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Aligning Financial Planning with Company Strategy Corporate Financial Planning Strategy Webinar

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Corporate Financial Planning Strategy WebinarAdvances in technology are creating opportunities to realize the benefits of creating better alignment of budgeting and forecasting efforts with strategic initiatives and operating in a dynamic financial planning environment. What does it mean for a company to move from a static to a dynamic planning and forecasting environment? How are companies leveraging technology and redefining processes to offer the right data at the right time to the right people within their organizations? This Corporate Financial Planning Strategy Webinar includes an overview of best practices in budgeting and planning, how current and emerging technologies enable the adoption of best practices, and a case study of how one company has leveraged technology in transforming from a static to a dynamic forecasting and planning process.

 

 

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This video is from the Proformative webinar "Best Practices: Aligning Financial Planning with Company Strategy in a Dynamic Environment" held on January 31, 2013. The webinar features presentations from Alex Ortiz, Director of Product Marketing, Host Analytics and Bijal Patel, Sr. Financial Analyst, Cell Therapeutics.

 

Corporate Financial Planning Strategy Webinar

 

John Kogan: "We have a number of learning objectives today. I'm not going to go through these one by one, but we do want to help you discover best practices and aligning much of your forecasting efforts with your company's strategic initiatives. That's really the bottom line today. We all live in dynamic environments for our corporations and we want to help you learn how to manage this process better and more effectively. That's what we're all about here today. Without further ado, I'd like to go ahead and introduce
our first speaker, Alex Ortiz.

Alex is the Director of Product Marketing at Host Analytics, and as he heads up Host Analytics, he provides the only complete performance suite for financing the cloud. Alex, thanks so much for joining us this morning. I greatly appreciate your time and I want to let you go ahead and take it away from here.

Alex Ortiz: Great, thanks John, it's good to be with you again. I'm here to do two things. One is to spell out what's happening in technology trends. The second goal I have is to share what we see a lot of our customers doing to move the ball forward within the office of finance. A lot of my experiences have been informed by two things. One is on the venture capital side, seeing both the successes and the struggles of early stage companies. Most people are aware that most mid-stage companies, they struggle every month, every quarter, every year to hit plan, just as big companies do. Unfortunately, we see companies crash on the rocks of strategy and plan and misalignment all too frequently. It's a subject I care deeply about, I care deeply about the entrepreneurs that are putting together those plans and strategies and presenting them to the board.

The second area that I'm going to tap into is a lot of conversations with finance professionals that we work with here at Host Analytics; we learn from them and we also, hopefully, return the favor and share best practices, so they can move the ball forward.

Let me dive into the Corporate Financial Planning Strategy Webinar presentation here. First, I'm going to start out giving you a very brief overview of Host Analytics, the company. We're the leader in cloud-based financial applications and what Gartner would call corporate performance management or enterprise performance management. What that is is really a combination of the financial processes that most of the people on the phone think about today; budgeting, planning, forecasting, consolidation, close and disclose, financial reporting, ad hoc reporting, and analytics. It's a combination of processes all in one market sector.

Editor's Note: When you get a chance, take a quick look at some of the many other recorded webinars in Proformative's video library, such as: Business Analytics For Corporate Finance Webinar, Corporate Financial Planning Webinar, Career Networking Webinar, Budgeting & Planning Webinar and Netsuite Webinar, to name just a few.

In terms of the cloud, we're in 2013. I think the cloud is turning from something that was adopted by innovators and early adopters and now really hitting its stride in the mainstream. I think most folks are familiar with the cloud. We see a shift in trend. In years past, the priority had been about cost reduction. Cloud companies tended to have a strong value proposition around cost reduction. Nowadays, we see the companies going after the benefits of agility. That's a really cogent point to where we are today, in a very dynamic economy with a fair amount of volatility. The ability to move along with that volatility has become more and more important.

In terms of EPM and why companies pursue the software, generally it's three things. It's to help drive accountability across the company, to make sure that plans don't just sit within the Office of Finance but that department heads are empowered to act. Obviously, it's a lot about speed and moving from manual processes to automatic processes. I think the big picture is to achieve better insight to help inform decisions and make better decisions. We feel lucky to work with companies large, medium, and small, NEC is a great story of coming on and harnessing the value of the cloud.

I'll share a bit of trivia; I love trivia. WD-40 is a great brand. For the longest time, I had no idea what WD-40 meant. Recently, we learned that WD-40 actually stands for "water displacement" and 40 stands for the 40th recipe, so to speak, of the chemist there that got the recipe right. It was their 40th try for water displacement. There you go, if you learn anything here, you learn a good piece of trivia with WD-40. Companies that are early stage here in the Silicon Valley, we've got plenty of companies here that are prepared to go public, companies like Splunk, who really want to get their financial house in order, as they file their S-1's and enterprise performance management software can certainly help in those cases.

Let's talk about why we're here today. Just driving in listening to the news, I hear about the GDP of the US having a slight contraction this last quarter. Obviously, we should all be aware of that information, because it really does trickle down into industries, into companies, and sometimes into individuals' plans moving forward. I think we're in a heightened environment of awareness around macroeconomic destruction, especially companies that are driven by commodity pricing. We've seen what the price of oil has done over the past four years. We've seen the big pull back in construction; and, hopefully, the reemergence, and also financial services still trying to move forward, away from a place of infinite pain back in 2009.

We're all aware of the company dynamics of competitors launching new products, demand profiles changing, buying patterns changing, and it's probably not a surprise to anyone on the phone today that strategies change. The days of a once-a-year strategy review are probably over in most companies. Certainly, the ones we talk to are making big plans to do more iterative planning, including adjusting strategies as they do it. Some companies that come to us, they're really at the beginning stages of
maturity in their financial processes, and to think about monthly planning cycles might make their head explode. I think a few key things to remember, in my overall message, for today's best practices is that technology exists to help. It's becoming more and more accessible, more and more affordable, and a little easier than most folks would think to move from what I would call static planning to more dynamic planning.

Let's jump into a couple of the other things, and there are some obstacles that companies are also facing. It's not just the external environment, strategies changing; it's the tools that they have in-house to help them adjust to the change. Most companies start out using spreadsheets. Those companies get bigger, and then at some point in that company's life, they hit a wall. They hit a wall with spreadsheets for a lot of reasons that I think most people are familiar with. They're hitting problems of size; sometimes these workbooks are 50 megabytes, really difficult to open and adjust. We love Excel, but it's not exactly designed for collaboration and workflow and approvals. It's kind of hard to lock down sets of data. The stats that I found most interesting out there were by a couple of business schools. They said that 94% of spreadsheets have errors on them. That's an astounding figure. We've all been in board meetings where information is presented and something isn't adding up, and that is obviously a big credibility blow to everyone at the table.

The second big challenge area that we see companies struggle with is what we call outdated software. There are now, at least, four or five major software products that are at end of life, or end of support: Hyperion Enterprise, FRX, Cognos has various versions that are no longer going to be supported in 2013. Companies need to do something about that. Sometimes it's IT policy that says that we're not allowed to . . ."

End Partial: Corporate Financial Planning Strategy Webinar

 

 

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