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Controlled Flexibility: What is it and Why is it a Must-Have for Finance?

May. 14 2021 by Alessio Lolli, Vice President and General Manager - CCH Tagetik North America

Performance Management

Who doesn’t want flexibility?

Especially when it comes to software solutions, prospective users are often afraid of what they could be missing when adopting a new technology when it turns out to be too rigid for their needs. Understandably, part of that is just human behavior:  change is exciting for some but scary for many.

Especially in the world of enterprise software for finance professionals, as a vendor we routinely hear questions like “Our organization has a very peculiar business need, will this tool be flexible enough to accommodate that?” or “Is this solution flexible enough for our very demanding user population?” While these are all fair questions, especially for new technology adopters, they all hinge to a very scary aspect of flexibility.

Flexibility is a must. But extreme flexibility, could turn into chaos. In the world of Finance Applications, the most flexible solution on the market is Microsoft Excel – yet controllers and accountants worldwide refer to it as “Excel-hell” – version control, alone, is a nightmare.

The holy grail of software solutions for the office of the CFO is not limitless and unconditional flexibility, it’s rather more what I call “controlled flexibility”. 

With this term, I refer to the ability for local users to rely on the much required flexibility to run the business they know best locally and according to the their specific needs, while still adhering to some level of control and governance usually required at the global level by the central Finance organization to make sure everyone “speaks the same language”. In other words, controlled flexibility refers to just that: allowing the business locally to address their specific situations within a central framework and with maximum flexibility yet guaranteeing control, governance and visibility at the central and top-most level.

All Finance Applications can claim “flexibility” – as at the end of the day you can always write your own code to address your specific need (provided your Finance Organization has VB.net gurus in-house!). Instead, very, very few can offer the benefits of “controlled flexibility”. This especially applies to cube-based technologies, usually known for cube-proliferation, linking and synchronization, or “extensible” technologies.  These sound extremely flexible on paper, but tend to actually lack the most in the areas of governance and control.

CCH Tagetik takes both flexibility and control very dearly and is a visionary in this regard.

Within its single, unified solution, the application is architecturally engineered to offer 2 logical layers that allow maximum flexibility on one side, to meet the demands at a local level of potentially completely different business models (analytical layer), and on the other to ensure the central finance organization relies on a common framework that guarantees governance and consistency (financial layer).

To make it even more clear, think of a geographically or business-decentralized “umbrella-type” of organization that has operating units in completely different industries: a distribution company, a manufacturing company and maybe a holding/financial company, all belonging to the same “Group”. Within the same application, CCH Tagetik will allow for total flexibility for each operating unit to plan or manage their business the way they have to without comprise; each with a dedicated workspace with their own set of dimensions, their own set of rules and calculations and their own set of reports – true flexibility at its best. At the same time, since all operating units are leveraging the same CCH Tagetik instance, global finance will be able to rely on an overarching financial governance layer that acts as a common denominator each operating workspace will be adhering to, with the ability to drill into each operating unit’s analytical details if needed – governance at its highest.

Controlled Flexibility is what to look for in a Finance Software Solution. Relying on solutions that simply promise flexibility but are not architecturally structured to guarantee both flexibility and governance will just result into another “Insert_Product_Name-hell”!

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