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



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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

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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.