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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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