Excel4Apps Solution Specialist Mark Pockl joins SAPinsider's Ken Murphy for an interview during SAPinsider's Reporting & Analytics 2014 conference in Atlanta. Topics of this discussion include:
- The company's GL Wand and Reports Wand products that enable real-time reporting of SAP data directly in Microsoft Excel
- How the Wildlife Conservation Society uses GL Wand to enable reporting out of SAP for Public Sector management module
- A large Microsoft Excel user base that is leveraging Excel4Apps to write their own reports and conduct drill-down analysis directly in Microsoft Excel
- Excel4Apps' plan to stay in step with the evolution of SAP HANA as the default database platform
View the video, and read the edited transcript of this conversation with Mark Pockl here:
Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, and I am at the SAPinsider Reporting & Analytics 2014 conference, and I’m pleased to be joined by Mark Pockl, who is a solution specialist with Excel4Apps. Mark, welcome.
Mark Pockl, Excel4Apps: Good morning, Ken.
KM: Good morning. I was hoping you could start off by telling us a little bit about Excel4Apps.
MP: Sure. Our company was founded in 2005 by a couple of Oracle consultants. They realized there was a lack of good financial reporting within Oracle, so they started this company and built this product, GL Wand, on the Oracle side. In 2009 we actually transitioned over to the SAP side as well and we have two products we support on the SAP side; we have GL Wand, which focused on FICO module data, and allows users to get real-time access and drill down into their line-item and document-level detail. Reports Wand is another product we have that allows them to report on all of their ECC data out of any SAP module.
KM: What are some of the key challenges that SAP finance users are facing these days?
MP: The ability to meet their deadlines for their reporting close cycles is often a main thing, as well as getting access to real-time data. There are standard reports and custom reports in SAP that give them some of what they need, but oftentimes they have to go to IT to get reports customized or get IT to do data dumps from SAP into Excel for them.
KM: So you said GL Wand focuses primarily on the FICO module data; is there a way to report on SAP ECC data outside of that module?
MP: Yes, you can use our other product Reports Wand. Reports Wand has two dependencies on SAP; the IT folks really like it because they can leverage their SAP queries that they’ve designed within the SAP query tool, and the end-users like it because it gives them the ability to run standard and custom transaction codes right in Excel.
KM: Tell us about some of your current customers and the challenges they’re facing and how Excel4Apps is helping them overcome those challenges?
MP: A couple of customers, two that come to mind are Odyssey Reinsurance Company and the Wildlife Conservation Society. With Odyssey, they are a worldwide leader in the reinsurance business, and some of the pain points that they faced with SAP is they have a large Excel user-base and they wanted to be able to leverage their Excel toolset, so part of the challenges they were having was they were relying a lot on IT for reporting needs and they wanted to empower their users to be able to report on data from their SAP environment, so how GL Wand was able to help them was GL empowered them to write their own reports, gave them their drill-down analysis they needed for the real-time data. The other company, Wildlife Conservation Society that I mentioned earlier – they’re a non-profit organization, a worldwide entity, you may have heard of them as the Bronx Zoo, they manage a lot of the different zoos all over the world. One of the challenges they faced was they’re using the Public Sector Management module within SAP, and that module didn’t give them the reporting that they needed. And they also needed a universal toolset for a lot of their users that are worldwide. So how GL Wand was able to help them was, it gave them the ability to report on that public sector management data; we actually developed funds and grants management get-balance functions into our GL Wand product that allowed them to report on the data that they needed. And also with Excel being the universal tool, they were able to custom mass-deploy that to a lot of their users worldwide.
KM: Another thing everyone’s curious about is the implementation process; what’s that like for the reporting solution?
MP: Sure, it’s more of an install process than an implementation. The install actually takes roughly 45 minutes on the server side; a basis administrator just installs two transport files into the server, and then on the client side it’s a quick PC install that takes roughly five minutes. It can be mass-deployed using an MSI (Windows) Installer.
KM: You can’t really talk about SAP these days without hearing about SAP HANA, of course. How Excel4Apps is dealing with that shift that SAP is making with SAP HANA as sort of the overall platform?
MP: With the SAP HANA landscape obviously evolving and becoming a topic of interest, GL Wand wants to stay current, or Excel4Apps wants to stay current with their application. So what we’re doing is we’re going through the process right now of certifying our product on SAP HANA, as well as we’ve actually done some testing with a partner server that is using SAP HANA and it was a successful test so far. So we’re working toward that certification, probably in the early part of next year (2015).
KM: Here at the conference, last night we opened the Exhibit Hall and you’re a vendor here. Tell us about how that reception and the evening went?
MP: I thought it was a great experience. I thought we had a lot of visitors to the booth and a lot of really good in-depth conversations with people that really wanted to know who we are and what our products are all about.
KM: Well, Mark it was a pleasure speaking with you.
MP: Thanks, Ken.
KM: Again, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, and I’m at the SAPinsider Reporting & Analytics conference with Mark Pockl, a solution specialist with Excel4Apps.