Friday May 29, 2015

Customers and Partners Discuss the Benefits of Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud

By Guest Blogger: McKenzie Clune

Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud (PBCS) enables businesses of all sizes to rapidly adopt a world-class planning, budgeting and forecasting solution. This service features first in class planning and forecasting functionality, and enables accelerated adoption and flexible deployment options to meet your changing business needs. Oracle PBCS works to connect operational assumptions to financial outcomes and requires no capital infrastructure investment and minimal IT resources.  




At Collaborate 2015, Nigel Youell, Senior Product Marketing Director of Enterprise Performance Management at Oracle was joined by Emily Baird, Senior Accountant for Diono LLC to talk about Diono’s use of PBCS. Emily described Diono’s decision to adopt PBCS – namely, Diono’s budgeting, forecasting and reporting processes were very dependent on spreadsheets, and the tool that was directly linked to the ERP system was resulting in broken links and data integrity issues. As a rapidly growing mid-sized company with a global footprint, Diono found the cloud aspect of PBCS very attractive due to the low investment and scalability. PBCS had the potential to grow with the company.  

Diono’s implementation lasted roughly six months, and the company has already experienced significant improvements in reporting, annual budgeting and overall productivity. Specifically, Emily touches on how calculations, translations and consolidations of data from seven different countries, a once five week process, can now be performed in minutes – Thanks to Oracle’s PBCS!



To watch the video, click here

Nigel also spoke with Scott Costello, Director for Cloud Service and Emerging Technologies for Key Performance Ideas, about the benefits their customers have been realizing with PBCS. Key Performance Ideas currently has about 15 organizations using the software, and that number continues to grow. Scott talks about the agility that comes with PBCS, and how customers are leveraging the software for Line of Business (LOB) planning outside of Finance, including  sales planning, marketing planning, and even daily and weekly planning.  

One of the main benefits Scott describes is the positive economic impact associated with implementing PBCS, which makes it an attractive product. With PBCS, there are no upfront infrastructure costs or maintenance costs, and customers receive automatic updates. Lastly, the subscription aspect of PBCS allows for flexible and scalable deployment. Oracle’s PBCS has made many operations easier, and our partners and customers are realizing the associated benefits.



To watch the video, click here
To learn more about PBCS, click here


Tuesday Apr 21, 2015

Great Oracle EPM Content at Collaborate15 in Las Vegas


Last week, the Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Product Management and Product Marketing teams went to Las Vegas for the combined US User Groups (OAUG, IOUG and Quest) Collaborate15 conference. Overall, there were some 73 Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) sessions delivered by Oracle, partners and customers covering all aspects of the subject and a wide range of Oracle Enterprise Performance Management solutions. In addition, there were three Oracle demo pods for Enterprise Performance Management, Business Intelligence and Big Data.

The Oracle sessions included updates on Oracle Hyperion Financial Close Suite from product manager Rich Wilkie, and Oracle Hyperion Enterprise Planning Suite from product manager Shankar Viswanathan. There were also sessions on current and forthcoming Oracle Cloud products – Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service presented by Shankar Viswanathan, and Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud Service presented by Jennifer Toomey from Oracle EPM Product Marketing. Al Marciante, from product management, gave an update and an outline of the roadmap for the entire Oracle Enterprise Performance Management suite.



Jennifer Toomey

While at the conference, the Oracle Product Marketing team worked with customers, partners and staff to organize and record short videos based on the presentations they gave so that the great information they presented can be shared with a much wider audience. In total, 22 videos were recorded and will be released via the Oracle Business Analytics YouTube channel (link) over the next few weeks. There are some great stories in the videos on how organizations have implemented and benefited from Oracle Enterprise Performance Management. For example, one customer was able to reduce budget calculations and aggregations from weeks to minutes with Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service and another customer, using Oracle Hyperion Accounts Reconciliation Manager, was able to reduce their time to close from 15 days to 8. Watch for links to these videos published via our social media channels - @OracleAnalytics, LinkedIn - Official Oracle Business Analytics group. We will also post a selection of links here in a few weeks.

Finally, thanks to all the customers and partners who made the effort to prepare and deliver presentations at the conference and for the many attendees who went to the sessions. There were some great EPM discussions and complements at the sessions, in the exhibition area, and in the conference halls. Hope to see you at Collaborate next year.

To learn more about Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), click here
To watch videos from Collaborate 2014, click here


Nigel Youell (left) speaking with Al Marciante 



Nigel Youell (left) speaking with Shankar Viswanathan



Nigel Youell (left) speaking with  Rich Wilkie


Friday Apr 10, 2015

Gartner Positions Oracle as a Leader in CPM Suites


On April 2, Gartner released its 2015 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management Suites report. In the report, Oracle was recognized as a Market Leader for the ninth consecutive year.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant reports position vendors within a particular quadrant based on their completeness of vision and ability to execute. In this year’s report, among the market leaders, Oracle is positioned with the highest ability to execute and the strongest in completeness of vision.

Gartner has the following observations about the Corporate Performance Management space this year:

“Each year, Gartner emphasizes the most impactful market factors when considering each vendor's scores. This Magic Quadrant stresses capabilities in three primary areas of market evolution. The first is the cloud. The CPM suite market is shifting toward cloud-based solutions that deliver a shorter time to value and improved ease of use. The ability to provide cloud-based solutions and vendor experience with supporting these solutions factored heavily in this market study. The second primary area of market evolution reflects vendor ability to provide more comprehensive strategic financial planning support. The third primary area of market evolution is analytics.”

Oracle enterprise performance management applications are an integrated, modular suite that supports a broad range of strategic and financial performance management processes and helps organizations drive digital transformation and generate value for the business. 

Click here to learn more:  Report

For more information about Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management Applications please go to www.oracle.com/epm.


Monday Apr 06, 2015

Oracle's Top EPM Trends for 2015

Modern CFOs are successfully leveraging digital technologies in their Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) processes to transform their finance organizations and generate value for the business.  Which EPM priorities are at the top of the Finance agenda? What are the most compelling developments in big data, analytics, mobile technology, and cloud computing that motivate Finance leaders to undertake new technology initiatives?

Oracle surveyed hundreds of decision makers to learn more about their EPM plans for 2015—both within the Oracle customer base and the industry at large. We asked your colleagues to provide specific feedback on EPM technologies and practices—past, present, and future. From this extensive data set we compiled the following views and outlook—along with a bit of advice.  

For details on each trend, download the entire report here.

Trend 1 – EPM Embraces the Cloud; Speed is Key
EPM Cloud is planned to nearly double in 2015 vs. 2014. Compared to last year’s EPM Trends survey, speed and agility overtook cost considerations as a top cloud benefit. 

Trend 2: Mobile Goes Beyond Convenience to Strategic
Nearly half of respondents indicated that mobile technology adoption is providing growth opportunities and competitive advantage.



Trend 3: Big Data is Creating a New Signal for Finance
Over half of respondents expect to leverage big data in planning and forecasting processes in 2015 and 62% of CFOs around the world cited big data as hugely important to the future of business.

Trend 4: Modern Planning Practices are Becoming a Reality
More than 50% of respondents currently use, or are planning to use, driver-based budgeting and planning in the next 12 months. Rolling forecasts are in use or will be used in the next 12 months by 70% of respondents.

Trend 5: Detailed Costing Practices are Needed to Stay in the Game or Get Ahead
There was a 71% increase over last year in companies planning to cost individual customers, 133% more for costing invoices and 136% more for transactions. The desire to understand detailed costing practices has grown significantly. Meanwhile, many companies are still over-burdening their General Ledger with management reporting calculations.

Trend 6: Finance Departments need Literacy as well as Numeracy
Over half of respondents expect external stakeholders will require greater explanation of the numbers in financial reports, and 90% agree that expanding qualitative commentary in management reporting processes is critical.  It’s not just about the numbers – stakeholders want them put into context.

Trend 7: Organizations are not Realizing the Wider Benefits of Enterprise Data Governance
Over half of respondents already have Enterprise Data Governance (EDG) in place to help align reporting from multiple systems and in 2015, EDG is expected to reduce the use of spreadsheets and email by half again. Finance has felt the pain, seen the need, and has taken action, but the front office is yet to act.

The focus of Modern Finance is evolving from governance to guidance. Predictive, data-driven analysis, continuous planning and budgeting, and real-time decision making are what’s needed now. 

Modern EPM tools leverage cloud, mobile, and big data technology and are changing how Finance organizations are run and the best practices they use to measure contribution to the business.  Armed with fresh, accurate, enterprise insights from EPM tools, the Finance department can confidently drive digital transformation.

To download the entire report on Oracle EPM Top Trends for 2015, click here
To learn more about Oracle EPM, click here


Wednesday Mar 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS)!

Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) recently celebrated its one year anniversary of serving our customers. In just 12 short months, PBCS has grown from 0 to more than 22,000 users, purchased by organizations in 39 countries, and implemented in companies from mid-sized to large multi-nationals – across all industries.



Companies around the world are realizing world class planning capabilities with the simplicity of cloud delivery. Driving alignment beyond the finance function, organizations are also adopting Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service to improve sales and operational forecasting and planning processes. With no CAPEX infrastructure investments and virtually no learning curve, implementation is fast and enables organizations to deploy applications flexibly to meet changing business needs.

Below are just a few customer highlights:

Racepoint Global leverages Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service to centralize planning across its international operations and support rapid growth. They saw the need to move from a litany of spreadsheets to a more robust and flexible tool that was within their budget. Oracle’s EPM Cloud solution provides world-class planning functionality that fits well within Racepoint Global’s budget. Using the Oracle Partner Peloton Group as their implementer, Racepoint Global was able to go live in just 10 weeks.  Clickhere to watch the video.

CTDI looked to automate a traditionally manual process for budgeting, planning, and forecasting that was time-consuming and prone to errors. Daily forecasting of financial results is one of CTDI’s key business management practices, and the company selected Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service to meet this requirement. The Oracle solution enables their users to upload financial information automatically to improve the speed and the accuracy of financial reporting and forecasting.

“Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service enables us to remove the barriers to adopting an on-premises application and makes it much easier for our rapidly expanding business to deploy a world-class planning and budgeting solution very quickly. We are excited about improvements we know the solution will give us in terms of speed and accuracy. It will enable us to spend more time analyzing data, versus reporting it.” – Paul Cardell, Vice President, Corporate Operations, Communications Test Design, Inc. (CTDI). To read the entire customer story, click here. To watch the video, click here

Manhattan Beachwear, Inc. was one of the first customers to go live on Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service. As the largest manufacturer of swim and active wear in the United States, Manhattan Beachwear Inc. produces 18 million garments annually. PBCS enables the company to spend less time on manual spreadsheets and more time on analysis of the business, and the solution has been rolled out beyond Finance to sales reps for sales forecasting. Moving forward, Manhattan Beachwear hopes to use PBCS to look further into the future to improve production planning. To watch the video, click here

TBS Group, a European leader in the medical device and ICT sectors, moved to cloud in mid-2014, because they wanted to have a good handle on their costs, move from capital to operational expenses, and to save money in the process.  At the same time, they wanted to guarantee flexibility if they increased they increased the complexity or changed their business. TBS Group sped up the implementation in the cloud vs an on-premises solution, and implemented in just two months.  Click here to view the video

To see more customer testimonials, click here.
For more information about Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service, click here

Friday Feb 21, 2014

Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service -- What's All the Buzz About?

Earlier this week, Oracle announced the general availability of our first EPM application in the Oracle Public Cloud, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service, thereby extending our existing portfolio of on-premises and managed /hosted applications with a SaaS offering.

I had the pleasure of speaking and demo’ing our solution to a group of customers that day at an event in Dallas, and there was clear enthusiasm about the ability to access world-class planning functionality in a SaaS-based model.  Our announcement also generated excitement in social media and news articles.  In addition, existing Oracle EPM partners, as well as partners who have worked with us in other product areas, are lining up and are in the process of becoming specialized for Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service.  Some have already launched their rapid start offerings.

So, why are customers and partners excited about Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service?  What’s new and differentiated about this offering?

Fast Adoption

This application is built for SaaS adoption to meet cloud user expectations around ease of use and self-service.  It includes a number of cloud-specific capabilities that make it easy to roll out planning and forecasting to your lines of business across the enterprise.  These include:

+ Extensive online help and video tutorials
+ Best practice design templates and guides that are based on years of experience with Hyperion Planning implementations
+ Guided application navigation features that literally take a new user through the whole process of building an application
+ Plus diagnostics and governors that assist with building and monitoring an application from the administrative side

During the 3-month customer and partner preview program that we ran last year, we received very positive feedback about how users could get up and running with virtually zero training needed.



First-in-Class Functionality

While Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service is a new product, it leverages the code base of the market-leading Hyperion Planning application, which has seen rapid adoption over the past 10 years, with close to 4K organizations implementing it.  Many of these deployments have become quite large with over 1000, and some even over 5000 users globally.  This is what sets Oracle apart in the marketplace -- proven on-premises technology, now optimized for the cloud.

+ Powerful multi-dimensional analysis capabilities and sophisticated rules framework for fast processing of complex calculations
+ Collaborative workflow and plan management capabilities, including powerful annotations, commentary, document attachments, task, workflow and burst reporting capabilities
+ Intuitive web interface with full MS office integration for driver-based modeling, rolling forecasts and analytics
+ On the fly models that can be created and shared collaboratively and validated against sophisticated predictive capabilities
+ Built-in management reporting capabilities

Flexible Deployment

Many companies today are assessing cloud options in parallel with traditional implementations of on-premises solutions.  They are concerned about potentially locking themselves into a single approach from vendors that can only offer either a cloud solution or an on-premises solution with no way back.

For most organizations today, flexibility of deployment holds the key to the way forward.  That is, the ability to adopt mixed mode deployments (public, private and hybrid clouds) as desired and to alter the mix when business circumstances dictate it.  Moreover, the Oracle Cloud offers security and encryption at every layer of the tech stack, utilizing the latest physical and logical data security and protection solutions. Oracle is the only vendor who can deliver this, leveraging our own hardware, database, and applications technology, plus the Oracle Cloud infrastructure.

Customers I’ve spoken with welcome this flexibility of deployment and see the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service as an additional option to meet their planning and forecasting needs.  Customers have the ability to move applications back and forth between Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service and Hyperion Planning on premises, through Lifecycle Management (LCM) packages, which is proven technology from the Hyperion applications portfolio.

And, unlike niche cloud vendors, Oracle lets you decide when upgrades happen, so you don’t have to go through planned downtimes at a critical time. With Oracle’s flexible upgrade schedule, you can choose an upgrade window that best fits your business. Customers also have the ability to specify the 1-hour slot for daily maintenance and backups performed by Oracle.

So what’s all the buzz about?  Simply put, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service offers world-class functionality with the simplicity of the cloud.


For more information about the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service click here.

Friday Jan 31, 2014

Planning and Budgeting in the Cloud

Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service is a new cloud service based on the functionality of the latest release of Oracle Hyperion Planning, which is the global market-leading packaged application for Planning and Forecasting. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Toomey, a Senior Director of Product Marketing for Business Analytics at Oracle, on a podcast, and she relayed a lot of useful information to our listeners about the types of companies that are turning to the cloud for budgeting and planning, and the kinds of benefits they can experience. 

But first things first. I asked Jennifer to explain to our listeners why companies are moving to the cloud -- what are some of the challenges with planning, budgeting and forecasting that can be addressed with a cloud-based solution?  She relayed to our listeners that planning extends far beyond the walls of the finance organization. “Pretty much every department in your company is involved with planning and budgeting.” The vast majority of planning and budgeting work is done outside of the Finance, Planning and Administration group by line of business users. Jennifer further explained that while common wisdom suggests that more inputs can help lead to more accurate forecasts, the problem is often that these inputs are done via disconnected processes – often using spreadsheets.  There is a huge amount of inefficiency and a general loss of productivity in the planning process done this way.  

According to industry studies, on average:

20% of employees are involved for at least three weeks to create the annual plan
This can add up to 3% of a company’s revenue, or
$1,000 per employee!


So how can Cloud help? Jennifer explained that using a cloud-based model, a planning solution can be quickly and flexibly rolled out across the organization, enabling you to easily gain the input and intelligence of line of business managers as part of the planning process. Moreover, up until a couple of years ago, we still saw reluctance in the Finance department around adopting cloud applications, largely driven by security and data confidentiality concerns. However, this reluctance is vanishing rapidly.    Analyst studies indicate that Finance executives are increasingly buying into the SaaS model, and in a recent survey that we conducted, three quarters of respondents indicated that they are currently using or will consider deploying EPM in the cloud. So what is happening with Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service?  Jennifer explained to our listeners that “Oracle’s been moving aggressively towards the SaaS model across its application suite and, as we’ve seen our customers’ attitudes shift in favor of cloud, we are now moving our EPM applications into the Oracle Cloud.” She also described some of the functionality being offered:

It is based on the functionality of the latest release of Hyperion Planning, which is the market-leading packaged application for Planning and Forecasting, and it is optimized for the cloud.
Ability to migrate from on-premise
Data integration
Financial and management reporting
Full MS Office Integration
Same security, operations and infrastructure as all applications that are part of Oracle Cloud

It is important to note that this is not simply a hosted version of Hyperion Planning, but rather, it is a new application that has been completely optimized for the cloud.  We chatted about some of these cloud-specific enhancements to accelerate usage and minimize administration, including online help, guided tutorials, and diagnostic tools.

What are the key benefits for customers with this cloud offering and who can benefit? Jennifer explained to our listeners that mid-size companies have a lot to gain, especially if they don’t have the resources to implement an on-premises solution. Hyperion customers with a custom-based Planning application in Essbase also have the opportunity to modernize and have a fully workflow-enabled application. But really any customer looking to quickly roll out a departmental or line of business-based planning solution, outside of finance would benefit greatly. They can all expect:

Fast Adoption
First-in-Class Functionality
Flexible Adoption (it is exactly the same software whether in the cloud or on-premises– so organizations can change the deployment method in the future with minimum effort if they need to) 

In summary, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service offers world-class functionality with the simplicity of the cloud.

To listen to the entire podcast, click here.
To learn more about Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service, click here.












Wednesday Jan 08, 2014

Why Are My Numbers Different From Yours?

Happy New Year!

Organizations spend way too much time arguing about whose numbers are right, where they came from, and what they mean, rather than spending time discussing what to do about them.  I had the pleasure of interviewing book author and consultant Ron Dimon, Enterprise Performance Management Advisory Services Partner at CheckPoint Consulting – an Oracle Platinum Partner – during a Podcast, and he provided some interesting insights into this topic.




Ron and I have been involved in Performance Management in one way or another since about 1999 and it amazes me that organizations today still rely so much on spreadsheets to do their planning and forecasting, profitability analysis, and even to record and report their financial and operational results.  But, I am hopeful, as many companies and institutions now embrace the tools and processes of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), that this will change, turning performance management into a discipline and a competitive advantage.To listen to the entire Podcast, click here.

I asked Ron to give his point of view on why people are still uttering “Why are my numbers different from yours?” With all the technology and systems we have now, why is this still an issue for many organizations?  He told our audience that he believes much of the issue can be attributed to spreadsheets. “While great for some things, they were never meant to be collaborative, controlled, enterprise-wide consolidation and reporting engines or reporting systems.  We have grown to rely on them, because they are pervasive and so easy to set up.”  Ron explained that it is relatively easy to whip up a customer profitability spreadsheet, for example, in less than an hour. You just need to collect the sales and expense numbers, take a stab at indirect costs and voila!  The problem, he suggested, starts after the report is set up and we need to share it, compare actuals to forecast, or include some historical trend data.  Ron explained that, “When Finance gets a look at the spreadsheet, they have to reverse engineer it and will probably quickly find that my basis for allocating expenses is wrong, or I haven’t taken into account commission splits, or I’m not including a foreign subsidiary of the customer in the sales results…the list goes on and on.”

So how can this be corrected? Ron talked about a way of still using Excel to create easy, on-the-fly reports – but rather, using Excel directly connected to the central repository of data to ensure that everyone creating reports is starting from the same set of data. The Oracle solution he has used for this is called Oracle Hyperion SmartView for Office and is part of the Oracle EPM System.  Because the spreadsheet is essentially connected to the underlying central repository of the EPM system, there is less time spent arguing about why numbers are different.

So is Oracle Hyperion SmartView for Office the answer? Does it solve the data problem all by itself? Ron explained to our audience that SmartView is the window to all that data; it’s one way to access it. But how and when the data gets into the central repository, and how it’s organized and transformed once it gets there requires an Enterprise Performance Management System (EPM). Oracle’s EPM system is both a collection of tools and a group of processes that govern how your data, especially financial data, is recorded, reported and used. 

Ron explained that an EPM profitability application, like Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management (HPCM), is a much more disciplined way to truly determine customer profitability – unlike the spreadsheet example mentioned previously. Instead of the finance person making up formulas, allocations, and deciding what is included in that customer number or not, HPCM does it for you.  So now you CAN spend more time on what do to with that customer: pay more attention, adjust prices, offer new services (or even fire them!) – and much less time arguing about why my numbers are different than yours.

To listen to the entire Podcast, click here.
To learn more about Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management solution click here, and to learn more about HPCM, click here.

Friday Dec 20, 2013

Déjà Vu? Oracle EPM in 2013


As the year winds down, I wanted to share some of the highlights from EPM in 2013 and give a sneak peak about where we’re going next year. 2013 was a busy year with new product developments, new research studies, as well as customer events like Oracle OpenWorld. Let’s look back at some of these happenings and their associated blog posts.


New Product Developments 

Early in 2013, we announced a new release of Oracle Enterprise Performance Management with new integrations and product capabilities and updates to user experience that help companies to Unlock Business Potential – by unlocking business potential, companies are able to drive to the desired business outcomes of Aligned Objectives, Accurate Forecasts, Confident Close and a more Accountable Enterprise.

We also released new product modules, including Oracle Hyperion Tax Provision to help with aligning tax information and financial reporting, and Oracle Data Relationship Governance for improving financial master data governance and managing change.  In addition, we certified Oracle Hyperion Planning and Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management on Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine to help organizations Plan at the Speed of Business.  

For the sixth consecutive year, Gartner recognized Oracle as a Market Leader in its 2013 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management Suites report.  In this year’s report, among the market leaders, Oracle is positioned with the highest ability to execute and the strongest in completeness of vision.

New  Research

We conducted several interesting research studies in 2013.  Over the past several years, as we have gone through and emerged from the Great Recession, the role of the CFO has transitioned to one of catalyst for change.  New technologies and shifts in skill sets are also contributing to this changing role.  To understand these issues more deeply, we partnered with Accenture and released new research about the CFO’s changing role from financial overseer to corporate strategist and change agent.

To learn more about how Oracle customers perform Business Analytics processes (which includes Enterprise Performance Management, Business Intelligence and more), we launched the Oracle Business Analytics Customer Value Index (CVI) program in 2011, through which we collect valuable business process information from our customers.  The EPM Blog featured some compelling results from the CVI around Enterprise Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting Processes.

Customer Events and Videos 

One of the highlights of the year was Oracle OpenWorld, and winning the America’s Cup during that week certainly added to the excitement!  The Business Analytics program this year was our strongest ever, with over 200 EPM, BI, Analytics, Big Data and Exalytics sessions delivered by Oracle, our customers and partners.   We had the opportunity to catch up with a number of these customers and partners after their sessions, and you can view the interviews here

In one of our blogs about Scorecards, we featured forward-looking DC Courts and their process for managing strategy and KPIs.  DC Courts are making some great strides in setting strategy and executing on it, and are really setting the bar for other US Courts. 
On the topic of Profitability and Cost Management, we interviewed Ida Quamina of Oracle about the great strides being made in mastering the cost of Higher Education, and how these institutions can now address the issues of low or no visibility into individual programs, degrees and course costs, or the cost per student.
Next up – Cloud and Mobile!

As we head into 2014, there are many exciting developments in store, and you can expect to see us talk a lot about Cloud and Mobile technologies next year. Our blog called, “Taking your Business Scorecard Golfing” is just a preview.  

Wishing you a very Happy Holiday and New Year!




Wednesday Apr 10, 2013

Planning at the Speed of Business with Hyperion Planning on Oracle Exalytics

Oracle’s corporate strategy is based on simplifying IT and powering innovation for our customers. As part of that, we recently announced a series of new Oracle In-Memory Applications and released several white papers focusing on how Oracle Engineered Systems can help customers run their business processes without constraints.
In the world of enterprise planning, this includes implementing best practices like driver-based rolling forecasts, “tapping into the wisdom of crowds” in the forecasting process, and aligning financial and operational planning. While customers strive to actually implement these best practices, system constraints often get in the way. In fact, in a study done by Dynamic Markets for Oracle in 2011, a staggering 95% of respondents said they encountered problems with their current planning systems, especially around data, timeliness and analyzing different scenarios.

Deploying Oracle Hyperion Planning on the Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine changes the game by delivering some remarkable performance capabilities at lower cost than ever before possible. In-memory technology can dramatically accelerate analytic performance and enable more innovative decision-making. Exalytics drives a new class of smarter and more powerful analytic applications that simply weren’t possible using conventional planning software and generic hardware configurations.

Consider the following results from early customer benchmarks:

+ 5X to 100X faster interactivity, leading to better decisions and accuracy

+ 6X to 10X faster planning cycles

+ 5X reduction in server footprint, resulting in lower TCO

So what does this mean for you? It means you can more feasibly address the new realities of today’s planning environment. You can speed up your planning and forecasting processes, while planning in more detail and for more users across the organization. Moreover, you can extend planning beyond Finance, run more complex planning models, and ultimately increase your forecast accuracy. Improvements in forecast accuracy translate into substantial business value – industry analysts estimate that even a nominal 3% improvement in accuracy could drive as much a 2% gain in profit margins. And isn’t increasing business value what Finance is all about?

For more information about Oracle Hyperion Planning and EPM applications running on Oracle Exalytics, you can find the new whitepapers on oracle.com here:

+ Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine: Enterprise Planning without Constraints (PDF)
+ Oracle Hyperion EPM Applications on Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine: Performance Management without Constraints (PDF)
+ Management Reporting on Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine (PDF)
+ Achieving a Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine (PDF)
You can also listen to the replay of a recent webcast about how Biogen Idec, working with Peloton Group, is leveraging Oracle Exalytics to transform planning processes. Click here to listen to the replay.

Monday Mar 25, 2013

Optimizing the Business as a Whole: The Case for Enterprise-Wide Planning

I recently interviewed David Jones, Director in PWC’s Consulting Services EPM Practice, and Simon Kenney a Senior EPM Consultant also from PWC, in a podcast about their successes in enterprise planning implementation and their research on finance effectiveness.


Initially, we discussed the research they have been conducting around planning and forecasting effectiveness; they call it the Finance Effectiveness Benchmark. For 2012, some issues were consistent with previous years. Planning, budgeting and forecasting is taking too long to pull together, it’s still too manual and requires too many resources or effort to get it done. But the interesting headline this year is that 80% of the respondents declared that the accuracy of their forecasts is critical to the running of their business, but only 45% said that their forecasts were actually reliable. This result is very concerning as this deficiency will prevent companies from making the right critical business decisions.


So what are the causes of this large deficiency?


According to Simon, a lack of integration across the entire planning process – front office to back office is a key issue. The business functions are just not engaged enough as the forecasting is mostly finance led. Sales and marketing are essential to any forecast, but they are often not engaged properly. Ultimately, those that generate the opportunities and the revenue need to be involved with the forecast.


No wonder the forecasts are not accurate!


How do companies to fix this deficiency and move to an integrated more inclusive world of forecasting? Simon suggested the following three steps are a good start.


Step 1: Identify why the forecasting process is failing (Is each function independently running their own processes? Is there a lack of clearly defined accountabilities?)


Step 2: Determine if/when the company is ready to integrate their processes. (Does it have the required level of sponsorship in place to move to an integrated planning process? Are the functions prepared for change?)


Step 3: Define a blue print or target “n” state (Design the integrated process. Determine which technology can help support the new integrated process)


These steps sound fairly simple, so I asked David what some of the more difficult or challenging things are that he sees when undertaking these steps with his customers. David indicated that there are challenges specific to each industry, but some common ones to watch for are:



  • Lack of executive sponsorship across functions (Very Key!) The drive to implement change must come from the top and be a collaborative process.

  • Miss-aligned performance measures that drive the wrong behaviour.

  • Too much granularity or unnecessary detail in the financial plan. Requests for more detail and more clarifications lengthens the process (without sufficient benefit) taking too much time and effort.


Simon shared his experience working with a large UK based motor car manufacturer – the challenges and success they had experienced.


Car manufacturers are a more traditional type of company with lots of legacy systems. Being so entrenched in these systems meant that they were not sure if they were really ready for a big bang approach to integrated planning and forecasting. They, therefore, decided to work on one area of the company at a time – in waves – so they could prove it was the right thing to do by demonstrating success and showing value to drive further change.


I asked David how real the benefits were that could be obtained through integrated planning and forecasting. David said that he sees real results in more accurate forecasts and a much better understanding of what goes on in the business, how it behaves, and the impact each business function has on delivering the optimal level of profit. These are real and tangible benefits. Individual functional areas need to understand their role in the overall plan and not behave independently.


What can organizations do today to evaluate their planning and forecasting processes? Simon suggested the following:



  • Look at your existing processes – are they collaborative and integrated?

  • How accurate are your forecasts? If you are not sure, take a retrospective look and find out.

  • How effective are the different business functions in forecasting accurately?

  • Take a look at benchmarks and case studies outside your organization and see how you measure up and what else you can achieve.

  • If you are in the spreadsheet world, re-evaluate the process and take an honest look at how it is working for you. How accurate are your forecasts?


It became quite apparent from speaking to David and Simon that it’s all about optimizing the business as a whole and not the individual parts; without enterprise planning integration, this is simply not possible.


To listen to the webcast, click here.

Monday Mar 04, 2013

Bridging the Gap Between Project Management and the CFO’s Office

Organizations undertake numerous projects and initiatives to generate revenue,  improve productivity and increase profits in the hope that they will have the desired effect. But in large and multi-national companies, how can they sensibly and efficiently decide which projects to undertake, how to assign resources, and how to fund them?

Aligning organizational plans (long term and short term) with financial plans and forecasts while enabling the various Lines of Business (LOBs) to lead the projects might sound like it would be next to impossible, but with proper project financial planning tools, it can work really well!

Whether you have indirect (or administrative projects) that generate cost but not revenue, capital projects or contract projects (that generate cost and revenue), or a combination of them, having a well defined, easy to navigate process for documenting, evaluating , funding and approving multiple projects from many LOBs is crucial for forecasting cost and revenues, and booking resources and staff.


Consider these steps:


Step 1: Plan for expenses and revenues (where appropriate), by individual project – and by groups of projects

Step 2: Generate and analyze project financials for individual projects and groups of projects

Step 3: Analyze the funding requirements and revenue generation potential for individual projects and groups of projects

Step 4: Analyze and approve workforce requirements and asset requirements for individual projects and groups of projects

Step 5: Enable the analysis, and approval process by Business Unit Leaders and Finance managers for individual projects and groups of projects within the overall financial plan

Step 6: Enable intercompany project planning and reconciliation to get a complete corporate view of projects within the overall financial plan

Step 7: Enable continued monitoring of project financials within the overall financial plan


Oracle Hyperion Project Financial Planning embraces these steps and provides the needed structure and automation to simplify an otherwise complex set of processes.

When proposing and planning new initiatives, understanding the financial implications on corporate financial plans and objectives and gaining consensus among all concerned parties are a major challenge for many organizations. Without good financial and operational information for both proposed and current projects, it is difficult to analyze and make decisions on new projects to undertake. Oracle Hyperion Project Financial Planning provides the ability for all involved parties to help with this decision making.

It bridges the gap between the detailed task oriented project plans that a project manager within each LOB maintains, and the overall impact of projects on corporate finances and resources. Management can get a holistic view of how their assets and resources are allocated, and then monitor performance and receive information about return on investment (ROI).

Oracle Hyperion Project Financial Planning bridges the gap between LOB project management and the financial plans and forecasts within the CFO’s office.

For more information, click here to read Oracle’s new whitepaper on Oracle Hyperion Project Financial Planning: Aligning Financial and Project Plans.

Friday Jul 15, 2011

Independent Research on 1500 Companies Reveals Challenges in Performance Visibility – Part 2

My blog article on the first part of this study focused on profitability and cost management.  In this second blog I am going to look at the findings around planning and budgeting.

Just to remind you, or if you haven’t read my first blog here is some background: At the end of May 2011 I was joined by Professor Andy Neely of Cambridge University on a webinar, with an audience of over 700, to discuss the results of this extensive study which covered 13 countries and nearly every commercial and industrial sector.  What stunned both of us was not so much the number listening but the 100 questions they asked in just 1 hour.  This certainly represents a record in my experience and for those that organized the webinar. So what was all the fuss about?  Well, to begin with this was a pretty big sample and it represented organizations with over $100m sales across the USA, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It also delivered some pretty interesting results across a wide range of EPM subjects such as profitability management, planning and reporting.

For the planning section we started off with a question to get an idea of just how prevalent the use of spreadsheets actually is for planning and reporting. I guess we should not have been surprised when the results were consistent with what we have seen for many years with 71% - 80% (depending on company size) using spreadsheets for financial planning and budget control. There are many well documented consequences of this, one of which came through clearly in our results, with 54% of managers saying they spend more time gathering information that analyzing it. When we looked at how much of their time managers spend on spreadsheets, finance managers spent the longest at 45% but surprising the next was the CEO at 40%. Our conclusion is that organizations and more importantly their managers are still ‘drowning in spreadsheets’!

This was further confirmed when we looked specifically at ‘enterprise’ planning. Less than a third of organizations confirmed they had specialist software for any one of the specific categories of planning we defined. It gets noticeable worse when considering those that confirm they have specialized software for ‘all’ the categories, just 11%. The result is a catalogue of confirmed problems with planning that include - gaps in data, data not standardized, data being provided late and data inaccuracies.  In fact 95% of our respondents said they encountered problems of some form with their planning process. These results concur with what we hear when we talk to organizations about their planning and budgeting which are often described as a collection of ‘fragmented’ systems and processes most often stitched together with email and spreadsheets.

‘Fragmentation’ is confirmed in this study with only 16% of organizations saying their management processes are linked through specialist software and 71% actually stating that the links between strategic goals and operational plans and budgets are fragmented. This has an impact on communication and management commitment with 72% of managers criticizing communications from senior management and 89% of non-finance managers stating they would feel more committed if communication on performance were improved.

Given all of the above findings, when it came to asking about how long it takes to implement strategic change it is no wonder the average came out to 6.5 months. Fragmentation of management processes introduces time and errors that no organization can afford.  It reminds me of the situation often seen with fragmented operational processes 15 years ago before the wide adoption of ERP. It really is time organizations took a serious look at integrated Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) solutions to help them create consistent, end-to-end management processes.

If you want to read the complete report on the research go to: http://www.oracle.com/webapps/dialogue/ns/dlgwelcome.jsp?p_ext=Y&p_dlg_id=10077790&src=7038701&Act=29 Alternatively if you would like to know more about Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management solution go to: http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/ent-performance-bi/051191.html

Friday Jun 17, 2011

Independent Research on 1500 Companies Reveals Challenges in Performance Visibility – Part 1

At the end of May I was joined by Professor Andy Neely of Cambridge University on a webinar, with an audience of over 700, to discuss the results of this extensive study which covered 13 countries and nearly every commercial and industrial sector.  What stunned both of us was not so much the number listening but the 100 questions they asked in just 1 hour.  This certainly represents a record in my experience and for those that organized the webinar.

So what was all the fuss about?  Well, to begin with this was a pretty big sample and it represented organizations with over $100m sales across the USA, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It also delivered some pretty interesting results across a wide range of EPM subjects such as profitability, planning and reporting.  Let’s look at some of those findings.

We kicked off with profitability, one of the key factors in driving performance, or that is what you would think, but in fact 82% of our respondents said they did not have complete visibility into the profitability of their organization. 91% of these went further to say that, not surprisingly, this lack of knowledge into the profitability has implications with over half citing 3 or more implications.  Implications cited included misallocated resources, revenue opportunities not maximized, erroneous decisions made and impaired financial performance.  Quite a list of implications, especially given the difficult economic circumstances many organizations are operating in at this time.

So why is this?  Well other results in the study point to some of the potential reasons.  Firstly 59% of respondents that use spreadsheets use them for monitoring profitability and 93% of all managers responding to the study use spreadsheets to gather and analyze information.  This is an enormous proportion given the problems with using spreadsheets based performance management systems that have been widely talked about for many years.  For profitability analysis this is particularly important when you consider the typical requirement will be to allocate cost and revenue across 6+ dimensions based on many different allocation methods.  Not something that can be done easily in spreadsheets plus it gets to be a nightmare once you want to change allocations, run different scenarios and then change the basis of your planning and budgeting!

It is no wonder so many organizations have challenges in performance visibility.

My next blog will look at the fragmented nature of many organizations’ planning.  In the meantime if you want to read the complete report on the research go to:

http://www.oracle.com/webapps/dialogue/ns/dlgwelcome.jsp?p_ext=Y&p_dlg_id=10077790&src=7038701&Act=29

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This blog will highlight key EPM market trends, recent events and other news of interest to our field, customers and partners.

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