Managed application hosting is how you get the most value from your EPM investment, but only if you first know how to get the most value from your EPM application host.
Managed application hosting (MAH) helps your business in many ways. MAH gives you all the power of EPM without the expense and work of owning, installing, and configuring all the required hardware and software yourself. With MAH you also don’t have to provide your own technical support or system maintenance and monitoring. In addition, MAH also provides technical support and administration of the EPM application itself. That includes high-level EPM consulting based on your particular situation, which includes tailoring both the application as well as how the application is administered. This can entail everything from internal compliance reporting to helping stakeholders build their own data visualizations to re-architecting administrative workflows in order to accelerate the financial close.
Thus, you can:
- Conduct financial operations at maximum speed and efficiency
- Focus on your core business minus the distraction of managing EPM technology
- Identify and execute on your key financial decisions faster for optimum results
These are great benefits — potentially. Obviously, a lot depends on how well you and your MAH partner work together. We have written before on what to look for when evaluating a possible EPM provider — emphasizing both the technical and partnering skills the provider should bring to the table. But beyond just selecting the right resource there are other measures you can take to ensure the partnership succeeds. In fact, one of the top qualifications you should look for in a MAH partner is how much they can help you perform three critical actions:
Identify Your Priorities
You know the old saying that when you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there. The same is true when deciding to adopt EPM. What exactly are you hoping to accomplish, and in what priority? For example: is the financial close process too slow and disruptive? Are you looking to radically increase data accuracy, timeliness, and relevance? Do you want greater stakeholder collaboration across functional silos? Do you foresee multiple mergers in your future and need to make rapid financial consolidations routine? Do you want enhanced qualitative financial reporting? Are stakeholders asking for more financial self-service tools so they don’t keep asking IT or finance for special reports or data models?
EPM, in the right hands, can do all of the above and much more. But first you need to know where to focus attention. And if tradeoffs must be made, either in terms of schedule or functionality, where would you prefer to make them?
Communicate Your Policies and Standards
Just as you have certain priorities, you should also have certain expectations about what defines “success” when those priorities are met — both in terms of what needs to be done, and how well it needs to be done. So, we are talking about policies and standards. These are informed by multiple drivers, including industry standards, best practices, competitive pressures, compliance mandates, and your own comfort level. Many policies and standards can be specific and quantifiable, such as role assignments, data backups, application services, patch updates, software revision levels and security KPIs. In addition, specific SLAs are in order for other metrics, like data and application availability, backup restores, helpdesk response times, and issue escalations.
Communicating these requirements to your MAH partner as soon as possible helps ensure, among other things, that your EPM deployment architecture is rightsized across cloud resources and internal networks. Of course, a good reason to work with a MAH provider in the first place is to help you determine the right EPM policies and standards. Even if you never work with a MAH provider, this task should be high on your to-do list.
Establish Clear Lines of Authority, Task Demarcation, and Communication
The last thing you want in the lifecycle of any enterprise application is to have the different players involved — users, technical contributors, and executive leadership alike — working at cross purposes. You should know the players (and their respective roles) on the MAH side and they should know the players (and their respective roles) on your side. In true agile fashion, there should also be opportunities and encouragement to communicate freely and often across task boundaries, whether that is in standup meetings, on Slack, or by some other means. The key is for everyone to know what is expected of them, to call out roadblocks early, and then to report back on what was accomplished.
Companies that adopt MAH want more than just an EPM cloud, just like companies that adopt EPM cloud want more than just accounting software. In either case, your success depends on first deciding just what “more” means to you.