Well, it was a long wait, but recently, I finally got to see the legendary rock band The Who on their 50th anniversary tour at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

The Who

The show was originally scheduled for October 2014, but Roger Daltrey became ill.  This postponed the last leg of the North American Tour until March 2016.

But despite that, the band didn’t disappoint.  Their set included hits from their early days in the ‘60s and historic albums, such as Who’s Next, Tommy, and Quadrophenia.  Finishing on a high note, the epic show ended with their anthem “We Won’t Get Fooled Again.” 

That closing song got me thinking about something we see time and time again in the EPM market: companies getting fooled into using “tool-based” EPM solutions.

Moving From Excel to EPM Applications

What I’m referring to is what happens to some companies who decide to make the move from Excel to packaged EPM applications for budgeting, planning, forecasting, and reporting.  One reason they typically decide to make the move to EPM applications is being fed up with all the manual effort and maintenance required to support an Excel-based approach to these key processes. 

The unfortunate mistake some companies make, though, is selecting a “tool-based” EPM solution instead of a solution based on pre-built packaged applications.  For standard EPM processes – such as financial budgeting, workforce planning, CAPEX planning, project planning, and quarterly forecasting – there are plenty of pre-built applications in the market that can do the job.

In other words, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel and “build” a solution that that ends up taking more time and costs, and requires a high degree of ongoing maintenance. 

This would be like building your own General Ledger using an Oracle database and C++ or Java.  No one builds their own GLs anymore.  There are plenty on the market that can address most needs.  Making a recommendation like this would get someone fired!

Where a company has unique requirements that demand a more customized approach, selecting a tool or platform that can support “special or advanced” requirements may be justified.  But even in these cases, a pre-built solution might be able to address a majority of the requirements, with some customization to address the specific needs.    

There’s a better option.

The Best of Both Worlds

If your company has a need to support standard planning, budgeting, and forecasting requirements – as well as unique, company-specific needs – then you’ll want to look for a solution that has both pre-built, packaged applications and a modeling solution that supports custom development.

For instance, Host Analytics provides a cloud-based EPM suite that includes standard modules for Planning, Consolidation, Reporting, and Analytics.  In fact, the Planning module includes purpose-built features for financial budgeting, workforce planning, capital planning, and initiative planning.  These features address the key requirements of many organizations, across industries.

The Host Analytics Cloud EPM Suite also includes a Modeling module that allows companies to create solutions to requirements not supported by the core modules. 

Examples of “special or advanced” use cases supported by the Modeling module include Advanced Revenue Planning, Sales Operations Planning, Advanced OpEx Planning, and Long Range Planning.  These use cases often require more granular data, more complex calculations, and more granular time periods than is required for financial budgeting. 

What’s powerful about the Host Analytics approach is that the custom applications created in the Modeling module can be integrated and linked to the financial plans and models being run via the core Planning module.  This enables you to create a strong linkage and alignment between operational models and financial plans.

The Takeaway

The WhoSo “don’t get fooled again” by buying an EPM “tool” to replace your Excel spreadsheets.  You’ll just be trading one set of maintenance headaches for another set. 

Instead, select pre-built EPM applications that already include support for best practice processes – and will be supported and maintained by the vendor.  Reserve the tool-based approach for unique requirements, but make sure you can link your custom planning and modeling solutions to the core planning systems. 

To learn more, check out our free white paper: “Introduction to EPM in the Cloud.”  

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