Enabling insight-driven business decisions is a top priority for C-level executives today. As we’ve discussed in earlier articles in this issue of SAPinsider, using business analytics to make sure each decision is based on up-to-date, comprehensive data is hugely beneficial. However, for the most part, these executives remain hampered by the older reporting functionality of their legacy systems, which are limited in terms of the information exploration and analytics capabilities needed to make their goals a reality.
Consider, for example, the realm of finance and enterprise performance management (EPM). Traditional EPM systems struggle to support the business challenges of today’s highly competitive environment. Rather than being able to readily tap into growing amounts of data to enhance their business decisions, financial analysts are having to validate and aggregate the data, then read through reports to try to glean insights. This means that valuable resources are spending more time on validating and aggregating data and less time on actual value-added analysis that would support better informed business decisions.
This is one reason why a growing number of organizations are now pursuing major process improvements to help empower their finance departments with improved analytics so they can better support all aspects of the business. As part of this effort, organizations are looking to:
- Provide strong analytical solutions to decision makers, with a focus on enabling effectiveness and efficiency
- Deploy systems that enable detailed planning and reforecasting
- Provide faster, fresher, and more granular analysis of large amounts of data
- Extend access to employees whenever they need it, wherever they are
Not surprisingly, investing in analytics tools that specifically support EPM is an important step to meet these goals. However, when defining your EPM analytics strategy, we also encourage you to consider how you will make these tools available to your workers, and to incorporate the benefits of mobile EPM solutions into your overall strategy.1
Integrated Performance Management Processes
The core activities of EPM encompass budgeting, cost and profitability reporting, strategy management, and financial reporting. Implementing individual EPM applications to support these activities can bring great benefits to organizations, especially when their implementation helps to replace nonintegrated and inefficient processes that rely on traditional tools like spreadsheets.
To enable best-practice performance management, what you need is a business intelligence (BI) foundation upon which processes can run seamlessly across performance management applications. This type of enterprise-wide integration enables an unprecedented level of data sharing, facilitates collaboration and communication, and reduces reporting cycle times. All of this helps support companies in their bid to make better decisions faster and to enable organizational agility.
This is likely one reason why leading organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of using unified, integrated EPM solutions to measure, manage, and monitor their financial and nonfinancial business performance. Companies on the leading edge are also looking forward to the next frontier: taking this integrated EPM platform mobile.
Enable Better Performance Management Through Mobile Technologies
When new technology innovations come about, they tend to motivate companies to take another look at how they run their business. New technologies can drive process efficiency and support continuous improvement in organizations. The emergence of mobile technologies provides a prime example. Mobile devices have become so prolific that they are redefining how organizations do business and how people manage performance in the enterprise. For instance, in the past, executives were tethered to their desktops and laptops when they wanted to look at their latest key financial and performance metrics. Now, with mobile technologies, enterprises can minimize risk and drive growth by allowing users to review and respond to key financial and operational metrics in real time from any location.
For example, the City of Boston recently implemented Boston About Results, a new performance management system — based on SAP Strategy Management (see sidebar) — that includes a publicly accessible website and an app called CitizenInsight, which is available for the iPad.2 This tool provides statistics from across city departments, including the police, public works, and the school system (see Figure 1).3 Using these interfaces, constituents have access to city data on more than 200 KPIs (about 10% of the total measurements that Boston tracks for internal performance management purposes). This dramatically increases the ease with which the public can see what their local authorities are doing.
||Boston About Results, the City of Boston’s CitizenInsight mobile app, based on SAP Strategy Management
And, while finance may have lagged a bit in terms of early adoption of new mobile technologies, users are finally beginning to embrace them and the efficiencies they bring. Companies are ready to start using mobile innovations to empower their workers and drive improved decision making. Fortunately, SAP has the tools and technology available to support companies in this initiative and make sure they can rapidly access the benefits of mobile analytics.
The Advantages of Mobile Enterprise Performance Management
As companies begin to introduce mobile EPM applications to empower finance and other employees, they’ll want to be sure that the deployment and maintenance of these tools is quick and easy so they can more rapidly take advantage of the capabilities they offer.
We’ve found that a smart, effective approach to analytics in the enterprise is to mobile-enable the EPM tools that a company already has in place. This might especially appeal to larger organizations that have already invested significantly in establishing their EPM systems and now want to provide new mobile capabilities for their business users. And, of course, companies that are currently implementing or considering implementing SAP solutions for EPM can start incorporating a mobile strategy into their plans early on.
This is why SAP is currently working on the new SAP EPM Unwired mobile client, which is planned to enable access to the 10.0 versions of SAP’s EPM applications. It provides business users with a next-generation user experience via the iPad and other mobile devices.
The first EPM application planned to be made accessible through SAP EPM Unwired is SAP Business Planning and Consolidation 10.0. Users will be able to take action and perform a series of functions beyond standard data exploration and analysis, more in line with the capabilities available in SAP’s on-premise EPM solutions.
For example, it is currently planned that users will be able to view and analyze SAP Business Planning and Consolidation reports and make inputs and adjustments to plans, budgets, and forecasts — all via a mobile device. These kinds of capabilities set this client apart from mobile apps that only enable basic data exploration from a mobile device.
Like any SAP mobile application, these mobile EPM tools help address key business goals, such as enabling non-technical employees to engage with and manage processes, empowering employees to make informed, faster decisions, and providing detailed visibility into operations and performance. Visit www54.sap.com/solutions/analytics/enterprise-performance-management/software/overview/highlights.html to learn more.
Your Key to Effective EPM
Finance executives, managers, and business users want accessibility, speed, and simplicity as they consume and analyze financial data. Mobile technology is the key to providing these capabilities and giving users access to a wealth of information that will let them make better business decisions faster. And this is only the beginning. We will continue to see tremendous transformations in performance management as innovations in mobility, new applications, and use cases become core to EPM, and as the implementation and management of these new technologies affect business processes and metrics.
The need for applications that are easy to access, are mobile-ready, and feature superior computing power is only growing. It’s time to revamp EPM with new, innovative technologies that are available now to prepare yourself for the future.
Karuna Mukherjea (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Director of Product Marketing on the EPM team. She is experienced with finance and EPM applications and focuses on new technologies, like cloud and mobility, and how they relate to EPM applications.
1 See “All the Information You Need in the Palm of Your Hand: Empower Your Workforce with Mobile Analytics” in this issue of SAPinsider. [back]
2 The app is available at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/citizeninsight/id534520168?mt=8. [back]
3 See the press release, “Mayor Menino Announces Successful Go-Live of Boston About Results” (December 4, 2012). [back]