Even if you don’t have young children chafing impatiently in the back of your car, summer tends to be the season of “Are we there yet?”
For overworked families and couples, arriving at a vacation spot can’t happen fast enough. It’s not that different if you stay home, where the anticipation of getting to an outdoor concert or just a local patio reaches an all-time urgency.
Although any of those scenarios may sound like a far cry from working in corporate finance departments, recent research from BPM Partners suggests FP&A teams might be getting a bit of “Are we there yet?” too.
According to the firm’s 2019 Pulse of Performance Management Survey, which gathered customer and end-user responses across a wide range of industries, most organizations haven’t quite reached their intended destination in terms of their business performance management (BPM) initiatives.
Recall BPM includes standard FP&A processes like budgeting, planning and forecasting, as well as financial consolidation, profit optimization and dashboard reporting. In this article, BPM can be considered synonymous with corporate or enterprise performance management (CPM or EPM).
In fact, the largest proportion of respondents, or 36%, described their BPM or FP&A modernization initiatives as “in progress.” Only 11% said their efforts in this area could be considered complete, and 12% said they were still in the discussion phases.
The largest proportion of respondents – 36% – described their BPM initiatives as “in progress.” Only 11% considered them complete.
To some extent, it makes sense that many firms are still in the process of transforming the way they handle everything from budgeting and forecasting to financial reporting and consolidation. These are processes that have a direct impact on the strategic thinking of senior leaders and the teams they’ll charge with executing on plans to achieve their business goals. Tweaking them in any way is not to be undertaken lightly, especially when you’re introducing technologies that may not be fully understood by the organization as a whole.
The Vendor Landscape Matrix – which includes findings from the Pulse Survey – is a helpful benchmark of where similar organizations are with BPM or FP&A technology adoption, also pointing to some action items that should be top of mind for CFOs their teams as they work through their own initiatives.
Use some of the talking points I outline below to fuel your discussions with others across the enterprise:
Insight #1: The Best Way to Keep on Track Is Keeping Excel
While 43% of survey respondents said they were using some kind of cloud BPM application as their core budgeting system, followed by on-premise versions at 23%, a further 19% said they’re still primarily using spreadsheets. Even for those who have adopted advanced technologies, a whopping 82% said they still use spreadsheets to supplement their core BPM, CPM or FP&A system.
This is a no-brainer for anyone who has spent any time with FP&A teams. Spreadsheets are a known entity — the front end that allows organizations to maintain ease of use while getting the powerful functionality they need on the back end. While 47% of finance pros also said they were “somewhat dissatisfied” with their use of spreadsheets, that’s probably because they need the enterprise-grade database capabilities, security and other benefits that come with the right solution.
Shameless plug: Customer review site G2 recently named Vena a leader in CPM and the top ranked vendor in usability – largely because of deep our Excel integration. Don’t take our word for it — hear from end users directly.
Insight #2: 95/100 Finance Professionals Can’t Be Wrong About the Cloud
The BPM Partners survey sample could be divided into four categories – those who:
- are open to using cloud or software-as-a-service FP&A tools
- plan to use them
- are already using them and
- won’t use anything else
A meager 5% of finance pros said “no” to the concept of cloud-based applications. If there are still arguments internally within your organization about the merits of cloud computing, its reliability or some other sticking point, this should help settle it.
As the benefits of dynamic flexibility and instantaneous access to the latest features become the norm in finance departments, it’s worth looking at what still stand out to employees. Whether it’s budgeting, forecasting or planning, “ease of use” came out on top, according to the survey, followed by performance and scalability. In this case, however, the third-place finisher mustn’t be overlooked: “Simpler UI for budget owners” ranked 4.30 out of a possible five.
Finance is looking for greater self-sufficiency rather than relying on their IT departments. It’s also worth looking at what benefits stand out to other employees; whether it’s for budgeting, forecasting or planning, “ease of use” came out on top.”
Those in finance and other departments, in other words, are looking for greater self-sufficiency rather than relying on their IT departments (who probably have enough on their plates). This is one of the reasons, as BPM Partners notes, that Vena customers benefit from integrations with software systems like Microsoft Flow for process automation and Power BI for advanced, visual and connected analytics.
It’s no wonder then, why BPM ranked Vena number #1 for finance self-sufficiency. It’s all about making the ability to work with the data as natural as the rest of day-to-day life in the enterprise.
Insight #3: To Improve ‘Performance,’ You Need a Top Performer
There used to be an old adage in IT that finding a vendor who does a little bit of everything is a good idea because then, if anything goes wrong, you only have “one throat to choke.”
Putting aside that rather menacing imagery for a minute, the BPM Partners report shows that finance leaders don’t see the changes they want to make as an add-on or adjunct to a larger piece of technology. In fact, 68% said they would be looking for tools from what they considered a “best-of-breed” vendor, versus working with their existing ERP vendor. In this case, bigger does not necessarily mean better: only 8% said they would work with a “mega vendor” to address their FP&A needs.
Other third-party experts say much the same thing. Earlier this year, for instance, Nucleus Research named Vena a market leader and the top-ranked vendor for usability in its 2019 CPM Technology Value Matrix.
Success in FP&A transformation is about building on a foundation of what employees know and appreciate (like Excel) with a partner that has the necessary depth and focused expertise.
Let’s sum up what the research is telling us here: Success in FP&A transformation is about building on a foundation of what employees know and appreciate (like Excel spreadsheets), while moving to the cloud with a partner that has the necessary depth and focused expertise. Business performance management projects may still be “in progress,” but there’s no doubt that those who take this approach will make progress in the end.
Learn more about the market landscape for CPM and FP&A software and find the perfect match for your needs. Download the BPM Vendor Landscape Matrix today.