Planning and budgeting software has evolved extensively over the last few years. As the way companies plan and budget has changed, the demands on the FP&A department have evolved from being custodians of a financial plan to partnering with lines of business to create a fully connected enterprise plan which unites finance, line of business, and operational plans. Spreadsheets used to be the tool used by finance and operations to create and track budgets, before there were on-premises solutions such as Oracle Hyperion Planning.
Today, cloud is the de facto standard for delivering budgeting software. Oracle Cloud EPM Planning is the most complete budgeting and planning platform delivered in the cloud. Cloud EPM Planning has the breadth to manage any planning requirements with built-in best practice capabilities for planning as well as embedded emerging technologies, such as AI and data science.
A planning and budgeting solution should not only be a blank canvas for modeling, but it should contain planning intelligence and purpose-built capabilities for: predictive planning; driver-based budgeting; robust, “what-if” scenario modeling; sandboxing; top-down and bottom-up budgeting; and approvals and workflows as best practices that you can start using right away.
Also, you should expect purpose-built and supported modules—such as long-range planning, workforce planning, capital asset, and project financial planning—that are fully functioning modules, designed to work together and are seamlessly integrated with existing customer-specific planning processes.
You must look for a connected planning platform that is a truly comprehensive solution which provides not just financial planning, but also operational planning and modeling to address lines of business, such as HR, IT, supply chain, and sales. This should be developed and maintained by the vendor—not just an add-on available in a "marketplace."
The demands of today’s fast-paced, agile business models require the ability to model financial and operational scenarios easily. A key capability behind this is the system’s ability to take in and process large volumes of data to be used in free-form modeling.
It is critical to have a powerful back-end engine to handle the vast amount of data that businesses use for such analytics today. Also make sure that scalability across large volumes of data and users can be easily handled. Your planning and forecasting solution absolutely must be able to live up to the vendors’ promises about ad-hoc modeling.
Reporting can be a catch phrase for doing a lot of different things. You might want to do ad-hoc analysis, slicing and dicing your data. You might just want to use a standard dashboard for status updates. You probably still require a standard pack of pixel-perfect reports that can easily be printed.
And most organizations are looking to modernize and streamline their management reporting by adding collaborative narrative elements when preparing their reporting packages. Make sure that planning systems can do all of these—not just as a demo, as with imposter planning systems.
A comprehensive EPM planning solution should be able to handle all your reporting requirements, including dashboards, ad-hoc analysis, pixel-perfect financial statements, and complete narrative reports, and all of this should be possible via browsers, mobile devices, and other familiar tools. All reporting requirements from complex budget books with narrative to ad-hoc analysis, should be available in spreadsheet interfaces that finance professionals are familiar with and can easily use. This kind of flexibility is important because the fast-changing nature of global business requires a lot of ad-hoc analysis and must not compromise data security.
Emerging technologies, such as machine learning, are quickly changing business practices. Through the use of data science, predictive analytics can uncover correlations, outliers, or exceptions that a person alone wouldn’t be able to recognize. It can materially improve the accuracy of planning and greatly reduce time spent in planning processes and also reduce the time spent on analyzing data.