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5 Essential Capabilities to look for when selecting your CPM solution

Aug. 19 2020 by Rohan Persaud, Country Manager, ANZ - CCH Tagetik Asia Pacific

Performance Management

First of all, what is a Corporate Performance Management solution? The terms keep changing to define what is essentially a system that allows you to address and manage your critical financial processes. Over the years, it’s been called DSS, EPM, and most recently, it’s known as FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis). Name it what you may, it is no longer a ‘nice to have’ as your organization’s success depends on you choosing the right platform.

We live in turbulent times. You need an innate ability to remain strategic and foresee the unpredictable. ‘Gut feel’ and ‘intuition’—backed by manual spreadsheets and archaic processes—will offer little comfort as your competitors outpace you. Being strategic means being agile, and being agile means being able to make the right decisions without hesitation. How do leaders make the right decisions? They have confidence in data-driven insights.

As the CFO, it is more important than ever to be able to quickly comb through financial and operational data to paint a clear, real-time, and performance narrative that highlights opportunities and identifies threats. 

Can you do that easily? Or do you experience one or more of the following?

  • Decisions are not timely
  • Decisions are not accurate
  • Decisions are always urgent
  • Decision Support is not owned by the Office of Finance
  • Decisions making processes are inflexible in times of crises

Don’t worry, you are not alone. What we’re seeing today is not so much a revolution in the Office of Finance as it is an evolution. Successful organizations have the same underlying characteristics: good governance driven by a robust Corporate Performance Management Platform.

Now, what would success look like? Here are the 5 Essential Capabilities to look for when selecting a best of breed CPM solution:

1. A UNIFIED PLATFORM

According to CMS Wire, employees spend 36% of their time searching, qualifying, and consolidating information. Out of that? 44% of their efforts result in a dead-end.

Multiply this inefficiency across your critical finance processes—from planning to close —and the problem becomes an impossible gridlock. But why does this happen? It’s simply a factor of siloed systems being allowed to flourish over time. A CPM solution should be able to capture and repurpose data of all types, from all sources, without getting entangled in time-consuming data reconciliation exercises between platforms.

Furthermore, your performance management system must be much more than a data repository; it needs to be an intelligent financial transformation engine. It should add value. Shared data needs to become vital information at your fingertips in determining the best course of action. You need contextualized answers to two simple questions: what is your data telling you? And is it telling the truth?

A unified platform gives you this - A Single Source of Truth.

2. ADAPTABLE

A CPM solution should be easy to set up and fully customizable to suit the growing needs of your business. There are two elements to consider: usability and extensibility.

Any new solution is going to require you to migrate your current data and way of doing things to a new look and feel. To reduce discomfort and productivity loss, you might want to consider a solution that offers both a web-based interface, in addition to one with Excel Add On capabilities. Familiarity with some of the tools will help cut down your team’s learning curve.

You’ll also find there are as many preferences for user interfaces as you have employees. But when your team needs to roll up their sleeves, do they have the workflow and reporting capabilities they need to get the job done intuitively? Can they work collaboratively and move back and forth between financial processes easily with a single sign-on? It’s the simple things we take for granted that can greatly impact performance.

Your CPM software should also be customizable and extensible enough to add

new financial processes when you need them to support your business. If Planning was a critical function and now Consolidation is a key concern, unlocking a module sitting on top of the same platform that shares the same data is a game-changer. You should also expect your solution to extend underlying data models to broader areas within your portfolios, such as tax and procurement so they can feed into your cohesive planning cycle.

3. AUTOMATION

Finance at times can be a cycle of manual effort that intensifies as you close the books. Mundane, repetitive tasks just have to get done, with little relief in sight other than adding more junior team members to address the problem.

The key reasons for moving off spreadsheets and away from cubes are saving time, cutting down costs, improving accuracy, and automating routine tasks that can be nightmarishly error prone. If you add into the mix a CPM solution that provides workflows, auditability, and process governance, you can start to see the immediate benefits to your organization.

Imagine being able to reduce the time it takes to accomplish your reporting while eliminating the source of most of your errors. Similarly, imagine being able to give your board the information they have been asking promptly, without worrying about whether the numbers hang together. This is the peace of mind a CPM solution should be bringing to your company.

4. ACCESSIBLE

As CFO, your financial information might reside in different sources and involve responses from different people performing different roles in your organization. Time is always going to be of the essence, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of accuracy. You can’t afford to have your team without 24/7 accessibility, nor can you afford to have people locked out of the system while others complete their tasks sequentially.

Today everyone is extremely connected in their non-work lives and expect the same ‘ease of use’ experience while at work. The ability to work from home, a coffee shop, a client’s site, or even completing tasks on their mobile phone in transit should be considered the norm. Is your platform allowing the accessibility required to boost productivity?

A CPM solution, whether it is on-premise or cloud-based, should have essentially the same functionality without users having to relearn entirely new ways of doing the same task. You are looking for increased collaboration in the age of interconnectivity where everything is instrumented, intelligent and interfaceable. Your CPM solution should be able to empower your users and accommodate accessibility easily.

5. ACTIONABLE

Lastly, the most crucial reason for deploying a CPM solution is to drive strategic change. No longer is your role limited to describing what has happened or spelling out what is currently happening. Today, CFOs are being asked to take the lead and provide guidance on the journey organizations need to take.

We used to use the analogy of the CFO’s role being akin to someone driving while only looking backward. It can be done, but the approach is slow and cautious. In the modern world, success is about owning complexity in your business and making it ‘simplexity’. Only a CPM solution can help you do that. You need to be able to navigate expanding reporting requirements, embrace new technology and address the speed of change while making mission-critical, risk mitigated decisions.

You are now the financial and data steward of the organization responsible for value creation each day. Data-driven decisions lead to an unparalleled advantage in the market. The ability to take data, turn it into information, information into insights, and insights into actions that help drive better, faster, decisions is the name of the game. Technology is here to help. A good CPM solution can modernize your world and be your backbone of support when you need to be right, all the time.

With all these 5 Essential CPM features at your disposal, you can be confident that you can drive change today and tomorrow, bringing real value to the organization and your career.

To learn more, check out the CCH Tagetik Unified Performance Management Software here.

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