EPM Reflections #12 – A Time for Change

by Chris Grundy, Director Marketing, SAP 

I thought for a while about a fitting conclusion to our current #EPMReflections 2015 series, contemplating among other things of writing something along the lines of a festive theme, perhaps for example of extending the themes that we have run in prior years on how Santa might organize performance management such as that posted last year by Gary Cokins on the topic of ELF (Elf Performance Management), maybe considering how “Santa Claus Inc.” might link their EPM solutions to their ERP (Elf Resource Planning) systems, to deliver integrated financial planning for example, of course using an in-memory platform to handle the vast amounts of data required when dealing with a global demand for gifts.

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But instead of this, I’ve opted for a different approach, particularly given that this is our final #EPMReflection on the current CFOKnowledge blog platform, as CFOKnowledge is heading to a new home in January 2016, as we pack up and move to the D!gitalist Magazine.

Our move to CFOKnowledge on the D!gitalist is inspired by a desire to bring you, our readers more and better content on a range of finance topics. You’ll still hear news and views from our regular bloggers on EPM (enterprise performance management) and GRC (governance risk and compliance) topics, but in addition to this we’ll be joined by a host of new bloggers who’ll be writing on diverse and topical subjects related to business and finance matters.

So my reflection here is not so much regarding something that’s happened in the last 12 months, as has been the focus of our other #EPMReflections, but rather it’s a general and in some ways a personal reflection on what we have accomplished on CFOKnowledge in the past few years. It’s been a pleasure to work with many bloggers to this channel, and to have had the ability to bring you news and views on a range of EPM, GRC and Finance topics, and I truly hope that you have enjoyed reading them. I very much hope that you will join us at our new home on the D!gitalist, in 2016. In the meantime I’d like to say a big “thank you” for following CFOKnowledge, and I wish you all the best for a wonderful time during the holidays.

See you at CFOKnowledge on D!gitalist in 2016…and we’ll create some new things to reflect on there!

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EPM Reflections #11 – SAP Cloud for Analytics

In November last year, SAP had launched SAP Cloud for Planning which was a huge success. After a year, we’ve made great progress and we’re proud to present SAP Cloud for Analytics.

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Bernd Leukert, Member of the SAP Executive Board, Products & Innovation at SAP, introduces SAP Cloud for Analytics during SAP TechEd Las Vegas Keynote

SAP Redefines Analytics in the Cloud” – that was the headline for the press release announcing SAP Cloud for Analytics which was formally unveiled during the keynotes at SAP TechEd Las Vegas . SAP Cloud for Analytics brings together the ability to analyze, predict and plan in one product.

SAP Cloud for Analytics was born out of SAP Cloud for Planning. SAP Cloud for Analytics is the new name for SAP Cloud for Planning reflecting the additional capabilities of data discovery and visualization, and predictive analytics. The reason why we designed SAP Cloud for Analytics is to enable a cohesive and collaborative approach to decision making. Finance professionals, business analysts, board members – anybody who is involved with decision making, needs a combination of these capabilities to do their jobs.

SAP Cloud for Analytics World Tour Event at Levi’s Stadium

Following the SAP Cloud for Planning World Tour Events, we hosted an event for SAP Cloud for Analytics in Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, home for the SF 49ers. Some of the highlights include:

  • Tony Cosentino,VP and Research Director at Ventana Research speaking about “Analytics in the Cloud” and best practices for companies to leverage modern platforms.
  • Ivo Bauermann sharing the vision and direction of SAP Cloud for Analytics
  • Christina Obry delighting the audience with an amazing demo

More information on SAP Cloud for Analytics can be found at http://www.sapcloudanalytics.com.

EPM Reflections #10 – SAP Conference for Financial Planning, Consolidation and Controls

FPCC, or the SAP Conference for Financial Planning, Consolidation and Controls, is an annual event organized with a team from TA Cook. The event was held in Las Vegas on November 10-11.

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The event features many guest speakers, including Doug Henschen of Constellation Research, Scott Mitchell of OCEG and Brian Kalish of AFP Online. The speakers led conversations about what’s driving Finance and the role of the CFO.

Other speakers include influencers like Ray Wang and Gary Cokins. Ray is an industry thought leader and researcher from Constellation Research and led a keynote on “the secret to the future of planning.” Many insights were shared. Gary is an industry expert on performance management and he led a keynote on performance and risk.

While having industry experts were crucial to the event, FPCC also featured a great number of customer stories. Two of the customers were featured in an interview style questionnaire that can be found.

The first one was with John To from ServiceNow. The integration of SAP products and the financial meaning that can be extracted from such data has become crucial as ServiceNow continues to grow and scale, so SAP software supports all aspects of our organization.

The other person we spoke with was Doug Henschen from Constellation Research. Constellation Research is a Silicon Valley-based research firm that’s passionate about how business models can be transformed with disruptive technology. Their goal is to help our clients realize the art of the possible. Read how SAP helps them run simpler.

All in all, the event was a great success! We hope to continue the momentum moving forward into the new year.

EPM Reflections 2015 #9 – Predictive Finance

As digital transformation evolves, the importance of real-time information has increased. Data is created 24 hours a day so if you are a CFO or finance professional today, you are likely getting hit with a maelstrom of financial data that’s taking longer and longer to process while the need to remain accurate and timely remains.

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These challenges can be overcome through predictive finance:

  • Save time for finance teams by dramatically simplifying processes
  • Allow for better integration between financial plans and actual data
  • Provide CFOs with more data and input to steer better business decision-making
  • Optimize analysis across finance processes to drive superior business outcomes
  • Respond faster and with greater certainty to changing business conditions

Predictive finance allows CFOs to be accurate and efficient in a timely manner. It enables information to be processed and re-purposed in real time and this gives you the ability to make changes that are captured and revised on multiple platforms simultaneously.

Read more about the benefits of predictive finance here.

EPM Reflections 2015 #8 – The Successful CFO

A popular blog in the month of August for 2015 was around the topic of what it’d take to be a CFO. A few years CFOs would normally opt for a CPA but is an accounting degree enough? As the technological landscape has evolved with in-memory technology, visualization, plus the ability to integrate forecasting and planning with the ERP system, CFOs must use of a whole new set of tools.

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Panelists at a recent SAP Game-Changers radiocast, John Steele, principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and head of the U.S. SAP finance transformation practice at Deloitte; David Dixon, partner principal at TruQua Enterprises; and Henner Schliebs, head of finance audience marketing at SAP, discussed the need to adapt to a rapidly evolving role and what characteristics define a successful CFO.

A few takeaways from the radiocast is:

  • Understanding and fulfilling the many purposes of the CFO role
  • Mastering a technology-driven finance function
  • Keeping up with the future of CFO

Read the original blog post here and to learn more about the characteristics and market forces that are shaping the role of CFO, listen to the full radiocast.

More Information, Less Data: The Key to a Thriving Finance Function

by Neil Krefsky, Marketing Director, SAP 

What if your business could subsist on more information and less data? Information is power – whereas data, useful as it may be, typically involves a set of extra processes before you can use it. So how can you navigate a murky sea of massive data to find those valuable pieces of information? It all starts with modernizing your finance organization.

During a recent SAP Game-Changers radiocast, panelists Eric Merrill, senior manager with Deloitte Consulting’s strategy and operations finance practice; Mark Richards, VP of finance and operations for RBA Consulting; and Dan Fagan, member of SAP America’s industry value engineering team shared ideas on how to leverage data, benchmarking, and metrics to bring your finance department to the cutting edge of innovation.

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Where we are with finance modernization

The finance function has drastically changed in the wake of a technical revolution. Increased automation means finance is moving away from accounting-based practices and toward decision support and decision analytics. Real-time operations and information are opening up a world of possibilities for finance to truly partner with the rest of the organization and provide some strategic decision support. It’s not enough to report the numbers quickly and with accuracy – it’s now imperative to tell a story with those numbers that can help enhance decision making across the company.

Fagan points out that when financial leadership has access to dashboards that provide a timely, daily view of team metrics such sales information, it yields a 20% lower cycle time for the financial forecast.

According to Richards, “The key for success here is really coming up with a good strategy around how you’re going to manage your data and then where you need to manage that data.” He suggests finding an optimal balance between operational and financial data that yields the most critical information. Innovative dashboards and cockpits can help with this and enable finance to make sense of Big Data in real time – so CFOs can provide the kind of insight that makes them an invaluable strategic asset.

Where we’re going with finance modernization

Merrill asserts that the next step in modernizing finance is all about prediction. “The next evolution is to not just look at what has happened in the past, but increasing accuracy and visibility and predictability of what’s going to happen next.”

Richards offers perspective on how much more the finance department can offer with enhanced predictive capabilities. He quoted words of wisdom from his old boss, who highlighted the issues of an antiquated finance function: “The problem with finance people is you have 100% of the information after the fact. If you could make that same comment to me when you have 25% of the information like operators do, then your financial counsel to me will be relevant.”

Now that vision is closer to a reality than ever. CFOs are relying on real-time dashboards and cockpits to transform proliferating data into a steady stream of information that the business can put to use. As such, the role of data scientist has the potential to take center stage.

As Richards explains, “If you want to really be seen as a business partner, you do have to show that you understand the business as well as the CEO.” And the best way to do that is with reliable tools that help you see the future and steer the business on a sound course.

To learn more about the myriad of ways to modernize the finance organization, listen to the full radiocast.

EPM Reflections 2015 #4 – Accounting and Financial Close Series

In 2015, Elizabeth Milne, Director, EPM Product Marketing, wrote an informative series on the Accounting and Financial Close process, comprising of 14 blogs in total ran from February to May. The full list can be found here.

The series begins with breaking down a few of the many dimensions to financial close.

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The second of the series asked “how fast is fast enough” when considering the speed of the financial close process. A recent CFO.com study revealed that 87% of finance executives agreed that managers at their companies need to analyze financial and performance data much more quickly than they do now to meet targets for profitable growth. Translation – speed has an impact on the bottom line.

The series continues to go into a deeper dive, covering the following topics:

  • Financial Accounting – Simple Finance and ERP Financials
  • Financial Accounting – Nakia Lease
  • Administration Financial Accounting – Revenue Recognition
  • Entity Close – Intercompany Reconciliation
  • Entity Close – Account Reconciliation
  • Entity Close – Entity Close Management
  • Corporate close – Consolidation and Notes Management
  • Reporting and Disclosure – Reporting and Analysis
  • Reporting and Disclosure – Disclosure Management
  • Financial Close
  • Governance Close to Disclose Recap

 

Find the full series here.