The challenges facing today's finance leaders
I returned from CFO Magazine's Corporate Performance Management Conference last week with a sense that many finance leaders are experiencing similar problems when it comes to achieving a holistic view of company performance. I like to reflect on the common themes after a conference, and after this one, I kept coming back to the theme of "one shared challenge." As a vendor who exhibits at several conferences per year, we're used to hearing about a multitude of BI/analysis/data issues, but at this event, everyone seemed to be on the same page.
arcplan sponsored the CPM Conference, held around the corner from our US headquarters at the Loews Philadelphia. It brought together 150 CFOs, VPs of Finance, Directors of FP&A, Controllers, and Analysts for three days of workshops, case studies and networking. We had plenty of time to speak with attendees, and it was remarkable how many times I heard the same challenge:
I can't connect all of my data on one screen.
I talked to many people using IBM Cognos, SAP, Oracle, and other systems simultaneously with no method to make them all work together. The inability to easily share critical business insight across the organization was a hot topic during every networking break. Again and again I was asked how arcplan could solve the issue of everyone spending their time of the process of monthly data gathering and not on the analysis. Coincidentally, data connectivity is one of arcplan's core strengths; it enables real-time, native access and write-back to more than 20 data sources in a single report or dashboard.
Along with this data disconnection issue comes the challenge of reviewing budget vs. actuals. Without a comprehensive view of financial data in one place, it's difficult and error-prone to do this kind of reporting. To get a look into how arcplan handles financial reports, particularly budget vs. actual data, enlarge the image to the right. The Earnings Analysis or EBITDA report shows the transformation of income from last year to this year (what was budgeted vs. what was actually brought in) and the main categories of change. arcplan makes it easy to view the data multiple ways – as an income bridge, as values, or as values with charts. Like all arcplan reports, these can be exported to Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF for additional analysis and sharing with colleagues. On top of that, structured financial reports are one of the quickest applications for us to deploy for our customers.
Interestingly, I didn't hear anyone mention a lack of data at the CPM Conference – in fact, I heard quite the opposite. These finance leaders said they have all the data they need – that they've spent years and millions of dollars (in one case, a billion dollars!) installing systems to collect data, and now the requests to "control the chaos" / fuse that data for analysis are coming in.
In my sales role at arcplan I'm interested in helping companies solve their CPM gaps, so this event was a terrific opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing finance departments in 2013.
Leave me a comment or email me if you have questions about arcplan's CPM capabilities.