This is in continuation of my previous blog post here. To achieve the close coupling of information between the GL, Consolidation, and the Planning, Budgeting and Forecast (FP&A) teams, it’s important to have all of them work on the same platform.
There are quite a few EPM / CPM vendors or products that claim to be on a single platform. But is it truly a single platform? How do we evaluate that?
Let us ask some basic questions...
Am I required to load / update master data only once for account recs, for consolidation and for FP&A?
Do I make customer / product changes only once for all the solutions?
Am I sharing data between consolidation and FP&A scenarios without moving data?
Do I maintain rules and logics only once?
Is security setup only once?
Is the answer to any of the above questions a ‘no’, ……then it is not truly a single platform.
Same Architecture ≠ Same Platform
There is a difference between all solutions having the same architecture versus all solutions being on the same platform.
Having worked across multiple vendor products such as the Oracle Hyperion stack (on premise and on cloud), Anaplan, SAP BPC and SAP BFC, let me share my views. The platforms have the same look and feel due to the common architecture. However, when you apply the above questions to the solutions, it is very evident that the solutions are disconnected.
Typically, you have in your organization a consolidation solution. You have management and statutory reporting, as well as reporting by business units. There would be a team for tax compliance. You are also doing account reconciliation and various types of reporting for planning, budgeting and forecasting processes. Maybe you have a BI tool. You are taking data from one or more ERP and CRM systems, multiple sub ledgers, or this could also be a data warehouse. You are trying to extract and transform the data and use it to perform your processes.
Most of these solutions are all bespoke to support the various CPM processes. This creates issues of integration between the various customized solutions by way of interfaces and connections between these multiple data sources or spreadsheets. This means more costs, timing issues, data integrity, quality issues and high maintenance.
The One True Platform
OneStream XF on the other hand, is a ‘true single platform’. OneStream provides the overarching framework for all the required finance processes. What this means is that data integrity is guaranteed due to a single database and a single application. The control framework encompasses data integrity by integrating source systems through required validations and checks. The data could be from financial as well as non-financial sources. The transactional data can also be consolidated easily to give the required high-level view along with the visibility to have the lowest levels of details.
Within OneStream, the various CPM processes, be it consolidation, account reconciliations, planning and budgeting, tax compliance, risk management and risk assessment are all coherent. These processes have the required completeness through IT and non-IT controls, process and task management and close monitoring. As a result, the data is shared across the processes without the need for any additional interfaces and a consistent data management structure.
OneStream also supports custom tables as part of the platform, whereby granular level data can be stored and consumed within the same single application. For the balance substantiations, as part of the risk assessment and governance solution, transactional level inputs can be stored and aggregated within OneStream, aligned to aging buckets, ratings, categories, global customers and suppliers by entity to get the consolidated picture of the same. Based on corporate policy, the balances posing risks can be easily identified and also can be made available for the FP&A processes. There is also a process of confirmation and certification available for functional sign off, business segment level sign-off as well as the parent entity sign-off.
This ability to link non-financial inputs with financial information provides increased visibility to the CFO to drive business strategies through the CPM platform. The risk management strategy can be incorporated in the planning process to decide on corporate strategies. Also, in turn, the strategies can be connected with the CPM platform to measure initiatives through metrics, tasks, teams and associated risks.
This continuous feedback between the risk assessment and the strategic initiatives also allows teams to visualize the impact of their processes in the overall broader corporate goals. Once defined, the key performance indicators can help monitor whether the alignment and focus of tasks is towards achieving the business objectives.
We can thereby use the capabilities of a platform as powerful as OneStream to identify issues and risks impacting our key business factors (products, projects, customers or suppliers) and help us stay ahead in the game.