EPM Consulting Matters More than EPM Software

Posted by Steve Berry

Oct 11, 2019 11:18:40 AM

Without EPM consulting, your EPM software will not deliver its intended return on investment. But what you will get is productivity loss, opportunity loss, and less stability.

Expecting to win at business without using modern EPM software is like expecting to win a Formula 1 race without all the performance enhancing racing technology that rides along with every driver. That said — the driver still has to win the race. Drivers may seek a built-in technology advantage but ultimately it is how they perform while using that technology on the racetrack that counts. Actually, few drivers today would consider venturing out on the track if they did not have great technology — just like racecar owners would not let someone drive if there were any doubt as to whether that driver could use the technology to best advantage.

So, yes, no surprise — the formula for success is great technology plus great execution. But at the end of the day, it is usually great execution that counts more. Anyone can buy great technology. That’s why they call it off-the-shelf. Buyers will probably tailor it. They will probably configure it. They may extend it. But what they are not going to do is invest the millions of dollars necessary to build it from scratch. If software development is not already their core business then trying to make it part of their business would be a huge distraction; it would divert resources; and it is extremely unlikely they could outwit companies for whom software development is their core business. Furthermore, it is likely that whatever software they were to develop would not integrate well with the other software they own or would likely buy in the future.

All this is to say that you will never face a competitor who has purchased a better EPM software product than the one available to you right now. It will not have more features. It will not be faster. It will not integrate with more kinds of data. It will not be easier to use. It will not be more configurable. It will not be able to deliver more business insight. It will not leverage existing skillsets better. It will not be more collaborative. And it will not be greater value for the money.

Not unless it’s Oracle EPM Cloud — the only complete EPM cloud you can buy. It satisfies all EPM requirements across financial and operational planning, consolidation and close, data management, internal and external reporting, and profitability management processes. And it does so on a common platform.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that all your competitors can buy the best software too. So, what’s the answer?

Hire a Difference Maker

You may have heard the fable about two hikers in the woods where one asks the other if he is not afraid of getting attacked by a bear. To which the other hiker replies, “No, actually, I’m not. Because I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

Just boosting your enterprise performance is not what ultimately matters either. What does is whether your enterprise out-performs the competition. Achieving that performance difference is why great EPM consulting is more important than even the best EPM software. When the software comes off the shelf it does not know you or your competitors. It does not understand best practices for your industry. It doesn’t know what the key performance drivers are. It is unaware of your company’s key stakeholders or the collaborative networks and workflows that bind them. It does certainly understand accounting standards, currency conversions, revenue recognition rules, and a wealth of other financial content — which must still be optimized for your particular situation.

There are complex formulas to write and test, integrations to complete, charts of accounts to establish, visualizations to create, roles to allocate, security rules to apply, migrations to manage, user training that needs to get done, and much more. Nor is it just the EPM software where optimizations need to occur, but also at the infrastructure and operating system levels too — cloud, on-prem, or both — again, with respect to your organization’s specific needs.

Another difference maker is the speed and efficiency with which all this happens. For example, does the consultant bring proprietary tools to the task, such as Strafford’s ecosystem health check technology? This tool automatically probes the entire infrastructure-operating system-application stack for any out-of-spec conditions such as a user assigned conflicting roles. Proprietary tools obviously help to reduce disruption, apply best practices consistently, and achieve return on investment sooner. But they also show that the consultant deeply understands both technology and business.

And ultimately that understanding makes the biggest difference of all. Because whether your technology is a winner is not the point. It’s whether you are.


Topics: EPM Support, Technology Insights, Cloud EPM, Finance Best Practices, Finance Operations, Oracle Products