The terms Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) are often used interchangeably. These two forms of performance management software help businesses manage their resources and stay on track with their financial goals. Many argue that when you’re running a large organization, you need both EPM and CPM. Some solutions like Solver and Anaplan, combines functionality from both categories into a single solution.

There are two important differences between CPM and EPM:

  • CPM focuses specifically on providing a corporate-wide application of performance management, primarily for the organization’s finance department.
  • EPM focuses more broadly on the performance of the entire enterprise, extending beyond the finance departments to sales, marketing, supply chain and more.

If you’re comparing CPM vs. EPM, the choice may seem arbitrary given the similarities. While there is crossover between the functions of CPM and EPM software, CPM takes more of a financial focus, whereas EPM focuses more holistically on the performance factors of the entire organization.

What Is CPM Software?

CPM covers the following basic business processes:

  • Consolidation: Close management and consolidation of an organization’s finances.
  • Planning: Major areas of financial planning, including budgeting and forecasting.
  • Analytics and reporting: Gathering and reporting data from all applicable areas in an organization.

CPM software’s ultimate goal is to help organizations strategize and execute informed plans to reach their financial goals. In this way, EPM software and CPM software are alike. The primary distinguishing factor is that CPM offers advanced applications designed to drive the organization’s goal of increasing profits for itself and its shareholders.

With CPM’s more financially focused approach to managing a business’s performance, organizations can more efficiently track financial progress and perform tasks related to strategic financial planning. CPM enables business leaders to make more informed, data-based decisions to reach their organization’s financial goals and objectives.

Uses of CPM Software

CPM software is best used for performance management in the following scenarios:

  • Specialized performance management processes: With CPM software, you can apply more specialized performance management tactics to your financial planning strategies. CPM software is designed to focus specifically on driving a business’s financial goals and increasing shareholders’ profits.
  • Financial performance data management: CPM software tracks key performance indicators (KPIs) like an organization’s operational costs and other expenditures, revenue, return on investment (ROI) and other applicable data sources. With CPM software, accessing and analyzing an organization’s financial performance is easier than ever.
  • In-depth analytics: CPM software allows business leaders and financial departments to accurately analyze past and current data to make more informed decisions about the direction of their organization. Detailed analytic information is key in financial strategy and planning, and CPM software consolidates financial data into one easily accessible place.
  • Convenient and efficient financial management: With all of your financial data in a central location, managing your business’s financial performance can be done with extreme precision and efficiency with CPM software.

What Is EPM Software?

EPM software performs many of the same functions as CPM software. The primary difference is that while CPM hones in on a business’s financial data and management, EPM takes a broader look at multiple line-of-business operations and analyzes KPIs from each.

Many organizations prefer EPM’s more holistic approach to performance management across the enterprise compared to CPM. For many businesses, all departments play an equally important role in determining the organization’s financial outcomes. While CPM focuses on one area of the entire enterprise (namely finance), EPM considers every applicable department in the processes of consolidation, planning, reporting and analytics.

Uses of EPM Software

Many companies use EPM and CPM software interchangeably. Focusing on EPM’s unique advantages for your organization alongside a CPM system can be a worthwhile investment, especially if you have a particularly large organization.

EPM software is best used for the following processes:

  • A broad look at enterprise performance: EPM software’s purpose is to manage all performance factors across an enterprise, not just the finance department. EPM is a useful tool to provide business leaders with a clear picture of how different parts of the enterprise are performing individually and working together.
  • A bird’s eye view of business analytics: EPM software looks at analytics from virtually every part of an enterprise and tracks the KPIs of multiple departments at once. With EPM, you get a summary of your entire company’s performance due to advanced analytics technology.
  • Large-scale planning: With EPM, budgeting, forecasting and related planning activities are much more efficient and scalable. Creating annual operating plans is easy with the right EPM software on your side.
  • Versatile applications: While CPM software caters to the structure of corporate organizations, EPM software can be used for a wide range of non-corporate organizations as well. EPM can easily accommodate the performance management and planning needs of organizations in the government, education, non-profit and other sectors.
  • Saved time and energy: As with CPM, EPM software saves organizations time, energy and money when properly applied to business processes. With the ability to capture company data automatically from multiple departments at once and consolidate it into a central hub, employees no longer need to spend hours performing these processes manually.

EPM software’s broad organizational focus includes monitoring financial performance, but it does not focus exclusively on finance, as does CPM software. Individual software systems vary in the benefits they offer, and organizations should weigh their options carefully before committing to an EPM or CPM system.

Learn More About Solver Corporate Performance Management Software

EPM and CPM software offer many advantages to executives and financial managers looking to maximize decision-making capabilities in a competitive marketplace. Solver is an easy-to-use and innovative CPM solution that is built for the ever-changing demands of growth-focused companies. Using a single, cloud-based solution, Solver automates reporting, consolidations, forecasting and budgeting processes for complete insight into your business.

At Solver, we can help you decide what your business needs based on your current metrics and financial goals. Submit a sales inquiry or request a demo, and a member of our expert team will reach out to you shortly.

While mid-market and enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors offer native financial consolidation software, their limitations often leave users still in search of a solution that can produce.

Here are a few reasons why it has been difficult for ERP vendors to deliver the financial consolidation functionality inside the ERPs itself.

Common Limitations in Current Financial Consolidation ERPs

  • Problematic to consolidate across subsidiaries with different ERPs
  • Clunky consolidation process with too many steps
  • Manual consolidation adjustments, which can be tedious to post
  • Inability to handle different chart of accounts
  • Weak auto-elimination functionality
  • Limited currency conversion functionality
  • Weak financial report writer to produce the consolidated reports
  • Lack of dynamic pro-forma consolidations
  • Inability to consolidate across subsidiaries with different fiscal calendars

Overall, consolidating within your ERP system remains a clunky process with too many steps. As a result, an organization’s finance team ends up carrying out the process in Excel, where they are likely comfortable using formulas.

Your ERP’s Current Consolidation Solution

Even with many popular ERP systems such as Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (D365 FO), SAP, Oracle or Workday, customers with significant consolidations and related financial reporting needs often end up depending on Excel, especially in the final steps of the process.

While ERP systems typically contain many consolidation features, and might even have a native Management Reporter that is an above-the-average report writer, it is increasingly normal that customers add on a “best-of-breed” corporate performance management (CPM) solution to simplify their financial consolidation and reporting software.

Modern cloud-based CPM solutions

Solver is an example of a CPM solution that comes with several added advantages, especially for Microsoft customers.

Advantages of Solver CPM for Financial Consolidation

  • Solution is cloud-based Azure
  • It’s configurable to general ledgers as well as sub-ledgers
  • It has a pre-built connector to Power BI for visualization

PowerBI_Dashboard_01

 

Some cloud-based CPM vendors like Solver now also offer an Excel add-in to give power users more flexible and familiar report design.  Additionally, in some CPM solutions, end users can still run the same reports in the cloud using their web browsers. They could do the same using their local Excel on the desktop connected to the CPM database in the cloud.

Additionally, modern cloud-based CPM solutions typically house advanced budgeting and workflow capabilities. This allows for a single solution and a single report/form designer for financial reporting, consolidations and budgeting.

Upgrade Your ERP System With Solver

To learn more about how modern CPM solutions integrate with popular ERP systems like D365 F&O and Business Central, Sage Intacct, SAP and Accumatica, click here.

financial planning analysis blog

The rapid growth of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC) cloud ERP system comes with investments in add-on app solutions by independent software vendors (ISVs)For example, Progressus is a company as described above and has a project solution for D365 BC. With Progressus, small and mid-sized companies receive easy-to-configure and advanced project accounting functionality in the cloud. 

However, as all project-centric business managers know, good transactional systems also need proper financial planning and analysis tools. In today’s highly competitive market, this can be the difference between success and failure.  As successful project-based companies invest in new cloud-based ERP systems like D365 BC and add advanced project apps like Progressus, a natural next step after the implementation is to look for an integrated and flexible reporting and planning solutionA reporting and planning software like Solver can operate down to the detailed field and dimension level in the Progressus tables inside the ERP system.  

Project Reports for D365 and the Progressus App

Lately, most companies prefer pre-integrated solutions. Due to this, Solver partnered with Progressus and now the corporate performance management solution delivers an out-of-the box integration to both Dynamics 365 Business Central and Progressus. Solver not only provides D365 BC customers with a strong financial reporting and budgeting software for general ledger and sub-ledger data, but it also now extends this functionality into all the project detail provided by Progressus. 

Customer Benefits:

  • Pre-built integration to Dynamics 365 and Progressus tables
  • Pre-built Progressus Project reports
  • Full report writer with Excel design
  • Optional Budgeting module
  • Multi-tenant Azure Cloud Platform
  • Pre-built Power BI integration for interactive Dashboards

However, as with any reporting solution, pre-built report templates speed up deployment when can be used as a starting point. 

Solver offers a number of project-focused reports for Progressus including:  

  • Benchmarking
  • Project Manager Benchmarking
  • Project Capacity by
    • Customer Group and Resource
    • Department and Resource
    • Customer Group and Resource
  • Project Detail by Customer
  • Project List
  • Resource Detail
  • Actual vs Budget Variance

 

project capacity

project 2

Both solutions are independently integrated to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. After the partnership between the two companies, they decided to configure a joint integration. With the rapid growth in popularity of cloud ERP software like D365 BC, one of the next big cloud drivers is that ISVs, such as Progressus and Solver, work together to give customers elegant integrations across both standard ERP data as well as transactions originating from ISV add-ins to the ERP systems. This eliminates many of the custom integrations that are configured in the old on-premise platforms.

Technology is driving major industry changes into the next decade. Project managers and executives will need and demand complete insight to their data to drive faster and better decisions. Cloud-based ERP vendors and ISVs are making good strides to make this happen!

When you’re managing a large hotel or resort, your day-to-day job requires you to juggle countless moving pieces. From tracking KPIs to producing financial reports, running a sizeable hotel or resort is practically impossible today without the help of advanced hotel performance management software. Fortunately, there are many solutions on the market designed to accommodate the unique needs of the hospitality industry.

When you’re dealing with guests, hotel staff, changing rates, renovations and countless other challenges, it’s crucial that you have a CPM system in place with all of the features you need to keep business thriving. Learn more about the ins and outs of resort financial management software below.

Challenges Hotels and Resorts Face Using CPM Software

Finding the right CPM software for your hotel or resort is essential to managing your business performance processes with efficiency. Because hotels and resorts need to do their budgeting and forecasting from a seasonal standpoint, it’s important that they have the tools to keep up with an ever-changing market.

Common challenges hospitality businesses face can include:

An Unpredictable Local Market

Keeping up with local competition is critical for successful hotel management. When other hotels open, close, change their rates or rebrand, the local economy shifts and forces other hotels to shift with it. You need a reliable method for gleaning economic data as well as data from your own hotel or resort’s performance in order to keep up with ever-changing economic factors.

Keeping Track of Reports

When you run a hotel, you need to have a solid report generation structure in place due to the sheer volume of data you need to document from multiple sources. Financial and operational reports require a substantial amount of upkeep that becomes difficult without CPM automation software.

Flexing With Change

Hotels need to keep track of many different revenue variables at once. Anything from a hotel opening next door to a handful of bad reviews could affect revenue in both short-term and long-term scopes. When this happens, hotels need the ability to bounce back from changes they can’t control and manage factors they have power over.

Keeping Up With Data Sources

Today, hotels and resorts need to keep up with metrics from a wide range of sources in order to properly adjust and plan their business strategies. Keeping up with local economic data and their own performance data — and having an efficient data storage solution — can be challenging tasks for hospitality managers.

Advantages of Implementing CPM Software for Hotels and Resorts

The right CPM software can make a world of difference for a hotel or resort. CPM software can help hotel and resort managers better manage data, create financial reports, analyze metrics from multiple sources, accurately track performance and much more.

Implementing CPM software in the hospitality industry can positively affect hotels and resorts in the following ways. You can:

  • Track hotel performance by monitoring metrics from room revenue, food and beverage revenue, conference room rentals, spa services and other applicable factors
  • Produce financial and operational reports with more accuracy and efficiency for multiple business units
  • Integrate your CPM software with existing booking systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to consolidate hotel data for easy access
  • Perform budgeting and forecasting tasks with ease thanks to automation features
  • Perform tasks related to seasonal performance prediction to stay on top of the market and plan accordingly
  • Consolidate hotel metrics automatically and access them in one place
  • Create benchmarks for your hotel or resort and monitor them consistently
  • Automate time-consuming tasks so you can be free to work on higher-level duties

When you implement CPM software into your hotel or resort’s existing systems, the difference can be night and day. Surprisingly, even many major hotel chains are lagging behind other industries in their utilization of CPM software solutions. But the benefits of incorporating CPM software into hotel and resort management processes are too invaluable to overlook.

CPM software can help improve your hotel performance and streamline financial planning processes exponentially — in both the short and long term.

Long-Term Benefits of CPM Software for Hotels and Resorts

A brand new CPM software solution may seem intimidating at first, but once you get over the learning curve, you’ll start to see the benefits of implementing CPM into your hotel or resort almost immediately. The hospitality industry benefits from CPM software integration in a variety of ways — and many long term benefits come from this integration.

Resort reporting and budgeting software helps hotel managers and operators view their hotel or resort’s performance in detail and from multiple angles. It can also help automate processes that would otherwise take valuable time away from management while providing comprehensive analytic information and data organization services.

When a hotel or resort implements CPM software, the long-term benefits typically include:

  • Having a better handle on hotel performance and local economic factors
  • Increased revenue due to better revenue and expenditure tracking capabilities
  • An improved ability to predict market trends and hotel performance
  • An improved ability to adapt to internal and external change
  • Streamlined financial reporting processes and automated financial and operational reporting
  • Increased ability to manage hotel performance driven by seasonal demand and other economic factors
  • Improved return on investment (ROI) thanks to increased efficiency and better operational tactics
  • Access to more precise metrics, all in one central hub

Implementing resort financial management software into your hotel’s existing system fosters significant ROI for years to come if utilized optimally.

Contact Solver Global to Learn How CPM Software Can Improve Your Hotel or Resort

Solver is an international leader in providing businesses in all industries with state-of-the-art CPM solutions. To find out more about how we can help increase your hotel or resort’s ROI, contact our friendly team of experts today. With cutting-edge, cloud-based CPM technology, we can help you rise above the competition and generate long term results.

Budget Variance Analysis

Budgets can be difficult. While properly analyzing trends and patterns in your financial history and projections is an essential part of budgeting and forecasting, it requires long hours of tedious work if done manually. In fact, many businesses hire FP & A personnel specifically to perform tasks related to variance and analysis.

Whether you’re a small business or an established corporation, you know that few things require more attention and analysis than your budget. So many factors go into creating and adjusting budgets that it’s hard to keep track of every variable and the potential outcome. However, this is where a special process known as budget variance comes into play.

What Is a Budget Variance Analysis?

Budget variance analysis refers to the process of helping a business achieve its goals by analyzing several components:

  • Budget projections
  • Actual budget results
  • Variances within the budget
  • Disparities between budget projections and results

Performing a standard budget variance analysis requires management to compare their budget projections to the actual results and assess the disparities between the two. Budget variance analysis helps business management track favorable and negative budget variances and determine how to adjust the budget to better serve the business’s goals.

By studying a business’s budget variance, management can spot unexpected changes in performance — for good or bad. This helps business leaders set realistic future expectations and design a path that leads to future success. Getting from where you are now to your eventual goals is hardly a linear path, and understanding budget variance is key to making steady progress while avoiding financial pitfalls.

When performing financial variance analysis, some smaller companies prefer to delegate the task to experts with more extensive experience with budget variance analysis tools and reporting. Within larger companies, budget variance analysis is typically performed by a team built specifically for FP & A variance analysis tasks. Whatever the case may be with your business, it’s important to master budget variance analysis as early as possible.

The Two Types of Budget Variance

In the budget variance analysis process, the results are most often categorized into two types — “favorable” variance and “negative” variance. The main difference between the two is fairly self-explanatory. Whereas favorable budget variance refers to a positive difference between projected and actual budget outcomes, such as higher profits, a negative variance literally indicates a negative outcome, such as net loss.

You can learn more about each type of budget variance below.

Favorable

Favorable variance is an indicator that a company is doing better than expected in a certain area. Many people think of favorable variance as a “pleasant surprise” — for example, a product sees more sales revenue than expected or the cost of implementing a new product or system is lower than expected. There are many factors that can influence favorable variance in budget analysis.

Negative

Like favorable variance, negative variance is what it sounds like. Negative variances typically signal a loss in revenue. Perhaps a certain product didn’t sell as well as projected, or maybe one of the business’s suppliers hiked the price of certain goods or materials. Whatever the case may be, negative variance needs to be taken very seriously.

Luckily for businesses with good budget variance analysis practices, negative variances will spur a positive adjustment in business strategy to adapt to future challenges.

Best Practices for Budget Variance Analysis

Budget variance analysis is an essential part of every business’s financial management process. However, you can only benefit from budget variance analysis if you’re doing it correctly.

Many business management professionals who are unfamiliar with how to do a budget variance analysis tend to overlook important budget factors or even put off the variance reporting and analysis. This can lead to missed opportunities to improve company performance. Thankfully, with the right tools and strategies, budget variance analysis doesn’t need to be a dreaded task.

Here are a few best practices to implement in your budget variance analysis process:

  • Schedule specific times to perform budget variance analysis tasks throughout the year. Regular variance analysis is key in improving a business’s performance.
  • Take corrective action as soon as you discover negative — or positive — variance to prevent an existing problem from getting worse or to capitalize on a golden opportunity in the market.
  • Keep a close eye on the economic conditions surrounding your business.
  • Automate wherever you can. Have budget variance analysis software take a chunk of the leg work out for you!

Steps to Complete a Budget Variance Analysis

The steps to completing a budget variance analysis are simple, but they’re made even simpler by implementing software automation. Your FP & A personnel or management will:

  1. Analyze differences in actual results versus budget: If significant disparities are discovered, typically 10% or more, then these variances must be analyzed to find out why they occurred in the first place. While manual budget variance analysis can take hours of spreadsheet hopping, an automated solution will take only minutes to do the same task.
  2. Figure out why the difference occurred: Whether the difference is positive or negative, you always need to pinpoint its underlying cause so you can learn from the occurrence. The time this takes will vary depending on the variances in question.
  3. Put together a report: This report should document the budget and variance analysis and the reasons for any variance. Automated software can do this for you.
  4. Brainstorming with management and financial analysts: After completing the analysis, you’ll want to consider how to move forward based on the results.

The basic steps of performing a budget variance analysis may seem simple, but they can happen much faster and with more accuracy when using software than when doing the entire process manually.

Choose Solver’s cloud-based CPM solution for Your Software Needs

In order to perform your business variance analysis in under 30 minutes, contact Solver Global today to learn how you can take your company to the next level with automation software. We offer comprehensive corporate performance management solutions for businesses in virtually every industry. Let us help you automate your business’s processes and save you time, money and energy!

powerbiandsolver

If you have ever tried to build and maintain financial reports inside a visualization tool, the answer should be simple. Power BI works well for dashboards, but modern cloud-based corporate performance management (CPM) solutions are the best option for your financial reports.

BI vs. CPM

Let’s elaborate. Power BI belongs to a category typically referred to as Business Intelligence (BI) tools. While purpose-built, financial reporting and consolidation tools belong to a category referred to as Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Software.

Business Intelligence:

In the business intelligence category, you also find other well-known solutions such as Tableau and Domo. For the most part, BI tools are purpose-built for dashboards with rich visualizations. Also, BI tools are increasingly infused with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

Corporate Performance Management Software:

On the other hand, CPM solutions are specifically designed for accounting teams to consolidate financial data. CPMs often produce professionally formatted financial reports such as: 

  • Profit & Loss
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash flow statements

Most CPM solutions offer budgeting modules. And in recent years, the ability to do sophisticated planning such as sales forecasting and modeling.

If the difference between BI and CPM is so clear, why is “Financial Reporting in Power BI or in a Corporate Performance Management Solution” even a topic worth covering in a blog? 

Well, with the rapid rise in popularity of Power BI for financial reporting and its key competitors, an army of “hungry” consultants have emerged.  And, given a strong and flexible tool like Power BI, a sales person with the right technical skills can make almost anything, including formatted financial reports, look good.  Many companies have fallen into this trap lately of using Power BI for financial reporting. And, when you ask a skilled, revenue motivated consultant: Can you do that? Chances are that you will get a “Yes!”  And after a few weeks…or a few months, and a sizable consulting bill, you may actually have good looking Power BI financial reports.  But, as excited as your executives may be to have a single cloud-based portal for both dashboards and financial reports, for most financial executives this has a tendency to turn into a small nightmare.  Why?

Because neither Power BI nor its BI competitors were designed to manage a financial reporting process.

A lot of hard coding and hacking is needed behind the scenes in Power BI’s modeling language. Of course, if you are ready to hire a technical expert or keep your Power BI consultant permanently retained to handle model changes as your chart of accounts grows, your roll-ups change or you need to write a new report, you could survive for a while. Eventually, we can say with certainty, you will be back in Excel to do your financial reporting where your accounting team is comfortable with formulas and formatting.

Alternatively, you can deploy a CPM solution that is built to streamline the financial process. Also, you can deploy a CPM tool to deliver professionally formatted financial statements.

With a CPM solution, you can also move your budgeting process into the CPM tool and run it all in the cloud.  Now, it does not have to be an either or.

The Best Way: Use BI Tools and CPMs Together

An increasing number of CPM vendors offer pre-built integrations to leading BI tools like Power BI.

Two such vendors are Solver and Prophix. As an example, Solver is similar to Power BI in that it is an Azure cloud-based platform, and it comes with a pre-built connector to Power BI.  Below is an example of a comparison between Power BI and Solver. It clearly shows that companies looking for both dashboards and financial reporting should use a BI tool for their dashboards and a CPM tool for their financial reporting. Neither tool replaces the other.

power bi and solver

As organizations gear up for what can be the “Roaring Twenties,” having the right tools for the job might be one of the smartest strategic moves a management team can make. On the other hand, trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, could lead to frustration. The frustration is delayed reporting and wasted money. It is increasingly accepted that “data is the new gold.” When Power BI is integrated with a best-in-class CPM solution and both are running in the cloud, organizations are likely a step closer to success and industry leadership in the years ahead.

Consolidation_01

For many years it seems like every mid-market and enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor has aspired to offer native financial consolidation software. However, they all seem to fall short, often to the disappointment of customers that were promised that their new ERP system easily could produce the consolidated financials from their individual subsidiary ledgers. 

So why is it so hard for an ERP vendor to deliver the necessary financial consolidation functionality inside the ERP system itself? There can be any number of reasons.

Limitations in Current Financial Consolidation ERPs

  • Lack of ability to handle different chart of accounts
  • Lack of ability of consolidating across subsidiaries with different fiscal calendars
  • Poor currency conversion functionality 
  • Weak auto-elimination functionality
  • Tedious to post manual consolidation adjustments
  • Weak financial report writer to produce the consolidated reports
  • Clunky consolidation process with too many steps 
  • Problematic to consolidate across subsidiaries with different ERPs
  • Lack of dynamic pro-forma consolidations

 

It would be a controller’s dream if all of these areas were elegantly handled within their ERP system. And, while most mid-market and enterprise ERPs typically can check all or most of the boxes for consolidation features, almost always, consolidating in the ERP it is simply too clunky with too many steps. Because of this, the finance team ends up doing it in Excel where they at least are comfortable with formulas and they can produce professional report layout. 

 

overloaded manager

Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP

But what about Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (D365 FO) ERP system? 

While it clearly can be considered one of the top cloud solutions on the market today- alongside SAP, Oracle and Workday– customers with significant consolidations and related financial reporting needs, often end up in Excel in the final steps of the process. 

While there are plenty of ERP consolidation features in D365 FO, and its native Management Reporter is an above-the-average report writer, it is increasingly normal that customers add on a “best-of-breed” corporate performance management (CPM) solution to streamline their financial consolidation and reporting software.  

Modern cloud-based CPM solutions

Solver is an example of a CPM solution that comes with several added advantages for Microsoft customers.

Advantages of Solver CPM for Financial Consolidation

  • Solution is cloud-based Azure like D365 FO
  • Its configurable to D365’s general ledger as well as sub-ledgers
  • It has a pre-built connector to Power BI for visualization

PowerBI_Dashboard_01

 

Some cloud-based CPM vendors now also offer an Excel add-in to give power users more flexible and familiar report design. 

End users can still run the same reports in the cloud using their web browsers. They could do the same using their local Excel on the desktop connected to the CPM database in the cloud.

Consolidation_01

 

An added advantage of modern cloud-based CPM solutions is that they typically also house advanced budgeting and workflow capabilities. This allow for a single solution and a single report/form designer for both financial reporting, consolidations and budgeting. 

Level Up Your Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations With Solver

In the next decade, enabling faster and better decisions will be one of the key competitive advantages. This advantage differentiates successful, growing companies from others. 

Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, a leading ERP solution, is a great cloud-based transaction platform because it drives better data and accounting processes. A modern CPM solution with a snug fit on top of D365 FO and that compliments visualization in Power BI checks the boxes that a finance team needs to take their ERP financial consolidations and reporting processes to the next level.

Sales Analysis Dashboard

Why companies are upgrading from spreadsheets to Corporate Performance Management Software

 

There are typically two or three key motivators why an organization starts looking for Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution: 

  1. The pain of manual reporting or budgeting in spreadsheet is becoming a major burden on the finance team.
  2. Management sees a strategic advantage in automated reporting, planning and analysis tools to drive better and faster decisions than competitors. 
  3. The company is migrating to a cloud ERP system and also wants to update reporting and budgeting to a best-of-breed cloud solution.

Regardless, whether it is pain, strategic initiatives or cloud migration that drives the decision to find a Corporate Performance Management  solution, there are many pitfalls that can be avoided to increase the chances for success and a good return on investment (ROI). Some of these are discussed below.

Why careful CPM vendor selection is important 

 

  1. Turbulent Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) Market Can Affect You

When a vendor gets acquired, it often ends less than ideal for customers. 

A common reason that issues arise during a merger or acquisition stems from the fact that acquiring companies typically are much larger than the target company. The parent company’s politics and other internal priorities tend to drive away employees, disturb product development focus, increase prices and more. 

Eventually, many acquired CPM products die a slow death, and customers end up switching product and vendor. Comshare, Adaytum, SRC Software and Clarity were but a few CPM vendors that suffered this fate during the M&A spree that took place in the CPM space 15-20 years ago. 

Another wave of M&A is actively happening, and has been for the past 3 years. Companies involved in this CPM acquisition & merger wave include

Acquisitions & Mergers can mean your company falls victim to increased prices, turbulent support, and more. It’s important to make sure, when choosing a CPM Software vendor, to look for a vendor that is…  

 

  1. You Need to Protect Your Financial Investment

CPM solutions these days are increasingly cloud-based. Rather than purchase the software outright, CPM customers can subscribe to use the software on an annual basis. 

However, even if a subscription is reasonable, the amount of time and effort that internal staff has to put in to get a CPM solution fully up and running to include the reports and budget model and dashboards that management team needs, can be very significant. 

You can expect anywhere from $20,000 – a several-hundred thousand dollars in direct and indirect costs for full blown implementations. 

In other words, picking the right vendor and the right product carries a much larger costs than simply a year’s worth of subscription. 

 

  1. Protecting your job 

While a good vendor selection, and successful implementation, can be a significant boon to the careers of the management team in charge of the project, it can be the opposite if it all does not work out well. 

Let alone the stress and long hours that often come from enterprise software implementations,  should it not end well, it can be a scar that follows you for a long time in your career.

 

Key CPM vendor selection factors

While some organizations have too rigid software selection processes when they evaluate new CPM solutions, others suffer from the opposite problem.  

Here are Some Simple Tips for When You’re Looking for a CPM Vendor:

 

  • Avoid RFPs: Unless RFPs are simple and they focus on the important factors determined by the business users, they tend to be playing favorites based on who wrote the RFP.
    RFPs are often template-based, with far too many questions that drown the important items within the much less important topics. And let’s be honest, few team members end up reading all the RFP replies. Vendors tend to interpret questions their own way in order to provide a maximum number of positive replies. 
  • Know what you want: Communicate key objectives and critical needs to vendors and demand that these be covered in software demonstrations.
  • Look for pre-built ERP integrations: Make sure the CPM automation vendors you look at have a pre-built integration to your ERP system. Ideally they provide connectivity both to the general ledger tables and sub-ledger tables so you can report, drill down and budget to as much detail as your business users desires.
  • Look for Support for “best-of-breed” Dashboard tools: In the past, most CPM vendors developed their own, often very limited dashboard modules. The result has been that many organizations therefore also purchased best-of-breed dashboard tools in order to serve other users and other data sources in the company. However, with the rise of advanced visualization solutions like Microsoft’s Power BI and Tableau (acquired by Salesforce in 2019), the new trend is that CPM automation solutions focus on their core reporting, consolidations and planning capabilities and instead deliver their data out to best-of-breed dashboard solutions through pre-built integrations.   
  • Make Sure The CPM is Cloud-Ready: While many companies still run a number of their critical business systems on-premise, the cloud trend is crystal clear. CPM solutions are generally easier to manage in the cloud, with automated reporting tools upgrades, frequent releases, and user-friendly interfaces. Some, such as Solver CPM, can even query certain on-premise ERP systems live from the cloud, providing accountants with real time insights and drill down directly into their ERP. Make sure the CPM solution you look at was architected for the cloud and that it is to an “old”, single tenant on-premise architecture that the vendor is hosting somewhere in the cloud. 
  • Look for Vendor Stability: As discussed, there has been a tremendous amount of acquisitions in the CPM industry over the past couple of years. Most of the CPM vendors that have not been acquired by a larger vendor, have heavy Private Equity (PE) investments. Examples are Vena, Board and Centage. Notable exceptions to this are Prophix and Solver. PE firms generally want their money back within 4-5 years of making their investment so they can provide real returns to their own investors, and that often means that customers will find their vendor shifting owner again, often with resulting price increases and shifting development focus.  

 

Final Tip: Be Strategic

Whether it is too much spreadsheet reporting and budgeting pain or a tactical hint for competitive advantages with faster and better decision-making that drives your search for a Corporate Performance Management solution, a final piece of advice is to be strategic about it. Don’t look at a CPM automation solutions as a temporary band-aid, but view this technology for what it can be when properly chosen and implemented with care; one of your most important decision-making tools that can help drive growth and success for your organization in the 2020s.

Do you wish your business had a better way to manage financial planning? Maybe you need to scale your financial model, but your Excel model or current financial planning software is no longer able to meet your needs. You may need a more efficient financial planning system that eliminates busywork and frees up your team to work on more important tasks.

If your financial modeling software is not keeping up with your business needs, it may be time to automate your business’ financial planning processes. Getting your financial modeling system right is crucial for long-term success. With the right practices, you can accurately analyze financial data and forecast your company’s growth against a number of possible scenarios.

A reliable system for analyzing and organizing financial data through automation will put you significantly ahead of the curve and enable you to plan for the future with better insight and precision.

Benefits of Automated Financial Modeling

Financial models are integral parts of growing and maintaining a business. With the expanding standardization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Corporate Performance Management (CPM) systems, more businesses are reaping the benefits of automation. We now have the ability to automate increasingly complex tasks such as big data organization and analysis.

Automation has transformed business processes in the past decade due its ability to increase business efficiency, productivity and even creativity. Automating processes that would otherwise take up hours each day helps businesses focus on visionary work instead of mundane operations.

While automating a financial model may seem like an overwhelming task, it’s absolutely necessary if you want to see substantial improvement in your business’s financial strategy. The benefits of automating a financial model include:

  • Relieves businesses of busywork and frees up employees to focus on higher-order tasks
  • Provides significant improvements to the quality of resource planning practices
  • Improves business management by eliminating much of the legwork associated with building, using and adapting financial models
  • Enhances decision-making abilities by providing accurate and instant calculations
  • Enables companies to make financial decisions faster and with better information
  • Allows for a degree of standardization that manual models do not
  • Streamlines the jobs of financial analysts and business leaders

The benefits of automating your business’s financial model dramatically outweigh the time and patience required.

Steps to Automate a Business Financial Model Through CPM Software

Automating a business financial model requires significant time and energy, but the task is more than doable. There are a few key factors to consider before automating your current financial model, including:

  • Your business’ fiscal history
  • Assumptions, financial and growth goals for your business
  • Your team’s preferences when it comes to using CPM software
  • What you need your solution to do for your business

Take these four steps to automate your business financial model through CPM software:

  1. Determine a specific goal for automating your financial model. What do you need this system to accomplish for your business in the next quarter, year or five years?
  2. Create an outline that documents all model inputs, workings and outputs. How will your automated financial model work in practice? What are the drivers for the model?
  3. Choose CPM software that meets your financial modeling needs and automates all the right processes. Make sure you find a solution that meets your current needs and can scale with your business.
  4. Be patient. As with any new system, an automated financial model takes time to implement, and your team will need time to become acclimated to the new processes.

When done right, automating your financial model will render positive results over the long-term.

Tips for Making Financial Software Integration Simple

Make your new software integration process much easier by following these four tips:

  • Choose a system with features that your current team will find useful.
  • Invest in cloud-based applications. Doing so makes the overall integration process simpler for everyone involved. In addition, cloud-based data storage can be essential for easy access to data and keeping your CPM software organized.
  • Make sure you have a solid plan for practical, step-by-step integration. For new systems to work, every user needs to be on the same page.
  • Give your business time to adjust to the new software tools. Many employers are too quick to overhaul an automated financial modeling software program that still needs to work out technical issues or does not deliver immediate improvements. Keep in mind that there will be a learning curve, and wait until that curve has passed before making drastic changes.

Choose Solver for Your Business’ Financial Planning Software

At Solver, we deliver innovative, business-driven solutions for organizations looking to make faster, better decisions and gain complete insight into their business. Managers can quickly access important financial and operational data and information in a single solution. With automated reporting and planning processes, Solver helps you make better-informed business decisions with greater speed.

If you’re looking for scalable financial modeling software that can be customized to meet your company’s needs, contact the experts at Solver to find out more about what we can do for you.

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