Most popular EPM functions for cloud include planning, budgeting and forecasting
Big data a unique opportunity to incorporate unstructured data into planning processes
TODAY, as the role of finance continues to evolve, technology advancements in Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) are playing a crucial part helping organisations discover new ways to optimise business operations and capture new market opportunities.
Hundreds of decision makers shared their feedback on EPM technologies and practices with Oracle, outlining the EPM priorities at the top of the finance agenda and the most compelling developments in technology trends (big data, analytics, mobile technology, and cloud computing) that motivate finance leaders to undertake new technology initiatives.
The top EPM trends are identified as follows:
Trend #1: EPM cloud strategies gain altitude
Concerns about security and data confidentiality have gradually subsided over the last couple of years. Most companies today are either currently using or will consider deploying EPM in the cloud.
The most popular EPM functions for cloud deployments include planning, budgeting and forecasting; management reporting; and financial reporting and consolidation.
Most companies’ primary motivation to deploy EPM on the cloud was to avoid large upfront investments and fixed capital investments during periods of corporate or economic uncertainty.
Companies were also persuaded by the ability to get it up and running quickly, thereby increasing business agility.
Trend #2: Don’t leave mobile behind
Mobile technology has become pervasive as workers embrace the convenience of anytime, anywhere computing. Managers have grown accustomed to the convenience of on-the-go review and approval for important processes such as planning, tax provisioning and financial close.
Plus, finance departments are increasing their focus on mobile. As a result, mobile EPM is set to take off with convenience and simpler information-delivery as the driving forces for EPM mobile adoption.
Trend #3: Big data is the new signal for finance
The explosion of big data presents a unique opportunity to incorporate unstructured data into planning processes for more accurate forecasts.
Finance professionals have an opportunity to become more engaged in quantifying and qualifying new data sources with their data orientation and quantitative skills.
Whether be it collecting data from social analytics and sentiment analysis to forecast revenue, using sensors to manage buildings and capital equipment to lower maintenance costs or improve quality, the possibilities are endless.
Trend #4: Detailed costing practices
The economic downturn gave rise to an intensive focus on cost control. Allocating costs at a granular level reveals how customer-driven interactions would possibly impact profitability and help support more precise decision-making about cross-channel products and services’ offerings.
Companies should consider using profitability and cost management tools to develop multi-dimensional cost pools, activity rates, and unit costs as they develop P&L (profit and loss) statements about individual subscribers, accounts, assets, projects, and orders.
Trend #5: Tighter financial close cycles
For years, finance departments have worked to shorten the financial close cycle, yet there remains room for improvement. By focusing on the extended financial close and reporting process, today’s software tools reveal where improvements can be made.
Today’s applications allow organisations to report to stakeholders in a timely and accurate manner, and provide level of governance, visibility, and transparency into the financial close and reporting cycle.
In addition to improving efficiency, these tools enable senior managers to be confident in the numbers that they report to stakeholders.
Trend #6: Financial disclosure complexity continues to rise
Compliance reporting requirements have multiplied over the last decade and have become increasing specialised. Today, there appears to be no limit to how big the disclosure sections in regulatory fillings will grow.
In addition, industry-specific regulation and cybersecurity regulations will substantially increase the complexity of the financial disclosure processes.
Today’s software applications enable these companies to effectively manage the creation of regulatory filings by fully integrating this process with the rest of the financial close cycle and automating it with financial reporting tools.
Trend #7: Enterprise data governance booms in 2014
Have you ever attended a finance meeting where everybody has a different number for the same thing and then spent the entire meeting arguing about who has the right number?
This type of problem is rampant in financial reporting cycles, as organisations often have ‘the same’ information in multiple systems.
To ensure consistency, organisations need an enterprise data governance (EDG) solution designed for dynamic, fast-changing business environments to keep this structural information aligned.
This minimises the time spent synchronising information by helping business users manage changes – and the financial executives can spend less time arguing about the ‘right number’ and more time on the issue at hand.
Trend #8: Sustainability reporting becomes the norm
Companies that report more than just financial data have been the subject of much discussion for many years.
Pressure groups, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), and in some cases, government regulators, are advocating the benefits of ‘sustainability reporting’ for all stakeholders, including the global environment.
With this level of participation, soon all organisations will see sustainability reporting as essential.
In a nutshell, as financial disclosure, regulatory reporting, and sustainability processes become more complex, astute use of technology is integral to continue differentiate companies and leaders from market competitions.
Organisations today are looking into EPM solutions to seize the high ground in their respective markets. Modern EPM solutions leverage cloud, mobile, and big data technology to make sense of a growing base of information and to help managers gain insight into every aspect of their business.
Armed with fresh, accurate, enterprise information from EPM tools, the finance department can confidently embrace planning, budgeting, forecasting, financial close, scorecard, costing and profitability, and other essential functions.
Francis Han is the general manager for business analytics at Oracle Asean.
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