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The Financial Services industry is experiencing a revolution powered by artificial intelligence (AI) – one that’s reshaping every aspect of operations.  When navigating complexities in modern Corporate Performance Management (CPM), decision-makers and CFOs turn to AI not just as a tool but as a strategic partner.  That partner brings precision, speed, and insights to a sector that is ripe with data. AI’s influence extends from automating mundane tasks to pioneering sophisticated analytical processes, effectively transforming data into a treasure trove of strategic opportunities.

Revolutionizing Finance:  The AI in Finance Advantage

Such AI integration within the financial sphere is more than just an incremental change – it’s an evolutionary leap.  How?  AI facilitates unprecedented efficiency and disrupts traditional methods. Below, we explore 10 compelling applications demonstrating how AI already enhances the Financial Services industry, opening doors to innovation and competitive advantage.

1. Fraud Detection and Prevention

AI systems can analyze vast amounts of transaction data in real time to identify patterns and anomalies that may indicate fraudulent activity. By learning from historical fraud data, AI can predict potential fraud scenarios and alert the Finance team, thereby reducing risk and potential financial loss.

Example:  Mastercard uses an AI-based system called Decision Intelligence to analyze transactions in real time.  To prevent fraud, this system assesses the genuineness of a transaction and provides a more accurate fraud score to reduce false declines.

2. AI in Finance: Cash Flow Forecasting

AI significantly enhances cash flow forecasting by analyzing numerous factors that could affect future cash flows (e.g., market trends, seasonal effects and historical financial data).  With such enhancements, CFOs can make more informed decisions about investments, debt management and working capital requirements.

Example:  HighRadius offers AI-powered cash forecasting solutions that analyze historical data, market trends and company-specific variables to provide accurate cash flow forecasts.  With those solutions, CFOs can make informed liquidity management decisions.

3. Automated Reporting

AI tools can automatically generate routine financial reports, such as income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.  With automation, Finance can save considerable time and resources while ensuring accuracy and consistency in financial reporting.

Example:  OneStream is a cloud-based and AI-enhanced platform that automates financial reporting and compliance.  With the platform, Finance can streamline data collection, report generation and analysis, reducing the time and effort required to produce financial documents.

4. Credit Risk Analysis

By leveraging machine learning algorithms, companies can predict the likelihood of a borrower defaulting on a loan.  AI can analyze a borrower’s credit history, transaction patterns and social media behavior to provide a more accurate credit risk assessment.

Example:  Upstart, a lending platform, uses AI to assess the creditworthiness of loan applicants by analyzing thousands of data points, including some non-traditional ones like education.  With AI, the company can thus predict risk more accurately than traditional models.

5. Personalized Banking Services

AI enables banks and financial institutions to offer personalized financial advice and product recommendations based on customers’ transaction history, spending habits and financial goals.  Through such personalization, institutions can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Example:  JPMorgan Chase’s COiN platform uses AI to analyze legal documents and extract essential data points and clauses.  With AI, JPMorgan has drastically reduced the time lawyers need to spend on these tasks from 360,000 hours a year to mere seconds.

6. Investment Management

At a fraction of the cost of traditional financial advisors, AI-powered robo-advisors are reshaping investment management by providing personalized investment advice and portfolio management.  They continuously monitor market conditions and automatically adjust investment portfolios to optimize returns.

Example:  Betterment, a robo-advisor service, uses algorithms to manage users’ investments.  With the algorithms, the service optimizes portfolios based on the risk level users are comfortable with and adjusts automatically to market changes.

7. Regulatory Compliance

AI in finance systems are being used to automate the tracking and reporting of regulatory compliance.  By continuously monitoring financial transactions and operations, AI can identify potential compliance issues and help companies avoid costly penalties.

Example:  AI platform Ayasdi offers solutions for financial institutions to enhance anti-money laundering and banking compliance processes.  To do so, the platform uses machine learning to detect patterns and anomalies that human analysts might overlook.

8. Invoice Processing

AI streamlines the invoice processing workflow by automatically extracting information from invoices, matching it to purchase orders and processing payments. This streamlining not only increases the efficiency of accounts payable processes but also reduces errors.

Example:  Kofax automates invoice processing with AI, capturing data from invoices, validating it against purchase orders and executing payment processing.  With automation, the company removes manual entry errors and accelerates the accounts payable process.

9. Predictive Analytics

Powered by AI, predictive analytics can forecast future trends and market conditions, providing CFOs and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) professionals with valuable insights for strategic financial planning.  AI algorithms analyze historical data and market signals to predict stock market trends, currency fluctuations and economic shifts.

Example:  OneStream Sensible AI Services provides big data analytics that enables financial institutions to use AI for predictive analytics.  With these services, finance services companies gain insights into future market trends and improve strategic decision-making.

10. Chatbots for Customer Service

In the Finance industry, AI-powered chatbots are increasingly being used to provide instant customer service and support.  These chatbots can handle a wide range of customer queries, from account balances and transaction history to financial advice and product recommendations.

Example:  Erica by Bank of America is a voice- and chat-activated AI that assists customers with banking tasks.  With Erica, customers can check balances, send money or get financial insights based on personal shopping habits.

Embracing Artificial Intelligence in Finance Services

Each example above illustrates the transformative potential of artificial intelligence across various facets of the Finance industry.  From enhancing customer experiences with personalized services to strengthening fraud detection and streamlining regulatory compliance, AI technologies are playing a crucial role in shaping the Future of Finance.  These technologies, as they continue to evolve and mature, will bring expanding capabilities to offer even more innovative solutions to the challenges faced by the Finance industry.

Thus, the role of the CFO and the Finance team is elevated, enabling them to drive strategic business value through advanced data analytics and insights.

Conclusion

The integration of AI in the Financial Services industry is revolutionizing how companies manage their finances, interact with customers and make strategic decisions.  As AI technology continues to evolve, its impact on the Finance sector is expected to grow even further, offering new ways to drive efficiency, reduce costs and enhance financial performance.  The Office of the CFO, with its strategic position within companies, is at the helm of this transformation.  By leveraging artificial intelligence, Finance can better navigate the complexities of modern financial management and drive business success.

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To learn more about how organizations are managing the complexity of their financial planning and analysis by using AI, check out our whitepaper titled “Revolutionize Your Planning with Sensible ML.”  And if you’re ready to take the leap from spreadsheets or legacy EPM solutions and start your Finance Transformation with OneStream, let’s chat!

Learn More About Enterprise Finance AI

In our keynote at our annual OneStream Splash event in Las Vegas, we focused on key topics around finance-led ops, which is why we were excited to announce our new Sales Performance Management (SPM) solution built by InfinitySPM. This is another great example of one of our partners leveraging our platform to extend beyond the office of the CFO.

Get ready to supercharge your ability to plan, manage, and analyze sales performance across the enterprise and exceed sales goals, align incentives, and transform how we forecast, budget, and plan for growth.

1. Drive Success with InfinitySPM’s Sales Performance Management

Unleash your finance skills with InfinitySPM’s Sales Performance Management. Gain a unified user experience and data model, resulting in transparent and confident financial and sales performance plans. It’s time to drive success and showcase your finance expertise!

2. Overcome Data Challenges with InfinitySPM

Say goodbye to disjointed financial and sales performance data. InfinitySPM’s solution empowers us to optimize resources, increase sales productivity, and drive top-line revenue growth. It’s time to overcome data challenges and unlock valuable insights that fuel financial performance.

3. Synergy Between Sales Plans and Financial Goals

Unleash the power of synergy between sales plans and financial goals with InfinitySPM’s Sales Performance Management. Collaborate seamlessly with sales and finance teams, aligning efforts towards shared organizational objectives. Plan confidently and adapt for future success with InfinitySPM’s flexible solution.

4. Unleash the Power of OneStream’s Unified Platform

Leverage the power of OneStream’s unified platform, combined with InfinitySPM’s Sales Performance Management. Access a comprehensive suite of tools to optimize sales, territory, and incentive planning, integrated within a unified data model and user experience. It’s time to streamline financial reporting and plans and maximize efficiency.

It’s time to amplify your skills and achieve new heights!

Elevate your finance game with InfinitySPM’s Sales Performance Management. Check out our SPM content on our website to learn more about how our customers are taking finance further.

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On the surface, the concepts of financial consolidation vs. data aggregation might seem to mean the same thing. But financial consolidation is more than just rolling up or aggregating numbers. For instance, it involves writing data like elimination and currency translation amounts during the correct order of processing. Why? To ensure all amounts are applied at the right time as data is consolidated. Performing financial consolidation accurately and efficiently requires a purpose-built software application designed for the task.

Simple Data Aggregation

Let’s start with the concept of simple financial data aggregation. This concept involves basically any process in which information is gathered and expressed in a summary form, for purposes such as statistical analysis. In the case of aggregating sales data from different locations, the process would entail simply gathering the sales numbers for each location and adding them up to get a total. The information would then allow for analyzing how each office contributed to the total.

See example below:

Simple Data Aggregation

Financial Consolidation

For the purposes of financial reporting results in the form of a consolidated income statement and balance sheet to stakeholders (in accordance with US GAAP, IFRS or other global reporting guidelines), consolidation is more than just adding up or aggregating data.

Financial consolidation involves specific calculations and accounting adjustments (e.g., intercompany balancing amounts) that must be written and applied at the right time as the numbers are consolidated from the subsidiary level to the parent company level. This process can include the following steps, among others:

There are also different methods of consolidation. Plus, the methods can vary depending on the controlling stake a parent organization has in a subsidiary – ranging from full consolidation to the equity method.

Software Approaches

Accounting departments manually performed financial close for many years. But in today’s world, several types of software tools are used to support financial consolidation and reporting:

Evaluating Packaged Consolidation Applications

Not all packaged financial consolidation applications are equal in capabilities. In fact, differences in feature sets should be carefully considered. Some are designed to support basic financial consolidations, while others are designed to support complex consolidations – with complex ownership structures, intercompany relationships, and statutory reporting and audit requirements.

Differences also exist in the underlying database engines used to handle financial consolidations. Any vendor whose product uses an on-line analytical processing (OLAP) database (e.g., Microsoft Analysis Services, Oracle Essbase, IBM Cognos TM1, SAP HANA) or similar straight aggregation engines, will face numerous challenges to address core financial consolidation requirements described earlier. To recap, those requirements include currency translation, intercompany eliminations, journal adjustments, partial ownership, consolidation status and cash flow algorithms. And these engines aren’t designed to provide an accurate audit trail for each step in the process of how the data for a specific entity is calculated, adjusted, translated and eliminated into each of its parent entities.

Only a few purpose-built financial consolidation engines are available in the CPM market. Oracle Hyperion Enterprise (now unsupported) and Hyperion Financial Management had purpose-built financial consolidation engines. OneStream is a more modern platform that has a purpose-built financial consolidation engine.

Although many vendors claim financial consolidation as a core capability, most have settled on using a straight aggregation engine instead of implementing a purpose-built financial consolidation engine. Vendors that have enjoyed some initial success with planning-only solutions are now facing market pressures, forcing them to inaccurately claim that they have true financial consolidation capabilities.

More Information

To learn more, download our Financial Consolidation and Reporting eBook.

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The increasing pace of change and uncertainty in today’s global economic, geopolitical and regulatory environment has put an extreme amount of pressure on CFOs and Finance teams to lead their organizations in steering through market challenges.  Yet many organizations are struggling to keep pace and many Finance teams feel stuck on a treadmill, struggling just to get access to data they can trust to report on the past, much less move the business forward.   

Having modern, agile financial performance management (FPM) software and processes are critical to providing the insights needed to make informed decisions that have positive business impact.  This is the focus of the 2024 BARC Score for Financial Performance Management report.  

Managing Financial Performance in the Digital Age

The BARC FPM Score report focuses on the highly competitive market for FPM products and portfolios. It analyzes the strengths and challenges of 15 leading FPM software vendors that offer outstanding value to their customers.  In the report, the BARC analyst team highlights the importance of effective FPM as organizations seek to continuously monitor and accurately forecast financial targets in the age of digitalization and business disruption.   

Key focus areas that companies are pursuing right now in FPM include the following:  

According to BARC, support from modern and requirements-oriented software solutions is an essential element in achieving these goals. Hereby, the integration of various FPM disciplines in common software platforms (e.g., financial planning and forecasting, financial consolidation and close, financial reporting and disclosure management and data analytics) is a means of avoiding problems and user dissatisfaction but also helps to streamline financial management processes within companies and to drive finance transformation.

Besides the shift towards unified FPM processes and systems, the BARC analyst team also highlights the increasing demand for cloud-based deployments, self-service in finance and accounting departments as well as AI and machine learning (ML) supported decision-making capabilities in FPM software.

OneStream Recognized as a Leader

So how did OneStream fare in this evaluation?  We are pleased to report that for the fourth year in a row, OneStream has been recognized as a Leader in the BARC Score for FPM software.  Our Leadership position improved in the 2024 report, with OneStream now sharing the highest-rated Portfolio Capabilities and improving our placement on Market Execution. (see figure 1 below)

BARC Score OneStream Market Leader

Figure 1 – BARC Score for FPM Software

Commenting on OneStream’s placement in the BARC Score for FPM, Dr. Christian Fuchs, Senior Analyst and head of Data and Analytics Research at BARC said, “OneStream is recognized as a Market Leader for its unified platform that supports the full range of CPM processes across the enterprise.  OneStream can meet the needs of medium to large organizations across all industries looking for a unified and robust CPM solution.”

Here’s a look at the key strengths of OneStream that were highlighted in the report:

This recognition is great validation of our strategic vision and execution as it demonstrates the power of OneStream to “take finance further” with a unified CPM platform that spans a broad range of financial and operational processes.  It highlights the broad range of built-in reporting and analytics functionality, including our innovation and ability to empower users with AI and ML for tasks such as predictions, scenario analyses and to automatically find insights and take action. And it recognizes our ability to meet today’s needs and adapt to future needs with our extensible platform and Solutions Exchange.

In a related report, BARC’s Financial Consolidation Survey 24, OneStream received 6 Top Ranks and 14 Leading Positions in a survey of over 500 practitioners evaluating 9 leading Financial Consolidation solutions.  This report provides further validation of OneStream’s market-leading functionality and ability to address the complex requirements of the world’s largest enterprises.

Evaluating Portfolio Capabilities vs. Market Execution

To be evaluated in the BARC FPM Score, a vendor must have a strong focus on providing FPM functionality (not only analytics functionality) and supply at least four out of five following capabilities: 

Every vendor is evaluated on two dimensions: Portfolio Capabilities and Market Execution. Portfolio Capabilities include functional and architectural criteria with a special emphasis on seamless integration and ease of use for business users.  Market Execution focuses on factors such as product strategy, customer satisfaction, financial results and geographic coverage. 

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Having modern, agile financial performance management (FPM) software and processes are critical for Finance teams to effectively steer their organizations through today’s market challenges.  Over 1,400 organizations have chosen OneStream’s market-leading platform to unify and streamline critical Finance processes and deliver actionable insights across the enterprise. To learn more, download a complimentary copy of the BARC FPM Score report, and contact OneStream if your organization is ready to take Finance further and thrive in the digital age.  

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Today, all organisations require robust systems and processes across all levels to drive performance improvement, achieve operational excellence and sustain competitive advantage in the dynamic environments they operate.

EPM software forms a management layer above all transaction systems providing a level of agility and visibility now critical for any organisation that wants to successfully handle the non-forgiving complexities of growth and change.  With an effective management layer in place, organisations can upgrade or replace underlying ERP/GL systems.  And it can be done without disrupting critical management processes, such as planning and reporting, during the transition period.

In this blog post, we review the 5 best EPM software solutions for 2024 using our own interpretation of their relative offerings.  We only included software that meets the following non-negotiable qualifications:

What is EPM software?

EPM Software solutions are designed to help organisations effectively manage and analyze their performance data to achieve the strategic objectives they have set.  An EPM solution integrates and analyzes data from many sources, including, but not limited to, ERP systems, HCM, CRM, and Supply Chain applications, data warehouses, and also cloud and external data sources.  The typical management processes included in EPM solutions are: Goal Setting, Modelling, Planning, Financial Close & Consolidation, Reporting, and Analysis.

EPM solutions typically include the following capabilities:

Ultimately, EPM software provides management with data analytics and insights across multiple operational systems and processes. EPM solutions provide agility in forecasting and strategic planning, reporting, and decision-making.  And they help organizations create alignment across the enterprise.

This comparative analysis explores the features and functionalities of 5 leading EPM solutions:  OneStream, Oracle EPM Cloud, SAP EPM, Workday Adaptive & Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik.

1. OneStream

OneStream is the only solution for EPM delivering end-to-end management of enterprise-wide consolidation, close, financial and operational planning & forecasting in a unified platform. This unified platform helps finance, and operations teams collaborate by creating a single source of truth that eliminates the complexity of multiple solutions, interfaces and integrations, cost and duplication of data and metadata, time-consuming processes, and upgrades.

With a built-in data quality engine and pre-built connectors, finance is in control, providing a strong, flexible foundation in data quality that’s ERP and source system agnostic, as real-time as needed, with drill down and drill back to any source, providing auditability across all close, planning, reporting and analysis processes and actionable insights behind every number.

Pros:

Cons:

2. Oracle EPM

Oracle EPM is a suite of business applications designed for end-to-end management of enterprise-wide consolidation, close, financial planning & forecasting and performance reporting. Oracle is similar to SAP, with legacy solutions from their acquisition of Hyperion with end of support in 2035 for Hyperion HFM and Hyperion Planning. Their suite of applications is being redeveloped on the Cloud, consisting of individual best of breed solutions for each core management process.

Pros:

Cons:

3. SAP EPM

With the end of support of SAP’s legacy EPM solutions – BPC and BFC (BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation) set for 2030, SAP’s go forward solutions for EPM are a combination of SAP Group Reporting embedded in S/4HANA for consolidations and SAP Analytics Cloud for financial and operational planning. 

SAP S4/HANA Group Reporting is an enterprise solution for consolidations and since it is part of S4HANA, it leverages a combination of features of Group Reporting for consolidations and S/4HANA for core close capabilities. SAP Analytics Cloud is a cloud-based platform for planning, business intelligence (BI), and predictive analytics, enabling organizations to visualize, plan, and make data-driven decisions.

Pros:

Cons:

4. Workday Adaptive Planning and Consolidation

Workday Adaptive Insight was founded in 2003 as a planning solution with limited consolidation capabilities and acquired by Workday in 2018.  It was rebranded initially as Adaptive Planning, but it is now being marketed as Adaptive Planning and Consolidation.

Workday Adaptive Planning covers planning, consolidation, analytics and reporting functions and is built on a proprietary In-memory database enabling collaboration and real time updates in a browser user interface similar to that of a spreadsheet and supports integration of data from ERP and other source systems.

Pros:

Cons:

5. Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik

Tagetik was originally developed in 2005 to deliver trusted, comprehensive and scalable CPM solutions globally and was acquired by Wolters Kluwer in 2017.  CCH Tagetik is marketed as an end-to-end financial close and consolidation solution for group and entity controllers. It is comprised of multiple solutions for financial consolidation and close, account reconciliation and transaction matching, financial and management reporting, disclosure management (via a partnership with CoreFiling), and ESG & sustainability performance management. It is available in both on-premise and cloud.

Of all the vendors in this article, they appear on the surface as the closest vendor to OneStream’s unified platform, but it’s not until you get into the details of how the solutions work together, that it becomes clear it still suffers from some of the same integration and solution complexities as the multiple application approaches of other vendors in the CPM/EPM market.

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion

Choosing the right EPM Software is essential for organizations seeking to move away from unreliable, inadequate EPM applications and/or spreadsheets and to instead evolve to a modern EPM solution.

Each of the Top 5 solutions featured in this blog post offers unique features and benefits, catering to the diverse needs of organizations across industries.  Ultimately, however, if you’re looking to streamline your key Finance processes and significantly increase confidence in your reporting, OneStream is the best EPM software to handle all your requirements, no matter how complex.

Learn More

To learn more about how organizations are managing the complexity in their EPM processes, check out our whitepaper titled: Taking Performance Management to the Next Level with Intelligent Finance

And if you’re ready to take the leap from spreadsheets or legacy EPM solutions and start your Finance Transformation with OneStream, let’s chat!

Download the White Paper

Maximizing Success through Corporate Performance Management in the Modern Business Landscape

In today’s competitive business world, achieving optimal performance and driving business success requires a structured approach.  Enter Corporate Performance Management (CPM).  Across the organization, CPM provides the tools and methodologies to define, measure, monitor and improve performance.

The definition of CPM, its methods and its key performance metrics are crucial knowledge for modern enterprises.  In this blog post, we’ll unveil all 3 aspects.  We’ll also highlight a few modern examples of organizations that have successfully implemented CPM in different functional areas to achieve desired business outcomes.

Let’s get started by defining precisely what CPM entails.

What Is Corporate Performance Management?

In essence, Corporate Performance Management is a comprehensive approach to managing business performance, encompassing the entire organization.  What does that entail?  Setting strategic goals, developing plans, budgeting, monitoring, analyzing data and making informed decisions aligned with business objectives are all part of CPM.  By adopting a comprehensive CPM approach, organizations can assess overall performance, enhance performance and drive business success.

CPM addresses the following pivotal questions (among others!):

Methods in Corporate Performance Management

Now let’s dive into 5 key CPM methods that help drive organizational success.

1.  Strategic Goal Setting and Planning

Strategic goal setting and planning is a fundamental aspect of CPM.  Why?  Through this method, an organization articulates its mission, vision and values.  Organizations can also establish SMART goals and devise strategic initiatives.  Accordingly, this method aligns activities with strategic objectives, ensures efficient resource allocation and maximizes business performance.

An example of this CPM method in action is Virgin Atlantic’s strategic goal-setting and planning:

2.  Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting

Budgeting, planning and forecasting together form another essential aspect of CPM.  Why?  This method involves preparing budgets based on historical data, future projections and strategic goals.  By conducting regular monitoring and variance analysis, organizations can identify deviations and take corrective actions.  Effective budgeting and forecasting thus contribute to optimal resource allocation and planning.

An example of the budgeting and forecasting method in action is Coca-Cola’s CPM approach:

3.  Performance Measurement and Reporting

Performance measurement and reporting involves assessing the performance of departments, processes and business units against KPIs to set objectives.  How?  By employing performance reports, dashboards and scorecards to help not only visualize KPIs, but also identify areas of improvement and those that require attention.  Effective performance measurement and reporting drives successful decision-making and performance improvement.

One example of this CPM method in action is Netflix’s performance measurement and reporting:

4.  Risk Management

Risk management in CPM involves identifying, assessing and mitigating risks that can impact an organization’s performance.  How, precisely, is that achieved?  The focus is on developing strategies for risk mitigation, conducting risk assessments and monitoring risk indicators.  Effective risk management, in turn, contributes to optimal execution and thus reduces the potential negative impacts on performance.

One example of this CPM method in action is Amazon’s risk management strategy:

5.  Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement involves evaluating and refining processes to enhance overall efficiency, effectiveness and business outcomes.  What does that entail?  In short, this method involves adapting to changing environments and aligning tactics with evolving strategic goals.  Continuous improvement then drives innovation and enhances organizational competitiveness.

One example of continuous improvement in action is Toyota’s KAIZEN methodology:

Key Performance Metrics in Corporate Performance Management

Choosing the appropriate performance metrics is crucial for effective CPM.  Why?  Well, appropriate and effective KPIs enable organizations to evaluate performance, identify areas of improvement and monitor progress toward goals.  Below are some common metrics used in different functional areas.

Financial Metrics

Financial metrics are vital for assessing the profitability, liquidity and overall financial health of an organization.  These common financial metrics, among others, are used in CPM:

By monitoring these financial metrics, organizations can assess their financial performance, identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions to enhance both profitability and financial stability.

Operational Metrics

Operational metrics evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s core operational processes.  Why?  Essentially, these metrics provide insights into productivity, quality and resource utilization.  The following operational metrics, among others, are used in CPM:

By using operational metrics, organizations can identify process inefficiencies, improve productivity, enhance quality and optimize resource allocation.

Customer Metrics

Customer metrics focus on measuring and evaluating the organization’s relationship with customers.  Why?  These metrics ultimately help assess customer satisfaction, loyalty and overall customer experience.  Examples of customer metrics used in CPM include the following, among others:

By monitoring these customer metrics, organizations can understand customer needs, improve customer satisfaction and strengthen customer loyalty, eventually driving business growth.

Employee Metrics

Employee metrics assess the performance, satisfaction and engagement levels of the organization’s workforce.  Why?  These metrics play a crucial role in managing talent, fostering a positive work environment and promoting productivity.  The following common employee metrics, among others, are used in CPM:

By tracking and analyzing employee metrics, organizations can make strategic decisions regarding talent management, employee development and overall organizational effectiveness.

Innovation Metrics

Innovation metrics evaluate an organization’s ability to innovate and bring new ideas, products or services to the market.  Why?  These metrics provide insights into an organization’s innovative capacity and can drive a competitive advantage.  Some key innovation metrics used in CPM, among others, include the following:

By monitoring innovation metrics, organizations can assess their innovation capabilities, identify areas for improvement and foster a culture of continuous innovation.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Corporate Performance Management (CPM) enables organizations to manage performance, align activities with strategic objectives and make informed decisions.  With that in mind, here are the key takeaways from this blog post:

Learn More

For a more in-depth look at CPM in action, check out our Platform webpage – it’s all online, no forms required. 

Are you at an enterprise organization looking to upgrade your CPM processes?  Get started with a OneStream demo today! 

What is Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)?  At its core, FP&A is a holistic approach to strategic financial management.  The approach includes planning, budgeting, forecasting and analysis to secure a company’s health and growth trajectory.  FP&A combines financial data, operational data and market insights to provide a systematic view of the company’s current and future financial health. 

FP&A requires a deep understanding of the operational dynamics of the business, relevant industry trends and the broader economic landscape.  Serving as the architects of financial strategy, FP&A professionals craft detailed plans aligned with the company’s long-term goals and objectives.  How?  By providing a bridge between the raw data of day-to-day business operations and the strategic insights needed by senior management to make pivotal decisions. 

The FP&A team typically reports to the CFO.  In turn, the CFO seeks to better understand the current state of the company’s financial position and predict future revenue, expenses, profits and cash flows through data.  CFOs therefore often invest in dedicated FP&A software to aid in FP&A analysis. 

Why is FP&A so important? What does process entail, and how does it work in action? Keep reading to find out (and to check out some of our industry examples). 

The Strategic Importance of FP&A 

FP&A’s strategic importance cannot be overstated.  In today’s volatile and competitive business environment, the ability to plan effectively, anticipate future financial challenges and navigate strategic decisions with confidence is critical.  FP&A provides the foundation for this capability; it offers a comprehensive and forward-looking view of the company’s financial health.  Ultimately, FP&A enables businesses to be proactive rather than reactive, positioning them for sustainable growth and success. 

What Is the FP&A Process? 

FP&A aims to answer important financial business questions.  Below are just some of the key questions FP&A teams seek to answer throughout the process: 

To address these complicated, organization-defining questions, FP&A uses 5 core steps to create comprehensive financial plans and analyses. Typically, these steps come after the long-range planning (LRP) and the annual operating plan (AOP) process.  

1. Strategic Planning

The journey of FP&A begins with strategic planning, through which the overarching organizational goals and ambitions are set.  As a crucial first step, this stage defines the direction and scope of all subsequent financial planning and analysis efforts.  Strategic planning thus involves high-level collaboration with various departments to ensure the financial strategy aligns with operational capabilities and market realities. 

2. Budgeting and Forecasting

Central to FP&A is the dual process of budgeting and forecasting.  Budgeting involves tactically allocating resources based on the strategic plan to set financial targets for revenues, expenses and capital expenditures.  Acting as a financial blueprint, budgeting guides spending and investment decisions over a specific period.  Forecasting, on the other hand, extends the vision further into the future using historical data, market analysis and economic indicators to predict financial outcomes.  Providing a dynamic view of the company’s financial trajectory, forecasting allows for adjustments in strategy in response to changing market conditions or internal factors. 

    3. Financial Modeling and Analysis

    Financial modeling is another cornerstone of FP&A, providing a framework for analyzing the financial implications of various strategic decisions and scenarios.  Through models, FP&A professionals can simulate the impact of different strategies, market conditions and operational changes on the company’s financial performance.  This analysis supports risk assessment and thus helps companies mitigate potential financial setbacks and capitalize on opportunities. 

    4. Variance Analysis and Performance Measurement

    An essential aspect of FP&A is the ongoing analysis of the company’s financial performance against organizational plans and forecasts.  Through identifying discrepancies between actual results and budgeted or forecasted figures, variance analysis offers insights into why these discrepancies occurred.  This continuous evaluation process helps companies refine financial strategies, optimize performance and achieve strategic goals more effectively. 

      5. Reporting and Decision Support

      FP&A culminates in the synthesis and presentation of financial insights to senior management and stakeholders.  This stage involves the preparation of detailed reports, dashboards and presentations that highlight key financial metrics, trends and analysis.  By providing a concise view of the company’s financial status and outlook, this step supports strategic decision-making and ensures all stakeholders are aligned with the financial objectives. 

      Examples of Financial Planning & Analysis in Action 

      To illustrate the real-world application and importance of FP&A, let’s explore a few examples across different industries: 

      Conclusion 

      What is Financial Planning & Analysis?  As the post above establishes, FP&A is an indispensable business partner and function that helps organizations navigate uncertainty, capitalize on opportunities and mitigate risks.  FP&A combines strategic insight with financial acumen, giving FP&A professionals a way to empower companies to make informed decisions and drive sustainable growth.  As businesses continue to operate in increasingly complex and volatile environments, the role of FP&A will only grow in importance. 

      Learn More 

      Looking to get started with FP&A? Check out our ebook called “Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting.” No form fill required!  

      Download the eBook

      Introduction

      Global organizations have relied on SAP BPC (SAP Business Planning and Consolidation) for their financial consolidation and planning needs. Unfortunately, the end-of-support for SAP BPC has been updated and set for 2030. Organizations are thus exploring modern SAP BPC competitors that offer the same capabilities. Yet those alternatives must also meet the challenges of complex global consolidation requirements, broader close capabilities (e.g., account reconciliations), and financial & operational planning scenarios, with the volumes of data needed to support those processes.

      Organizations are looking to finally deliver on the promise of one source of truth. To unify the full consolidation and close lifecycle and financial & operational planning with built-in dashboarding, reporting and analysis, from the balance to the transaction level in one solution. Ultimately, the goal is a single solution that meets the requirements of modern organizations and grows with them to meet future requirements.

      In this article, we’ll review SAP BPC competitors to examine the key features, capabilities and pros/cons. We aim to give you the information needed to make an informed decision about the right SAP BPC alternative for your organization.

      What Is SAP BPC?

      SAP BPC was developed to bring together consolidations and planning into one Excel-based interface to ensure familiarity among Finance professionals. With built-in financial intelligence, SAP BPC helped Finance streamline consolidations and produce consolidated Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow statements. Because of its Excel-based interface, ability to cover multiple planning scenarios and a common data model, organizations were able to run their planning and forecasting scenarios and reconcile plans to actuals for variance reporting and analysis.

      With SAP BPC end-of-support set for 2030, many organizations have either already selected or are currently in various stages of selection processes to find SAP BPC alternatives.

      To produce this article, we evaluated numerous reviews and analyst reports, which serve as the typical starting point for selecting the right CPM/EPM platform. We then evaluated alternatives based on five key criteria:

      1. End-to-end management of enterprise-wide consolidation, close, and financial & operational planning and forecasting
      2. Built-in data quality engine, in the hands of Finance, to provide a strong, flexible foundation in integration and data quality
      3. Ultimate agility to adapt to varying levels of granularity in the business and across consolidation, planning and forecasting processes
      4. Optimized end-user experience to drive efficiency and effectiveness, eliminating time-consuming and error-prone manual processes
      5. Trusted insights from the balance to transaction level with transparency, auditability and actionable details behind every number

      Now let’s dive into an overview of the key features, highlights and benefits of SAP BPC for consolidation and planning. To help you find the right solution for your organization, we’ll cover the pros/cons and alternatives. Looking for more information on other top CPM/BPM software? Check out our review: 5 Best SAP BPC Alternatives for 2024.

      What Was SAP BPC Used For?

      SAP BPC

      For decades, global organizations have relied on solutions such as SAP BPC for global consolidations and planning processes. SAP BPC had built-in financial intelligence to streamline consolidations so that Finance could produce consolidated Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow statements. In addition, SAP BPC had built-in planning capabilities (e.g., spreading) to streamline the planning user input during planning processes.

      However, SAP BPC never delivered on the promise of one solution. Most customers needed to manage separate consolidation and planning applications. Then, these applications would need to be integrated. Additional applications were often needed to bring everything together for analysis and variance reporting.

      SAP BPC Key Features

      SAP BPC is known for several key capabilities:

      SAP BPC Pros

      SAP BPC Cons

      SAP BPC Alternatives

      Enterprises today are looking to replace SAP BPC with more modern, cloud-based approaches to CPM/EPM. Many SAP BPC alternatives take the traditional multi-solution approach to CPM, which still results in complex management of multiple solutions, interfaces and integrations. However, solutions such as OneStream unify consolidation, close, and financial & operational planning, reporting, and analysis in one platform.

      Enterprises therefore have options to achieve organizational CPM/EPM goals and, with the right choice, can get closer to that elusive one source of truth. The following solutions are the best alternatives for end-to-end management of enterprise-wide consolidation, close, and financial & operational planning and forecasting:

      ·         OneStream

      ·         SAP EPM

      ·         Oracle EPM

      ·         Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik

      ·         Workday Adaptive Planning

      Conclusion

      With the looming end-of-support for SAP BPC, organizations are actively looking for alternatives. OneStream’s Intelligent Finance Platform is the only CPM/EPM solution that delivers end-to-end management of enterprise-wide consolidation, close, and financial & operational planning and forecasting in a unified platform. This platform enables Finance and Operations teams to better collaborate and finally deliver on a single source of truth.

      With over 1,400 customers globally, many successful migrations from SAP BPC to OneStream and a mission to ensure every customer is a reference, OneStream stands as the only truly unified platform for CPM/EPM.

      Learn More

      Want to know more? Check out OneStream’s video about what comes after SAP BPC/BFC/BCS here.

      Learn More

      In the previous post in our “What’s Next for Cartesis/SAP BFC Customers” blog series, we covered how many organisations are now facing the end of support for their Cartesis/SAP BFC application, currently announced for 2027.  Of course, this end date could be further extended if significant pressure is placed on SAP.  We also looked at some of the concerns/risks.  Plus, we detailed 5 key considerations for Cartesis/SAP BFC customers who are moving towards an evaluation process.

      Given the above challenges, current Cartesis/SAP BFC customers have 3 options to consider, as outlined in the first post in this series: 

      In this blog post, the focus will be on Choice 2.

      Choice 2 – Invest in SAP’s Unproven Next-Generation Products

      SAP has chosen a vastly different path than OneStream for the future of SAP EPM solutions.  Much like Oracle, SAP chose to continue with the legacy of the past by creating new, separate cloud solutions for each key EPM process area.  This suite of applications is still fragmented – rather than innovated towards the future of EPM where all processes can and should exist in one unified platform. 

      The previous generation of EPM applications was dependent on the technology available at the time.  Accordingly, the financial consolidation process was typically built in technology suited to processing data, running calculations and handling non-financial data/commentary.  The planning process was typically built using cube technology to handle volumes of data and fast analysis.  With the advancements now available, however, separating these processes is no longer necessary.  The latest technology can handle the differences in data granularity, differing levels of dimensionality and distinct process steps – all in a single, unified solution.

      The different path SAP has chosen results in this current fragmented suite of EPM products:

      1. SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC)
      2. SAP Group Reporting
      3. SAP Group Reporting Data Integrator – tool that gathers financial data from business units
      4. SAP Datasphere – latest generation of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud
      5. SAP Fiori – a design system to create specific business applications
      6. SAP Profitability & Performance Management – separate product for automating all allocation-based business processes
      7. Account Reconciliations provided by Blackline
      8. Tax Reporting solution provided by a partner, promoted in SAP Store
      9. Lease Accounting provided by partner Nakisa

      Customer/Peer Reviews

      SAP does not have an entry in Gartner Peer reviews for Cloud Financial Close Solutions.  Does SAP not consider Group Reporting to be in this category?  SAP BFC does appear for financial consolidation, but no reviews have been posted since 2019.  The former Outlooksoft product – now SAP BPC also appears but with little focus on close and consolidation, and only 52 reviews have been given in the life of the product.

      SAP SAC appears on Gartner Peer Reviews as well – in Cloud Extended Planning & Analysis Solutions with 95 reviews and in Financial Planning Software with 112 reviews.  I would expect to see higher numbers given the number of customers SAP claims to serve. 

      Some of the Gartner reviews include dislikes, as shown in the excerpts from actual reviews:

      1. “Some of the features in planning that exist in EPM are not yet available in SAC, and user adoption is challenging as users are attached to EPM/BPC”.
      2. “Insufficient data modelling capabilities, product immaturity, oversold capabilities”.
      3. “Involves steep learning curve.  UI should be more polished and modernised”.
      4. “Sometimes we want to modify things, and the way to do it is very complicated.  It is not user friendly.  Simple things like conditional formatting or smart text are very difficult to add”.
      5. “Reporting/story building and editing is NOT intuitive or user-friendly at all”.
      6. “Getting started time needs quite some onboarding.  User community is not very active, but I guess this is due to the short time of tool availability”.

      In contrast, OneStream has 269 reviews in Financial Planning Solutions (4.6 average rating) and 258 reviews in Cloud Financial Close Solutions (4.7 average rating).

      Key Considerations

      The following key considerations/questions will significantly help facilitate the evaluation process and value assessment when you’re considering what’s next for your EPM solution: 

      SAP EPM Strategy

      I have the greatest respect for SAP’s ERP strategy, and the company has an excellent product – one well-respected by many.  Comparatively, the SAP EPM strategy is a very different story.  The EPM strategy is not taking advantage of technological advancements which can change the game for EPM solutions by unifying all processes. Regarding EPM & ERP, my best advice when I speak to organisations has always been consistent:  the EPM management layer is best kept separate from any ERP.  This separation delivers a degree of future proofing for the organisation, and being ERP agnostic leaves room for a lot of flexibility as the organisation evolves and changes over time.

      Reasons to Change

      Given those considerations, consider joining the more than 300 SAP ERP customers who use OneStream. Below are just some of the reasons these organisations moved to OneStream:

      Those reasons highlight why the most natural and capable successor to Cartesis/SAP BFC is OneStream.

      Move Forward with the Next Generation of CPM

      OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform (See Figure 1) is completely agnostic to ERP strategy.  Rather than relying on a central ERP strategy, Intelligent Finance platforms integrate data from multiple sources – such as ERP, CRM, HCM and data warehouses – to create a single and governed version of the truth across finance and operational processes. 

      Figure 1 – OneStream Intelligent Finance Platform

      This interoperability is important.  Why?  It keeps the management layer technology independent from the transactional layers.  Any IT department that forces a move to a single tech solution is setting the organisation up for unnecessary costs and delays when future changes occur.  After all, you can never say never to changes in your business model or structure.

      To learn more about Choice 3 – evaluating alternate EPM strategies such as OneStream – and to understand why OneStream is the most logical move from Cartesis/SAP BFC, tune in for our next and final blog post in the ‘What’s next for Cartesis/SAP BFC Customers’ series.

      Learn more!

      Ready to join the organisations that have taken the step from Cartesis/SAP BFC to OneStream?  Check out our video here, and be sure to visit our website.

      Watch the Webinar

      In the ever-changing world of modern Finance leadership, the road ahead for Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) becomes more defined every day.  A significant transformation is taking shape, highlighting the imperative of consolidating connected planning to foster alignment among Strategy, Finance and Operations.  Not too long ago, this ambitious vision of seamlessly integrating financial and operational planning faced obstacles due to technological limitations.  In fact, the rapid evolution of planning processes often outpaced the capabilities of the supporting technology – a challenge to which many businesses can relate.

      However, the undeniable reality is that organizations now find themselves at a critical juncture – either embrace unified connected planning or risk incurring hidden costs.

      In the world of corporate performance management (CPM), modeling and planning toolkits such as Anaplan, Board and Essbase have been celebrated for their flexibility and speed in addressing departmental planning needs.  However, a critical issue arises when these toolkits are tasked with unifying planning processes across an entire enterprise.  The fundamental problem lies in the approach employed by FP&A teams, as the toolkits rely on individual planning models that must be interconnected.

      That reliance on disconnected models introduces data latency, risks and chaos.  The result?  A planning process that’s cumbersome, challenging to access, slow to consolidate and prone to inconsistencies.  Moreover, the reliance on disconnected models also often leads to user errors and incurs substantial data movement costs (see Figure #1).

      Figure #1: Modeling Toolkit Chaos

      Understanding the root of this chaos requires recognizing that these disconnected models primarily serve three purposes:

      1. Ensuring Consistent Data Collection:  The models are often used to maintain data consistency.
      2. Aggregating Disconnected Data:  The models are employed to aggregate data from various sources and systems.
      3. Inputting Data for Analysis:  The data is input into another planning model for in-depth analysis.

      The drawback of using disconnected models is the significant amount of time and effort invested in creating and maintaining them.  Exacerbating the issue, the models are frequently misused, leading to additional time spent on fixing and consolidating data.

      The Hidden Costs FP&A Modeling Toolkits

      In today’s corporate landscape, FP&A leaders have a newfound influence, empowered by technological innovations to shift the focus from static back-office tasks to delivering timely, accurate financial and operational insights across the enterprise.  However, when contemplating investments to unify connected planning, Finance-oriented CFOs and leaders must consider the common attributes and hidden costs associated with modeling toolkits:

      1. Data Hubs Created Due to Lack of a Unified Platform:  The absence of a unified platform necessitates the creation of data hubs, introducing complexity.
      2. Endless Design Possibilities and Flexibility:  While attractive, flexibility often results in ongoing costs and the need for continuous fixes.
      3. Data Inconsistencies and Validation:  Continuous effort is required to validate data across connected models.
      4. IT Expenses for ETL and Data Synchronization:  Technical deficiencies necessitate significant effort and IT expenses for Extract/Transform/Load (ETL), synchronized models and data repositories.
      5. Multiple Environments and Data Movements:  The need for multiple environments and data movements increases third-party app and data integration costs.
      6. Monitoring and Repairing Connections:  Substantial funds are allocated to monitor and repair the connections between models.

      While modeling toolkits are effective for departmental needs, the widespread use of these toolkits across the enterprise planning process generates hidden costs that cannot be ignored (see Figure #2).

      Figure #2: 4 Key Hidden Cost of Modeling Toolkit Chaos

      Hidden Costs to Consider for Unifying Connected Planning

      For FP&A teams aiming to unify their connected planning processes using modeling toolkits, below are four hidden costs that must be considered:

      Hidden Cost #1: Technical Debt Is More Than Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

      Scaling connected planning with modeling toolkits often focuses solely on the return on investment (ROI), overlooking the burden of technical debt.  Yet implementing a new entity or structure within the organization frequently requires rebuilding modeling toolkits, leading to increased technical debt and higher overall costs (see Figure #3).

      Figure #3: Hidden Cost of Technical Debt

      Key TCO Consideration

      Hidden Cost #2: Short-Term Gains Erode Organizational Efficiencies

      While modeling toolkits offer short-term gains by automating manual processes, using the toolkits can lead to near-term losses for large organizations.  These toolkits, despite efforts to connect toolkits, remain fragmented systems that lack scalability, posing a risk to organizational performance.

      Key Efficiency Consideration:

      Hidden Cost #3: Forfeiting Effectiveness Is Not an Option

      While efficiency gains are enticing, forfeiting effectiveness for the sake of efficiency can be counterproductive.  The fragmented nature of modeling toolkits often results in efficient work being applied to inaccurate data, increasing costs as teams seek correct information.

      Key Effectiveness Consideration:

      Hidden Cost #4: Poor Collaboration Increases Organizational Risks

      Collaboration breakdowns related to disconnected data sets can lead to costly mistakes.  Only a unified platform can effectively mitigate these risks by ensuring seamless collaboration among departments and applications.

      Key Risk Mitigation Consideration:

      Conclusion 

      Modeling toolkits, despite their merits, also come with hidden costs and complexities that can hinder enterprise-wide planning and performance.  FP&A leaders must carefully weigh these factors when considering the adoption of modeling toolkits for connected planning and explore more unified solutions to optimize financial and operational insights across the organization.

      Learn More  

      To learn more about how organizations are scaling connected planning, click here to read our whitepaper on the topic.  And if you’re ready to take the leap from spreadsheets or legacy CPM solutions and start your Finance Transformation, let’s chat!

      Download The White Paper

      Buying EPM software is a complex and time-consuming process – one that sometimes becomes a buyer’s nightmare. After all, the process involves managing stakeholder relationships and communicating with multiple software vendors and system integrators. The demands for thinking critically, meeting aggressive deadlines, navigating office politics and making compromised decisions further complicate the process. But overall, software vendors must satisfy the requirements based on very demanding standards to win the buyer’s heart. All those dynamics mean that demonstrating the application is perhaps the single-most important step in the buying process. What, then, does it take for you to get the perfect EPM demo?

      Demoing Is Hard for the Buyer and the Seller

      Every software demo team wants to hit the mark when it comes to your expectations. But have you ever gazed through the room after a demo and found your colleagues’ facial expressions looking unimpressed or bewildered – basically anything but impressed?

      Unfortunately, these situations happen often, for several reasons. To name a few, lack of preparation, misalignment between requirements and capabilities shown, discordant emotional states and more are all possible reasons. Preparing for a demo with the software demo team is therefore key for a successful outcome.

      Delivering an EPM demo is pretty much like conducting an orchestra. There is planning, selecting musicians with the right skills, assembling the orchestra, tuning the instruments, rehearsing and more. Then, during the concert the conductor ensures all musicians – the string section, the brass section, etc. – are following the music sheet. Otherwise, all the right notes will likely be played in the wrong order! In a similar way, the demo team needs to plan, understand the requirements, assemble a skilled demo team with influential representatives, rehearse and … rehearse, all to ensure a smooth and enjoyable demo experience for you!

      So why, then, can a demo go wrong? Or more importantly, what needs to happen to ensure every EPM demo is tuned to exceed expectations? This post walks you through 3 considerations for a successful EPM demo.

      3 Considerations for the Perfect EPM Demo

      The role of the Office of Finance is evolving to become a trusted business partner that enables and deploys the corporate strategy across the organization. Thus, an EPM solution must support the diverse cyclical processes that Finance teams execute (see Figure 1). The application must also be designed to scale and to accommodate the ever-changing needs from Finance. So when you’re shopping for an EPM solution, it must scale to support the future.

      The 3 key considerations below will help you make the most of an EPM demo:

      1. Actively engage discovery sessions

      A good discovery is key for a successful demo afterward. Demos can go wrong when insufficient time is apportioned to explain your needs in depth. To help ensure things go right, be open to feedback from the vendor’s team and engage in a discussion to level expectations. Discovery is also a great moment to identify risks and start digging up hidden costs:

      At the end of discovery, you should be able to answer the following questions:

      2. Use the demo to further qualify the vendor

      Interactions prior to and throughout the demo are a fantastic opportunity for you to further qualify the vendor: is the vendor being professional? Does the vendor understand your industry and business? Does the vendor have the right values and culture? Those questions matter because past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior. Thus, how the demo team works and delivers a demo may reflect the cultural traits on how the company may support you after the solution implementation.

      Also, experience has shown that an EPM solution is rarely understood with just one demo, so don’t be afraid of asking for follow-up sessions. In addition, don’t let your current software vendor tarnish the relationship with other vendors or cut down the time needed for assessing other products!

      3. Defining the right demo content

      Many EPM demos start with a nice-looking dashboard populated with clean data. All very appealing, but how does the data get in there? How easy is to build that dashboard? It is important that key technical aspects are demonstrated. That knowledge will save you many headaches in the future! Accordingly, always request the following points in the demo content:

      These aspects require different audiences, so splitting the EPM demo content into more than one session is a standard practice.

      Conclusion

      Investing time in preparation will help you better qualify the vendors and revisit the scope of each EPM solution to ensure you get the best from your investment. To ensure your EPM demo session is fruitful, clearly communicate your needs and expectations. Also consider the feedback you receive from the demo team to really build the best demo content.

      Finally, during the EPM demo, you shouldn’t focus only on the user experience. No matter how easy to use the tool is, adopting it is not a good move if it doesn’t provide the data, doesn’t facilitate the process or people don’t want to use the tool. Adequate demo time must be allocated to prove the EPM solution to ensure it fits the holistic financial process and not just isolated use cases.

      Rest assured that every demo team strives to thrill the audience with a stunning demo and end with a room filled with excitement:

      Ready for the Next Step?

      Meet our expert team of solution consultants, and book a demo of OneStream’s Intelligent Finance Platform.

      Request a Demo

      As modern Finance leaders navigate the turbulent global landscape, the path ahead for Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) gets clearer every day. A pivotal shift is occurring, emphasizing the need to unify connected planning to foster alignment between Strategy, Finance and Operations. Not too long ago, however, the ambitious vision of integrating financial and operational planning into a seamless ecosystem faced setbacks due to technological limitations. The rapid advancements in planning processes outpaced the supporting technology – a predicament many businesses might recognize.

      But here’s the truth:  organizations now stand at a crossroads – embrace unified connected planning or risk incurring hidden costs.

      Despite technological advances and increased data accessibility, Finance is still struggling to synthesize all planning across the enterprise into one cohesive and ongoing process. In fact, according to a 2023 report from the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), only 26% of CFOs surveyed say their respective company’s approach to annual budgeting is valuable. Plus, even the CFOs themselves admit that improvements are needed

      Today’s Finance leaders must maintain board, investor and stakeholder confidence while providing actionable insight to line-of-business managers. To do so, CFOs and Finance managers must, now more than ever, deliver fast, accurate and valuable financial and operational information that can be trusted.

      Finance leaders can now leverage modern technology to rid themselves of legacy systems and processes while embracing future trends prevalent in today’s market.

      Key Trends Shaping Modern FP&A

      Spurred by technological advances, the speed of analytical disruption in organizations is already perpetually fast – and only getting faster. As Finance groups prepare for the transformation ahead, 3 key trends are reshaping the future of how organizations will generate value from reporting and analytics initiatives: 

      Key Trend #1:  The Rise of eXtended Planning & Analysis (xP&A)

      As Finance teams respond to a rapidly changing business environment, FP&A is extending its reach to include and collaborate with Sales, Marketing, Supply Chain, Talent Management and IT to accelerate enterprise agility. This unifying framework – known as eXtended Planning and Analysis (xP&A) – enables continuous collaboration and performance management by using a single, composable platform and architecture. 

      Key Trend #2:  More Targeted Analytics

      Financial analysts and decision-makers are drowning in complex data. To better process that data, organizations are increasingly enhancing traditional dashboards with dynamic data-driven insights powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The resulting dynamic data stories generate insights as narratives, highlighting the most meaningful changes in the business for each user – with root causes, predictions and prescriptions for the roles and contexts. In turn, the enhanced data-driven insights reduce the risk that financial and operational analyses will be misinterpreted.

      Key Trend #3:  AI-Enabled FP&A

      The way Finance teams manage the data behind dashboards and visualizations is changing.  How?  Finance can use modern technologies to deploy a host of new models and tools to provide actionable financial and operational data that drive effective decision-making. More specifically, technologies such as ML and AI are leveraged to automate various tasks required during the analytics process – and to discover, visualize and narrate important findings in vast data sets. AI and ML ultimately enable Finance to reduce the time it takes to perform the day-to-day input- and output-focused activities that consume analysts’ time – without requiring the full-time support of data scientists.  (See Figure #1)

      Figure #1: OneStream’s Sensible ML

      As organizations navigate the ever-evolving landscape, staying ahead of the curve is paramount to success. While the adoption of modern technologies and embracing key trends can bolster an organization’s financial agility, there comes a crucial juncture when scaling connected planning becomes imperative. Recognizing the signs that indicate the right time for this strategic move can make all the difference in propelling a company towards its goals and sustaining growth.

      5 Signs It’s Time to Scale Connected Planning

      The continuous sophistication of organizations makes it challenging to harness technology to bolster Finance. When those challenges are coupled with the pressures of volatile revenue streams, Finance leaders are tasked with managing growth, optimizing emerging technologies, addressing globalization demands, evolving target operating models and empowering mobile employees. These leaders must also explore innovative avenues to boost productivity, optimize costs and maximize the value of relationships.

      If your organization is evaluating whether it’s ready for Finance Transformation, here are 5 key signs it’s time to scale connected planning.

      Sign #1 Increasing Complexity and Data Volume

      One clear indicator that it’s time to scale your connected planning efforts is when your organization experiences a significant increase in complexity and data volume. As the business grows, you’ll likely encounter more intricate planning challenges that cannot be effectively addressed with traditional planning methods. Instead, scaling your connected planning capabilities will allow you to leverage advanced analytics and data integration to handle complex planning scenarios, accommodate large data sets and gain deeper insights into business operations.

      Sign #2  Lack of Coordination and Collaboration

      Disconnected FP&A planning processes often result in silos, leading to a lack of coordination and collaboration between different departments. If you notice your teams are struggling to work together, duplicate efforts or encounter difficulties aligning plans, those signs are a clear indication you need to scale your connected planning efforts. By implementing an integrated planning solution, you can break down departmental barriers, encourage cross-functional collaboration and ensure everyone is working toward a shared set of goals.

      Sign #3  Inefficient Planning Cycles

      Are planning cycles taking longer than necessary, causing delays in decision-making and hampering your ability to respond swiftly to market changes? If so, those signals are telling you the time is now to scale your connected planning efforts.  Automating and streamlining your planning processes through connected planning will reduce manual work, eliminate redundant tasks and significantly speed up your planning cycles. In turn, this increased efficiency allows you to make informed decisions faster and stay ahead of the competition.

      Sign #4  Inaccurate Forecasts and Poor Performance

      If your FP&A organization is consistently struggling with inaccurate forecasts or failing to meet performance targets, your planning processes may be falling short. (See Figure #2) Scaling connected planning can help you improve forecast accuracy by leveraging real-time data and advanced forecasting models. With access to up-to-date information and robust predictive capabilities, you can make more reliable projections, identify potential risks and opportunities, and take proactive measures to achieve better performance outcomes.

      Figure #2: Modeling Toolkit Chaos
      Sign #5  Limited Scalability and Adaptability

      As your business expands and evolves, you need planning processes that can scale and adapt accordingly. Traditional FP&A planning methods often lack the flexibility to accommodate growth or respond effectively to market shifts. scaling connected planning enables you to handle increased demand, seamlessly integrate new business units or acquisitions, and adjust your plans to align with evolving market dynamics. Scaling therefore provides the scalability and adaptability needed to support your organization’s long-term growth strategy.

      Conclusion

      Connected planning is a powerful approach that can revolutionize how your organization manages its planning processes. Recognizing the signs that it’s time to scale your connected planning efforts is crucial for staying competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment. And by addressing increasing complexity, fostering collaboration, improving efficiency, enhancing forecast accuracy and enabling scalability, you can unlock the full potential of connected planning and propel your organization toward greater success. Embrace the opportunity to scale connected planning, and watch your business thrive in the face of changing landscapes.

      Learn More

      To learn more about how organizations are scaling connected planning, click here to read our whitepaper on the topic. And if you’re ready to take the leap from spreadsheets or legacy CPM solutions and start your Finance Transformation, let’s chat!

      Download the White Paper

      Demo Sign Up