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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

The Value of EPM Survey Says: Connect Your Planning, Advance Your Business

Toby Hatch
Senior Product Marketing Director for Enterprise Performance Management (EPM)

It is no longer enough today to simply plan well in finance and then plan separately in other departments such as operations, sales, R&D and HR. Those that connect their planning processes and data across their organization will outpace the competition. Today’s businesses are moving fast, and traditional planning practices and older tools simply cannot deliver this kind of innovation and efficiency.

The Future of Planning is Connected

Earlier this year, Oracle teamed up with Velociti Partners, a market research and strategy consulting company for technology enterprises, to conduct an in-depth study of over 500 decision-makers and planning users on planning processes in the cloud. Here is what we found:

  • 70% wanted/needed closer integration between planning and ERP systems
  • Almost 70% struggled to align HR and finance due to siloed processes and limited automation
  • Just under a third could not effectively incorporate financial planning and analysis into line-of-business planning due to disparate systems
  • Over half believed they did not have the right tools for predictive planning
  • Just over half wanted/needed greater synergy between FP&A and the controller’s organization

Better Planning, Bigger Results

Among respondents that had made the move to Oracle EPM Cloud, the number of process improvements and benefits achieved was astounding. 75% experienced benefits in less than six months. Some benefits related to time and resources:

  • 70% reduced the time needed to plan and forecast per cycle
  • 71% reduced the use of spreadsheets for budgeting
  • 28% said they needed fewer administrative FTEs (full-time equivalents) for planning

Other benefits related to boosting alignment between departments:

  • 62% increased visibility into, and flexibility of, planning and forecasting processes
  • 57% benefitted from more people contributing to plans and forecasts
  • 53% improved communication and collaboration by driving more accountability into the lines of business

EPM Cloud customers also accelerated business growth:

  • 68% improved their ability to scale alongside growth
  • 58% automated updates to take advantage of the latest features
  • On average, EPM Cloud customers surveyed experienced a 27% increase in value-added analysis 
  • On average, they achieved a 15% improvement in forecast accuracy 

Perceived Barriers to EPM Cloud

More than half Oracle EPM Cloud customers surveyed achieved 12 or more of the above benefits — so  why haven’t all companies flocked to EPM Cloud? Respondents that had not yet moved to the cloud told us that some of the barriers they faced were fiscal, cultural and time-related.

  • Most (42%) claim budget as the main roadblock to the cloud. This could be that budget is not available for the current fiscal year, or that their current on-premise software is not fully depreciated, or their available funding is tied up in other projects. 
  • The second biggest roadblock is that a change is needed in company culture. Changing minds appears to be nearly as important and difficult as attaining funding. 
  • Rounding out the top three is a lack of time; moving to the cloud does not fit into their current projects schedule.

Considering the huge list of benefits realized by those that moved to Oracle EPM Cloud, the funding and time challenges don’t make good business sense. So, we dove a little deeper, asking participants that had not moved to the cloud, “What is one thing that would make your planning and budgeting process better?” From the huge number of comments received we arranged them into groupings. The top 3 (chosen most frequently) were:

  1. Process improvements at their company: Streamlined, defined process flows outside of software, plans at a lower level rolling up to different views as needed, developing drivers for all accounts, and earlier target setting, to name just a few. 
  2. Better systems/tools: Less reliance on spreadsheets (which allows for errors), tools that work effectively all the time, a system that can model products, faster speed, real time updates of input user data, less manual manipulation, and better narrative reporting support/ capabilities.
  3. People-related changes: Better change management, better communication between teams, better-trained staff, more commitment among executives, additional staff, culture change, employee skill sets, and many more. 

Innovate with Best Practices

Perhaps understanding how the above challenges could be addressed by software with best practices built in would help those not yet in the cloud. Organizations that moved to Oracle EPM Cloud can adopt best practices and innovate faster. The change in the use of spreadsheets alone, after implementing EPM Cloud, was astounding. Budgeting saw a 71% drop in use, forecasting a 47% drop, and enterprise planning saw a 57% drop. 

Fig. 1: Use of Spreadsheets Before and After Adopting Oracle EPM Cloud

Adoption of best practices also increased: 

  • There was a 52% increase in companies adopting zero-based budgeting
  • 38% increase in the frequency of long-range planning
  • 33% increase in those performing rolling forecasts
  • 28% increase in those using driver-based inputs 
  • 28% increase in those using trend-based data

Changes for the Better

One participant, from a medium-sized financial services company, reported that they had seen an increase in forecast accuracy from 50% to 70% after implementing Oracle EPM Cloud, and the team was now able to complete their monthly forecasting in 2-5 days. They were able to reduce time spent on data gathering from 90% to 30%, and time spent on analyzing data increased from 10% to 50%. It took them 2-4 months to implement Oracle EPM Cloud and they received benefits immediately. They were also able to realize 12 of the benefits from a list of 13. 

A large research and education institution in Africa reported that they had seen their annual budgeting process improve dramatically, from taking almost 6 months down to two. Their forecast accuracy improved from about 66% to 77%, their monthly forecasting time was reduced by half, the number of people administering planning and forecasting was reduced from 66 to only 1, and it took less than 2 months to implement Oracle EPM Cloud.

A large North American education and research institution commented, “Planning in the cloud is the digital future!”

Oracle EPM Cloud is the only complete and connected solution that delivers the agility you need to outperform the competition in today’s constantly evolving business landscape.  Find out more about our survey results in this infographic or download the full report.

Want to learn more? Get the complete survey.

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