The Role of a Risk Committee

by Thomas Frenehard, GRC Solution Management

Young plant growing in sunshine(Shallow Dof)

Remember the dinosaurs from your history books? Extinct, right?

Well this is the way some companies are going because they focus all their efforts on looking backwards. And to me, this is precisely where Audit and Risk Committees  have a crucial role to play; not to focus on the same issues but have a different mind-set.

By nature, the Audit Committee will focus on the findings from the audit report, looking backwards at what’s already happened. I personally think that the Risk Committee should focus on forward-looking uncertainties… and how to best leverage potential opportunities.

This Risk Committee can then have a true advisory role to the Board. It should, of course, be able to discuss the most important threats that would prevent an organization from achieving its objectives and it should also be able to recommend a course of action to flip downsides into opportunities.

Most likely the Board is not the right instance to discuss and review the multiple risk scenarios, test new assumptions, and so on. But if it relies on a knowledgeable Risk Committee, it will be able to make the right decision for the business and increase value for the shareholders.

So, how can this work?

Last week I was lucky to attend a workshop on this specific topic, Risk Committees, that sparked many discussions and exchange of opinions amongst participants. Here are my summarized thoughts from the event.

  • A clearly defined mandate is needed

A Risk Committee can only be successful if it is given a clear mandate by the Board. Its roadmap and mission statement, if you wish. Here, I would suggest that the Board define expectations for the Risk Committee that would be relevant to supporting true business decision making.

In association with the mandate, and for the Risk Committee to be realistic in its assumptions, I would expect the Board to share its risk appetite and how it reached this conclusion, as this will guide most of the scenario work.

  •  On-board knowledge

To have an active Risk Committee, I think it has to embed a risk culture. This might happen because the committee is at least partially composed of risk experts or because it’s engrained in the DNA of its members.

I would also suggest involving industry experts in the Risk Committee as this is the only way to have realistic – and probable scenarios.

  • Sufficient tools and information

The role of this committee will be to review risks and to simulate potential negative and positive outcomes. If its participants are not given sufficient risk information, how can they do that?

In addition to providing risk information, I would also recommend authorizing this committee to interview Risk Owners when necessary, as they are the business experts that can shed light on business contexts.

  • Report to the Board and then, take action on their recommendations

To my mind, if such a process is defined, then the Board needs to set some time aside to debate on the recommendations from the Risk Committee. And here, it can’t be a passive presentation from the committee to the Board, it has to be a two-way street with some questioning. The Board needs to challenge the assumptions and needs to provide feedback on whether expectations have been met or the Risk Committee won’t be able to adjust its next reporting.

Also, the Board needs to take action on the recommendations. And keep in mind that deciding to wait until more information is gathered or that events start to unfold is already a decision, provided it is documented and agreed on.

How does this sound to you? Would you agree that immobility is a great threat to many of our organizations?

Are You Seeing the Signals? How Finance Analytics and KPIs Can Help CFOs Guide the Way

by Henner Schliebs, Head of Finance Audience Marketing 

Have you ever taken a close look at your dashboard when the car computer displays key performance indicators (KPIs)? No? Yes, but not really? I am confident in saying that 99.9% of you will answer with a “not really” type of response, as there are many misleading, so-called KPIs that don’t provide guidance to make the right decision. I can’t understand why customers/drivers of cars have not yet complained about being misled. And I’m surprised they haven’t sued manufacturers for astronomical amounts of money in countries like the U.S. where this is a practice that can get downright bizarre (like this case about a toilet paper injury). Here’s some rules to follow to keep your KPIs from going wrong.


Make Sure That Your KPI Is Sufficient to Guide a Decision

I recently took a look at the mileage on my truck and was surprised how the MPG rocketed up when I took my foot off the gas. So if I see MPG as a leading indicator to optimize my trip, I would never arrive at my desired destination, as I’d stop to max out on MPG. (See the picture of my car’s computer display showing above-average mileage – Italian Trucks rule!)

So, in financial taxonomy this would translate into something like a famous saying, “Zero budget is not an option.” Don’t focus on cost exclusively without having the broader goal (like margins improvement) in mind. You can’t cannibalize outcome with cost reduction—at least you’d have to achieve the same outcome at reduced costs.

Your analytics have to provide insight into the root cause for your indicators to optimize. In this case, it’s margins in the means of a decision tree, a value map, or the like so you can see the immediate outcome of any planned action. Simulation and prediction would be needed, combined with visualization of the context, in order to make it understandable for your executives and stakeholders.

Make Sure Your KPI Is Taking All Known Information into Consideration

To stick with the road trip example, I don’t understand the GPS producers being so ignorant of the value of including some kind of data mining into their offerings. The GPS knows the distance, the type of roads followed, the time of the day, and the season you’re in (like wintery conditions that might influence the trip).

It could know how many miles in which conditions you can go per gallon—or even pull this information from the car computer if it’s an integrated system. It could measure how much time you’d take to fill your car up at the gas station. Since it can measure how long you’re there, it can even deduce if your stop is for gas or just to pick up a six-pack on your way home from office.

So, assuming you want to go on a longer trip, say from San Francisco, CA to Austin, TX, why can’t the GPS guide you to the optimal speed to arrive at your next stop as soon as possible? This would take typical “bio breaks” into consideration (info available when you usually stop besides the freeway), gas stations to fill the car, projected traffic jams due to rush hour in metropolitan areas (Los Angeles!!!!) and the like. It could even run simulations like “If you go 70 mph instead of 85 mph you’d manage to get to your stop with this one tank…”

Sound familiar? So, let’s translate this into finance, using the planning process for example. You have all long-term planning information available, including the company’s strategic plan and the related KPIs (hopefully clear and leading ones as mentioned before), and all good information from any kind of ERP-like system. Also, you might have the plans from other areas like product sales plans, workforce plans, production plans (if applicable) and cost center plans. This would all be needed to arrive at an integrated business plan, driven by the long term financial plan.

You now would have almost all the ingredients to simulate outcomes based on different distributions of funds available for the current planning period. You won’t get trapped into pitfalls like having to pull additional funds into this planning period although served for later period use (having to stop at the gas station). You’d see how budgetary decisions would influence achievement of your company’s targets and would uncover potential correlations between driving indicators and outcomes (like HR development vs. hiring ofexternal people going through the value chain arriving at optimized investment in your workforce).


Don’t omit these factors, since they’re contributing to your KPIs. Even worse, there are correlations between factors that you can’t easily figure out but would have to use statistical algorithms. For example, what makes a certain customer pay on schedule vs. being an “overdue receivable”? This is not as easy to understand as the famous “There is a correlation between sales of ice cream and shark attacks” example. But to find a causation and guide the way, you need tens or even hundreds of dimensions correlated.

What Does this Mean for You?

Things that are obvious for you as a driver of a car and that you take into consideration when planning your road trip are not as easy to uncover in your professional life as a finance expert, as many more dimensions are affecting business performance. Given that the additional charter of any mature finance organization is to provide excellent service to the other business functions within your organization, it’s your duty to support the cost center manager, the sales executive, and last but not least, every employee by providing them with relevant and contextual finance data that enables better and fact-based decisions.triangle

In addition, sophisticated finance analytics uses the support of visualization and predictive functionality to guide the way through the core finance tasks around financial planning and analysis, accounting, treasury, operations, and even risk management, compliance and audit functions. It helps achieve more with less—operational excellence at reduced cost by supporting every finance function to deliver on the promise of simple data and intelligence provision for the whole organization.

This means that the finance function of tomorrow has a new credo: Be a partner to the company and support to differentiate from your peers, add value to the bottom line, and strategically consult the executive leadership team of your company to achieve sustainable growth.

How Does Cloud-Based Planning Enable a CFO’s Reputation?

by Gary Cokins

The field of marketing scientifically examines influences on the rate of adoption of products, services and technology. Everett Rogers[1], a business researcher, developed his Diffusion of Innovations[2] model with five categories of adoption: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. Which category best describes many organizations, especially CFOs, with respect to adopting Integrated Business Planning (IBP) with its methods and analytics?

My observation is that most organizations fall in the laggards category. One might presume that laggards are at the tail end distribution curve. However, I view the distribution curve as being similar to cyclists in a race. There are high-performing cyclists out in front, and then much further behind is a large pack of riders – called the peloton. The distribution of cyclists doesn’t follow a bell curve, but rather one shaped like a camel with two humps: a short one followed by a broad, tall one with a long tail.

I mentally view and classify accountants, including chief financial officers (CFOs), along a similar distribution curve spectrum as applied in marketing. There are leader and laggard CFO functions.


A technological revolution for planning and decisions

It has been my observation, which I am sad to report, that the distribution curve is similar to the cyclists’ peloton and not the classic normalized bell-shaped curve (e.g., the height or weight of ten year olds). The curve is skewed to the left side meaning a higher population of laggard and less progressive accountants compared to a smaller number of early adopters located in the right side of the curve. I refer to those in the left side as “bean counters” and those to the right as “bean growers”.

A combination of technology (in-memory microchips), cloud-based computing, and business software can shift accountants to the right side of the curve. But before describing that combination of three enablers, let’s briefly better understand the issues with less progressive accountants.

Accountants as Homo Accounticus

I enjoy maturity and evolution models of all kinds, especially for business. There are stages of maturity models for information technologies and others such as for sales teams and their customer relationships. What I like about stages of maturity models is they provide confidence that regardless what stage one is at – low or high – there is a next step further up that can be attained in an evolutionary way.

In biology there is an evolution of humans that has in earlier stages Australopithecus, then Homo erectus, then Neanderthals, and our current stage Homo Sapiens. Examples of important changes are brain size, hand grip, and a larynx for speaking.

Just to have some fun I will take the position that some accountants are primitive Homo Accounticus. Just as with humankind there are overlap periods where primitive accountants co-exist with more sophisticated ones with more capabilities and skills. This implies they have evolutionary steps in their future. A stereotype of an accountant is as a “bean counter” that I mentioned above. These are the Homo Accounticus. In the evolutionary ladder they can become “bean growers”. They can add value beyond just reporting to assisting their organization to gain insights and make better decisions.

In defense of “laggard” accountants and CFOs

The intent of what I just wrote above was not intended to shame accountants and CFOs (although a few do deserve it). Without “advanced” business software accountants regrettably have little or no time to be progressive. Their accounting consolidations for the period-end are cumbersome and slow. Some have had the number of their staff reduced to the bare minimum. For many of them they are on a hamster wheel. They take a deep breath after their period-end accounting close, and the next month’s financial accounting cycle begins. They have no time to shift their emphasis to management accounting with progressive financial planning and analysis (FP&A) methods.

The distribution shift toward “leaders”

I earlier mentioned that a combination of technology and business software can enable accountants and CFOs to shift to the right of the distribution curve to become “bean growers. Here is how:

  • In-memory chip technology – The speed and capacity at which microchips can store and process data has rapidly advanced. In the past, data that was being analyzed had to be stored on a device that was physically separate from the processor. This was because the processor was limited in its ability to hold data, and even then this type of memory was very expensive. The disadvantage of this design is that it requires data to be constantly written to and from memory, which incurs a time penalty. This resulted in analysis that took hours to run. The new in-memory chip technology replaces the need for a separate physical disc, which in turn eliminates the time taken to read and write data. The result is vastly increased response times and systems that are able to support real-time processing of massive amounts of information. The implications are significant. Drill-down queries and refreshing of models, become nearly instantaneous. For analysts, investigations and explorations of multiple ‘what if’ scenarios can be processed at the speed of thought.
  • Cloud-based computing – The attractiveness of remote computing power and storage over on-premises computing, maintenance benefits, and the ability to easily extend use to enterprise users is commonly accepted today.
  • Integrated Business Planning (IBP) software – IBP seamlessly integrates 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.

CFOs as strategic contributors

Many magazine articles proclaim that the CFO has expanded to a role of a strategic advisor. However there is insufficient evidence to support this assertion. With in-memory chip enabling cloud-based computing for planning there will be much more evidence. The reputation of the CFO’s function will be enhanced.

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Join me at the SAP Conference for Financial Planning, Consolidation and Controls in Las Vegas 10-11 November, where I’ll be delivering a presentation on performance and risk management. I hope to see you there!  




About the Author: Gary Cokins, CPIM


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 .  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, Methods, Risk, and Analytics and Predictive Business Analytics.

Linkedin contact:





A Conversation with John To (ServiceNow)


Tell me about your organization and your role

ServiceNow is changing the way people work. With a service-orientation toward the activities, tasks and processes that make up day-to-day work life, we help the modern enterprise transform the delivery and management of services. ServiceNow provides service management for every department in the enterprise including IT, human resources, facilities, field service and more.

My role at ServiceNow supports the financial planning and finance teams in their ability to make financial forecasts and generate financial reporting. I’m in charge of the SAP Business Planning and Consolidations system and serve to bridge that gap between what end users think they want and what IT thinks the business wants. I strive to build one of the best financial planning and reporting systems in the world to meet ServiceNow’s rapid growth.

For what business processes does your organization use SAP software (i.e. that are relevant to the event)?

We employ a full suite of SAP products from mature applications such as ECC for accounting, BPC for forecasting and consolidations and BOBJ for reporting. We have also adopted and/or are in the process of evaluating some of SAP’s latest product offerings such as S4 to better integrate transactional data, Cloud for Planning to capture and structure financial dark data, and Predictive Analytics to infuse statistical precision to modeling. There’s also Concur, SAP’s recent acquisition.

The integration of all these products and the financial meaning that can be extracted from such data will be crucial as ServiceNow continues to grow and scale, so SAP software supports all aspects of our organization. Centrally behind all this is our deployment of the HANA infrastructure which accelerates speed and performance, allowing for faster turnaround and decisions.

What are the three key benefits that this software brings to you?

 A lot of today’s solutions focus on automation of processes and centralization of data. We’ve seen reductions in time to monthly financial close, elimination of late night work culture within FP&A, and systematic alignment of finance policies.

How important is the new generation of planning/analytics in relation to the cloud?

The cloud combined with deep machine learning analytics will be incredibly beneficial to the aggregation of any and all financially relevant data that can then be used to extrapolate organizational relationships and behaviors to provide insights that facilitate decision making.

What are the biggest challenges facing internal Finance teams at present?

My observation from the financial planning standpoint is that the biggest challenges involve aggregation of data, simplification of data entry at necessarily granular levels of detail (a bottoms up approach), and ease by which that data can be matched with transactional activity with drilled through to identify meaningful relationships and explanations for financial activities. A step beyond this is the prescience of these financial activities and the ability to plan appropriately for them. Also important is the ability to simultaneously standardize and customize data perspectives such that different areas of an organization can maintain its unique language and culture, while also easily compare and reconcile between a “business perspective” and “finance perspective.”

What are the biggest opportunities for internal Finance teams at present?

Core finance activities are fundamentally routine and thus can be automated. As companies grow and scale, there is a spectrum of approaches to meet the increased demand ranging from investments in people to investments in technology. Whereas it takes time to recruit, hire and train staff, software can be identically copied infinitely many times – which creates an interesting new paradigm for work. I am not implying that machines can replace all people; far from that, but there is ample opportunity for finance teams to reevaluate their investment mix to find a balance that reduces redundancies in unproductive and dehumanizing activates for staff, while empowering them with technologies that add more significance and meaning to the work experience and ultimately increased productivity and ROI.

Looking to the future, in just a few words do you have an opinion on what aspect of technology you think will have the biggest impact on your business or your role, and how will it do this?

Advanced intelligence will be able to track data change over time and apply probabilistic models evaluate the changes in data to assist finance personnel in auditing data and finding meaningful storylines to explain financial performance. The current paradigm in finance is “addition” at a fixed point in time. You have accounts, which represent something based on how users interact with the account. Groups of these accounts are combined into nodes that subtotal the values. Imagine if each account represents a range of possibilities based on all the underlying data while automatically accounting for known and seemingly unrelated variables. The aggregation of these probabilities represents a range of potential outcomes.

You’re going to be appearing at the SAP FPCC conference soon. Why are you joining the conference as a speaker – and what are you going to talk about?

ServiceNow is leading the world into the future of the cloud and fundamentally changing the way people interact with technology to accomplish work. The possibilities are endless. I want to share that story, but also share the commonalities of our experience with colleagues across all industries which technologies like SAP and

ServiceNow touch and will disrupt in the near future.

There’s a paradigm shift in how businesses need to operate. I will be speaking to ServiceNow’s experience as it relates to our SAP Business Planning and Consolidations implementation and the changes which this system has undergone to adapt to the future of work where people expect data quickly and immediately.

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Join us at the SAP Conference for Financial Planning, Consolidation and Controls in Las Vegas 10-11 November, where I’ll be delivering a presentation on performance and risk management. I hope to see you there!  

Manage Risk with Three Lines of Defense

by Chris Grundy, Director Product Marketing, SAP

Can you assure that your company proactively and effectively manages risk while meeting an ever-growing number of technological challenges? During a recent SAP Game-Changers radiocast, panelists Ganesh Ram, lead of PricewaterhouseCooper’s governance, risk, and compliance team; Kevin D. Heckel, director of the cyber risk services area at Deloitte & Touche LLP; and Jérôme Pugnet, senior director of product marketing for GRC solutions from SAP, discuss how technology can enhance the “three lines of defense” model.

Protect your business from becoming obsolete

Ram challenges companies to consider complex third-party relationships that keep your suppliers and consumers interconnected in a massive technology-driven ecosystem. He states that the three lines model helps ensure that a business can sustain all challenges it faces. So what do the lines look like?

  1. Operational management teams that runs the business from the front lines
  2. Risk management and compliance functions to implement and monitor effective risk management practices and robust internal controls
  3. An internal audit or oversight function that ensures the management team is performing its job properly

These are supplemented by external auditors, who provide advisory support as experts with fresh eyes and no bias (sometimes qualified as “the fourth line of defense).

According to Ram, most companies place too much importance on the first line and not enough on the second two. “It’s worth reflecting on whether your focus is on what really matters from a risk management perspective – and if investments in risk management and lines of defense give you the return that you plan for,” he posits.

Manage risk for the right reasons

Heckel muses on how risk has evolved from a necessary evil to a major business driver at the board level. However, he cautions, “It’s not a value. It’s a cost to the overall compliant agency. What are you doing and why are you doing it? Are you doing it for the right reasons?”

Pugnet explores these questions, citing social media as a prime reason for expanding a business’s outlook on what risk really means. A company’s reputation can suffer serious damage in just minutes if a negative post goes viral.

The challenge, according to Heckel, is to be resilient and respond quickly and appropriately to such situations. You want to do whatever it takes to keep customers or avoid ending up in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Achieving balance

Ram thinks it’s important to treat governance, risk, and compliance as a balancing act, and to use the three lines model as a strategic advantage instead of a crutch or a reason to avoid any risk at all.

Such balance is most critical when expanding your business, according to Pugnet. If you acquire a new company, you need to cover the requirements across the three lines of defense. This necessitates bringing this company into the overall compliance system – a challenging endeavor. You might find that existing systems are not scaling very well, which creates additional work without available resources. That’s when it’s important to turn to those second and third lines of defense – which can include technology that streamlines processes and catches oversights before they become massive issues.

Finally, the panelists agree that risk and control are often approached as separate silos with a significant amount of overlap. By working collaboratively across those lines of defense to reduce redundancy, you can cut your overall compliance cost. To learn more about the three lines of defense, listen to the full radiocast.

The Top 3 Trends in Business Planning

by Gary Cokins 

In my prior blog, I described the three categories that are foundational for effective business planning: destination/purpose, information access, and integration. What are the trends with these three categories?


Business plans are derived from a vision and mission

The primary responsibility of the C-suite executives is to establish strategic direction by answering the question, “Where do we want to go?” Their answer will depend on the vision and mission of the organization. An organization’s mission statement does not always need to be the oftentimes hollow words displayed on the wall of the company’s entry lobby (e.g., “We will be the best …. “). It can be simpler. For example in the 1980s when Bill Gates said “A computer on every desk” Microsoft employees understood his vision and their mission.

The trend in this first category involves answering a second follow-up question, “How will we get there … to where the executive want to go?” The digital vehicle to achieve and execute the C-suite’s strategy is the integration of the various components of the integrated business planning (IBP) framework. These include strategy maps; product, channel, and customer profitability reporting and analysis; driver-based rolling financial forecasts; enterprise risk management (ERM); and lean and quality management techniques for process improvement. Each component should have analytics imbedded in them.

Access to information

Many organizations are drowning in raw transactional data but starving for information. The trend in this category involves converting data into information. This is typically accomplished via modeling.

For example, a one page strategy map is a model of the executive team’s strategy. The process of costing to calculate individual customer profit and loss (P&L) statements is accomplished by modeling how resource expenses (e.g., salaries, supplies) are causally and proportionately consumed as calculated costs of outputs.

Associated with this trend is the emergence of business analytics. What analysts want are two capabilities: (1) easy and flexible access to data; and (2) the ability to manipulate it. The IBP framework enables this via the trend I describe below.

The integration of the IBP framework’s component methods

The more seamless the integration of the IBP framework’s components, the better will be an organization’s performance. The trends in this category involve cloud-based planning, real-time information flows, and analytics.

  • Cloud-based computing – the attractiveness of remote computing power and storage over on-premises computing, maintenance benefits and the ability to easily extend use to enterprise users is commonly accepted today.
  • Information flows – transactional data and its conversion into information today can flow bi-directionally between business operation systems (production, logistics, and customer demand) and financial systems (profit reporting, budgeting, rolling financial forecasts). And the flows can be in real-time (or near real-time) refreshed at short term time intervals.
  • Analytics – The more savvy companies now embrace analytics as a competitive advantage. The goal of analytics should be to gain insights and foresight and solve problems, to make better and quicker decisions with more accurate and fact-based data, and to take actions.

Future trends in business planning?

In a future blog I will answer this question of future trends in business planning. But for now consider that if you can imagine a digital capability, then it will eventually (and soon) be realized.

Join me at the SAP Conference for Financial Planning, Consolidation and Controls in Las Vegas 10-11 November, where I’ll be delivering a presentation on performance and risk management. I hope to see you there!  

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About the Author: Gary Cokins, CPIM


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 .  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, Methods, Risk, and Analytics and Predictive Business Analytics.

Linkedin contact:

5 Top Tips for Vegas

By Chris Grundy, Director Product Marketing, SAP

As you know from my earlier blog, for many months now I and my colleagues here at SAP, along with a team from conference organizers TA Cook, have been preparing for our next event, the SAP Conference for Financial Planning, Consolidation and Controls. This is the new name for what was previously known as the SAP Conference for enterprise performance management (EPM), because this year we’ve expanded our content to not just focus on EPM, but also upon GRC (governance, risk and compliance). So, with just seven weeks to go until the event starts on 10 November in Las Vegas, I thought it was about high time I wrote a little something about what attendees might look forward to seeing and hearing this year, especially given the fact that we’re going to be joined by a number of industry analysts and thought leaders, along with many SAP customers ready to tell us about their experiences in implementing and using software solutions.

Illuminated Light Bulbs

So here are my tips for 5 top tips for sessions and speakers to see (and hear) at the conference in Las Vegas this November:

  1. Keynote panel day 1. Not one, not two, but three special guests join for what should be a hugely informative informative panel discussion during the day 1 keynote. Guests include Doug Henschen of Constellation Research, Scott Mitchell of OCEG and Brian Kalish of AFP Online. I’m really looking forward to hearing the opinions of this panel of industry experts and thought leaders on the topic of what’s driving Finance and the role of the CFO.
  2. Ray Wang day 2 keynote. I almost need say no more, as Ray is such a well-known observer, researcher and thought leader in the technology arena, being Principal Analyst & Founder of Constellation Research. Ray’s keynote “The secret to the future of planning” is sure to be topical, insightful and one might even hope he’ll throw in a few surprises to really get us thinking. A great reason to get back to the conference center and grab a good seat for this early session on day 2!
  3. Gary Cokins day 1 presentation. I had the pleasure of meeting Gary last year at the EPM Conference in Chicago, when he presented one of the keynotes, and since that time we’ve worked together on a number of projects, mostly related to blogging. An experienced practitioner, consultant, author speaker and prolific blogger, Gary has a vast experience in the area of performance management. I’m always impressed with Gary’s ability to express complex issues in interesting and thought-provoking ways, and the session at this year’s conference towards the end of day 1, where he will examine performance and risk should really get the brain-cells working again. And to top it off, straight after Gary’s session we have a networking reception where Gary along with other conference speakers will be happy to chat with conference attendees in a more relaxing atmosphere.
  4. Bjarte Bogsnes of Statoil day 2…and many other customers too! It’s terrific to see Bjarte on the conference agenda this year, ready to tell the Statoil experience around performance and risk. He’s a great conference speaker, very articulate and engaging and sure to give a great presentation. But of course he’s not the only customer speaker at the conference, and I’m also eager to hear presentations from Sysco, ServiceNow, Maxim Integrated, Southern California Edison as well as SAP over the two days of conference.
  5. Workshops. For those of you who like to dive deep into your solution areas, three workshops topics are on offer at the event this year; FP&A, Integrated Planning and GRC. Led by solution and domain experts, these sessions are intended for attendees who want to absorb a more detailed understanding of solution strengths and capabilities – but be ready to get your thinking caps on as you’re likely to be challenged with practical examples to work through at some point!

And of course many SAP-led sessions and excellent networking opportunities throughout the event and into the evening of the first day of the conference.

I am truly looking forward to the event this year, and to the opportunity to meet and speak with the many people attending the conference. Of course I shall be reporting back to you from the event – so if I don’t see you there, you’ll be sure to hear from me afterwards!


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