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Expert advice: Choosing the right consolidation and planning application

by Davin Wilfrid

March 10, 2011

By Davin Wilfrid, senior analyst, insiderRESEARCH

Depending on the structure of your organization, your close and planning processes may be riddled with complexity. Global organizations, especially, have to deal with different source systems, charts of accounts, GAAP guidelines, currencies and tax requirements.

At the Financials 2011 conference, Tara Sitaram of focusSAP shared her thoughts on this challenge and the options available for SAP finance organizations.

First, she says, companies should not turn to new software if the processes are to blame. She says one customer of hers was evaluating a new software solution before discovering that its slow close issues were due to badly-designed processes.

Another key point is to work with all groups within the finance structure to implement or customize a solution that is intuitive and easy to use. "If you want to give client system that works, has to be a partnership where you deliver something that is nice and clean to use, and not onerous," she says.

The three primary software options for SAP customers are Business Consolidation System (BCS), SAP BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation (BOFC), and SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation (BPC). Each has its own pros and cons, and it is up to each company to determine which application will best meet their own requirements.

For example, BCS -- an SAP NetWeaver-based application -- was built for accounting and includes robust data feeds. Users can report from BCS using the BEx tools that are included in an SAP ERP license. However, BCS is more difficult to use than other options and certain functions, such as COI, are generally too complex for most users.

BPC, on the other hand, gets high marks for usability (finance people love the Excel interface) and ease of reporting options, yet was not designed as an accounting system and needs a boost in other places.

The bottom line, she says, is to evaluate carefully based on your own requirements and select the application that will work for both IT and the business side.

My take: SAP BPC has the full-throated support of SAP itself, and is likely to be the primary focus for enhancements in the medium and long term, so customers with an eye to a strategic roadmap will likely pursue that option.


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