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Don`t Be Seduced by Speed

 

No doubt about it. Speed is seductive. Whether you’re driving a high-performance car down a straightaway, zooming down a steep hill on a bicycle, or galloping a thoroughbred across a field, the sense of speeding through the air is exhilarating.

 

Advertising takes advantage of our innate love of speed. We are continually reminded of speed’s benefits in everyday life - fast food, next-day (or even same-day) delivery, movies on demand.

 

But top speed is not always the most important feature of a product. Try navigating that sports car on a rough dirt road. Or riding that road bike on a country trail. Or training that race horse for dressage. In any of these scenarios, you quickly find that speed is not the biggest advantage.

 

The same holds true for corporate performance management (CPM) systems. While processing speed is certainly a consideration, focusing on this one feature only in a selection process will likely result in a pick that falls short of expectations.

 

Demos are deliberately built to bedazzle you with the speed at which a system can churn out reports. But, that speed means nothing if you don’t have confidence in your data’s accuracy and consistency or if you can’t identify data sources or make a change without introducing risk and error potential. Report production time savings are also meaningless if you and your team end up spending more time on up-front processes and activities.

 

2017-01-10 don't be seducted by the speed

 

Therefore, while we know speed is a consideration in any selection process, we urge prospects to focus on average speed, not the processing time for any one particular function. We also recommend giving equal focus to two other key criteria integral to an effective CPM solution: data governance and what we call “flexibility with control.”


Many features contribute to comprehensive data governance. The first, and most important, is that the solution must provide a single source of truth, no matter how many data sources you may be pulling from. You should look for features that provide auditability and tracking for data inputs and changes, as well as workflow management that not only shows process status and governs access but also offers complete transparency throughout all steps.



The more complex your business, the more important stringent data governance becomes. Without it, confidence in data is compromised and error potential is significant. In fact, in our recent research survey, 46% of finance executive respondents said inconsistent data was one of their biggest headaches; 37% said they had inadequate control over workflow processes.

 

Flexibility is another important selection criteria. Today, all companies need solutions that offer flexibility in order to accommodate business change, to support business growth, and to handle evolving regulations and internal reporting requirements. But, flexibility without control means chaos. You want the ability to easily make changes to reflect new entities or new organizational structures, for instance. But, these changes need to be managed in such a way that they are automatically carried through in all “touching” processes and reports.

 

This is why spreadsheets can never be a primary tool for corporate performance management. Certainly, it’s a valuable tool for data input and for reporting. Since most business users love spreadsheets, solutions that use spreadsheets as an interface can have a significant adoption advantage. But those companies that try to rely on spreadsheets for handling major processes – such as budgeting, planning and closing – are not only putting themselves at risk but they’re likely incurring many hidden expenses (such as professional time spent on manual entry, updating for changes, or reconciling conflicting data). Astoundingly, 93% of respondents to our research survey said their organizations still relied heavily on spreadsheets for financial reporting.


We certainly believe a CPM selection process should lead you to a solution that significantly compresses your process cycles and gives you the ability to produce reports much faster. BUT, a comprehensive solution should also instill absolute confidence in results; provide the type of information, analysis, and insights that lead to making better decisions; and lower the average time to perform all activities and tasks within any financial process.

 

Don’t let the speed of a sales demo blind you to other more important considerations! Make your selection based on those features that will yield the intelligence and insights for sound business decisions, risk-free compliance, and across-the-board time savings for all processes and activities.

 

Performance Management

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