Posts

Blog header image showing a dashboard with financial report drill down for the Monthly Reporting Process Best Practices blog for Solver CPM
Budgeting_Process_Best_Practices_White_Paper_Solver

These days, more than ever, financial planning analysis (FP&A) managers need to deploy tools that can help them support their businesses with faster and more agile planning, reporting and analysis.

Whether it is functionality that supports forecasts with multiple scenarios or automated financials with self-service drill down, today’s managers need easy access to the right information so that they can make faster and better decisions.

So, many organizations that run legacy corporate performance management (CPM) tools like SAP BPC or massive, manual Excel models that are at the breaking point, are now looking to migrate to a modern cloud platform for their budgeting, forecasting, reporting and consolidations.

Current Trends are Driving Digitalization of the Office of Finance

Now, in the 2020s, there are a number of trends that are driving changes and technology upgrades in finance and accounting departments.

The most obvious change surrounds the turbulent economic climate. This environment has accelerated the trend towards working-from-home, which again has accelerated the need for users to have easy, browser-based access to their business applications, and for IT departments to get rid of their old servers and move to a cloud infrastructure that runs 24/7 with minimal down-time.

Many FP&A departments also face staff shortages due to cost-savings programs. This drives them to consider upgrading their legacy accounting and CPM tools to modern cloud tools that drive more automation and that are more user-friendly than their old, on-premise counterparts.

Benefits of Migrating from BPC…and A Little History

Companies that acquired SAP’s Business Planning and Consolidation (SAP BPC) solution in the past considered it a good investment. Outlooksoft as it was called in the beginning, was a young, agile Connecticut-based company founded in 1999. They had a number of people that came from Hyperion, its main competitor in those early days. Outlooksoft quickly rose to stardom on the CPM scene. In 2007, the company was acquired by SAP and its name changed to SAP’s Business Planning and Consolidation solution. Outlooksoft had a very good run as a general CPM solution from 1999 and up until its SAP acquisition. After that, BPC went from a mainstream CPM tool to a solution primarily sold to SAP’s ERP customers.

However, today, more than 20 years after SAP BPC was launched, its core, built-for-on-premise deployment, with a mostly Excel and OLAP architecture, is a far cry from modern, multi-tenant cloud solutions that run and are maintained in global, 24/7 accessible public clouds. Because of these limitations, a number of companies are now looking to migrate from SAP BPC to a new, agile and cloud-based CPM platform.

Where to Migrate your Planning and Reporting Processes to?

Generally, companies migrate from SAP BPC to cloud CPM solutions that are pre-integrated to their ERP solution. This ensures that a good, automated integration can be put in place quickly and that the integration is updated by the vendor whenever the ERP system may require changes.

For example, a company like Solver, specializes in cloud CPM for ERP solutions like SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Sage Intacct, Netsuite, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, as well as the legacy Microsoft Dynamics ERPs AX, GP, NAV and SL.

Apart from ensuring that ERP connectors already exist for the ERP you are running, many companies usually also check that their new cloud CPM vendor has a good review in industry market studies like Dresner Advisory Service’s Wisdom of Crowds Enterprise Performance Management Study.

And, of course, the power users that will administer the new cloud CPM solution always want to make sure that they  can design all the budget models and reports they need for their users. Such discovery typically happens through demonstrations as well as research conducted by looking at videos and examples on the vendors’ websites.

Regardless of the journey you decide to take to prepare your planning and reporting processes for a more automated and digitalized office of finance, you have many good options to evaluate as you plan the replacement of SAP BPC and move to a modern multi-tenant cloud CPM solution.

Blog header image showing a woman with binoculars for the Solver blog on how to use monthly rolling forecasts to gain insight in unpredictable times

According to the 2020 Wisdom of Crowds Enterprise Performance Management Market Study, adoption of enterprise management software increased in 2020. Nearly half of all surveyed organizations now use enterprise performance management (EPM) / corporate performance management (CPM) software, and 78% of survey respondents rated this software as “critical,” “very important,” or “important” to their organization.

Of course, enterprise and corporate performance management software is always useful for Finance and Operations planning, especially during the annual budgeting process, but in a time of economic uncertainty, the budgets that your organization created 12-18 months ago can seem stale and out of date.

Flexible monthly rolling forecasts, which are almost exclusively found in market-leading EPM / CPM software, help keep your Finance and Operations planning fresh and on track throughout unpredictable times, so you can enhance your budgeting agility and maintain your competitive edge.

View templates for forecasting and other critical planning processes.

Why Use Monthly Rolling Forecasts?

“Enterprise performance management software can help organizations manage short-term uncertainty and plan their strategies for the ‘new normal’…” – 2020 Wisdom of Crowds EPM Market Study

Rolling forecasts empower business leaders to continuously plan for the future with insight into the next 12-18 months. Using up-to-date historical data, rolling forecasts can help cultivate more agile organizational planning that helps illuminate how short-term disruptions and adjustments may affect long-term objectives.

In essence, monthly rolling forecasts help companies plan their strategy to overcome economic uncertainty by providing a continuously updating glimpse into the potential future.

Compared to the typical annual budgeting process — which relies heavily on assumptions generated in the past and marches steadily into an unknown future somewhere past the “fiscal cliff” — it is clear why rolling forecasts are critical to success in uncertain times.

Rolling Forecast Usage Is Likely to Increase Due to the Events of 2020

The Wisdom of Crowds study reports that 64% of respondents use rolling forecasts today, and 16% say they have now replaced annual budgets with rolling forecasts (an increase of ~15% YoY). Considering the ongoing disruption caused by COVID and global economic uncertainty, the adoption of monthly rolling forecasts is likely to increase more in 2020.

Would rolling forecasts be right for your organization? Here are a few reasons to consider utilizing this critical tool as a budget manager or executive:

  • Monthly rolling forecasts deliver timely insight based on the recent past.

When you planned your 2020 budget, no one had heard of a coronavirus – and you certainly did not expect a coronavirus to shrink the GDP, disrupt global supply chains, or quarantine your workforce in home offices. It is time to recalibrate your numbers.

Now that all this has happened, a monthly rolling forecast can help you strategize what to do next, whereas that annual budget will offer little to no help.

  • Rolling forecasts can report on current usage of allocated budgets.

Considering the myriad changes listed above, there is a high probability that your company expenditures have strayed significantly from expectations. For example, your company has probably spent less on conferences and travel. Can you re-allocate those budgets?

Department managers may be hesitant to initiate a conversation with you about the amounts still available in their allocated budgets, but a monthly rolling forecast can shine light onto usage (or lack thereof), so you can plan properly.

Why Not Use Rolling Forecast Tools Built into Your ERP System?

If you are running cloud ERP systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance, your company has a great accounting system. So, why not use the rolling forecast tools built into your ERP system? Simply put, there aren’t many available. That is why more than 90% of the organizations create their forecast models outside their ERP in manual Excel spreadsheet models.

Now, if it fills your needs, there is cash-flow forecasting and sales forecasting included with some ERP systems, including Dynamics 365 Finance implementations, but no forecasting is available on Government Community Cloud (GCC). If you are a Government agency or you want to use rolling forecasts for a wide variety of Operations and Finance areas, it is a smart idea to invest in a purpose-built, flexible and robust market-leading corporate performance management solution that can provide you with the in-depth insight you need immediately.

Next year’s annual budgeting process is here now, yet leaders across the globe still have few answers or concrete plans to address our uncertain future. The best way for you to plan your organization’s budget is to develop your own glimpse into the future… and the best way to do that is with monthly rolling forecasts.

Make Smarter Decisions Now Using Monthly Rolling Forecasts from Solver

With the current situation, you cannot wait to “see what happens.” Forecasting templates from Solver help you get started with this helpful tool quickly, so you can take a proactive role in your Finance and Operations planning processes.

Rolling forecasts from Solver are fully integrated with a number of ERP systems, including Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance (f/k/a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations), and they provide an easy way for you to look forward into what you can expect next year, so you can plan appropriately.

 

Discover the facts on forecasting during economic uncertainty with this handy how-to from Solver.  

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.

LOS ANGELES, CA. – February 18, 2020 – Solver, a global leader in cloud and web-based Corporate Performance Management (CPM) for mid-market ERP systems, today announced the launch of its new Hybrid Cloud Connector for the Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP system.  Solver’s Hybrid Cloud Connector is a unique cloud-based solution which enables Dynamics GP users to run real-time financial reports in Solver’s cloud by directly connecting to their hosted or on-premise GP database.  With no intermediate loading and storing of data like the majority of cloud-based reporting solutions, Solver’s Hybrid Cloud Connector offers a flexible solution to Microsoft Dynamics GP users.

Solver’s Hybrid Cloud Connector consists of two unique technologies:

  • A pre-built integration to both general ledger (GL) and sub-ledger data with friendly field names users are familiar with from within Dynamics GP — instead of technical SQL table names.
  • A Gateway that securely connects reports run from the Solver Cloud Portal directly to the on-premise or hosted Dynamics GP database.

Solver is also excited to launch the Hybrid Cloud Connector for Dynamics GP in part because very few cloud-based reporting solutions today are capable of doing real-time reporting for an on-premise ERP system.  Beyond reporting, the Solver Hybrid Cloud Connector is also ideal for organizations looking for a General Ledger (GL) budgeting and forecasting solution which can save budget and forecast updates directly into Dynamics GP. With this new connector, Solver adds more flexibility and functionality to its CPM solution.

“In some ways, for customers using Dynamics GP, this is what almost all accountants want, which is a modern reporting solution with real-time connection to their GL and sub-ledger data” says Nils Rasmussen, CEO at Solver. He continues “And because the Solver solution is cloud-based, there is no software installation required for the end-user, just a web browser. This means that users can now run their GP reports from any web browser and drill down to detail from anywhere at anytime without VPN, Terminal Server or Excel add-ins. Anyone tired of Management Reporter/FRx, Excel add-ins or other on-premise report writers now has a modern cloud option without losing their real-time access to GP data.”

In the near future Solver will also release this real-time cloud-to-on-premise integration technology for other ERPs, including Dynamics NAV/D365 BC, Dynamics SL, and several SQL-server-based ERPs from Sage and SAP.  In the meantime, Solver expects its Hybrid Cloud Connector to further enable Microsoft Dynamics GP users to make better, faster decisions in their financial reporting.

 

About Solver

With a quickly growing community of thousands of global customers and hundreds of partners worldwide, Solver provides a leading cloud Corporate Performance Management suite for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations and Business Central, Acumatica, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, NetSuite and other ERPs. Solver is ranked in the leader quadrant in the Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Software Grid on G2, and as a Microsoft Gold ISV Partner, Solver has won countless awards, including the Microsoft BI Partner of Year Award, recognition on the Gartner Group CPM Magic Quadrant, and Best Places to Work for a workplace culture that celebrates customer service, integrity, and innovation. Solver is sold through its 12 global offices and a worldwide network of partners. For any questions, visit www.solverglobal.com or contact Solver at info@solverglobal.com.

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 reporting tools 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 Reporting Tools 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.” BroadPoint Inc, a Microsoft Gold Partner located in Bethesda, MD, says that 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. Learn more about BroadPoint and Power BI here.

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.

Payroll-Now-Blog-Picture-1200×675