Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Essential Budgeting & Planning System Components – Part 2: Spreading


In Part 1 of this series – a planning software buyer’s guide – I covered the first essential component of a modern planning system: workflow. Let’s keep the ball rolling with another component that is vital to your next planning solution.

Spread methods are an efficient way to automate plans for a period without starting from scratch every time. Simply defined, spreading is the system’s ability to take a budget value and spread it over a range of periods based on a divisible operator (like percent per month, for example). Your planning system should include built-in spreading functionality, especially the more popular methods – even (the most used method in practice), spread like last year, and spread like last year +/- a dollar value or percent.

Essentially, spreading is a fast data entry method. It will save time to have your system manage and centrally control your corporate spread methods. Users should also be able to create their own. A nice-to-have feature is color changes where data has been entered. Click to expand the image above and you’ll see an arcplan Edge system, where blue cells indicate areas where data can be entered and yellow cells indicate that data has been entered during this session.

Note: The terms “spread” and “allocation” are often used interchangeably, but at arcplan we make a distinction between the two. To make it easy for our customers, we say that spreading is bottom-up only and occurs horizontally across financial periods, while allocation is vertically rolled-down spreading. For example…

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The Future of Dashboards – On-Demand Webinar


View-WebinarYou’re invited to view arcplan’s latest webinar – 30 minutes that will change the way you think about dashboards.

The Future of Dashboards
Speaker: Dwight deVera, SVP of Professional Services at arcplan

There’s something wrong with dashboards – they’re stuck in the past. They’re designed for functional areas or departments, but as a modern decision-maker, you might need to view cross-functional KPIs from finance, sales, operations, marketing, and HR to make good decisions. So how do you reconcile the dashboards you have with the views you actually need to be effective?

In this webinar, we demonstrate:

  • Why dashboards need to reflect the matrix-style way decision-makers are working today
  • The “31 flavors problem” and how dashboard users can distinguish the signal from the noise when it comes to thousands of potential KPIs
  • How our internet-fueled, “zero attention span” lives must influence dashboard design
  • A simple way to make dashboards more effective by empowering users to develop their own “Pinterest-style” dashboards

It’s time to rethink what dashboards should be. Peek into the future with us in this webinar!

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iWatch MyKPIs: Real-Time KPI Delivery to Your Watch?


iWatch_arcplanAs speculation about Apple’s iWatch grows – will it be a snap bracelet? will it replace the iPhone? – it got me thinking about a watch (of all things) supporting the vision of real-time analytics. What sounds stupid at first (the notion of an old-fashioned personal device, around for 5 centuries with little to no innovation over such a long period, inspiring a 21st century topic such as real-time analytics) has some merits if you think about it twice.

First off, wearable computing devices are real business. According to tech analyst Juniper Research, the next-gen wearable devices market, including smart glasses, will be worth more than $1.5 billion by 2014, up from just $800 million this year.

While the majority of those devices are sold in the context of fitness and healthcare scenarios, there is applicability in modern enterprises. In fact any business process that can benefit from real-time analytics can leverage computing devices that are “at hand” and travel with us easily.

So what business processes can benefit from real-time analytics?

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Dashboard Lessons from “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”


5thgraderAdvice for using business intelligence to keep winning

I like to channel surf, and one day I got sucked into the game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” I never watched it when it originally aired, but now I’m addicted! The show is set up like a school quiz, with contestants earning money when they answer questions correctly. The kicker is that the questions are based on things we learn in elementary school…things that are quickly forgotten since they’re not tested in everyday life. Once I really got into the show, I realized there are business intelligence lessons to be learned from it.

On stage with the contestant are a few 5th grade students who can help if the person chooses to “cheat” as they pursue the $1,000,000 prize. Let’s examine how each of the available cheats tells us something about BI dashboards.

Peeking is encouraged. If a contestant is unable to answer a question on their own, a “peek” allows them to glance at a 5th grader’s answer and decide whether or not they would like to use it. How does that relate to BI you wonder? Think about the predictive nature of BI – it allows you to peek into what may happen in the future so you can take corrective action today. Especially valuable for businesses whose markets are volatile and sales growth may change from one quarter to the next, or for businesses whose production costs fluctuate depending on circumstances – predictive analytics, what-if scenarios, and break-even analysis eliminate some of the randomness from your decision-making. Luckily with solutions like arcplan, it’s easy to add predictive elements like regression analysis and Monte Carlo simulation to your dashboards. So really, peeking on “5th Grader” isn’t that different from modern BI.

Copying is expected.

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Budgeting & Planning in 2013: On-Demand Webinar


View-WebinarCheck out our on-demand webinar for an essential review of modern planning.

Budgeting & Planning in 2013
Speaker: Dwight deVera, SVP of Professional Services at arcplan

This webinar reviews how budgeting and planning are evolving and how you can keep up. It’s essential viewing for those interested in improving their process and evaluating new technology to do so this year.

We reveal:

  • How the planning process is evolving from simple annual capital, expense and headcount planning to planning for strategic and opportunistic contract, capital, and indirect projects
  • The essential components of a modern planning system, including online and offline capabilities, allocation and spreading, workflow, and commentary/ supporting details functionality
  • How integrating business intelligence within the planning process helps you gain insight into the effectiveness of the planners and identify the root cause of potential problems with the plan
  • And much more

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