Ascend 2021 is right around the corner, and with 24 speakers, you know that this year’s virtual conference will be packed with info for Solver (f/k/a BI 360) users.

Curious what to expect at this year’s virtual conference? Check out this sneak peek – and make sure to register for the conference on August 17-19, so you don’t miss out on the Solver event of the year.

Strategy, KPIs & Accountability

August 18, 2021 – 9:40 – 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Presenter: Corey Barak, Chief Operating Officer, Solver

Only 13% of companies successfully implement their strategy. So, why is strategy important? 3 reasons:

  1. It enables a company to plan based on what will happen in the coming year instead of looking at what happened in the past.
  2. It allows for Workforce Planning, which enables planning of resources needed in order to accomplish strategic goals.
  3. It will increase Organizational Alignment, as many throughout the company will be involved in the planning and therefore creates accountability among all employees.

Experts agree: pairing financial strategy with clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) improves performance by holding everyone accountable for agreed-on goals. Join Solver COO Corey Barak to see how to collaborate on strategy and create achievable KPIs that deliver full insight into how each employee, department, or organization is doing on a daily basis.

This session will go through how Solver can help you tie strategy and employee accountability together through employee KPIs. The process of measuring performance allows managers to:

  • Plan
  • Set work targets
  • Measure and monitor an employee’s effectiveness

As an additional bonus, all demoed templates used in this session will be provided as Excel files after the session.

Who Is This Session For?

You will benefit from this session if you are responsible for managing employees, setting strategy, or communicating initiatives.

What Does It Mean to Plan, Adapt, and Thrive?

This past year changed what many of us know and expect about the business world, and 2020 clearly demonstrated that new skills are required to succeed in today’s new business landscape. To make sure Ascend 2021 delivers on today’s top skills, we’ve divided each of our courses into different focus areas: Plan, Adapt, and Thrive.

  • Plan has to do with planning capabilities – Do you have the tools to proactively respond to whatever may be coming next in your industry or field?
  • Adapt has to do with agility, forecasting, and overcoming uncertainty – Do you have the tools to confidently make decisions based on incomplete or uncertain information?
  • Thrive has to do with building knowledge, building a better budget, and increasing profitability – Do you have the tools to go beyond the financial data to achieve more with your company?

This session helps you and your company Plan and Thrive because well-planned strategies help companies thrive. Companies need to set a strategy, put a plan around it, set the goals, and then ensure that all employee goals align with them.

Approximately 95% of employees do not know what the company’s strategy is; therefore, over 85% of strategies fail. Thrive only happens when there is communication from and to the entire company. Only in this situation will everyone be moving in the same direction, know the goals of the company, and know their role in getting there. This is where individual KPIs come in and employees can view their performance at any time throughout the year.

Are You Ready to Plan, Adapt, and Thrive in Today’s New Business Landscape? Solver Can Help.

Current events have forced many organizations to rethink their plans and update budgets to ride out the many uncertainties the world still faces. Join us for Ascend 2021, August 17-19 to learn the skills and strategies you need to:

  • Refresh your business data management knowledge
  • Improve business agility
  • Hone your Solver skills to make faster, better decisions

Remember: you can earn up to 10.5 CPE credits when you attend Solver Ascend 2021, so don’t miss out! We look forward to seeing you there.

Register Now

 

Founded in 1996, Solver has won countless awards for its Corporate Performance Management solution. The CPM company was named CPM Leader by G2 throughout 2020 and 2021, Experience leader and Trust Leader in Dresner Advisory Services’ 2020 Industry Excellence Awards, Microsoft BI Partner of Year, and is recognized on the Gartner Group CPM Magic Quadrant. Solver integrates with most leading ERPs and is sold through 20+ global offices and a worldwide network of partners.

Ascend 2021 is right around the corner, and with 24 speakers, you know that this year’s virtual conference will be packed with info for Solver (f/k/a BI 360) users.

Curious what to expect at this year’s virtual conference? Check out this sneak peek – and make sure to register for the conference on August 17-19, so you don’t miss out on the Solver event of the year.

Is It Time to Migrate to Solver Cloud?

August 18, 2021 – 9:40 – 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Presenter:  Anthony Spinicchia, Senior Customer Success Advocate, Solver

Join Solver expert Anthony Spinicchia to review the challenges of not having a cloud-based Solver solution and to learn the opportunities you have for benefitting your organization with a Cloud Migration.

This session will include:

  • A short demonstration
  • A short review of the cloud migration process
  • Q & A time with a recently Migrated Solver customer

These sessions are always fun and helpful, so come join us!

Who Is This Session For?

You will benefit from this session if you are:

  • A user of Solver
  • An IT staff member or Manager
  • Involved in the Finance or Accounting Department

What Does It Mean to Plan, Adapt, and Thrive?

This past year changed what many of us know and expect about the business world, and 2020 clearly demonstrated that new skills are required to succeed in today’s new business landscape. To make sure Ascend 2021 delivers on today’s top skills, we’ve divided each of our courses into different focus areas: Plan, Adapt, and Thrive.

  • Plan has to do with planning capabilities – Do you have the tools to proactively respond to whatever may be coming next in your industry or field?
  • Adapt has to do with agility, forecasting, and overcoming uncertainty – Do you have the tools to confidently make decisions based on incomplete or uncertain information?
  • Thrive has to do with building knowledge, building a better budget, and increasing profitability – Do you have the tools to go beyond the financial data to achieve more with your company?

This session helps you and your company Thrive because Solver Cloud allows you to benefit from the complete scope of Solver Cloud applications, from CPM to Visualization.

Are You Ready to Plan, Adapt, and Thrive in Today’s New Business Landscape? Solver Can Help.

Current events have forced many organizations to rethink their plans and update budgets to ride out the many uncertainties the world still faces. Join us for Ascend 2021, August 17-19 to learn the skills and strategies you need to:

  • Refresh your business data management knowledge
  • Improve business agility
  • Hone your Solver skills to make faster, better decisions

Remember: you can earn up to 10.5 CPE credits when you attend Solver Ascend 2021, so don’t miss out! We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Register Now

 

Founded in 1996, Solver has won countless awards for its Corporate Performance Management solution, including the Experience leader and Trust Leader in Dresner Advisory Services’ 2020 Industry Excellence Awards, Microsoft BI Partner of Year Award, and recognition on the Gartner Group CPM Magic Quadrant. Solver integrates with most leading ERPs and is sold through 20+ global offices and a worldwide network of partners.

Ascend 2021 is right around the corner, and with 24 speakers, you know that this year’s virtual conference will be packed with info for Solver (f/k/a BI 360) users.

Curious what to expect at this year’s virtual conference? Check out this sneak peek – and make sure to register for the conference on August 17-19, so you don’t miss out on the Solver event of the year.

Expand Usage of Solver

August 19, 2021 – 10:00 – 10:50 AM Pacific Time

Presenter:  Steve Reese, Senior Functional Consultant, Solver

Join Solver expert Steve Reese to learn about expanding your planning process into forecasting, “What If” situations or revising multiple versions of your annual budget process. This is an important topic during such an unpredictable economy.

In the session, you will learn how to present financial results to your Senior Leadership Team with a briefing summary. You will also view a presentation by Kyle Wank of the Detroit Pistons where she will share her experiences implementing Solver with key business requirements. Kyle Wank is the Controller of the Detroit Pistons and a key player during the implementation of Solver. Connect with Kyle on LinkedIn!

This session will help expand your planning process, a necessity in such an unpredictable economy. We will show you how to build an ongoing forecasting cycle or expand your annual planning cycle in preparation for an unexpected upturn / downturn in your business. Next, we will look at how to summarize your financial results to your Senior Level Management Team with a briefing card. We will wrap up with a presentation by Kyle Wank from the Detroit Pistons to share her Solver implementation experience that required us to build special business consolidation rules.

Who Is This Session For?

This session is for leaders and employees involved in the planning and budgeting process, as well as businesses that are considering implementing Solver.

If you would like to improve your planning and budgeting you may benefit from seeing this presentation, especially during an ever-changing economy. Also, this session would be good for anyone who is interested in hearing a real-life Solver implementation story.

What Does It Mean to Plan, Adapt, and Thrive?

This past year changed what many of us know and expect about the business world, and 2020 clearly demonstrated that new skills are required to succeed in today’s new business landscape. To make sure Ascend 2021 delivers on today’s top skills, we’ve divided each of our courses into different focus areas: Plan, Adapt, and Thrive.

  • Plan has to do with planning capabilities – Do you have the tools to proactively respond to whatever may be coming next in your industry or field?
  • Adapt has to do with agility, forecasting, and overcoming uncertainty – Do you have the tools to confidently make decisions based on incomplete or uncertain information?
  • Thrive has to do with building knowledge, building a better budget, and increasing profitability – Do you have the tools to go beyond the financial data to achieve more with your company?

This session helps you and your company Adapt because it presents alternative methods of planning to help your business “Adapt” to an ever-changing economy. It also explains how to present a periodic briefing summary to Senior Level Management – a very important skill in today’s world.

Are You Ready to Plan, Adapt, and Thrive in Today’s New Business Landscape? Solver Can Help.

Current events have forced many organizations to rethink their plans and update budgets to ride out the many uncertainties the world still faces. Join us for Ascend 2021, August 17-19 to learn the skills and strategies you need to:

  • Refresh your business data management knowledge
  • Improve business agility
  • Hone your Solver skills to make faster, better decisions

Remember: you can earn up to 10.5 CPE credits when you attend Solver Ascend 2021, so don’t miss out! We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Register Now

 

Founded in 1996, Solver has won countless awards for its Corporate Performance Management solution, including the Experience leader and Trust Leader in Dresner Advisory Services’ 2020 Industry Excellence Awards, Microsoft BI Partner of Year Award, and recognition on the Gartner Group CPM Magic Quadrant. Solver integrates with most leading ERPs and is sold through 20+ global offices and a worldwide network of partners.

Solver recently announced that our leading Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution is now listed as ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica.’ This is BIG news because it makes Solver’s planning, reporting and dashboard solution the top choice for Acumatica users.

What Does Solver ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ Mean?

Solutions that are ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ must be developed by official Acumatica partners to integrate directly into Acumatica, and they must meet a wide range of Acumatica-specified requirements. Once these solutions prove that they meet all the requirements, Acumatica validates the solution internally and provides it as a preferred option for customers.

In short: the effortless integration between Solver and Acumatica makes Solver the go-to solution for reporting and dashboards in Acumatica Cloud ERP.

With Solver, Acumatica users can finally gain custom and fully informed insight into their business’s financial performance without having to resort to the hassle of non-validated third-party add-on solutions or tiresome export / import processes.

Template-driven ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ solutions are much easier for customers to use… but, we admit, getting to this stage took some pretty hard work from the Solver development experts.

What Does It Take to Be ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica?’

To become a ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ solution and an Acumatica Certified Application, Solver’s dev team had to:

  • Guarantee seamless compatibility between Acumatica ERP and Solver CPM
  • Ensure data consistency within the Acumatica environment
  • Confirm that Solver does not impair the overall performance of Acumatica
  • Prove that Solver was developed by certified Acumatica developers and includes all necessary product information
  • Demonstrate that Solver ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ meets stringent security standards

After meeting these requirements, Solver needed to be independently validated by Acumatica. After that, Solver was finally granted its official designation as a ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ solution.

What Integrated Features Does Solver + Acumatica Offer?

Because Solver is fully integrated with Acumatica, your business can rely on the fact that your critical data used in reporting and dashboards will be drawn directly from your ERP. This helps ensure much better report accuracy than other, older integration methods.

You’ll also never have to worry about losing access to your reports because Solver ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ will always be compatible with Acumatica’s latest releases. (For those of you who have experienced the extreme frustration of losing access to your software after an incompatible update, this feature will be a huge relief.)

What Does It Take to Set Up Solver ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’?

Solver and Acumatica’s streamlined integration delivers something unique in the industry: instant reporting and dashboard creation.

When we say instant, we mean it: Solver ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ gets you the reporting insight you need in literally ONE DAY.

Here is how this works:

  • In ONE DAY, Solver’s patent-pending QuickStart Wizard will automatically map your GL and Chart of Accounts data in Acumatica to your fully customizable reports in Solver.
  • This “mapping” process will also instantly light up the 50+ Power BI financial dashboards that Solver delivers out of the box.
  • At the end of Day One, you will achieve in-depth, comprehensive financial insight, drawn directly from your real-time Acumatica data.

Trust us: you’ve never seen anything like this. You’ve never seen comprehensive core reporting setup completed this quickly. If you are looking for a lightning-fast setup and more comprehensive insight into your financials, look no further than Solver.

How to See Solver ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ for Yourself

Stop by Solver’s booth at Acumatica Summit 2021 to see Solver ‘Fulfilled by Acumatica’ in action or check out the on-demand Acumatica Tour online at your convenience.

 

Get Better Reporting in Acumatica in ONE DAY

 

Founded in 1996, Solver has won countless awards for its Corporate Performance Management solution. The CPM company was named CPM Leader by G2 throughout 2020 and 2021, Experience Leader and Trust Leader in Dresner Advisory Services’ 2020 Industry Excellence Awards, Microsoft BI Partner of the Year, and is recognized on the Gartner Group CPM Magic Quadrant. Solver integrates with most leading ERPs and is sold through 20+ global offices and a worldwide network of partners.

Ascend 2021 is right around the corner, and with 24 speakers, you know that this year’s virtual conference will be packed with info for Solver (f/k/a BI 360) users.

Curious what to expect at this year’s virtual conference? Check out this sneak peek – and make sure to register for the conference on August 17-19, so you don’t miss out on the Solver event of the year.

The 7 Simple Habits of Inclusive Leaders

August 18, 2021 – 8:00 – 9:30 AM Pacific Time

Presenter: Melissa Majors, CEO and Innovator, Melissa Majors Consulting

In this keynote, Melissa Majors will broaden the audience’s perspectives by asking questions about what do inclusive leaders do? What specific actions do they take to demonstrate a commitment to inclusion? Majors will reveal how great leaders enjoy superior team performance and drive much higher profitability by incorporating inclusive practices.

What she will find is that these behaviors fall into seven categories: Business Process; Collaboration; Mindset; Leading Self and Others, Decisions; Values; and Empathy.

Majors delivers clarity on how our brains are to blame for why leaders unintentionally exclude others. Through storytelling, research, and personal experiences, she offers a common-sense yet compelling and actionable approach to inclusion. She argues that people shouldn’t feel guilty or defensive when having inclusion-related conversations; the brain is to blame, not people.

Who Is This Session For?

This discussion is for all leaders: leaders of self, people, initiatives, and organizations that wish to Adapt and Thrive in today’s business landscape.

This session will provide a way for leaders to better understand techniques for adopting an inclusive mindset into their management practices. For some, this may be a unique outlook that they are not already doing so it’s a way to help them adapt to the new culture of inclusion expected in business and personal life.

At the end of this session, you will understand how to:

  • Identify and describe concepts such as intellectual humility, tactical empathy, and intersectionality
  • Gain insight into the habits and tactics used by inclusive leaders
  • Unlock access to social posts, job aides, and toolkits to help build inclusive habits

Who Is Melissa Majors?

As this year’s keynote speaker, we are honored to present Melissa Majors, CEO and Innovator at Melissa Majors Consulting. Here’s a little bit of background information on this impressive speaker:

Melissa Majors, CEO of Melissa Majors Consulting, is an innovator and optimizer of education, inclusion, and leadership strategies. She has dedicated her career to maximizing the business impact associated with these areas of focus.

Her firm has extensive experience and a proven reputation for driving better business outcomes through innovative and inclusive strategic planning. They bring deep expertise in improving profitability and innovation, boosting team and organizational performance, and optimizing inclusion strategies. Melissa formally studied strategy and innovation at Harvard University.

 Melissa Majors is a crowd-pleasing speaker who masters brain-friendly talks that engage her audiences and spark not just inspiration, but action as well.

 Melissa is featured in publications such as Forbes Magazine, Smart Meetings, The Meeting Professional, NorthStar Meetings Group’s Eventful Podcast, The Event DR, and she has starred on the keynote stage at events such as Meeting Professional’s International’s WEC, The Northwest Event Show, Catalyst Events, LeggMason’s DEI Conference, and many more.

Melissa delivers talks on various subjects associated with leadership, learning, and “blameless” inclusion. She differentiates her content by blending research, neuroscience, purposeful stories, and fun.

What Does It Mean to Plan, Adapt, and Thrive?

This past year changed what many of us know and expect about the business world, and 2020 clearly demonstrated that new skills are required to succeed in today’s new business landscape. To make sure Ascend 2021 delivers on today’s top skills, we’ve divided each of our courses into different focus areas: Plan, Adapt, and Thrive.

  • Plan has to do with planning capabilities – Do you have the tools to proactively respond to whatever may be coming next in your industry or field?
  • Adapt has to do with agility, forecasting, and overcoming uncertainty – Do you have the tools to confidently make decisions based on incomplete or uncertain information?
  • Thrive has to do with building knowledge, building a better budget, and increasing profitability – Do you have the tools to go beyond the financial data to achieve more with your company?

Are You Ready to Plan, Adapt, and Thrive in Today’s New Business Landscape? Solver Can Help.

Current events have forced many organizations to rethink their plans and update budgets to ride out the many uncertainties the world still faces. Join us for Ascend 2021, August 17-19 to learn the skills and strategies you need to:

  • Refresh your business data management knowledge
  • Improve business agility
  • Hone your Solver skills to make faster, better decisions

Remember: you can earn up to 10.5 CPE credits when you attend Solver Ascend 2021, so don’t miss out! We look forward to seeing you there.

Register Now

 

Founded in 1996, Solver has won countless awards for its Corporate Performance Management solution, including the Experience leader and Trust Leader in Dresner Advisory Services’ 2020 Industry Excellence Awards, Microsoft BI Partner of Year Award, and recognition on the Gartner Group CPM Magic Quadrant. Solver integrates with most leading ERPs and is sold through 20+ global offices and a worldwide network of partners.

Blog header image of a person selecting the best option of three choices for the How to Evaluate the Best CPM Tools blog from Solver, the financial reporting and budgeting software experts
Blog header image of a man checking consolidation software for technology companies for the What Tech Companies Should Look for in Consolidation Software blog from Solver, the maker of financial reporting software
solver microsoft

In a recent announcement, Microsoft and Solver launched a “Cooperation Agreement” (Agreement) to deliver deeply integrated planning and reporting for Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Finance. This Agreement offers several benefits for current and future Dynamics 365 Finance (Finance) customers; and as a byproduct, many of these same benefits will also be available for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (Business Central) customers. Key benefits for Finance customers, Business Central customers, and both (D365) are discussed below.

One Version of the Truth

With a two-way integration between D365 and Solver, customers will be able to easily synchronize data between D365 and Solver, and update completed budgets and forecasts from Solver back into D365. Furthermore, customers will be able to drill down on reports in Solver to source transactions in D365.

Vendor Stability

In recent years there have been many acquisitions in the corporate performance management (CPM) and analytics space, often making customers uncertain about the future direction of their vendor. One of the most well-known of these acquisitions was when ERP vendor Workday acquired Adaptive Insights (Adaptive) in 2018. While it was an exciting transaction for Workday customers, it was not good news for Adaptive customers and Partners on ERPs competing with Workday. With Solver’s independent status, focus on the Azure cloud platform, and now this new Agreement with Microsoft, customers can look forward to years of integration enhancements and platform benefits.

More Leverage of the Microsoft Azure Platform and Other Microsoft Products like Teams and Excel

Since its inception, the Solver cloud product has had a deep integration to Excel for its report and budget form design experience. Microsoft Teams users can view Solver reports in Teams while discussing budgets and financials with other users, all on the Microsoft Azure platform. As part of the recently announced Microsoft Agreement, Solver will also deliver several enhanced integrations and other capabilities to D365 customers.

Easier Cloud Migrations to D365 for Legacy Dynamics AX, NAV, GP and SL Customers

There is still a large, global customer base running the on-premise Microsoft Dynamics legacy ERPs.

Solver’s integrations to Dynamics AX, NAV, GP and SL will assist Dynamics legacy customers’ migration to D365 at a reduced cost and amount of effort. In a nutshell, legacy customers can “park” their important historical AX, NAV, GP and SL data (e.g. 10 years’ worth) in Solver’s cloud data warehouse, and minimize the data they need to convert and load into their new D365 cloud ERP, thus saving time and cost.

Quick-Time-to-Value and Low Implementation Risk

The enhanced, two-way integration resulting from the Solver – Microsoft Agreement provided an opportunity to create QuickStart, an integration wizard that includes Solver’s unique mapping technology which enables immediate use of pre-built financial reports, budget forms and Power BI dashboards. While reporting and planning tools typically take weeks or months for customers to integrate, deploy and design, Solver’s QuickStart technology enables cloud tenant deployment with a standard D365 integration and pre-built financial templates to be up and running in as little as one day. This quick-time-to-value frees up more time for partners and customers to create high value analytics content. It also lowers the risk of implementations going over budget and not delivering promised value.

Eliminate or Reduce Dependency on Manual Excel Models or Legacy CPM Platforms

D365 customers will be able to save costs and reduce effort by eliminating old, manual planning and reporting models and consolidating them into the Solver cloud platform.  Most businesses extensively use homegrown Excel models to meet specific formatting requirements, and to customize budgeting and forecasting models. Some also have legacy third-party CPM solutions with ongoing high maintenance costs.

These companies will now be able to deploy Solver with deep two-way integrations into their D365 system, saving time and effort, with fewer models and technologies to update and maintain.

More Time for Analysis and Daily Accounting Tasks

The rapid time-to-value and simpler upkeep resulting from the technologies evolving out of the Microsoft – Solver Agreement will give the office of finance more time for analysis and high value tasks.  Direct time savings and improved efficiency are key customer benefits of interoperability between D365 and Solver. Furthermore, users will see continuous expansion and improvements in out-of-the-box integrations, including third-party apps that work with D365, as well as a growing marketplace with out-of-the-box reporting and planning templates.

The Promise of a “Cleaner” ERP?

One of the premises of the entire CPM software category is to provide a connected, best-of-breed planning and reporting solution. When customers plan their CPM solution before deploying their new ERP system, it has a great potential to eliminate unnecessary, complex or “clunky” ERP configurations patched up with accompanying complex manual Excel models.

The Agreement between Microsoft and Solver also promises a reduction of compromises done with dimensions and other setups during an ERP implementation. Adjustments that are typically done to purely to satisfy native ERP reporting or planning requirements. The new agreement provides the potential for cleaner, more user-friendly ERP deployments.

 

Higher ROI on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Business Central Investment  

Most companies at this point have a plan to migrate to a cloud ERP, if they haven’t already done so.  Those that have previously experienced ERP implementations know the risks of running over time and over budget. Because of the many benefits brought by closely aligned ERP and CPM solutions, and how the Microsoft – Solver Agreement further enables this, customers are likely to enjoy a higher return on investment (ROI) for their new D365 solution.

Summary

While all modern cloud ERPs have application programming interfaces (APIs) and independent software vendor (ISV) apps that can connect to provide additional value to customers, deeper relationships like the one between Microsoft and Solver is rarer and offers many new benefits to customers as they continue to digitalize and automate their processes as they move their business apps to the cloud.

This article is part 8 of an 8-part series on evaluating the best CPM tools for your business. Part 8 focuses on why and when to use third-party rankings from analysts when evaluating the best CPM software applications.

 

While some companies don’t need to go through a detailed selection process to come up with a list of the top Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software solutions for their organization, others have their work cut out for them. If you belong to the latter category, here is a vendor evaluation tool that may be of help.

One of the key items on many CPM product evaluation checklists is to look at how third-party firms, usually referred to as analysts or analyst websites, review and rank vendors.

Below, we will discuss the use of analysts to help evaluate and score the best financial reporting and planning solutions for your business requirements. This type of third-party research can complement the findings and opinions from your internal team.

When analyst firms are of less importance

Before we go into detail about analyst firms, let’s briefly cover some situations where analyst reports with CPM vendor rankings are not as useful and, in some cases, cost extra time and money in the selection process. One such example is when there is already a leading CPM solution partnered with your ERP vendor and offering pre-built integrations and other benefits that outweigh other potential vendor differences.

Another example is when multiple people on your staff have deep knowledge of a leading CPM solution that they have used before, ideally while they worked at a company from the same industry to ensure that there is still a fit.

Which analyst firms should you use?

While there are a few firms with analysts that are CPM industry experts who do months of research every year to analyze trends and rank vendors, there are many more analysts that are a waste of time or are even directly misleading in their rankings.

  1. Examples of professional CPM analyst firms
    • Analyst and survey-driven rankings: Gartner and Dresner Advisory Services
    • User-driven rankings: G2
  2. Unqualified or misleading “analyst” firms
    • Clickbait websites that will come up with their own vendor lists with no proper research, purely to get ranked on a search engine in order to sell advertising or get “sponsorship” money vendors pay to be on (e.g., a “Top 10 CPM Vendors” list)
    • Websites owned by CPM vendors ranking themselves
    • “Research reports” from “analysts” paid for by a specific CPM vendor

So, if you consult analyst reports to help find the best CPM tool for your company, be conscious of who or what is proving the advice.

How do you know if analyst reports are biased or fair representations of vendors?

It is clear that almost all research performed by a human being is biased one way or another, either consciously (e.g., based on vendor sponsorships or who they speak with the most) or unconsciously (e.g., based on the knowledge of the analyst). Even a firm as well-known as Gartner arguably has some bias in their reports because they include analyst comments, and they include vendor revenue as one of the drivers in their “Magic Quadrants” – something which may or may not indicate who a “leader” should be in a specific industry. Especially with the pace of technology changes and acquisitions in the marketplace, the best CPM solution for your business 6 months ago may no longer be the top choice today.

Other analyst reports or vendor rankings are websites that are driven by user feedback as compared to analyst research. You could argue that these websites provide the most neutral feedback although not as detailed and analytical as the major reports produced by full-fledged analyst firms.

Then there are the countless firms that provide “awards” and rankings based on payments from vendors. These are highly biased and should be avoided. It is fairly easy to detect them by reviewing the firm’s website and observing the lack of depth in CPM research and content.

What professional analysts get right (and sometimes don’t)

The top CPM analyst firms typically do one major CPM report per year. All or parts of the data in the report is driven by customer surveys completed by each vendor’s customers. Because of all the work that goes into these reports and because customers don’t want to be constantly bombarded with surveys, the reports will represent data that is up to 15-16 months old. This lag is because customer surveys typically start 3-4 months before the report is released and then the report will be out on the market for a year until next year’s report is out.

Because many cloud software vendors have monthly releases, and new features arrive all the time, these reports could be missing important vendor features. Websites like G2 and others are starting to follow the same model; they are constantly updated whenever a customer decides to leave their feedback. However, they are less detailed and structured.

Examples of analyst firms that review CPM software

There are a number of companies that provide CPM vendor reviews and market research. Here are examples of three different categories of such firms:

  1. Gartner: Analyst + customer survey-driven vendor rankings. Also provides research reports across almost all categories of IT firms. A major CPM report is produced once per year.
  2. Dresner Advisory Services: Customer survey-driven vendor rankings. Also provides research reports. Almost exclusively focused on CPM (they refer to it as EPM, or Enterprise Performance Management). A major CPM report is produced once per year.
  3. G2: Customer feedback driven. Ranking reports are produced automatically on their website (g2.com). Rankings are continually updated as customers enter their feedback on the G2 website.

How much does it cost to use an analyst firm?

Some CPM vendor research reports are free while many are licensed by the CPM vendors themselves and shared with customers. However, be aware that vendors naturally will only license and share research reports that shed a good light on their product, so there is a bias here to be cognizant of.

Some analyst firms also provide selection services, either as paid calls with their CPM advisors or as full-blown gigs where they will lead or participate in the entire selection process as a “consultant.” In past years, they used to then provide clients with RFP templates with hundreds of pre-defined questions. These have become less popular in recent times as both vendors and internal evaluation teams dread lengthy narratives always shaped to sound good, or they can miss entire functionality areas that are up and coming.

In any case, it is almost always beneficial to do your own homework first by listing your current pain points in as much detail as possible and quantifying ($$) the cost and effort of running the current reporting and planning processes. This “homework” should also include the management team’s vision of the business benefits they want to achieve with a new CPM solution.

Conclusion

The leading cloud CPM software solutions have a lot of features and functionality, and changes and improvements are being released all the time. So, when you and your internal team are coming up with a shortlist of the best CPM solutions for the company’s needs, it is advisable to do your own research, review product demonstrations, and make sure the top candidates integrate easily with your ERP and other important systems. If you have special complexities or a lack of time and evaluation skills on your team, then an analyst firm can assist you in various ways.

Links to useful software research and evaluation assets