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FP&A tools in a Telco world

FP&A

I am conducting research for a Telco client that needs to move off of Excel for its FP&A functions (from monthly financial and management reporting - incl consolidations- to customer and product P/L analysis, ad hoc analytics, to budgeting - incl rolling budgets.

They have SEC requirements to meet as well and we are helping them select an ERP solution to which the FPS solution will integrate (along with other business systems like CRM, Asset Management and systems that monitor usage. I am interested in feedback from people who have recently looked at the FP&A market (CPM or BPM if you wish) and the various software players, e.g. Cognos, Hyperion/Essbase, SAP-BW/Business Objects, Adapative Planning, LongView, etc etc etc.

What did you like/not like and why?
Are you using your solution in a BI/DW environment?

Many thanks

Len

Answers

Wayne Geffen
Title: Controller
Company: in between
(Controller, in between) |

I have used Cognos, more specifically a product called TM1 to do whatever fp&a was needed for a public entity with multiple channels and more than $2.5 Billion in sales. We used it for all reporting and analysis. The greatest concept was in was an add in to Excel, so there was no real learning curve for the majority of users. I am glad to talk in greater detail and put anyone in contact with the fp&a solutions people that could set up a demo of the product.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Len,

You might want to get a free copy of this white paper here at Proformative:

"Ventana Research: The Benefits of Modernizing FP&A"

https://www.proformative.com/whitepapers/improving-working-capital-management-cash-flow-intelligence

Enjoy! Best... Sarah

Bill Aiken
Title: Principal & CEO
Company: Abacist Group
(Principal & CEO, Abacist Group) |

Hello Len,

I'm currently in the final stages of project helping a Fortune 50 client select an FP&A CPM software tool. I should mention that I own a boutique consulting business focused on the FP&A CPM space (process, people & tools).

This particular client had asked me to help them take a look at products from Hyperion, SAP, and IBM Cognos (today, the client is a current customer of various SAP and Oracle products including ERP systems from both companies). Their highest priority business requirements centered around Planning & Forecasting although they do have some needs for reporting, consolidations, asset & workforce management as well.

Because of their requirements, the primary products that we have been comparing are: Hyperion Planning, Hyperion Essbase, SAP BPC (Business Objects, Planning & Consolidations), and Cognos TM1.

The reality is that from a business user's (who is focused on Planning & Forecasting) perspective Hyperion Planning, SAP BPC, and TM1 all can provide very similar functionality (Hyperion Essbase is however different in nature, but is in fact the OLAP database under the hood of Hyperion Planning, so I won't mention much about that product here but feel free to email me with questions about Essbase as well).

All of these products in their latest version can provide the end user experience in Excel itself or via a more rigid and controlled web-interface. All have similar security and workflow capabilities. All are capable of integrating well with ERP systems including ability to view transaction level detail directly from the ERP system or better yet in a separate data warehouse. All are capable of storing meta-data in a relational database to record qualitative data about the OLAP cube data (like assumption comments or variance explanations).

Here are the somewhat slight differences I have observed across these three products:

1)With SAP BPC, you are purchasing effectively one product for Planning, Forecasting AND Consolidations vs. the other products you would need to purchase multiple products to get this breadth of functionality (e.g., with Hyperion you would need to purchase both Hyperion Planning & Hyperion Financial Management).

2) Cognos TM1's OLAP data is stored "in-memory" on the end users PC; this means that TM1 might be advantaged vs. the other tools if the end user wants to slice and dice their very large data sets (which I know the telco world has) different ways for quick analysis on the fly. However, the caveat to this is that end-users therefore need more advanced PC to take advantage of this technology (e.g., 64-bit technology enabled).

3) Hyperion has the most refined bolt on modules that are purpose built for particular business processes. For example, you can purchase their CapEx module or Workforce module to help with Capital/Asset planning and People planning, respectively and have that seamlessly integrate with your Plan/Forecasted G/L accounts.

4) Because SAP BPC is an SAP product, it is tied a little more closely to SAP R/3 than the other products. This can be seen as a positive or a negative. E.g., you might actually not want your FP&A tool to be beholden to the upgrade cycle of your ERP tool. I would imagine that this will become increasingly true with Hyperion as well with Oracle ERP since they just moved their release numbers to match one another with version 11x.

5) From a consulting services perspective (if you're seeking outside implementation help), Hyperion consultants are relatively plentiful while BPC consultants are relatively scarce.

Beyond these tools, I also have done a ton of work with Adaptive Planning and some with Prophix and Host Analytics. Depending on your requirements, these tools can be a great value. They tend not to have all of the functionality of the products mentioned above (Hyperion, SAP, Cognos), but they also can be much more affordable.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Wayne and Bill - many thanks for your comments. I'm working withe client staff to refine their needs right now.
Regards
Len

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