modeling
- Strategy management
- Performance reporting
From a Finance transformation standpoint, strategic CPM solutions benefit both Finance and the broader organization by reducing planning and forecasting cycles, ensuring better alignment of financial and operating plans, and providing better insights into the profitability of products, services, and customers.
Recent Technology Trends Impacting CPM Processes and Software
Mr. Iervolino highlighted three technology drivers impacting today's CPM software solutions: the cloud, in-memory computing, and analytics.
Of these, perhaps the most impactful is the cloud. The cloud allows an organization to quickly adopt and implement critical new software for a fraction of the cost of traditional on-premises software. SaaS or cloud-based solutions reduce the Finance department's dependence on the IT department and allow non-techies and those without accounting degrees and experience to leverage the software because it's intuitive and easy to learn and use. This delivers another advantage: it is useful across the organization, not just within the confines of accounting/finance.
The value of in-memory computing is that CPM software is faster. It's also able to manage larger volumes of more detailed data for analysis and modeling, on a more real-time basis.
Analytics itself is evolving rapidly. But there are also opportunities to embed analytics within business processes, to provide real-time insights and better decision-making. Organizations can also take advantage of predictive capabilities to drive more accurate forecasts.
Host Analytics: Helping Finance Move From Counting to Considering
According to John O’Rourke, Host Analytics has been driving innovation in CPM (a.k.a. EPM) since 2008, and a core value of the company is on ensuring customer success. In fact, Host Analytics is the only pure-play cloud vendor who provides solutions for both financial and strategic CPM, as described earlier in the webinar by Gartner’s Chris Iervolino. This means Host Analytics can support a broad range of requirements, both short term and longer term, as organizations grow and evolve.
Mr. O’Rourke reviewed the evolution of Finance and EPM over the past 10 years, commenting on EPM software prior to 2007:
- The focus was on automating budgeting and reporting
- Vendors provided disconnected point solutions
- Software that was on-premises, expensive, and dependent on support from the IT department
- Reporting and analytics was mostly an afterthought
- EPM was mostly confined to use in the Finance department
Fast forward to today, and both Finance and EPM have evolved. In the world of EPM 2.0, EPM solutions:
- Still automate processes, but are more focused on driving strategic value
- Feature unified platforms that connect modeling, planning, consolidation, reporting, and analytics
- Are being deployed in the cloud, with faster delivery and lower costs, and can be owned by the Finance department, without limited IT oversight
- Are moving beyond Finance with integrated reporting and analytics to support enterprise-wide decision-making.
This evolution of EPM is helping move Finance out of the realm of merely "counting" and into the arena of “considering” the possibilities and providing more value-added analysis to line-of-business managers. This puts the CFO and Finance in a better position as a business partner to the CEO and the rest of the organization.
How to Learn More
To learn more about how EPM/CPM solutions help support Finance transformation, you can watch a replay of this informative, 30-minute webinar.
To learn more about how Host Analytics supports strategic and financial CPM for various use cases, check out the Gartner Critical Capabilities reports.