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LOS ANGELES, CA. – February 11, 2020 – Solver, ranked among the highest rated companies in cloud-based Corporate Performance Management (CPM) for customer satisfaction by G2, announced its partnership with Sana, the maker of the Sana Commerce app for Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Business Central and other ERP systems.  Solver and Sana have partnered to integrate Solver’s reporting and budgeting solution with Sana’s e-commerce solution to offer customers advanced cloud-based reporting. With this integration, Dynamics 365 customers using Sana Commerce can now create advanced reports for their e-commerce data as well as their Dynamics Business Central financial data using a single cloud-based CPM solution. The integration comes with a number of pre-defined reports including: Web order customer detail, e-commerce KPI report, outstanding quotes, sales by customer, returns analysis and multi-month sales trend.

By partnering together for this integration, Solver and Sana are focusing on delivering rapid time-to-value for Dynamics 365 customers looking for professional reports with drill-down that will provide their managers with better and faster decisions related to their e-commerce sales data. It will also allow them to view the related impact on their financial statements.

“With this integration as well as the pre-built and user-definable reports, managers can view their e-commerce business data in virtually any imaginable format to get important insights,” said Nils Rasmussen, CEO at Solver. He continued, “Our joint customers can also use the Sana Commerce data as part of Solver budget input forms for sales forecasting.”

“For Sana giving our customers insights into their KPIs is important. Tools like Solver allow businesses to get the most out of their Sana web store by using data. We are very happy to be working with Solver to help give our customers an overview of their online performance,” said Arno Ham, Chief Product Officer at Sana Commerce.

 

 

About Solver

With a quickly growing community of thousands of global customers and hundreds of partners worldwide, Solver provides the leading cloud Corporate Performance Management suite for Microsoft Dynamics 365, 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.

 

About Sana Commerce

Sana helps businesses all over the world reach their full potential. We offer the shortcut to e-commerce. How? Through 100% seamless integration with SAP and Microsoft Dynamics.  Our e-commerce solution leverages existing business logic and data in powerful and user-friendly web stores. This lets our clients focus on improving customer experience, streamlining sales processes, and increasing sales volume and frequency.
Sana Commerce is a certified partner of Microsoft Dynamics and SAP. Our innovative approach and strong partner network make Sana the driving force behind over 1,500 web stores worldwide. Because of our experience and expertise, we can go all the way, offering not only a product but also supporting services such as online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) advice, hosting, design and online payment providers.

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.

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This article will describe the importance of forecasting with the best corporate performance management software and how it differs from budgeting.
Why is forecasting a good practice for all organizations? Here are five reasons:

  1. A forecast is usually a much quicker process and involves fewer employees.
  2. A forecast is entered at the general ledger account level while detailed templates, such as personnel templates, are not used.
  3. A budget is a company’s intention for the coming year, while a forecast is the most up-to-date expectation of what will happen over the remaining months of the year.
  4. The budget is finalized prior to the start of the year while a forecast can be created monthly or quarterly once the year has started and actual data can be reviewed.
  5. Many organizations create multi-year forecasts while budgets are only for the coming year.

While the budget is created one to two months before the year starts, the bulk of it is created up to fourteen months prior to the start of the month. For example, the budget is finalized in November for a company based on a calendar fiscal year, which is a year prior until the next November happens. Meanwhile, a lot can change in the various aspects of an organization regarding economy, industry, products, competitors, employees, and leadership. A forecast can more accurately influence decision-making.
 

Companies can impact their bottom line by forecasting on a regular basis.

An organization will be much more agile by forecasting monthly, as it can affect the following decisions:

  • Expense reduction and tightening up the authority to spend money.
  • Employee raises, new hires, and terminations.
  • Capital expenditures reductions or increases.
  • Strategic planning and modifying initiatives.

A forecast should include the current year actual data for the closed months. It should also allow the departmental managers to modify the amounts for the remaining months. Additionally, copying the budget data to the forecast will allow managers to concentrate solely on changes in the forecast. You can show the prior year actual data as well.
 

Templates

Another example is a rolling forecast. This template exists for organizations that do not create a budget but they forecast monthly. In a five-year forecast template, it is recommended to plan the first two years quarterly and the last three years annually.
One other option for a monthly forecast is to enter an expected annual amount by each account. Create a calculation that subtracts the annual amount entered from the actual year-to-date data. Then allocate the remaining amount based on historical actual data.
Finally, we recommend using the Breakback template. This template allows a manager to enter a few amounts to create the forecast in October, November, and December:

  • The desired net Income of $600,000. This is the main driver of the Breakback template, and the only input that is mandatory.
  • Increase all administration expenses by 3%. All of the departments are available for a global increase or decrease across all accounts.
  • Increase administration full-time salaries by 6%. All of the accounts are available for a global increase or decrease across all accounts.

Variance Analysis

The calculation of a variance is the difference between the actual expenses and the budget, the actual expenses and the prior-year expenses, or the actual expenses and the forecast. To calculate revenue data, subtract the budget from actual expenses. To calculate expenses, simply do the opposite. The reason for this is that a positive variance is typically good while a negative variance is typically bad.
The first step is to calculate and analyze variances. Then allow departmental managers to enter comments to document the reasons for the variances.
Variance reports can have comparison reports against the budget for both month-to-date and year-to-date data. Envision a middle section that allows for comments or a conditional format for a quick highlighting variances for review. Variance reports can also be an exception report that allows the manager to filter out variances over or under a specific percentage.
There are several ways of showing variances, but how management will create actionable items to prevent or correct the issues remains essential. Variance analyses  help highlight trends, opportunities and challenges. Variances should be a precursor to a re-forecast. This can significantly affect hiring decisions, marketing spending, and strategy changes.

Best-practice Recommendations on Variance Reporting and Analysis Processes 

 

  • Provide variance reports to each department manager.
  • The finance department should meet with each department manager to review the variances and discuss any concerns and successes.
  • Build an input form that stores comments for all departmental material variances.
  • Concentrate on the larger variances and discuss with the executive management of the company.
  • Make changes to the strategy and initiatives of the organization if needed.
  • Continually re-forecast and make decisions regarding the forecast.
  • Create a forecast then the variance reports should be off of the forecast first and the budget second.
  • Document the action items and review them at the start of the next meeting.

Companies utilize forecasting to resolve budget allocation or to plan for anticipated expenses for the upcoming year. Take the time to forecast. Use the tips mentioned above to help achieve those organizational goals without wasting any time. Learn more from Enabling World-Class Decisionsthe executive’s guide to understanding and deploying modern corporate performance management tools.
If you need assistance in finding a corporate performance management solution or a forecasting tool, Solver has a team of experienced professional that can get your organization starting in building the right template for you.
Solver enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.

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