EPM Resolutions for 2012

With 2011 coming to a close and 2012 quickly approaching, many organizations are wrapping up their plans for the New Year.  While 2012 planning may be mostly financial in nature, organizations should also think about setting some goals and objectives for how they can improve their performance management processes.  With that in mind, here are my top 10 recommendations for EPM/BI process and system resolutions for 2012:

Streamline the period-end close.  With increasing regulatory and stakeholder reporting requirements like IFRS and Solvency II, many organizations spend too much time and resources on the financial close and reporting process.  Review your process and look for areas that continuously present hurdles or bottlenecks – such as data integration, account reconciliations, regulatory reporting, and XBRL-based filings.  These low-hanging fruit could be ripe for review and updating and targeting with software solutions that can help shorten the entire close and reporting process, like at Menzies Aviation.

Bring XBRL tagging in-house.   When first adopting XBRL, most organizations have chosen to outsource XBRL tagging to third party publishers.  But as detailed tagging of footnotes and disclosures drives up the cost of outsourcing, and organizations realize they can’t make last-minute adjustments to their filings – many are bringing XBRL tagging and filing in-house.  Integrating XBRL tagging with the financial close and reporting process, like StealthGas, can reduce the costs of outsourcing, improve accuracy and increase your ability to accommodate last minute changes.

Align planning processes.  Many organizations suffer from planning processes that aren’t aligned across functions and are supported by disconnected spreadsheets.  Look for ways to better integrate long-term, strategic planning with financial budgeting as well as operational planning.  Reel in processes that still rely on spreadsheets and use web-based software applications to eliminate time and resources spent on data collection and aggregation.  Connecting strategic, financial and operational planning like Societe General will also help improve resource alignment across the organization. 

Focus on forecasting.  Most organizations still have an annual budget process, but many are placing less focus and effort on this and are relying more on monthly or quarterly forecasts to update planning assumptions and implement changes to operating plans.  The rolling forecast technique is being utilized by many organizations like Sunshine 100 Real Estate to maintain a steady view of the business 4 – 6 quarters into the future.  This approach increases business agility and ensures better utilization of resources.

Leverage predictive modeling techniques to improve forecast accuracy.    Predictive modeling is being used in business forecasting by leading edge companies like Ingersoll Rand to bring statistical analysis and techniques such as Monte Carlo simulations into the mix.  These techniques can augment the forecasting be performed by line managers and can be used to validate those forecasts based on historical information, and to produce a broader range of outcomes to consider in decision-making. 

Get more granular on profitability and cost analysis.  Many organizations rely on corporate-level or divisional views of profitability and don’t regularly allocate revenues and costs down to the individual product, service or customer levels to understand which lines of business are adding or detracting value from the business.  Having a repeatable, accurate process and system for allocating revenues and costs, like Shenhua Gouhua Power, can reveal hidden insights about which parts of your business are truly profitable and which aren’t.  It can also help in allocating resources, adjusting pricing or customer service programs, or driving marketing campaigns.

Integrate sustainability reporting with financial reporting.  To address increasing stakeholder demand for more detailed disclosures regarding energy usage and carbon footprint, many organizations are producing a sustainability report or voluntarily submitting data to organizations such as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).  However the processes used to collect, aggregate and report this type of information is often manual – relying on spreadsheets, email and other processes which are unreliable.  Leverage existing business processes and systems like Dong Energy to collect, consolidate and report sustainability metrics and ensure that the non-financial information you are providing to stakeholders has the same level of accuracy as the financial results.

Centralize enterprise dimension management.  If your organization is maintaining dimensions and hierarchies such as charts of accounts and organizational structures in multiple systems, this would be a great time to centralize the management of this information. Centralizing and automating enterprise dimension management like Anglo American can lead to better IT governance, reduced costs, more consistency in reporting and high return on investment by eliminating manual, redundant administration across EPM, BI and ERP applications.

Standardize business intelligence (BI) tools.  Most large organizations have a variety of BI tools and data delivery systems and processes being utilized across different departments, business units and functions.  This often leads to different versions of the truth, duplication of effort, and higher support costs for IT.  Organizations like Presider and Home Credit Group that are standardizing BI tools and information delivery are able to improve user productivity, ensure more consistency in decision-making, and reduce costs of ownership and maintenance for IT.

Last but not least – go mobile!   Don’t be left behind – Gartner predicts that 33% of BI will be consumed on mobile devices by 2013.   Most of today’s BI tools provide support for deployment on today’s popular mobile devices.  Think about the mobile road warriors are in your business who can most benefit from having management dashboards and key metrics delivered to them anytime, anywhere to improve decision-making and customer service.

I hope these resolution suggestions give you some ideas to think about for your organization.  Best wishes for the holidays and continued success in 2012!


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