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The Path to Meeting Your 2013 Plan - Corporate Controller Webinar

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Corporate Controller WebinarIn this Corporate Controller Webinar discover how increased visibility into operational and financial data across the enterprise can deliver improved planning and analysis, which in conjunction with the proper alignment of process and technology can create a culture of accountability to drive results.

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This video is from the Proformative webinar "The Path to Meeting Your 2013 Plan: Metrics, Technology & Accountability" held on December 13, 2012. The webinar features presentations from Alex Ortiz, Director of Product Marketing, Host Analytics and Diana Lowell, Corporate Controller, Mirion Technologies.


Corporate Controller Webinar


My goal for this session is really to share what we're seeing from the thousands of finance professionals that we work with over the years, and share some statistics out there from surveys. Share some best practices, and obviously some results that we see our customers getting. This is really a timely topic obviously, with companies closing the books on the calendar year and looking towards next year.

I'd like to start out this Corporate Controller Webinar with basically level setting with what's happening outside. That really comes down to, it's getting more and more difficult to hit plans. I think we've all read the news around the volatility in the economy. Especially in this Q3, and Q4, there's been a lot analysis by Wall Street on the number of companies, either missing their earnings target, or even revising their targets down.

Whether you're a public or private company. I think everyone feels how difficult it is to meet plan, and then let alone exceed plan. Even the biggest companies with the most resources are struggling. I just grabbed this announcement from the middle of the year. Of course Apple is one of the biggest companies out there now. You know what? They have trouble too.

This is something we see as a real big challenge no matter what size the company is, but there are certain steps that companies are making to increase their odds of hitting plan. That's what I really want to talk to you today about. First, I think we need to dissect a little bit on the main reasons companies miss plan. There's all varieties, but we usually boil it down to three main areas.

First off, it's a tendency of some companies to be looking at backwards-looking information. They're looking in the rear-view mirror, rather than looking forward or using more of a GPS device to help them navigate the current environment and even start helping to predict the future environment. There have been real challenges there. I think over the last ten years we've seen the office of finance shifting from what traditionally was more a reporting of [actuals] role into really being a business partner for the company, for the CEO, and the e-staff.

The second main area we see companies struggling with is really comes down to accountability. As companies get larger it's harder to make sure everyone is paddling in the same direction. Certainly we've all been in board meetings where people aren't taking accountability for the numbers that they should be owning.

Finally, there's a big challenge with reacting quickly, and taking the right actions on what's happening in the company and outside the company. It's getting harder and  harder, because there is so much noise out there, and it's really hard to sort out the signal from the noise.

Of course, companies are now turning to new technology to help them hit plan. This survey comes courtesy of Dimensional Research. They surveyed 541 finance executives, and they asked them a variety of questions. These were some of the more interesting results.

First off, finance professionals point to new technology as helping them achieve their business results. From a process perspective, they say that improved financial planning is helping to deliver a competitive advantage. Of course they're seeing better results because of that.

What I found was interesting about the survey is it really pointed to a big difference in maturity across companies, and maturity in the ways that they're analyzing their business. Most companies are doing a what-if analysis, revenue planning, profitability, and opportunity planning, but some of the deeper and broader types of analysis, really a lot of companies aren't doing that. We see some that are actually going for it, and doing the broad range opportunity planning, spotting opportunities that maybe
work in the initial plan, and going after them, but by and large there's just a big dispersion of maturity across companies.

What's this new technologies that these finance professionals are talking about? Cloud computing has been around for roughly a decade. Pioneers like SalesForce, even NetSuite in the late '90s really made this category what it is today. If you think about it, ADP is a pretty interesting use case, or case in point of someone who maybe isn't in the top of your mind as a Cloud computing company, but we've all been using ADP for online payroll for years and years.

Editor's Note; You may also want to take a look at some of Proformative's many other recorded webinars, such Leasing & Revenue Recognition Webinar, Corporate Finance Technology Strategy Webinar, Time & Expense Accounting Webinar, Revenue Recognition Regulations Webinar and Corporate Budgeting & Forecasting Webinar.

In effect, some companies and some finance departments are already using Cloud applications, but we really see a shift from early adopters to mainstream companies using Cloud applications in a variety of finance functions, both at the ERP level and at the strategic level. We looked at a survey from Forrester, which is an analyst research shop. They interviewed a bunch of software decision makers, and they asked them, "Why are you moving to the Cloud?"

Essentially it boils down to two areas. It boils down to companies looking for improved agility out of the technology that they're investing in. Of course, the number two reason was lower cost. On the agility side, it really comes down to freeing up resources both in the IT and finance departments, so spending a lot less time on implementing systems, and spending more time on managing and analysis.

They're also looking towards software that is continually updated, and getting away from a painful, two to three-year upgrade cycle. Of course, the finance professionals are really appreciating applications that they can manage on their own. That means changing the way they analyze and report on things. That's especially true with all the volatility today.

Finally on the cost side, they're basically looking at the TCO including buying hardware, and the staff required to run some of their older systems, and they're realizing that they can actually pay for their newer systems with the savings they get from moving to a newer technology platform. I'm sure Diana, who's going to be speaking right after me can talk a little bit more about it and give you some real good examples about it.

The technology platform is one thing, moving from server to a Cloud system, but it also comes down to the applications that finance professionals are
using. We are part of what we call the corporate performance management space. Some folks also call it enterprise performance management.

Really what it boils down to is an application that centralizes data, that finance and the business needs all in one place, giving really the company a central source of the truth. Then also providing applications for every step in the process. Not just planning, but also some of the close management that most companies go through, the analysis, the disclosure, and also the strategic planning. Having that all in one platform to help companies make better decisions, and do it faster.

Let's come back to looking at the right information. Obviously, we all have to think about the results, the actuals, but in terms of what causes better planning, there's all sorts of analysis out there. This one comes courtesy of Gartner and Wharton. Basically it shows that when companies look at leading indicators, they on average earn a 5% higher return on equity. There's a real value in looking at leading indicators.

The obvious question then becomes, well what sort of indicators are companies looking at? When we talk to companies, they really are looking for technology that can help them bring in information that already exists. Within their four walls, they already have a sales pipeline. They already have a marketing pipeline. For all sorts of reasons, there have been challenges to move that information into the overall planning cycle.

Even outside the company there are a lot of great economic indicators that exist for companies. Whether it's housing starts, consumer price index, there's a whole bevy of information that really is available, but it's just been hard to bring it in.

End partial: Corporate Controller Webinar.


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