Recently I was invited to speak at the IMA Conference in Los Angeles on how Finance professionals are looking to improve financial planning methods.
As is the trend with specialized conferences, the event included an exhibition of vendors selling solutions to senior Finance professionals. Of particular note, there were vendors who offered products that enabled SAP and Oracle Financials customers to download data to spreadsheets for reporting. Another vendor sold accounting software that integrated with SAP, automating key processes such as year-end closings and reconciliations.
To see the emergence of these kinds of companies is telling. These vendors have picked up on the fact that a growing audience – in this case, Finance professionals – are experiencing a significant pain caused by one or more of the following factors:
- Finance professionals purchase a company-wide system believing it to have all the functionality they need only to discover that something critical is missing
- Once purchased, ‘big’ system vendors are unable to dedicate the time and resources to communicate with, train, or provide support on how their system can be used by Finance professionals
- Leveraging the required functionality within a big company-wide solution is difficult and time-consuming for Finance professionals
Whichever of these reasons are in play, Finance professionals across industries feel a significant pain: large company-wide systems (e.g. Enterprise Resource Planning systems) lack the breadth and depth of functionality that will make their lives easier and help them make better, faster decisions.
That Finance professionals feel this pain is further reinforced by industry analysts who have shared with me their observations over the last few years. Specifically, that “large computer programs from big vendors claiming to do everything a company needs are no longer the choice of today’s highly practical Finance leaders. Rather, specialized, best-in-class providers that provide real depth are the preferred choice”. After all, given how complex businesses are, it is unrealistic to expect that a single solution can address all of today’s business challenges.
Frankly, this is great news for Finance professionals and business owners alike who quite naturally want to make sure they invest in software solutions that are appropriate, effective, and when required, scalable.
If we take a step back for a moment, we can see that there has been a history of dependency on large computer systems serving as a comprehensive silver bullet. For example, consider the wide-spread fear surrounding ‘Y2K’ just a few years ago. At that time, IT managers were told that their legacy systems had to be replaced if they were to survive into the new millennium. The near panic compelled companies far and wide to invest in broad-based, expensive solutions. The truth is, companies that maintained their legacy systems were quite capable of operating and thriving.
How does this relate to the Corporate Performance Management (CPM) world? Surveys consistently show that the ‘big’ software solutions under perform in terms of their implementation and support. Furthermore, maintenance and upgrade costs continue to rise. As a result, Finance professionals are increasingly turning off components contained in their comprehensive ERP solutions and replacing key functionalities with best-in-class products.
As a provider of a specialized best-in-class CPM product, Prophix is committed to always solving the pains that Finance professionals experience when relying heavily on big software solutions.