Posts

Example of a Financial Simulation Dashboard for Higher Education Institutions

What is a Financial Simulation Dashboard for Higher Education?

Financial Simulation Dashboards are considered modelling tools and are used by CFOs and analysts to quickly and easily perform what-if analysis to forecast potential outcomes for revenues, expenses and the resulting surplus or deficit. They can use this interactive simulation dashboard to estimate monthly results, and they can also use it to set targets as input for the annual budget or mid-year forecasts.

Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard is that it provides “sliders” that the user move left or right to make estimates, and the results are immediately displayed in the Surplus/Deficit gauge and charts. The dashboard has the following components: 1) A slider to set the target Margin in %. This then calculates the Margin amount and displays the gap to get there based on the Revenues and Expenses in the simulation, 2) Sliders to adjust all major revenue categories up or down. In the example, these categories include: Tuition, web courses, educational sponsors (grants, donations, etc.), parking fees, consulting fees, 3) Sliders to adjust major Expense components. In the example, these include: Repairs and maintenance, scholarships, research, other expenses, 4) Gauge that calculates the resulting Surplus (or deficit), and 5) Two pie charts that show the breakdown of the simulated revenues and expenses. The filters on the far left enable the user to create scenarios for specific schools, campuses and years. You find an example of this type of interactive dashboard below.

Purpose of Financial Simulation Dashboards

Universities and colleges use Financial Simulation Dashboards to give financial managers a very easy way to create scenarios, and to do what-if analysis and modelling. When used as part of good business practices in Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments, an organization can optimize its decisions by improving planning agility and speed, and it can reduce the chances that cumbersome models limits the organization’s planning capabilities to only be focused on the annual budget process.

Example of a Financial Simulation Dashboard

Here is an example of a Financial Modelling Dashboard with sliders to simulate revenues and expenses and to instantly forecast potential outcomes.

Example of a Financial Simulation Dashboard for Higher Education Institutions

Example of a Financial Simulation Dashboard for Higher Education Institutions

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard?

The typical users of this type of dashboard are: CFOs, analysts, budget managers.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Financial Simulation Dashboards

Progressive Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments sometimes use several different Financial Simulation Dashboards, along with Financial statements, financial dashboards, annual budget models, forecast models and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Integration promises initial deployments of Solver’s cloud planning and reporting for Dynamics 365 in as little as one day to drive quick-time-to-value for Microsoft customers

 

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — January 26, 2021 — Solver, Inc. today announced a strategic cooperation agreement with Microsoft to deliver advanced cloud-based planning and reporting from Microsoft Azure to Dynamics 365 customers world-wide. One of the unique benefits of the agreement is QuickStart, a rapid deployment technology that Solver has designed as an add-on for Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Finance. This enables Dynamics 365 customers to get up and running with pre-built, fully functioning forecasts, budgets and reports in as little as one day. In a time of economic uncertainties, this quick-time-to-value will also help Microsoft partners deliver Solver’s advanced planning to their customers in record time.

Solver’s solution will enable customers to simplify day-to-day planning and reporting tasks, foster collaboration, increase productivity and enhance security.

Customers will also benefit from the Solver multi-tenant cloud solution’s utilization of Microsoft technologies, which includes: Availability on global Azure data centers; Use of Azure Active Directory for single sign on; Integration to Microsoft Teams for collaboration; Cloud-connected Excel add-in for flexible report and input form design; and out-of-the box Power BI connector for professional dashboards.

Driving better and faster decisions in times of change

As organizations adjust and adapt to changing business environments, the need for connected, real-time planning capabilities is accelerating. Making faster, informed decisions across all areas of the business requires a continuous planning process. Solver offers customers a modern Azure-cloud based platform that now, with the new QuickStart integration to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance, will make it much easier and faster to connect strategic goals and KPIs with annual budgets and forecasts, as well as, with historical data from Dynamics 365. Ultimately, the deep two-way integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 delivers consistent dataflows that provide customers with one version of the truth.

Furthermore, companies are increasingly spreading their data across various cloud business applications, such as ERP, HRM, and sales automation.  Solver and its ability to combine these data sources into Solver’s business data warehouse enables deep planning capabilities.  In addition, it also drives scalable modern analytics and reporting for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 community.

Deep integrations enable quick-time-to-value for Microsoft and Solver customers

Today’s announcement also includes the following additional integrations and support, focusing on easier access, collaboration and security between Microsoft and Solver applications.

  • The Solver QuickStart wizard makes it very easy for customers to deploy the initial integration and data loading between Dynamics 365 and Solver applications.
  • Solver QuickStart templates saves weeks of report and input form design work by delivering out-of-the-box industry standard financial reports and planning forms that can be used immediately without customization.
  • Ability to directly drill-down from Solver planning input forms and reports into related Dynamics 365 screens for immediate visibility and rapid decisions related to underlying historical data.
  • Solver’s automated direct write-back of approved budgets and forecasts to Dynamics 365 speeds up and simplifies accountants’ work at the end of the planning process. It will also enable immediate visibility of Solver budget and forecast data in Dynamics 365 for additional budget control and reporting.
  • Microsoft Teams integration enables users across the organization to access Solver from within Teams to view budgets, forecasts and reports.
  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory integration provides customers access to enterprise data and applications easily and securely through single sign-on. With expanded integrations, joint customers that use Microsoft and Solver applications can confidently secure end-to-end identity lifecycle and entitlement settings for greater privacy and security management. This feature was launched in January, 2020.

Comments on the news

“Continuous planning that is effortlessly connected with backend financial systems is quickly becoming a requirement as organizations adapt their strategies to our rapidly changing world,” said Nils Rasmussen, CEO at Solver.

“With our Solver cloud planning and reporting platform and the new two-way QuickStart integration to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance, our goal is to change the game of planning by making it very easy for finance teams to manage annual budgeting and reiterative forecasting processes across an organization’s silos of information,” explains Tad Remington, Chief Commercial Officer at Solver.

Georg Glantschnig, General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics 365 said, “At Microsoft, we’re laser-focused on empowering the Office of Finance and their counterparts across the organization to drive productivity and business performance with innovative and secure cloud-based financial applications.  Solver delivers deep corporate performance management directly integrated into Dynamics 365 Finance.”

Availability

Solver is a Premier Tier Dynamics 365 Finance solution, available today on Microsoft AppSource (Dynamics 365 Finance and Dynamics 365 Business Central). The new Solver QuickStart integrations for Dynamics 365 Finance and Business Central are scheduled for release in the coming months.

About Solver

Solver is a leading provider (Dresner and G2) of cloud applications for the office of finance that help drive faster and better decisions. Founded in 1996, Solver delivers a unified planning, financial reporting & consolidations and analytics platform for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance,  Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, as well as, the legacy Dynamics ERP solutions and ERPs from other leading vendors (Solver Suite & Dynamics 365 Finance Tours).

 

For more information

Press:  Marketing – Solver, (310) 691-5300, Marketing@SolverGlobal.com

Become a Solver Partner:  Terry Ginley, VP Partnership Development, TGinley@SolverGlobal.com

Sales:  Sales@SolverGlobal.com

Example of an Automated Forecast for New Retail Store Opening

What is a Forecast for New Retail Store Opening?

New retail store forecasts and budgets are considered essential planning tools in retail corporations and are used by financial managers and analysts to forecast revenues and expenses for a planned store opening. Some of the main functionality in this type of forecast model is that it allows the user to select data from a similar existing store that automatically will be pulled into the model. The user also selects the start (store opening) month, which will zero out prior months that year. At this point the forecast can be saved and it is done, or you can adjust any of the figures and then save.. An example of this type of forecast model can be found below.

Purpose of Automated Forecasts for New Store Openings

Retail businesses use Automated Forecast Models to provide a very quick and easy way to create a forecast for a new store location based on actual or budget data from a similar size, existing store. It also makes it easy to perform what-if analysis and simulations related to potential store openings. When used as part of good business practices in Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) department, a company can improve its decisions, timing and success with business expansions as well as reduce the chances that poor financial planning results in bigger, operational issues.

Automated Forecasts for New Store Opening – Example

Here is an example of an Automated Financial Forecast Model for a new store based on data from an existing store location.

Example of an Automated Forecast for New Retail Store Opening

Example of an Automated Forecast for New Retail Store Opening

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Forecast model?

The typical users of this type of forecast model are: Store planners, CFOs and analysts.

Other Forecast models Often Used in Conjunction with Automated Forecasts for New Store Openings

Progressive Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments sometimes use several different Automated Profit & Loss forecasts, along with general sales forecasts and budgets, sales dashboards, KPI dashboards, consolidation reports, balance sheets and cash flow statements and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

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

 

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

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

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

When analyst firms are of less importance

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

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

Which analyst firms should you use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of analyst firms that review CPM software

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

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

How much does it cost to use an analyst firm?

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Links to useful software research and evaluation assets

This article is part 7 of an 8-part series on evaluating the best CPM tools for your business. Part 7 focuses on methods for calculating ROI to find the best CPM software applications.

 

A business software selection process can be exhausting, involving weeks or months of product demonstrations, meetings, vendor scoring, and other time-consuming tasks. Usually, the most attention is paid to the product demos. However, one of the most important but ignored areas of a vendor evaluation is a Return on Investment (ROI) estimate.

As the name implies, an ROI calculation aims at estimating the return the company is expecting to get over time based on the investment they put into the software subscription, training, and implementation.

A best practice to select the best CPM software and vendor is to perform an ROI calculation and make it part of the total vendor score as you compare the finalist candidates with each other. Here is a free interactive vendor comparison tool that has three dashboard pages:

  1. Scoring of 8 major functionality areas (insert screenshot below this section)
  2. Calculator to arrive at ROI
  3. Summary dashboard comparing your top two CPM software finalists

Your team can use the sliders to adjust all scores according to your evaluation results:

Vendor Comparison Tool

Why should ROI always be used when you evaluate business software?

Many companies skip or miss the ROI step in their evaluation process to compare the top CPM vendors on their finalist scorecard. Why are so many organizations missing this ROI step? Usually it is due to one or more of these reasons:

  • They don’t have an ROI calculator
  • They feel there are too many variables to come up with a good ROI estimate
  • They have a bias toward a solution known or recommended to them
  • The vendor in the lead does not want to be compared to the runner-up competitor

However, because the vendors’ CPM features and prices both change over time, a good ROI estimate helps capture this to provide a picture of what business benefits would look like compared to the investment in subscriptions and implementation services.

How to calculate ROI for the best CPM software selection

It is almost always easy to get software costs and implementation estimates from the vendor because these are already part of standard price lists and quoting tools they use in their sales processes.  However, what is harder is to calculate your own costs and savings related to the project.

It is important to do your own homework first by listing and quantifying ($$) the pains of NOT having the new solution. Many organizations do list current pains before approving a new software purchase. Such metrics are also valuable after the project implementation in order to validate the degree of success. It also helps keep vendors and internal project members accountable for promises of outcomes, and keeps them focused on what is most important when there are obstacles in the implementation and to help support hard choices that have to be made.

Here is a list of the typical ingredients in an ROI calculation:

Vendor ROI Tool

  1. Benefits

This part of an ROI calculation is always the hardest to estimate. Here is where you quantify the annual value (amount) your business expects to gain from the improved and speedier decisions you expect to achieve from the CPM vendors you evaluate. Try to put a number on the resulting benefit to the business when managers can make faster and better decisions because the new solution provides self-service access, drilldown to answer questions, charting for better analysis, more accurate budgets, and other advantages.

Note: Don’t include any costs or time savings from the cost section (see below).

  1. Costs

Here is where you capture the costs of the new and old solutions. Your numbers should include software, hardware, and labor expenses.

Cost of New Solution:

  • Annual software subscription
  • One-time implementation services

Cost of Old Solution:

  • IT costs to operate: This includes any server hardware and electricity, upgrade costs, annual maintenance/renewal costs, etc.
  • Cost of manual labor: This should be the excess time your IT and finance staff spends compared to what you expect from the new solution. Use a fully loaded hourly cost of own and/or contractor staff.
  • Cost of risk: This is where you capture the estimated annual cost of risks like errors in monthly reports, and the resulting cost of managers not having access to timely and detailed information.

If you leave all the figures in the ROI calculation as positive numbers, then the calculation can look like this: (Cost of Old Solution – Cost of New Solution + Benefit of New Solution) / Cost of Old Solution

Using one year or multiple years in your ROI calculation

Although there may be some firms that provide industry benchmarks to quantify the standard ROI of a new CPM software solution and its expected automation of financial reporting and planning processes, results can be highly individual based on how good or bad the old solution was and how well the new solution is implemented and utilized.

In very special cases, you may achieve a positive ROI in year 1, but in most cases it will take longer. For this reason, a good rule of thumb is to calculate both the 1st year and the 5-year (accumulated) ROI. This will also better capture discounts that vendors provide for one or more years before their price resets to list price.

Also, when you ask for the 5-year subscription cost from each vendor, make sure it includes annual price increases.

Vendor Evaluation Summary Dashboard

Do ROI calculations have an extra cost?

All decision makers like to see ROI calculations when staff members propose investments in new technologies. Sometimes, these calculations can be the major deciding factor in a decision if all other areas are somewhat equal. In other words, it may be well worth the hours it takes to come up with the estimates for ROI.

If you are using a professional software selection firm or third-party consultant to help with your selection, make sure to ask if their services include assistance with an ROI calculation or if this a separate cost.

You can use this vendor comparison tool, which includes an ROI calculator. It has three tabs: 1) Feature comparison, 2) ROI comparison, and 3) Summary score. You can use it as-is, or it may give you some ideas if you want to apply it, for example, to an Excel spreadsheet model that calculates ROI in a different way.

Conclusion

The best CPM software solutions have a lot of features and functionality. They are also very flexible. This means that implementation estimates can vary greatly based on the number of your reports or the complexity of your budget and forecast models.

Assuming you have a successful implementation, it is typical to stay with a solution for five to ten years or more. In such time periods, and if you choose a stable vendor, you can expect to see numerous improvements along the way that should further support your managers in making faster and better decisions. This future expected value can be captured in your multi-year ROI calculation to help ensure that you are making the best possible decision to pick the top CPM vendor for your organization to partner with.

Links to useful software research and evaluation assets

This article is part 6 of an 8-part series on evaluating the best CPM tools for your business. Part 6 focuses on the many Microsoft integration capabilities to look for in the best CPM software applications.

 

Most organizations in the world use one or more technologies from Microsoft. So, when selecting a new cloud Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution the benefit of close Microsoft alignment can be from “slight” to “very important” or “required.”

As the world’s businesses have migrated one application after another to the cloud, they have had to re-establish whatever connectivity they had between their solutions when they hosted them in their own server room.

For the reasons mentioned above, most of the top CPM vendors have integrations to the most popular Microsoft technologies in order to increase their customers’ productivity.

Here are some of the top Microsoft integrations to look for in the best CPM solutions

Based on which Microsoft technologies your organization uses, one or more of these integrations may be beneficial (or even highly important):

  1. Microsoft Office / Microsoft 365 integration

The below CPM integrations to Microsoft Office / Microsoft 365 can probably be ranked in this order of importance to a Finance and Accounting team:

  • Excel integrations can offer everything from the CPM report designer being an Excel add-in, to report export to Excel and data import from Excel.
  • PowerPoint integrations are typically used to display and refresh reports or dashboards within a corporate financial presentation.
  • Word integrations are less popular but can be critical for governments and other organizations that need to refresh financial and other figures inside lengthy annual or quarterly report documents.

Example of a Power BI dashboard live inside a PowerPoint presentation:

Power BI inside PowerPoint

  1. Power BI integration

Power BI (closely followed by Tableau) has risen to be the most popular dashboard tool in the world. A large number of companies use it already and more will do so in the future. For this reason, an increasing number of CPM vendors have developed Microsoft-certified connectors that easily transfer data and dimensions to Power BI.

Some CPM vendors even go as far as offering Power BI as their main best-of-breed dashboard solution and include out-of-the-box financial dashboards to get customers ramped up quickly. If you already own or plan to buy Power BI, this approach eliminates the need to buy a CPM vendor’s proprietary dashboard licenses and enables the finance team to learn only one visualization tool.

  1. Microsoft Teams integration

Teams is Microsoft’s widely popular collaboration portal. Numerous third-party vendors have built apps to surface their cloud applications inside the Teams portal.

While all of the best CPM solutions can export fully formatted reports to Excel, and these can be imported to Teams, not many have built apps that enable you to open the CPM app from Teams and, for example, run reports while inside a Teams group discussing profitability or liquidity with other managers.

  1. Microsoft Dynamics integrations

Dynamics 365 Finance and Dynamics 365 Business Central are Microsoft’s cloud ERP applications. If you already own or plan to implement one of these ERPs, it is important to closely review how well the CPM vendors you are evaluating connect to those solutions.

A tight and easy integration between your ERP system and the CPM solution enables dynamic reporting, as well as budgets and forecasts that have updated historical data. Some integrations even allow for easy write-back of budgets to the General Ledger (GL).

If you are on a legacy Microsoft Dynamics ERP such as GP, SL, NAV, or AX, the new CPM solutions integration is equally as important. If you plan to migrate to Dynamics 365, you can even use the CPM as a storage of your old historical ERP data, making the migration to the new ERP faster and easier.

  1. Azure deployment

Since CPM vendors manage their own cloud applications, it is typically not visible to an end user which cloud platform, such as Azure or AWS, their CPM portal is running on. Azure may be more important for certain IT departments if they already have plans or projects using other Microsoft Azure tools such as Power Apps.

Does deep Microsoft alignment have an extra cost?

This will depend on each CPM vendor. The cloud platform (in this case Azure) is always built into vendor pricing, but oftentimes vendors charge a price per integration connector (e.g., to Power BI, PowerPoint, or Dynamics 365).

While it is important to do your homework to ensure that the vendor you choose has the key Microsoft integrations needed for a successful and efficient deployment, the total savings in time and effort, as well as improved decision making, are just as important.

Here is a free vendor comparison tool to help you compare vendors across a number of different features. This tool also includes a simple return on investment (ROI) calculator that is part of the total vendor score.

Conclusion

In summary, ensuring that a new CPM solution integrates well with productivity and ERP applications helps ensure longevity of the solution as well as user satisfaction. In other words, integration should be on the checklist of features to review in demonstrations and vendor conversations.

Links to useful software research and evaluation assets