How Does Integrated Business Planning support Profitability Analysis?

By Gary Cokins, Founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC

In my initial blog in this series related to integrated business planning (IBP) I described IBP as seamlessly integrating user interfaces and workflows. IBP links strategic, operational, and financial objectives and plans to improve employee alignment with the executive team’s strategy and financial performance.

IBP_Image_3_V2

In my second blog I discussed issues, needs and solutions related to strategy execution and how IBP is part of the solution.

In this blog I will discuss issues, needs and solutions related to product, channel, and customer profitability and how IBP is part of the solution.

The expansion from product to channel and customer profitability analysis

I would like to believe that the reporting of more accurate product and standard service-line cost and profitability information using activity-based costing (ABC) principles is now common. ABC accurately traces expenses into costs with resource and activity drivers and provides cost visibility that is traditionally hidden.

Sadly, many organizations continue to use a single indirect and shared expense “pool” that allocates resource expenses into costs based on a single cost factor, which violates cost accounting’s causality principle (also see my earlier blog post on this topic). Hence, compared to ABC’s disaggregating a single cost pool into multiple ones and then tracing each pool with an activity cost driver based on a cause-and-effect relationship, the existing costs are flawed and misleading. The products and service-lines are simultaneously over- and under-costing because allocations always have a zero sum error. It’s baffling how accountants can accept this deficient costing practice when ABC is a better alternative.

But let’s put that observation aside and focus on an increasingly more relevant information need: channel and customer profitability reporting. This includes not just product-related expenses but also the “costs to serve” expenses incurred through sales and distribution channels and by customers.

Why do channel and customer costs matter?

In the past, companies focused on developing standard products and standard service lines and then incenting their sales force to push and sell them to existing customers and prospects. But many products or service lines are one-size-fits-all and have become commodity-like. For example, most banks offer similar checking and deposit services. In addition, today competitors can more quickly replicate a company’s standard products and services. Consequently, the importance of services rises, which results in a shift from product-driven differentiation toward service-driven differentiation to differentiated customer microsegments in order to gain a competitive advantage. That is, as the competitive edge from product advantages is reduced or neutralized, the customer relationship grows in importance.

To complicate matters, suppliers are aware that they have a broad range of high- and low-demand customers. For example, high-demand customers might regularly change delivery schedules, require special treatments, return goods, or frequently phone the customer service help desk. Low-demand customers do none of these things. The extra consumption of expenses from high-demand customers means they are relatively less profitable than you might assume from the sales volume of their purchases. What this means for the marketing and sales functions is that their objective is no longer solely about increasing market share and growing sales but about growing profitable sales. That requires tracing expenses below the product gross profit margin line, including channel distribution, selling, marketing, and customer service costs to serve.

The crucial challenge is to use ABC beyond calculating valid customer profitability data for decision support. The benefit comes from identifying the profit-lift potential of customers, and then realizing the potential and fulfilling it with smart decisions and actions. Marketing and sales need to view customers as an investment, such as in an individual’s personal stocks and bonds portfolio, rather than as someone or some company to spend money on.

Creating a customer profit and loss financial statement
Customer profit and loss (P&L) information quantifies what everyone already may have suspected: Customers who purchase roughly the same volume and mix at similar prices aren’t nearly the same when it comes to profit. As I just described, some customers may be more or less profitable based strictly on how demanding their behavior is on a supplier. This information also provides cost visibility and transparency when it comes to the business processes and work activities that cause the higher or lower costs – the cost drivers.

Although customer satisfaction and loyalty are important, a longer-term goal is to increase both customer and corporate profitability. There must always be a balance between managing the level of customer service to earn customer loyalty and the impact it will have on increasing owner and shareholder wealth.

There are two major “layers” of profit margin in a company’s P&L:

  1. The mix of products and service lines purchased.
  2. The non-product “costs to serve” apart from the unique mix of products and service lines purchased.

Figure 1 combines these two layers in a two-axis grid: (1) the composite product gross profit margin of the product mix each customer purchases (reflecting net prices to the customer), and (2) their cost to serve. Any individual customer (or grouped cluster) can be located at an intersection where the circle’s diameter size reflects each customer’s revenues. The figure debunks the myth that customers with the highest sales volume are also generating the highest profits.

Cokins Q2 2015 blog no 3 figure (2)

The objective is to drive customers with profit-increase potential to the upper-left corner of the grid through a host of actions, such as surcharge pricing, upselling, and cross-selling. For example, if a customer purchases a set of golf clubs, can they also be sold a golf shirt? And if they purchase the shirt, can they be sold a second shirt at a discounted price? The data could also help suppliers identify customers who are substantially unprofitable: those who reside deep in the bottom-right of the grid. These relationships can be terminated through actions such as increased pricing or reduced service-level tactical actions that might encourage customers to “de-select” themselves (i.e., “firing” the customer).

One critical reason for knowing where each customer is located on the profit matrix is to protect your most profitable customers from your competitors.

Integrated Business Planning (IBP) leverages customer profitability reporting

The message here is that management accounting must help the sales and marketing functions. A company needs to know which types of customers are attractive to retain, grow, win back, and acquire – and those who are not. To maximize shareholder wealth, a company also needs to know how much to optimally spend retaining, growing, winning back, and acquiring each type of customer. It can unnecessarily spend excessively on loyal customers and therefore destroy shareholder wealth. Or it can spend too little on marginally loyal customers and risk their defection to a competitor. Without this information, financial performance falls short of its full potential.

Integrated business planning integrates financial, strategic, and operational information. For example, individual customer profitability information may be linked to KPIs in the balanced scorecard referenced in my prior blog. The same information may be used as compensation bonuses against targets for the sales force instead of exclusively using only sales volume.

In my next blog I will discuss integrated business planning with operations for productivity improvement.

About the Author: Gary Cokins, CPIM

Gary_Cokins

Gary Cokins (Cornell University BS IE/OR, 1971; Northwestern University Kellogg MBA 1974) is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in enterprise and corporate performance management (EPM/CPM) systems. He is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC www.garycokins.com . He began his career in industry with a Fortune 100 company in CFO and operations roles. Then 15 years in consulting with Deloitte, KPMG, and EDS (now part of HP). From 1997 until 2013 Gary was a Principal Consultant with SAS, a business analytics software vendor. His most recent books are Performance Management: Integrating Strategy Execution, Methodologies, Risk, and Analytics and Predictive Business Analytics.

 

Why is Integrated Business Planning (IBP) so Critical?

By Gary Cokins, Founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC

If you have not heard about or read articles or blogs about integrated business planning (IBP) until you are now reading this article then welcome to learning about a topic that will be critical to you and your organization. For those of you who have heard of the term, this blog is intended to remove any confusion you may have about what IBP is.

This blog is the first of a series on IBP. The blogs in the series will involve the increasing role of the CFO and finance function with other line management functions that often operate in silos. In this blog I will discuss issues related to IBP. My next blogs in this series will address the various integrated components of IBP.

To begin with the issues, for many of us there may likely be a nagging question: “Is IBP such a big deal that if our organization is late to the party of deploying IBP, then will we never catch up to our competitors that have deployed it?”

Which type of capability is more critical?

I have personally gone back and forth on wondering if applying IBP is now an urgent imperative for an organization to survive or if it is simply a “nice to have” relative to other more potentially critical “must have” capabilities that an organization should ideally possess or need to improve them.

In my opinion critical capabilities involve forecasting, modeling methods, business analytics, and multi-platform reporting. Their purpose is to increase profitability, strategy execution and decisions. However, a case may be made that there is a sufficient competitive edge from simply using traditional commonly accepted managerial improvement methods without these four mentioned methods. Organizations can have risks by relying on only standard methods like lean and six sigma quality management methods or traditional standard costing. But can those methods provide a sustaining competitive edge?

P-Automation-gears

Some managers view their organization as a big machine, and they believe they simply need to fine-tune its pulleys, levers, gears, and dials to maximize performance and results. The reality of this situation if often much more complex. Fine-tuning will not be sufficient. What is needed are new sets of levers, pulleys, and gears as well as better ways to manage them and display what they are doing.

Up until now many organizations believe they are not ready to apply IBP. They believe their problems have not been complex enough, their need for a large level jump in improvement is not essential, and the computing power has not been sufficiently powerful. As a result, their skepticism of the urgency for IBP is based on doubt since they observe that most companies have gradually improved without needing an IBP capability.

How much things have changed

I suggest that skeptics become advocates regarding the urgent need for IBP capabilities.

IBP is becoming an imperative for successful organizational performance. Many professionals today grew up with computers and digital devices. They understand this imperative. They embrace the need for better planning and decision making. They possess passionate brainpower combined with the now proven and accepted tools needed for forecasting, higher data quality, and timely reporting. The imperative also involves the current challenge all organizations have on how to cope with the five “Vs” of Big Data: volume, variety, velocity, viability, and value.

Regrettably many professionals prefer to rely on gut feel, intuition, and experience for making decisions. They are weighted with transactional processing that denies needed time for analysis. Fortunately today there are increasingly fewer professionals since most rising managers are tech-savvy and prefer fact-based decision making by leveraging quantitative information.

So, just what is Integrated Business Planning?

IBP seamlessly integrates user interfaces and workflows. It links strategic, operational, and financial objectives and plans to improve employee alignment with the strategy and financial performance.

Data replications drawing from disparate data sources are no longer an obstacle. IBP removes the walls between the silos in organizations regardless if they are multiple line management functions (e.g., marketing, sales, and operations) or technology platforms.

IBP integrates forecasting, resource capacity planning, what-if scenario planning, analysis, and more. With today’s previously unimaginable in-memory chip database power, calculations can be dynamically made in real time on massive amounts of data. The calculated results can be displayed on a laptop computer or any mobile device. The calculations can be performed with on-premises hardware or in the cloud.

IBP saves time and errors with a single integrated solution. It simplifies what in the past has been complex and cumbersome tasks. Bothersome reconciliations are eliminated. Tasks involving time and effort, like period-end financial closing the books and cash management, are reduced.

Note to reader – Get on the bus or be under the bus

If a task is complex with lots of data and a goal or objective to maximize, minimize, or optimize, then the capability day for IBP has arrived. IBP is essential to effectively framing problems, devising their solutions, making decisions, and taking actions.

The type of managers, hopefully only a few, who do not embrace having a strong quantitative capability will risk the consequences of being classified as Medieval. The world is no longer flat.

In my next blogs I will delve into the components that comprise IBP, starting off with a look at the link between planning and strategy execution.

 

About the Author: Gary Cokins, CPIM

Gary_Cokins

Gary Cokins (Cornell University BS IE/OR, 1971; Northwestern University Kellogg MBA 1974) is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in enterprise and corporate performance management (EPM/CPM) systems. He is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC www.garycokins.com . He began his career in industry with a Fortune 100 company in CFO and operations roles. Then 15 years in consulting with Deloitte, KPMG, and EDS (now part of HP). From 1997 until 2013 Gary was a Principal Consultant with SAS, a business analytics software vendor. His most recent books are Performance Management: Integrating Strategy Execution, Methodologies, Risk, and Analytics and Predictive Business Analytics.

GRC 2015 – One Week On!

By Thomas Frenehard, GRC Solution Management

Originally posted on SAP Analytics, 23 June 2015

Steve Lucas delivering the keynote address at SAPinsider 2015 Nice

Steve Lucas of SAP delivering the keynote address at SAPinsider 2015 Nice

Last week, SAPinsider held its GRC 2015 event in Nice, France and it was energising and fast paced! For those who couldn’t attend, I thought I’d share with you some of the great discussions I had with customers and also one of the announcements made that should be of interest to SAP’s GRC community.

Do More With Less

Of course this has been top of mind for many companies with the recent economic turmoil where resources are scarce and investments most often reduced to vital activities. But every customer I spoke with mentioned that their management is now asking them to increase their regulatory and operational efficiency coverage with “optimized options”. In essence, to do more controls with less resources.

It was motivating to hear feedback from customers who have already taken this path and leveraged their internal audit department to help. This showed that a true collaboration between the compliance team and the internal auditors can lead to the set-up of a sound and very efficient internal control system.

Three Lines of Defense

The three lines of defense was definitely THE hot topic at the event. And I could see the acronym 3LOD gain more and more traction, day by day. Many companies were interested in discussing how to align their operations, compliance, and audit departments. Interestingly, IT and business departments both mentioned this as a key (process) roadmap item for them in the near future. For business, the intent is to achieve the assurance level required by their executives and for IT departments the rationalization of the software landscape that would be brought with this approach was a definitive winner.

Operational Risk Management

Here I’m not referring to the banking Operational Risk Management (ORM) approach, but the intent to do risk management (identification, analysis and mitigation) at the operations or asset level. Having the ability to still be able to integrate the results in a wider Enterprise Risk Management framework so that a unique reporting of the company risk profile can be displayed at any time – without requiring lengthy manual risk consolidation.

It was interesting to hear the different opinions on what ORM is for each sector as there doesn’t seem to be a single – widely adopted – definition or approach. This is definitely one of the key points I took home that I’ll need to think about this summer!

Congratulations are In Order!

Last but not least, congratulations to EY and Integrc, two of our great partners in the area of GRC who have decided to combine forces. I wish them all the very best in the process! In conclusion, if you’ve never been, Nice is a lovely city, filled with history, beautiful landscapes, and delicious food. Associated with a great event, I have to admit that my week was far from being a punishment.

 

Note from the editor:

Thank you Thomas for this succinct wrap-up of GRC focus topics and discussions at the recent SAPinsider event in Nice.

Should readers of CFOKnowledge want to learn more about the GRC or Financials events, here are a few links to some excellent blogs from my colleague Derek Klobucher. I think you’ll enjoy them!

ŸHow Real-Time Analytics Will Kill a Financial Tradition

ŸWhy Paranoia Is Good for Business

ŸScreen Your Partners or Risk Guilt by Association

 

 

 

Nice and Simple – 6 Super Sessions for SAPinsider

GRC

Financials

 

 

 

Fully refreshed and recharged after a slight break in event-related activity (see my earlier post regarding the SAPPHIRE NOW event), attention now turns to Nice in France, where the SAP solutions for Finance teams shall be heading soon to attend our next “major” of the season with the SAPinsider conferences. While containing a number of topic areas, my attention will be focused on two areas in particular, the Financials and GRC events.

I don’t know about you, but when attending business conferences I like to do a little bit of forward planning, so that I can get the most out of my time spent at the event – a little bit like planning a route around the Disney theme parks I guess, but with more time spent seated, rather than queuing and without all those people walking around in character outfits. But planning takes time, which many of us don’t have in abundance during our working hours, and so to help provide some focus I want to share my “ super six” sessions to see at SAPinsider, to give you a nice and simple start towards your event agenda.

6 Super Sessions to See in Nice

In selecting 6 sessions, I’ve kept things as simple as possible, focusing exclusively on customer case study sessions rather than the Keynote, or the Simple Finance, EPM and GRC roadmaps sessions which are all available too. But you can select these at your discretion at the SAPinsider website. Rather, I’ve chosen customer sessions because these are where you’ll get the inside scoop about implementing software solutions, from your industry peers who want to share their experiences with you. And in my opinion, customer stories like these are the most valuable of all the event sessions. So here they are my 6 customer stories for Nice:

  1. 16 June, 2.00pm: Cargill – large-scale finance transformation project
  2. 17 June, 8.30am: GlaxoSmithKline – rolling out SAP Risk Management across the organisation
  3. 17 June, 10.30am: Sonae Indústria – revamping controlling and corporate management reporting
  4. 17 June, 2.30pm: Gazprom Neft – using SAP BPC 10.0 to align consolidated and mgmt reporting
  5. 17 June, 4.45pm: Airbus – faster, simpler integrated financial reporting and planning
  6. 18 June, 10.30am: VCEAA – reducing segregation of duties conflicts

But of course that’s not all, and you certainly don’t need to follow the above sessions if you don’t fancy them – there are many more to choose from. But whether you’re interested in SAP Simple Finance, EPM or GRC customer stories, or want to hear from SAP on any of these topics, then you can build your own agenda to suit your needs.

If you’re in Nice this year, then I wish you a very successful and informative trip. I’ll be there too, so say “hello” if you see me. And I hope that my cross-Finance customer session suggestions in some way help to make your planning that bit more Nice and Simple.

Why is There High Interest in Enterprise Performance Management? – Part 2

By Gary Cokins, Founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC

In part 1 of this blog I questioned why EPM was receiving such popularity at the executive level, and posited some theories. Here in part 2 I give my view of some deep root cause effects.

Deeper root cause forces spurring interest in EPM today

There is a more deep-seated root cause than the forces described in part 1 of this blog. It involves a growing gulf related to (1) the ability of an organization’s managers to have consensus and agree with each other, and (2) the uncertainty of future external influences impacting their organization.

The figure below is a modified and simplified framework developed by Ralph D. Stacey, Ph.D., a scholar in organizational management.[1] The framework proposes that different managerial approaches are required based on where a problem resides in the two dimensional matrix with the axis “level of managers’ agreement” and “degree of uncertainty.”

Cokins SAP blog no_22

The lower left and upper right zones of the matrix are easiest to understand:

  • Bottom-left zone with high agreement and certainty. University MBA programs typically focus here. Past data is gathered and used to predict the future. Managers easily and rationally reach consensus and the expected outcomes are confidently predictable. Projects, initiatives, and actions are selected and monitored with variance analysis from plans used for mid-course control and adjustments.
  • Upper-right zone with lack of agreement and high uncertainty. In this zone there is often avoidance of decisions and it borders on chaos. Breakdowns occur here because traditional methods of planning, debating, negotiating and committing don’t work. Organizations get balkanized and either make strategic mistakes breaking from the past or take no action due to lack of confidence. Innovation and creativity should prevail in this zone, but they often come up short. 

The widening of the zones “in between”

As we move from the lower left to the upper right zone then politics and coalition building occurs. This is because there are broad differences about “how to get there” rather than the expected outcomes. Cause-and-effect relationships are rarely known or understood, so this is where a shared vision of the future state is more important than project planning. What is needed in this area of the matrix are the executive team’s ability to lead and inspire their employees and to continuously sense-and-respond to unexpected factors.

My belief as to why there is an accelerating interest in EPM is due to expanding gulf in this “in between” zone. This “in between” section of the matrix involves increasing complexity, uncertainty and change. In this section there is a gathering storm threatening all organizations. This is where agenda building overrides fact-based decision-making. This is where blind muddling by managers unfortunately overrides something more desirable – vision, inspiration, and good enterprise risk management (ERM) practices from the executives. As markets become more intensely competitive, managers are faced with more high-stakes decisions. As a result success in this “in between” area of the matrix requires both making the right decision in the first place and then executing on that chosen path direction.

The collective suite of integrated methodologies that comprise EPM (e.g., strategy mapping, scorecards, customer profitability management, rolling driver-based financial forecasts, enterprise risk management, etc.) provide the solutions for this “in between” section. EPM shifts problems and decision making from this “in between” section toward the lower left zone – making them simpler problems. Here is how and why technologies become essential enablers:

  • A shift in emphasis toward applying analytics of all flavors, including predictive analytics with what-if and economic trade-off scenarios, bolsters proactive rather than reactive decision making.
  • Gathering all information into an enterprise-wide and common information platform with scalable real-time information replaces disparate and disconnected data sources. These are increasingly cloud-based and accessible with mobile devices.
  • Cross-functional communication and collaboration amongst employees and automated rule-based decisions replace self-serving silo and bunker mentality.
  • The work processes, priorities, initiatives and target-setting of managers and employee teams are aligned with the strategic intent of the executive team. These replace pet projects, minimal (or non-existent) accountability, and internally competing silo department performance metrics that are suboptimal and degrade maximizing stakeholder needs – such as for shareholders or customers.
  • Economic measures of customer profitability and potential customer value are made visible to support differentiated service levels, offers or deals to achieve maximum profit yield from the sales and marketing budget.
  • Exception reporting, alert messaging, and at-a-glance visual reporting improves traction and accelerates speed in the strategic direction set (and continuously re-set) by the executive team.

Organizations need top-down guidance from its executives with bottom-up execution. Effective EPM, not simply the narrow CFO financial view of better budgeting and control, shifts decisions that are currently waffling in the “in between” section of the matrix – and away from the dreaded upper right zone of high uncertainty and lack of managers’ agreement. Complexity is expanding due to the forces described earlier, and EPM software brings rational thinking to convert once perceived complicated problems from the upper right into simpler and solvable problems in the lower left.

Understanding what EPM does is more important than trying to define what it is.

[1] Stacey, Ralph D.; Complexity and Creativity in Organizations; Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.; 1996.

 

About the Author: Gary Cokins, CPIM

Gary_Cokins

Gary Cokins (Cornell University BS IE/OR, 1971; Northwestern University Kellogg MBA 1974) is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in enterprise and corporate performance management (EPM/CPM) systems. He is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC www.garycokins.com . He began his career in industry with a Fortune 100 company in CFO and operations roles. Then 15 years in consulting with Deloitte, KPMG, and EDS (now part of HP). From 1997 until 2013 Gary was a Principal Consultant with SAS, a business analytics software vendor. His most recent books are Performance Management: Integrating Strategy Execution, Methodologies, Risk, and Analytics and Predictive Business Analytics.

gcokins@garycokins.com; phone +919 720 2718

http://www.garycokins.com

Linkedin.com contact: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/gary-cokins/0/15a/949.

6 Stories to Give You the Finance Buzz at SAPinsider

SAPInsider Financials Logo

It’s going to be a busy time this week for many of my colleagues and the visitors to SAPinsider Financials 2015 in Las Vegas, so I decided to give you my thoughts on some interesting sessions to see, if you’re attending, given that you’re spoilt for choice with such a comprehensive agenda. And I’m bucking the trend with this blog post – because instead of talking about products, I ‘m talking about customers and thought leaders, and in particular the stories that you’ll be able to see and hear at the event this week.

Excited yet? I am! And with good reason, because many valued SAP customers have decided to make the trip to Las Vegas to give an account of their experiences with SAP solutions for Finance…stories of implementation approaches, best practices, and where they have found business benefits.

So for anyone embarking on a software implementation project, or even just considering approaches to solving some of their finance department and process issues, these are key SAPinsider Financials 2015 sessions to attend.

Six in Focus – But Don’t Forget the Rest!

My six focus sessions are chosen not because I know the customer stories particularly well, but rather because they’ll give attendees a good flavor across a range of finance topics. And my apologies to the many other customers not listed here – whose sessions are equally as valuable – but I just couldn’t fit you all into one short blog post.

I would, however, encourage readers attending Financials 2015 to take a look at the many other customer-led sessions at the event this week, as well as those detailed here, just so that you select sessions that will be most relevant to you.

Ready to learn about some of the exciting sessions ahead? Then let’s go:

  1. Keynote address, TODAY, Tue 17 March at 8:30 am – Okay, it’s strictly an SAP-led session, but there’ll be a panel discussion in which thought leaders will be asked to give their view about challenges and opportunities facing CFOs. It’s sure to be an interesting discussion – and let’s face it, no-one wants to miss the keynote!
  2. Sun Products, Wed 18 March at 8:30 am – A session where you should learn some best practice advice on implementing credit, dispute, and collections management.
  3. Velux, Wed 18 March at 10:30 am – I really like the sound of this session, in which you’ll hear how Velux moved from a traditional to “beyond budgeting” approach.
  4. McKesson, Thu 19 March at 8:30 am – For anyone seeking advice on implementing SAP ERP Financials then this is a session for you!
  5. Bentley Systems, Thu 19 March at 1:00 pm – Hear how Bentley Systems automated and shortened the payment processing lifecycle with SAP Bank Communication Management.
  6. Telephone and Data Systems, Thu 19 March at 4:30 pm – This is one for those of you interested in financial consolidations, with particular focus on project planning.

Don’t Be Shy – Get Networking!

All of these customers are attending the event to share their knowledge and experience with you, and I know that if you have questions for them after hearing their sessions that they’ll be delighted to speak with you…so do take advantage of this in the event networking sessions.

And remember to also take a look at the full agenda, so that you can plan your sessions and make the best use of your time. I hope you have an interesting and informative week, and that you return to work buzzing with the excitement of the potential to put in practice what you have learned at the event.

Have a great week!

Simplifying Finance in an increasingly complex world – outlook on Financials / GRC 2015

SAPInsider Financials Logo

By Henner Schliebs, SAP. Originally posted on SAP Business Trends, 17 February 2015. Reposted with permission.

We all have read the new mantra multiple times: if we simplify everything – we can do anything. This holds true for the finance department more than ever, considering that the use of technology is key to enabling a real-time business process environment. There were some threatening results revealed in a recent study that the CFO magazine has published, like “80% of respondents would need easier to use technology if they’d wanted to meet their growth targets”. So, this latest shift in technology enabling true real-time processes will be the focus topic of this year’s Financials 2015 / GRC 2015 event hosted in Las Vegas in March (Wynn Hotel, 3/17-3/20, follow the discussion #Financials2015).

As there will be hundreds of sessions that show customer success stories, the latest and greatest in financial management, EPM, Analytics, GRC and Ariba solutions I would like to highlight the Simple Finance sessions so that you can build your agenda around those, especially given that any S4/HANA journey will start with Simple Finance:

  1. start with the keynote where Thack Brown will elaborate on the need for speed (aka real-time finance processes) and introduces some external thought leaders to the panel discussions around a modern finance organization. I won’t tell too much when mentioning that Thack will launch another important mile stone of Simple Finance to the public…
  2. one of the most compelling use cases of Simple Finance is the central journal, so this session lead by Carsten Hilker shows you how to non-disruptively start your Simple Finance implementation arriving at one source of the truth
  3. for those in need of a high-level introduction to Simple Finance I’d highly recommend Martin Naraschewski’s session about the roadmap to Simple Finance, where he will elaborate on the needs of a typical finance transformation initiative
  4. one thing that was highly anticipated by you all is more insight into Integrated Business Planning – your unique opportunity to natively connect EPM with your Simple Finance ERP system to allow planning, simulations and scenario modeling directly on your transactional data. Pras Chatterjee off course will show integration to the new Cloud for Planning solution as well
  5. new to the game is the Simple Finance Cash Management solution that is introduced by Christian Mnich, where he will give insights into how to better plan and forecast liquidity based on an integrated process leveraging your ERP / S4HANA system
  6. a dedicated session on the new Accounting solution will provide better understanding of the concepts of the greatest innovation since R/3 building the base for S4HANA. Stefan Karl will guide you through this
  7. want to learn how to get to Simple Finance? Join charming expert Birgit Starmanns and understand what to consider if you want to adopt Simple Finance including advanced predictive finance analytics
  8. join our partner John Steele at Deloitte when he talks about real-time finance processes and the role that HANA plays in this highlighting finance use cases like fast close, financial risk management or finance operations
  9. the experts from TruQua will deliver a thrilling session around the analytics that Simple Finance can provide in form of HANA Live content or via integration of SAP Analytics and EPM solutions. Dave Dixon’s presentation is a good example
  10. finally you’d want to learn about the fast close capabilities of Simple Finance where Stefan Karl walks you through how to become a world’s fastest closing company like SAP

Note there are many “hands-on”-like sessions on the Monday (3/6) as part of the Pre-Conference Workshops that deliver tremendous value for practitioners.

Please be sure this is just the Simple Finance top 10 – please be sure you also learn from customers how SAP Financial Management solutions helped them achieve targets.

Follow the discussion on twitter or facebook or SCN and please share your thoughts.