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EPM Software: From Spreadsheets To One-click Planning

In the digital world, there is an inextricable link between business processes and the technologies that support them. The modern work environment creates a need to jump to the next level. One of these processes is planning and budgeting. For this process, a large number of organisations still rely on good old Excel spreadsheets. On that note, we have something to tell you…

Maybe it’s time to replace Excel with software

Before you mutter: “but I’ve been using it for years…”, we’ll also say this: Excel is undoubtedly a useful tool for organising data in smaller companies. If, however, your business is a complex system and you’re looking for a way to simplify processes like planning and budgeting, it’s probably time to say goodbye to spreadsheets.

In the context of business planning in large systems, the manual arrangement of data makes processes cumbersome, slow and prone to errors. Given that these are activities with a large number of participants from various departments, who use data from various sources, manual planning can result in a chaotic situation: untrue, outdated and difficult-to-verify information. To add to the headache, with each exchange of documents within a department, the reconciliation of versions becomes more and more difficult.

Countless tables: many versions of the truth

For decision makers, disjointed planning means that there is no single version of the truth. Instead of a consolidated review, over time, many “truths” are created, which call into question the correctness of decisionmaking at the level of the entire business system. An additional problem is the lack of efficiency.

Statistics show that the largest part of working time is spent on manually arranging and adjusting data – up to 70%. Employees could devote this valuable time to a key aspect of planning: data analysis.

How can EPM software help?

The fact is that Excel, despite its fame, was never intended as a tool for planning, budgeting and reporting at the organisational level. Today there is a comprehensive, specialised solution for an integrated planning process: Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) software. This is the most effective tool for synchronising organisational departments that participate in planning, automating and improving the process of consolidation of business results. Or in short: for networked planning.

Unlike off-the-shelf tools and software, EPM solutions improve and facilitate the entire planning cycle – from data collection to modeling, analytics and reporting – by consolidating it on a single platform. Some of the main advantages for business are:

• centralisation of data located in different applications and systems, which are used for planning and for creating reports for monitoring plans
• detailed, holistic overview of data from all lines of business for efficient implementation of quarterly, halfyearly and annual plans
• “driver-based” planning – based on activities (drivers) that affect business values, such as price per product unit or larger investments in marketing
• possibility of active monitoring of KPIs
• possibility of active planning (rolling forecasts)
• accuracy and timeliness of data – no possibility of error or using the wrong formula
• saving employees’ time and greater agility of the company to adapt to market changes with a shorter planning process.

All business sectors, one planning strategy

Using EPM solutions, companies can strengthen cooperation between various lines of business, make them more agile and direct them towards common goals. For example, the launch of a new product requires the collaboration of the production, sales and marketing departments. Good coordination of these departments, which are often based in separate locations, will speed up planning and enable more efficient use of company resources, and thus a competitive advantage.

The main thing is not what the software enables, but what you need.

If you are planning to introduce a new solution for the automated management of planning and budgeting processes, it is important to have a complete picture of the current situation, and of the goals. The design of the application should address the weaknesses of your processes and the desired situation. Flexibility to adapt to your requirements goes hand in hand with intuitiveness. Even the best, customised EPM solution will remain “the tool they forced on us” if it is not easy for employees to use.

One of the EPM software packages that combines all of the above is Oracle Hyperion. It is a world-renowned system that is used in finance and controlling, and for operational planning and budgeting in large companies – in sales, marketing, human resources, IT and other business functions. Depending on the company’s needs, Oracle Hyperion can be set up on local infrastructure or in the cloud. It is characterized by exceptional flexibility that can be used when implementing dedicated modules, so that users get exactly what they want. That is the key point. Also, this is where expertise comes in.

A team of certified experts with deep knowledge of EPM solutions, experience in customisation, implementation and integration with the rest of the IT ecosystem for optimal information flow adds value to the application of technology. This kind of team and experience is brought by the company AIGO. As a development partner, not just an implementer, AIGO is here to help you choose the optimal EPM software, implement and customise the desired modules and integrate the solution with the systems you already use, such as ERP. Of course, all this is not possible without good cooperation. Therefore, the AIGO approach is based on jointly finding solutions that will put applications from global manufacturers at the service of your business.

As we said at the beginning of this text, today the connection between business processes and technologies is stronger than ever. Just as an insufficiently efficient tool can make processes more complex than they need to be, a suitable solution has the power to raise their efficiency to a new level.

This choice is strategically important and can create many challenges for companies. With the right support, all these challenges can be overcome and, along the way, new opportunities can be opened: for optimisation and improvement of the payment process, risk reduction and faster adaptation to change.

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