Define Your EPM Priorities First
Ask CFOs their favorite reason to adopt EPM and you’ll get many varied answers. If you define your EPM priorities up front then your EPM will likely be one fitted to YOUR needs.
When companies adopt EPM they are usually in a hurry; they want minimal disruption of ongoing operations; and they probably don't want to do it again anytime soon. That said, the decision to adopt an EPM solution is often driven by a particular pain point — like the need to speed up the financial close or meet a compliance requirement. One of the best ways, then, to sell your EPM project internally, to get it off the ground quickly, and get it done right the first time is to have a clear idea up front what it is you are looking to accomplish — and then to communicate that clearly both to your EPM implementation team and to stakeholders. That way there will be less risk of stakeholders being disappointed and a greater chance that the EPM implementation project will go smoothly.
Explicitly stating your EPM priorities in advance also makes it less likely you will be exposed in other critical areas you may have overlooked — maybe because you thought you had them covered already, or because they would be covered automatically, or because they just didn’t occur to you.
Here, then, are four of the key questions we ask clients before starting an EPM project and some of the follow-up discussion we have if they say that, yes, this is a priority.
Are You Looking to Save Money?
One of the best ways an EPM implementation can save money is to migrate to the cloud. A cloud EPM implementation requires no new hardware investment and could mean you get to retire rather than replace aging hardware assets you already own. But savings are not guaranteed. For example, you could have spare and relatively new on-prem hardware capacity. It is also possible to overpay for cloud services based on what you actually need and what’s offered in terms of the various subscription plans available. Our advice: get a clear ROI breakdown in advance of which cloud and on-prem options make sense for you.
How About Better Stakeholder Collaboration?
A key priority for many companies is to get more contributors beyond finance actively involved in the enterprise performance management process, as in sales and project managers, cost center managers, and line of business executives — a population that in some cases can encompass dozens to even hundreds of individuals. An EPM solution facilitates this kind of collaboration at scale with easy-to-use dashboards and reports, a central repository (a single version of the truth), role-based privileges, and activity reports. Oracle EPM Cloud, for example, lets you see at a glance which contributors have, and have not, supplied information they were tasked to provide during a planning cycle. Our advice: Faced with so many possibilities, managers need to identify the types of collaborative tools that actually have value, rather than implement something just because it is “cool.” Likewise, there may be tools they might not have thought of — or might think are too hard to implement — that they may actually want, given good EPM consulting.
Do You Want Shorter Planning and Budgeting Cycles?
A faster financial close is an outcome many companies look for from EPM adoption. And one of the keys to that goal is to decide how and where you will use Excel going forward. Over reliance on Excel is probably the number-one stumbling block to faster, less error-prone financial operations. Our advice: Don’t make getting rid of Excel a priority; but rather, plan up front how to integrate Excel into your EPM toolset. For example, you can rely on tools like Oracle Smart View that let users continue to use Excel for ad hoc and freeform financial analysis and still leverage the benefits of a full-fledged EPM solution.
Is Non-Stop Compliance a Priority?
Staying current with the latest compliance operational protocols can be a huge time drain — one that a cloud-based EPM solution, in particular, can potentially avoid. But even if your EPM is cloud-based that doesn’t mean it is automatically compliant or that it is complaint in your particular industry. Our advice: It is much easier, less expensive, and less time consuming to build compliance into your EPM solution from the start, so that is when you should review your compliance requirements with an EPM consultant knowledgeable in your particular industry.
These questions only address four EPM priorities we find most top-of-mind with most clients — but they show enough to illustrate one overriding point: unless you take the time to define your priorities first (including some you may not have considered initially) the project may last longer and be more disruptive than you’d like.