3-step graphic showing how QuickStart works

This article will discuss your options for powerful and modern Corporate Performance Management (CPM) for financial reporting, consolidations, budgeting, and dashboards to enhance your Sage Intacct experience.

Accounting technology research firm Software Advice recently reported that business software replacement was largely because of organizations outgrowing their current systems.  In addition, top requested functions included robust financial reporting, with a majority of prospective customers seeking something web-based.  And all of this likely makes sense to you as an Sage Intacct customer.  You’re aware of the power and flexibility of web-based software, and it might even be a reason for your own growth.  If you are experiencing growth and looking to replace, expand, or simply deploy powerful, modern financial reporting, budgeting, and/or dashboards, this article will give you the head start on the research you should do to find the best solution(s) for your team’s specific business needs.
Solver-cpm-Architecture

Let’s start at what I consider a foundation for software implementation: data integration methods for building best-of-breed CPM for Sage Intacct.  You have a few options when integrating company data to and from Sage Intacct and a CPM solution.  Only a couple tools integrate live to Sage Intacct, with a handful offering General Ledger (GL) and sub-ledger analysis.  Should someone on your executive or finance team need a report or dashboard with up-to-date data, an easy and efficient integration is key.  Depending on the number of users who have to query large data sets, a CPM scan can make the Sage Intacct server sluggish.

If your company runs reports or pulls information more routinely like a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly report, you can integrate from a data warehouse or an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube.  CPM data stores provide higher performance reporting, budgeting, and dashboards, but this route requires replication of your data to the cube or warehouse.  Moreover, data warehouses offer Sage Intacct users a potent platform for financial consolidations, aggregating diverse types of company data from multiple sources, so you can build reports and dashboards and/or budgets or forecasts that pull data from Sage Intacct and other sources, like Hubspot and Salesforce, for richer analyses and more informed decision-making.  Good news: there are solutions that allow you the flexibility to decide between integration methodologies.

The more sophisticated CPM software on the market today are true hybrids when it comes to integrating data, with options for real-time and CPM data store integrations – for flexible and dynamic financial reports, budgets, consolidations, dashboards, etc.  This hybridity might be necessary for some organization and excessive for other companies.  When evaluating what you need, think about how many Sage Intacct or other users might be querying substantial data sets, slowing down the server, and how important a high performing CPM data store integration could be for your team.  CPM  software is all about how to manage and assess your data, so you should also be thinking about your method of data storage for a best-of-breed Sage Intacct experience.

The main data storage offerings based on OLAP cubes or data warehouses.  OLAP cubes are multi-dimensional databases, so you can think of them as three-dimensional spreadsheets.  A data warehouse is a configurable database that stores diverse data types.  Management of an OLAP cube requires someone on your staff to have OLAP-specific skill sets to set up, organize, and maintain the cube because they are complicated.

Traditionally, data warehouses were a development project for the IT department, but are now offered cloud-based, pre-built and configurable.  Today’s commercial data warehouses are easy to use so that the financial team can manage the product, instead of IT professionals.  When looking for CPM tools to improve your Sage Intacct experience, off-the-shelf data warehousing is going to be an easier, potentially more cost effective method.  You should be shopping for CPM solutions that make your processes easier and quicker, instead of slowing things down.

Next up on the list of considerations: Excel-based or proprietary platforms.  Because Sage Intacct is entirely web-based, the native report designer is also web-powered.  It is, however, important to note that most accounting teams have been relying on Excel around the world since undergraduate days.  Microsoft Excel’s familiarity arguably makes Excel add-in CPM solutions an extremely valuable investment.  There are very few CPM tools that are Excel-powered when built for a Cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) system like Sage Intacct, but they enhance the ERP with Excel formatting for flexible and familiar report design, calculations, and charting, all the while within a web browser.  Alternatively, proprietary interfaces can be powerful, but don’t offer familiarity of features and functionalities, so this could mean more money spent on training and consulting.

GL, general ledger, quickstart, monthly, year-to-date, actual, comparison, gross profit, gross margin, income statement, profit and loss, P&L, dashboard, analysis

P&L Report with full graphical dashboard that displays a row based on user selection.

As Sage Intacct has proven, the mobility and flexible access of a web platform is a powerful evolution, and the CPM marketplace is following suit.  As the business world becomes more and more international, web platforms are a response to consumers’ need for flexible access to company data.  Web report writing, budgeting, and dashboards allow business end users to manage and analyze information from anywhere with an internet connection, with some solutions also providing familiar Excel formatting, resulting in quicker, richer decision-making.  Additionally, as an extension of web-based CPM, mobile BI applications have also begun rolling out.  If you have to access a report while on the go with information from Sage Intacct, you can invest in a CPM tool that also has a mobile application, giving you access on your smartphone or tablet.  One more thing to consider: a suite of CPM tools, so you can build a modern toolbox to tackle your analysis processes.

What is the Effort to Implement a CPM Solution for Sage Intacct?

Most Sage Intacct customers want their connected apps, including CPM tools and dashboards, to be cloud based. Key questions that quickly come up are: how hard is it to integrate to Sage Intacct and how much cost and effort does it take to get up and running?

The answer typically is weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. However, Sage Intacct software partners, like Solver, that work very closely with Sage and its partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations as well as out-of-the-box financial reports, planning input templates and Power BI dashboards. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Sage Intacct can get a company up and running in a single day with 100+ pre-built budget and forecast input templates, Power BI financial dashboards, as well as financial reports. All of these ready-to-use templates can be selected and downloaded at no additional cost from a continuously growing Template Marketplace.

You might just be looking for a budgeting tool at the moment.  But if you look ahead, whether it is 18 months or 5 years from now, a comprehensive CPM product suite will ensure that if you want to add a financial report writer or dashboards, it won’t require more than one team of consultant or sales professionals.  Some third party manufacturers will also give you a discount when you purchase more than tool at the same time.  CPM is basically the definition of planning ahead in action, so you should be doing just that when you shop for a CPM tool.

There’s plenty to consider when preparing to invest in a vital CPM tool, and it can be overwhelming.  Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review Solver’s web-powered, easy-to-use, cloud-based Excel and web-based CPM tools with both real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis, budgeting and collaboration as a way to accelerate company performance management beyond Sage Intacct.