Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
8Nov/110

BI + Excel: A Match Made in Power-User Heaven

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What’s the most popular reporting and planning tool out there? As much as I’d like the answer to be “arcplan” – it’s not. Even in 2011, it’s “Excel.” Excel has been around for 25 years and believe it or not, it’s still the most often used technology in 60% of the organizations surveyed by Ventana Research in August 2011.

There are so many reasons analysts and planners love Excel: it’s easy to use, adjusting reports takes seconds, it’s the perfect tool for local ad-hoc analysis, and it has an extensive formula and function library to address complex calculations. On the other hand, there are times when Excel falls short. After the manual process of collecting, consolidating and reconciling data, Excel leaves little to no time for actual analysis. And worst of all, you may find that your data is outdated or fraught with errors, which compromises your ability to make business-critical decisions. Unfortunately, Excel also lacks data security, which is a paramount concern for IT professionals.

Truly, I’m not bashing Excel here. I’m a data analyst myself and I help our clients develop Excel-like BI applications, so I understand that Excel has its benefits. Power users are going to want to use Excel, at least for the foreseeable future. So consider this how you can reconcile the use of Excel at your organization. The answer may be as simple as your BI system’s Excel add-in!

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3Nov/110

Webinar Recording: Beyond Excel for BI

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In case you missed our webinar on 11/2, Beyond Excel for BI, here’s the recording to view at your convenience:


https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/358768023

 

We discussed why people love and hate Excel, often at the same time; how you know you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet-based analysis or planning model; how BI augments your current efforts; the benefits of Excel add-ins; and a case study of a customer who eliminated the collection of 150 cost center spreadsheets per month. We also showed a Financial Briefing Book BI application that integrates the best things about Excel, while ensuring data security, allowing write-back to the database, eliminating manual work, and enabling scheduled distribution of reports.

We had a great turn-out and the audience asked a lot of questions. Thanks to everyone who attended, and for those who didn’t, let us know if you’d like to discuss anything you see in the recording.

26Oct/110

Free BI Webinar – Beyond Excel for BI

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Join arcplan Wednesday, November 2nd at 2pm Eastern for Beyond Excel for BI to learn how business intelligence software can augment your analysis and planning efforts without completely abandoning spreadsheets.


Analysts and financial planners love their spreadsheets. And why not? They make it easy to tweak reports, employ formulas, and massage your data. In fact, spreadsheets are the most often used technology in 60% of organizations surveyed by Ventana Research in August 2011. They have become an indispensable tool for calculations, modeling, analysis, and planning.

But Excel is not necessarily the best choice for every scenario. If you think you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet model, or you’re encountering more and more situations where Excel is failing to meet your needs, then it’s time to think about the next step – business intelligence software.

BI that embraces Excel users is possible. If you’re considering making the move to BI software and want to know the pros and cons, this webinar is designed for you.

In this webinar, we will:

  • Discuss how BI software can augment your current analysis and planning efforts
  • Present a case study of a global organization that moved from spreadsheets to BI and show you its ROI analysis
  • Demonstrate a BI system with a familiar spreadsheet interface that allows data entry, write-back, secure distribution of reports, and more
  • Give you proven arguments you can take to a) your executives to gain support for BI and b) your team to gain the support of current Excel users

Your analytic technology needs to provide you many things: direct access to your source data, the ability to take action, the quick generation of presentations and other reports, and easy navigation and drill-down to name a few. Join us on November 2nd to learn how these (completely reasonable) requests can be fulfilled by BI, without leaving Excel completely behind.

Date: Wednesday, November 2
Time: 2:00 pm Eastern (New York City time zone)
Presenter: Mark Flyamer, Senior Solutions Manager
Register: Click here
12Oct/110

Have You Outgrown Your Old Budgeting, Planning, and Forecasting Process?

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Is your budgeting, planning, and forecasting process no longer useful to your organization? Does it take too long, involve cumbersome spreadsheets, and result in obsolete information? You’re not alone. Many of our clients came to us with these same complaints. In fact, we work with a hospital in New Jersey that used to collect 200 spreadsheets at the beginning of every budget cycle, then ended up with multiple versions of each spreadsheet by the end of the process…though now that I think about it, I’m not sure their budget cycle ever actually ended. It just merged into next year’s!

That is an obvious example of a company that had outgrown its budgeting and planning process. But some situations aren’t so obvious. You know you and your planners suffer at the end of every fiscal year, but is it so much that you should consider graduating to the next level of planning?

Here’s 5 ways to know if you’re ready to move on to a more sophisticated method of budgeting and planning:

1) You’re beyond the 6/6 spreadsheet rule.
Spreadsheets are excellent tools for individual tasks and ad-hoc reporting, but are poorly suited to repetitive, collaborative, enterprise-wide functions such as budgeting and planning. One rule of thumb that says, “If more than 6 people will use it more than 6 times, you should consider an alternative.”

2) Time constraints are limiting the amount of re-planning you can accomplish.
The best time to gain an advantage in the market is during a downturn. While your competitors may have been cutting costs during the recent economic crisis, if you had more agile planning processes in place, you would have anticipated change better and been more nimble in adjusting your business.

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10Oct/110

Teradata PARTNERS User Group Conference 2011 Recap

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If you follow arcplan news, you’ve probably heard about our new partnership with Teradata. We just got back from exhibiting at the Teradata PARTNERS User Group Conference (TDPUG) in San Diego late last week and we’re blown away by how well we were received at the show.

Overall, the show was positive and encouraging, with Teradata’s customers really looking to partners for ways to extend the reach of their existing infrastructure and drive utilization and data storage within Teradata.

We met with so many data architects, DBAs, BI managers, and analysts who were excited over arcplan’s status as the only partner to support Teradata’s new OLAP connector without the need for a semantic layer. We talked to many Teradata customers who have already installed (or are in the final stages of installing) the OLAP connector in order to directly integrate a BI solution into their Teradata Warehouse. That’s what arcplan does, and it saves developers time – time to value, time to build reports, dashboards, and other analytic applications…and it also saves money since it requires less resources and less infrastructure.

We demo’d arcplan’s support for the Teradata OLAP connector and heard a lot of interest in the fact that arcplan takes the power of Excel (the only other way to access the OLAP interface directly) and broadens it to the casual business user of BI – those who need intuitive access to their reports and dashboards either on their desktop browser or on any mobile device. In fact, I spent most of the show walking around with my iPad out, showing arcplan + Teradata everywhere I went (as you can see in the picture).

We also spoke with attendees in the finance function, or IT managers responsible for budgeting and planning support, whose interest was piqued by our integrated platform, which combines reporting with budgeting and planning capabilities (allowing Teradata customers to leverage their existing infrastructure and expertise to address this additional organizational need!).

We’ll definitely be back next year. In the meantime, if you have questions about how arcplan works with Teradata, or if you’re a Teradata customer who is exploring the OLAP connector, email us or leave us a comment!