Finance leaders continue to face ongoing challenges and economic disruption in 2022. From inflation and supply chain challenges to the war on talent stemming from The Great Resignation, finance teams are tasked with navigating a constantly changing landscape. Using the right tools for their organization’s unique needs can be the make-or-break factor to drive long-term success and differentiate from the competition.
But there is no one-size-fits-all solution. With so many options in the marketplace, how can you cut through the clutter to find the option that works best for your organization? Enter: The BARC Planning Survey 22, which leverages the feedback and experiences of your trusted peers in Corporate Finance to help you determine which solution best suits your organization’s unique needs.
The Business Application Research Center (BARC) is an industry analyst and consulting firm for business software. BARC analysts have supported companies through strategy, organization, architecture, and software evaluations for more than 20 years. For more information, visit www.barc-research.com
To support Corporate Finance teams, BARC covers the following critical areas:
The Planning Survey 22 is based on findings from the world’s largest and most comprehensive survey of planning software users, examining user feedback on planning processes and product selection. Conducted from November 2021 to February 2022, The Planning Survey compiles responses from 1,325 individuals analyzing 19 products or groups of products in detail.
Specifically, the survey examines user feedback on planning product selection and usage across 33 key performance indicators (KPIs) including
For more information on the survey, visit The BARC Survey website.
OneStream’s corporate mission is to deliver customer success, ensuring every customer is a reference – one success at a time. As we remain dedicated to this mission, we’re honored to earn a 100% recommendation score from all surveyed users for the second consecutive year.
Furthermore, OneStream earned 15 top rankings (see Figure 1) across four different peer groups. The company was measured across several different KPIs, including:
Additionally, OneStream earned 33 leading positions across its four peer groups, including product satisfaction, customer satisfaction, flexibility, workflow, recommendation, simulation, cloud planning, and financial consolidation.
“OneStream’s outstanding performance in this year’s Planning Survey reinforces the vendor’s dedication to delivering 100% customer success. As a market-leading CPM platform, OneStream helps organizations improve employee productivity, increase the transparency of planning and improve the integration of planning with reporting and analysis. The platform’s comprehensive capabilities for financial consolidation and close, planning, budgeting and forecasting, reporting, analysis, and financial data quality management – all in a single application – makes OneStream a modern, future-proof solution for organizations seeking digital transformation,” said Dr. Christian Fuchs, Senior Vice-President and Head of Data & Analytics Research at BARC.
OneStream is honored to receive standout results this year in The BARC Planning Survey. The report recognizes OneStream’s capabilities across financial close, consolidation, planning, and analysis as a best-in-class platform. The recognition is all the more meaningful as the rankings come directly from our committed customers and users across the globe.
To learn more about OneStream’s results, click here to download the full BARC Planning Survey 22.
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At OneStream Software, our mission is that “every customer is a reference, one success at a time.” That base of successful customers has been growing rapidly, now numbering over 900 organizations globally, and it’s really gratifying to see and hear about the benefits and value our solution is delivering to customers. Recently, Nucleus Research published a report highlighting how OneStream customers have reduced their financial close and planning cycles by up to 50% by implementing our platform. Read on to learn more about the report and the results cited.
Delivering 100% customer success might sound like a catchy tagline for some companies, but at OneStream this is central to our mission, and it drives everything we do as a company. The results speak for themselves, with over 900 organizations globally, across all industries and geographies deploying our unified CPM software platform and achieving great results. What type of results? We think about the customer value being delivered by our platform across four key pillars:
OneStream has published numerous customer success stories that demonstrate how customers have achieved benefits and value in their organizations across these four pillars, and there has also been external validation of this value. The most recent is a report published by Nucleus Research that highlights how OneStream reduces financial close and planning processes by up to 50%.
As part of the research process for the 2022 Nucleus Research Value Matrix for CPM solutions, the analysts at Nucleus interviewed several OneStream customers to learn about the benefits and value they had achieved through their deployments. Through these interviews, Nucleus found that organizations can complete budgeting and reporting cycles at least twice as fast with our unified platform and can also accelerate account reconciliations by 25%.
In addition to the efficiency gains highlighted above, Nucleus found that OneStream customers leveraged our unified CPM platform to eliminate various point solutions and integration solutions. One customer interviewed by Nucleus saved $150,000 annually in avoided subscription costs. Another customer replaced eight different Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) applications with OneStream, significantly reducing annual spend related to Oracle HFM licenses and maintenance.
According to the Nucleus report, “This value proposition compounds for large enterprises and conglomerates looking to simplify complex reporting structures and standardize their close, consolidations, planning, and reporting processes.” As merger and acquisition (M&A) activity continue to increase throughout 2022, Nucleus expects the adoption of comprehensive CPM solutions like OneStream to accelerate.
In the report titled “OneStream Cuts the Monthly Close in Half” Nucleus Research found that by offering a unified set of CPM capabilities within a single platform of solutions, OneStream streamlines user adoption and eliminates data exchanges to reduce cost and extend end-user value. Nucleus found that this value proposition is enhanced for conglomerates and organizations with acquisition-led growth strategies seeking to integrate systems and standardize financial processes across the organization.
As organizations continue to expand and outgrow their best-of-breed solutions, Nucleus expects OneStream to gain further appeal for its ability to connect siloed systems and simplify a wide range of enterprise processes. To learn more, download the report and contact OneStream if your organization is ready to jettison multiple legacy applications and embrace the future of Finance.
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Europe is an important market for OneStream and the company has been gaining increasing adoption of our solution by organizations across the region. In fact, in 2021, OneStream reported especially strong growth in EMEA as full-year 2021 bookings grew over 200 percent year over year. As a result of increased customer adoption, OneStream is also gaining recognition as a leader in the market from IT industry analyst firms in the EMEA region.
Most recently, OneStream has been named a Market Leader for the third consecutive year in the BARC Score Financial Performance Management 2022 report, ranking among the highest portfolio capabilities and market execution scores across vendors. Read on to learn more about the report and why OneStream was recognized as a leader
Corporate performance management (CPM) continues to play a critical role in organizational growth and competitiveness, with the goal of aligning an organization’s strategy and goals with business processes in order to achieve the highest level of performance across strategic, tactical, and operational levels. According to European industry analyst firm BARC, as the age of digitization and globalization continues, companies are waking up to the need for transparency in financial processes in order to achieve efficient management. This transparency requires examining both what has happened in the past as well as anticipating future developments in an organization’s goals and structures. As a result, financial performance management (FPM) serves as one of the central management tasks in an organization at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels.
The BARC Score is an annual report that ranks vendors based on BARC analyst feedback and assessments for a specific software market against a set of detailed criteria. Vendors are evaluated on two dimensions – “Portfolio Capabilities” and “Market Execution” – and categorized among five segments: Entrants, Specialists, Challengers, Market Leaders, and Dominators.
As depicted in the graphic below, in the 2022 BARC FPM Score report, OneStream is recognized as a Market Leader, with one of the highest rankings for Portfolio Capabilities combined with increasingly strong scores on Market Execution.
This is the third consecutive year OneStream has been named a Market Leader across Global vendors. Below are key details from BARC’s evaluation of OneStream:
Dr. Christian Fuchs, Senior Vice President and Head of Data & Analytics Research at BARC, said about OneStream’s performance, “OneStream is recognized for its comprehensive solution that allows for a single unified approach to support various CPM processes and information streams in organizations. It serves as a unified, robust, and comprehensive CPM solution with an extensive partner network that enables the platform to expand globally. With over 900 customers globally and a mission of each customer as a reference, OneStream maintains a stronghold as a leader in this market.”
“We are honored to be recognized in the BARC Score Financial Performance Management Report as a market leader for the third consecutive year,” said Matt Rodgers, SVP EMEA Managing Director at OneStream. “The BARC Score demonstrates our commitment to driving customer success for organizations globally, especially those based in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We will continue focusing our efforts on enabling organizations to conquer business complexity and lead at speed across EMEA, and globally.”
To learn more about OneStream’s performance in the 2022 BARC Score for Financial Performance Management, download your complimentary copy here.
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La pandemia de la COVID-19 es un «cisne negro» que pilló a la mayoría de las organizaciones desprevenidas. Este episodio perturbador ha constituido una llamada de atención sobre el hecho de que las consecuencias de la incertidumbre, las dinámicas y la complejidad de los mercados no pueden seguir ignorándose. En el futuro, los acontecimientos locales en una economía mundial cada vez más interconectada y las incertidumbres como la crisis climática seguirán generando una importante volatilidad e incluso situaciones de caos. En consecuencia, numerosos negocios deberán modificar sus prácticas en materia de gobierno corporativo para satisfacer estas necesidades.
Aunque muchas organizaciones han modificado sus procesos de planificación y previsión en los últimos 18 meses, es posible que algunas hayan aplicado soluciones a corto plazo que no han aportado las mejoras sustanciales y duraderas necesarias. En una encuesta reciente, la firma, Business Application Research Center (BARC) examinó las contribuciones potenciales de unas prácticas de planificación y previsión modernas a la gestión del negocio y las medidas que las organizaciones están adoptando para cumplir con unos requisitos exigentes.
La planificación y la previsión en un mundo pospandémico
Los procesos de planificación y previsión en las organizaciones a escala global se están poniendo a prueba debido a las recientes turbulencias causadas por la pandemia y el cambio de prioridades correspondiente. Por consiguiente, los directivos financieros y los responsables de la toma de decisiones se plantean los siguientes interrogantes: ¿Sigue estando actualizado nuestro enfoque? ¿Sigue siendo adecuada la tecnología seleccionada? ¿El esfuerzo se corresponde con el beneficio? ¿Hay métodos mejores que debamos considerar?
Para evaluar la contribución que podrían proporcionar en el futuro la planificación, la presupuestación y la previsión, BARC llevó a cabo una encuesta entre más de 400 directivos de los ámbitos informático y financiero, así como de distintas líneas de negocio. Esta se realizó entre mayo y junio de 2021 con el objetivo de conocer sus retos y necesidades en materia de planificación y previsión, así como las medidas que las organizaciones están adoptando y tienen previsto adoptar para alcanzar sus objetivos.
Estos son los aspectos más destacados de las 6 principales conclusiones de la encuesta.
1. En un mundo cada vez más dinámico, el pronóstico de los acontecimientos es limitado.
En la encuesta Future of Planning de BARC el 89 % de los negocios encuestados (véase la figura 1) cree que la previsibilidad de los acontecimientos importantes que afectan considerablemente a sus actividades es reducida o prácticamente nula. En un entorno cada vez más dinámico, la elaboración tradicional de presupuestos pierde relevancia para muchas organizaciones. Por ello, más del 80 % de los negocios coinciden en que en el futuro será más importante recurrir a previsiones más frecuentes y rápidas para orientar las decisiones en lugar de elaborar presupuestos.
Figura 1 – La previsibilidad de los acontecimientos mundiales que afectan a los negocios
La encuesta de BARC puso de manifiesto que, en la actualidad, cuatro de cada diez empresas actualizan sus previsiones al menos una vez al mes, y en el caso de las firmas líderes, estas son más de seis de cada diez. De acuerdo con BARC, esta previsión frecuente y rápida no es factible con hojas de cálculo y tecnologías heredadas, sino que se necesitan herramientas de software modernas para ayudar en una planificación más ágil.
2. La importancia de la planificación de una gestión de negocio ágil ha aumentado como consecuencia de la pandemia.
La elevada importancia de las previsiones y las revisiones de los planes en un contexto de gran incertidumbre se refleja en la frecuencia con la que las organizaciones realizan un mayor esfuerzo. En la encuesta de BARC, el 65 % de los negocios prefirieron haber destinado un mayor esfuerzo debido a la pandemia. Uno de los motivos fue la necesidad de realizar abundantes revisiones debido a los importantes cambios en los parámetros epidemiológicos y a las medidas políticas adoptadas para afrontar la pandemia. Por ende, la inversión en estos ámbitos se ha ampliado en lugar de reducirse, a diferencia de muchos otros.
3. Los retos actuales en materia de planificación y previsión se observan en prácticamente todas las organizaciones.
Tal como ha sucedido durante muchos años, en numerosos negocios, la planificación y la previsión se ven con recelo. Según el 95 % de los participantes en la encuesta de BARC, la planificación y la previsión tardan demasiado tiempo, consumen demasiados recursos, conllevan costes elevados y la calidad de los resultados no es satisfactoria en relación con el esfuerzo invertido.
En el dinámico entorno actual, contar con información actualizada y llevar a cabo previsiones con frecuencia son aspectos esenciales para la adopción de decisiones fundamentadas. Las previsiones frecuentes y automatizadas requieren un inventario de datos de gran calidad que se alimente regularmente con datos actualizados de fuentes internas y externas. La laboriosa consolidación de estos datos a partir de diversos sistemas de origen no solo supone un gran esfuerzo, sino que retrasa su suministro. En consecuencia, el uso de datos procedentes de múltiples fuentes es, con mucho, la principal causa de muchos de los retos mencionados anteriormente.
4. Los programas informáticos modernos permiten una mejor integración y una mayor automatización.
Las organizaciones encuestadas por BARC consideran que el soporte de software adecuado supone una palanca esencial para mejorar la planificación y la previsión. BARC observa actualmente dos tendencias: un cambio acelerado desde Excel hacia un software profesional de elaboración de presupuestos, planificación y previsión y la sustitución del software que ya no responde de forma óptima a las nuevas necesidades. La mejora de la integración técnica de los planes financieros y operativos se identificó como la principal área de inversión (54 %), seguida de una mayor automatización de la gestión de datos entre los sistemas de gestión de recursos empresariales (ERP, por sus siglas en inglés) y los sistemas de planificación (50 %). La introducción de nuevos programas informáticos (48 %) y un uso más exhaustivo de los existentes (45 %) también se encuentran entre los cuatro primeros aspectos.
5. Los subplanes operativos y unas simulaciones sofisticadas proporcionan resultados directamente aplicables.
La ampliación de la planificación, a menudo muy orientada a las finanzas, para incluir subplanes operativos es uno de los temas más importantes de la planificación y la previsión, de acuerdo con BARC. La encuesta reveló (véase la figura 2) que en los últimos meses una proporción importante de las organizaciones (41 %) ha aspirado a obtener una planificación más detallada (mayor nivel de detalle, más subplanes), ha invertido en simulaciones e hipótesis (40 %) y ha cambiado las previsiones de fin de año por rolling forecasts (37 %).
Figura 2 – Cómo invierten las organizaciones para mejorar la planificación
6. Una cooperación más estrecha y una mayor competencia aceleran los procesos y aumentan la calidad.
Aunque la tecnología moderna puede tener un claro impacto positivo en la planificación y la previsión, también es necesario llevar a cabo modificaciones en el seno de los negocios para lograr los resultados deseados. Según la encuesta de BARC, el 50 % de las organizaciones han invertido en proporcionar mejor documentación y soporte a los profesionales responsables de la planificación. El 42 % de los encuestados afirmaron que se han centrado en mejorar las competencias de los responsables del proceso de planificación, lo que abarca la mejora de las capacidades relacionadas con los datos y la analítica. Asimismo, el 38 % de los encuestados formaron equipos multidisciplinares que, entre otras cosas, permitían adaptar rápidamente las previsiones y proyecciones en función de la evolución en todos los ámbitos de los negocios.
Con base en los resultados de la encuesta y en su experiencia en consultoría, los analistas de BARC formularon las siguientes recomendaciones para ayudar a las organizaciones a armonizar la planificación y la previsión con sus necesidades actuales y futuras:
De acuerdo con BARC, los ajustes aislados solo suelen conducir a mejoras a corto plazo. Los nuevos métodos suelen requerir un software diferente capaz de acoger nuevos enfoques y, a menudo, procesos más eficaces. El software por sí solo no resuelve los problemas; es simplemente la base tecnológica de un entorno ágil y flexible. No en vano, hay que desarrollar activamente las competencias necesarias para un uso eficaz. Depender completamente de la experiencia externa para los cambios y adaptaciones ya no constituye un enfoque adecuado ante los constantes cambios. Para obtener más información, descargue una copia de la encuesta The Future of Planning 2021 de BARC aquí.
Budgeting and planning are top of mind for many Finance executives as they are working to finalize 2022 budgets and plans and close out 2021. But many Finance executives and organizations realize that most annual budgets are obsolete shortly after they are approved, based on changes in the economic and business environment. So a growing number of organizations are adopting agile planning techniques such as driver-based planning and rolling forecasts to update their planning assumptions on a quarterly or monthly basis.
With this backdrop, Ventana Research recently published their Business Planning Value Index Market Report for 2022. The data collection for this report began over a year ago and it’s a comprehensive assessment of 14 leading vendors and planning products that are available to organizations. Read on to learn about the key market trends identified by Ventana Research and how they ranked the various vendors in the market.
Key Trends in Business Planning
According to Ventana Research, the purpose of business planning is not simply to create a plan – it’s to make better decisions, which I completely agree with. They go on to highlight that planning and budgeting software should make the process faster, more agile, less burdensome, and more intelligent so managers can make better decisions more consistently. And since the early 2000’s Ventana and other industry influencers have advocated using dedicated, purpose-built applications to increase the business value of planning and budgeting.
While these purpose-built applications have been available for over 20 years, many organizations are still heavily reliant on spreadsheets to support planning and budgeting. Why is this? Ventana Research highlights that many organizations are stuck in a planning rut, the result of inertia, the power of vested interests, and the perceived risk of change.
The report goes on to highlight that while planning should be a constructive dialog between executives and managers about objectives, tactics, and resource allocations – in practice, planning is mostly an inconsistent, fragmented, and siloed process. And the spreadsheet-based approach only reinforces these silos and compartmentalizes plans. On the flip side, organizations that have adopted purpose-built planning software have been more successful in breaking down the silos and making the planning process more collaborative, strategic, and value add for the enterprise.
The Business Planning Value Index
The Business Planning Value Index report is the result of over a year of market and product research conducted by Ventana Research, and I have to say this is one of the more rigorous assessments of planning software vendors that I’ve been involved with. In this report, Ventana evaluated 14 planning software vendors across seven categories that were weighted to reflect buyers’ needs.
Five of these categories are product-related: Usability, Manageability, Reliability, Capability, and Adaptability. Vendors were also evaluated in two customer experience categories: Vendor Validation and Total Cost of Ownership/Return on Investment (TCO/ROI). The data was collected from vendors via an extensive RFP process, then the responses were validated through vendor briefings, demonstrations, and customer reference checks. Product roadmaps and forward-looking strategies were not taken into account in this evaluation.
The Envelope Please!
So what did the results reveal? According to Ventana, the Value Index for Business Planning in 2021 reflects the maturity of the business planning software category. The top finishers were tightly clustered in terms of their overall scores, and even those at the bottom have well-developed capabilities that weren’t available 10 years ago.
The graphical representation of the Value Index shown below depicts the vendors based on their overall scores on two dimensions – Product Experience and Customer Experience. Based on this, the vendors are placed into one of four categories: Exemplary, Innovative, Assurance, and Merit.
So how did OneStream fare in this evaluation? We are proud to report that OneStream was one of 5 vendors ranked as “Exemplary” in the Business Planning Value Index. This means that OneStream was one of the highest-rated vendors in both Product Experience and Customer Experience. OneStream was ranked fifth in Product Experience, where we were designated as a Value Index Leader in Adaptability and Reliability. OneStream was ranked sixth in Customer Experience and ranked Best in Validation.
This recognition by Ventana Research is a powerful validation of the capabilities of the OneStream platform to address the complex planning and budgeting requirements of large enterprises, while also addressing their needs in financial close, consolidation, reporting, and analysis.
To learn more, download your copy of the Ventana Research 2022 Business Planning Value Index report and contact OneStream if your organization is ready to move beyond the limitations of legacy applications, cloud point solutions, and spreadsheets that may be preventing you from leading at speed in today’s volatile economic environment.
This article was previously published by Financial Executives International (FEI) on Nov. 30, 2021
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact the global economy in late 2021, what are Finance executives thinking about and planning for in 2022 and beyond? When will companies return to normal growth? Will the inflation rates we are seeing subside? What are companies’ return to office strategies and what technologies are they investing in?
These and other topics focused on the Hanover Research Financial Decision-Makers Outlook Survey for October 2021, sponsored by OneStream Software. Read on to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted organizations, plans for returning to the office, talent management strategies, ESG readiness, and other planned technology investments.
Taking the Pulse of Financial Decision-Makers
The past 18+ months since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out have been challenging for everyone, but especially for global enterprises as they sought to navigate through the initial disruption and economic volatility that has ensued as a result. The world is clearly in a better place in late 2021 compared to where it was in March of 2020, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty ahead.
Given that most organizations are now planning for 2022, we thought this would be a good time to survey financial decision-makers to get their outlook on the recovery, the impact of inflation, return to the office plans, talent management, ESG programs, and technology investments.
The survey was conducted in September – October of 2021. The results are based on responses from 249 financial decision-makers in North America, in small, mid-sized, and larger enterprises across all industries. The following is a summary of the key findings of the survey. A full copy of the report is also available for download here.
Economic Headwinds Take Their Toll
Some organizations have grown since the start of the pandemic, but most have stagnated or shrunk. While four out of ten organizations surveyed indicate they have grown, less than a third (30%) of organizations have shrunk while another third (31%) are still stagnated since COVID 19 struck. Of those growing, almost three-quarters (70%) are experiencing growth equivalent to pre-pandemic rates. Most of the organizations that shrunk or stagnated expect to return to pre-COVID growth in 2022 or later. (see figure 1)
According to the survey, COVID 19 resurgence has had a severe impact on businesses, namely higher operating costs, increased dependence on remote work, and delayed return to the office (RTO). In fact, three-quarters of companies had to delay their RTO plans by a year or less.
Most companies have instituted vaccine tracking (78%) and almost two-thirds are mandating vaccines if employees wish to return to the workplace (60%). Financial decision-makers do expect some negative outcomes of vaccine tracking/mandates, including employee resignations (46%), feelings of being monitored among employees (43%), and difficulty hiring (41%). However, they also believe this helps make employees feel safer and more likely to return to office.
Focus on Hiring and Retaining Talent
The “Great Resignation” is causing a high level of concern for financial leaders. Many are worried about employee turnover (45%), inability to meet business demands (41%), and difficulty recruiting and retaining technical talent (40%). Training current employees and increasing benefits are the most common steps organizations are taking to address the talent shortage. To address the talent shortage, more than half of organizations surveyed are training current employees and improving benefits (see figure 2).
Inflation Expected to Continue
Two-thirds of financial leaders surveyed agree the inflation rate will increase by the end of 2022. However, they are split on when it will stabilize, with almost half (47%) speculating 2022 and 46% expecting stabilization to come later. A high percentage of financial decision-makers are highly concerned about the impact of the inflation rate on their operating costs (82%), and revenue (80%). To prepare, 47% said they are increasing prices, 46% are adopting new technologies, 37% are renegotiating supplier contracts and 37% reducing operational costs (see figure 3).
Environmental and Social Policies Getting More Attention
Nearly all organizations are working towards integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs into their business strategy. On the social side, 71% of CFOs surveyed place the most importance on improving workplace diversity while 65% are focused on closing the gender gap.
According to finance leaders, two-thirds of organizations are at least somewhat prepared for ESG reporting changes. Particularly, 47% said they have raised transparency, 41% implemented new ESG policies, and 38% and increased oversight. Larger companies are significantly more likely to indicate they are somewhat or fully prepared for a potential ESG reporting change. They are also more likely to form ESG teams internally as part of the preparation. (see figure 4)
Analytics and Machine Learning to the Rescue
Compared to pre-pandemic usage, the majority of companies have increased investment in data analysis tools, most notably machine learning (ML) at 62% and cloud-based planning tools at 63%. Unsurprisingly, they also used more of these tools during this period.
Nearly all organizations are currently using machine learning or have a plan to do so. Over two-thirds of those surveyed report setting aside more than 10% of their IT budget for investment in ML platforms. Three-quarters of financial leaders anticipate their company will increase ML usage throughout 2022. Nearly all organizations have already adopted or are planning to investigate an AutoML solution. Intelligent process automation (45%) and data center optimization (44%) are the priority use cases for ML technology. (see figure 5)
The Financial Decision-Makers Outlook survey of October 2021 provided a helpful snapshot of what Finance executives are thinking about and planning for as they enter 2022. It’s encouraging to see the positive economic outlook for 2022, however, most organizations are clearly incorporating continued inflation into their plans and strategies for next year.
Attracting and retaining talent as organizations continue to support remote work is clearly a challenge and area of focus, as is implementing more formal ESG programs. And all of the market buzz around analytics and machine learning is clearly coming to fruition in the form of increasing adoption.
To learn more, download the full report here.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a “black swan” event that caught most companies unprepared. This disruptive event was a wake-up call that the impact of uncertainty, dynamics, and complexity on markets could no longer be ignored. Going forward, local events in an increasingly interconnected global economy and uncertainties such as the climate crisis will continue to create high volatility and even chaos. Accordingly, many organizations will have to adjust their corporate governance to meet these demands.
While many organizations have adjusted their planning and forecasting processes in the past 18 months, some may have implemented short-term fixes that did not bring the significant and lasting improvements required. In a recent survey, Business Application Research Center (BARC) examined the contributions modern planning and forecasting can make to corporate management and the measures organizations are taking to meet the elevated requirements.
Planning and Forecasting in a Post-Pandemic World
Planning and forecasting processes in organizations around the world are being put to the test due to recent disruptions caused by the pandemic and shifted priorities. As a result, Finance executives and decision-makers are asking themselves the following questions: Is our approach still up to date? Is our chosen technology still fit for purpose? Does the effort match the benefit? Are there better methods we should be considering?
In order to assess the contribution that planning, budgeting, and forecasting can make in the future, BARC conducted a survey of more than 400 IT, Finance, and line of business executives. Conducted in May and June of 2021, the focus was to learn about their planning and forecasting challenges and requirements and the measures organizations are taking and planning to take to achieve their goals.
Here are the highlights of the 6 top survey findings.
1. In an increasingly dynamic world, the predictability of events is low.
In BARC’s Future of Planning survey, 89 percent (see Figure 1) of the companies surveyed believe that the predictability of important events that significantly affect their own business is low or close to zero. In an increasingly dynamic environment, traditional budgeting is losing relevance for many companies. Therefore, more than 80 percent of organizations agree that it will become more important to rely on more frequent and rapid forecasts to guide business decisions instead of elaborate budgeting in the future.
Figure 1 – The predictability of global events that impact business
The BARC survey found that today, four out of ten companies update their forecasts at least once a month, and for leaders, it is even more than six out of ten. This frequent and rapid forecasting is just not feasible with spreadsheets and legacy technologies – according to BARC, modern software tools are required to support more agile planning.
2. The importance of planning for agile corporate management has increased as a result of the pandemic.
The elevated importance of forecasts and plan revisions in the context of high uncertainty is reflected in the frequency with which companies put in increased effort. In the BARC survey, 65% of companies reported increased effort due to the pandemic. One driver for this was the need for many revisions due to significantly changed epidemiological parameters and the political measures taken to tackle the pandemic. As a result, investment in these areas has been extended rather than reduced, unlike many other areas.
3. Current challenges in planning and forecasting exist in almost every company.
As has been the case for many years, planning and forecasting is viewed with suspicion in many organizations. According to 95% of respondents to the BARC survey, planning and forecasting takes too long, ties up too many resources, produces high costs and the quality of the results is not good in relation to the effort involved.
In today’s dynamic environment, up-to-date information and frequent forecasts are essential to making well-founded decisions. Frequent, automated forecasts require a high-quality data inventory that is regularly fed with up-to-date data from internal and external sources. The time-consuming consolidation of this data from a variety of source systems not only involves plenty of effort but also delays its provision. As a result, the use of data from multiple sources is by far the main cause of many of the challenges mentioned above.
4. Modern software provides for better integration and stronger automation.
Organizations surveyed by BARC see the right software support as an essential lever for improving planning and forecasting. BARC is currently observing two trends here: an accelerated shift away from Excel to professional budgeting, planning, and forecasting software solutions and the replacement of software that no longer fits optimally with the revised requirements. Improved technical integration of financial and operational plans was identified as the top area of investment (54%), followed by stronger automation of data management between ERP systems and planning systems (50%). Introduction of new software (48%) and more comprehensive use of existing software (45%) were also in the top four.
5. Operational sub-plans and sophisticated simulations provide directly actionable findings.
The expansion of planning, which is often very financially oriented, to include operational sub-plans is one of the most important topics in planning and forecasting, according to BARC. The survey found (see Figure 2) that in recent months, a significant proportion of companies (41%) have pursued more detailed planning (higher level of detail, more sub-plans), invested in simulations and scenarios (40%), and changed year-end forecasts to rolling forecasts (37%).
Figure 2 – How companies are investing to improve planning
6. Tighter cooperation and greater competence accelerate processes and increase quality.
While modern technology can clearly have a positive impact on planning and forecasting, organizational adjustments are also needed to achieve the desired results. According to the BARC survey, 50% of companies have invested in providing better documentation and assistance for planners. 42% of respondents said they have focused on improving the competence of those running the planning process, including improved data and analytics skills. And 38% of respondents formed interdisciplinary teams who, among other things, could quickly adjust forecasts and projections based on developments in all areas of the business.
Based on the results of the survey and their consulting experience, BARC analysts formulated the following recommendations to help organizations align planning and forecasting with current and future requirements:
According to BARC, isolated adjustments often only lead to short-term improvements. New methods usually require different software, but new software always enables new approaches and often more efficient processes. Software alone does not solve problems; it is merely the technological basis for an agile and flexible environment. However, the necessary skills for effective use must be actively built up. Completely relying on external expertise for changes and adaptations is no longer appropriate in the face of constant changes. To learn more, download a copy of BARC’s 2021 The Future of Planning Survey here.
The need to integrate financial and operational planning for enterprises has been recognized for many years, with the objective of aligning goals, objectives and resources across Finance, Sales, Marketing, Supply Chain and other functions. Various planning approaches have been defined over the years to support this need, including Integrated Business Planning (IBP) and Integrated Financial Planning (IFP). But there was no defined software architecture to support these concepts – until now.
In 2020, Gartner began defining the concept of Extended Planning and Analysis (xP&A) as the next evolution of Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A). According to Gartner, XP&A is the evolution of planning, combining financial and operational planning on a single composable platform. It “extends” traditional FP&A solutions focused solely on finance into other enterprise planning domains such as workforce, sales, operations and marketing. And in 2021, Gartner has now published a Market Guide for Cloud xP&A Solutions which defines the key market requirements and how various software vendors match up to those requirements.
Read on to learn more about the market guide and how OneStream is positioned.
XP&A Addresses the Need for Improved Business Agility
The global pandemic that emerged in 2020 put a spotlight on the need for enterprises to have agile planning and reporting processes that allow them to respond quickly to changing business and market trends. According to Gartner, xP&A is a vendor response to these evolving enterprise planning needs. xP&A solutions help organizations exploit the challenges faced when introducing new digital business models and navigating economic uncertainties. Solutions introduced in the market are capable of merging together financial and operational planning processes, so management improves decisions and delivers better results across the enterprise (see figure 1).
XP&A vs. FP&A Solutions
You may be wondering how xP&A solutions differ from FP&A solutions. Below are some examples provided by Gartner of how xP&A solutions “extend” the ability of FP&A to connect to, integrate with, and align with operational plans. These include the following:
Gartner predicts that although best of breed operational planning solutions will remain popular, FP&A solutions will begin to incorporate some of the capabilities of operational planning software as it evolves into xP&A — a platform-centric approach capable of supporting and integrating both financial and operational planning. By extending FP&A and other planning applications beyond the finance domain to other key business stakeholders, xP&A can offer decision makers a holistic view of their planning processes, results and progress toward fulfilling a strategy and meeting an organization’s goals.
Market Adoption and Requirements
So what’s the market outlook for adoption of xP&A solutions and how are software vendors delivering on the Gartner vision for xP&A? According to Gartner, as the velocity of digital business — and the amount of associated data — increases, Gartner expects the xP&A approach to gain momentum, thus increasing its importance to all C-level executives. Gartner estimates that, through 2024, 30% of FP&A implementations will be extended to support operational finance processes, with 50% requiring a substantial xP&A roadmap from the vendor.
Gartner has seen a rapid increase in the number of client organizations seeking to integrate and link financial and operational planning processes wherever possible, and expects the following market trends:
How Was OneStream Positioned?
Gartner correctly identified that OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform (see figure 2) unifies financial and operational planning, financial close and consolidation, and reporting and analytics in a single solution, enabling perspectives on both finance and operations from the same data. The unified platform (and data model) includes a number of key capabilities designed to support xP&A, including support for planning at a granular, business-driver level on dynamic data with multidimensional analysis and automatic alignment to financials.
In the report, Gartner mentioned several OneStream customers who are already using the solution to integrate and align financial and operational plans – including Guardian Industries, KLM Group and Capital One. The report also noted how the platform can be extended with over 50 other supported solutions from the OneStream MarketPlace that include people planning, sales planning, capital planning, cash planning and predictive analytics.
(Note – this plays very well into the concept of “composability” that Gartner highlights as key to supporting xP&A. The idea here is that planning solutions are offered as packaged business capabilities that are assembled, configured and consumed with limited IT involvement – offering rapid time to value.)
Based on a recent briefing OneStream provided to Gartner, the report highlighted how OneStream recently added high performance aggregations to speed planning on large volumes of data and how we plan to add several new capabilities to further support xP&A including improved ad hoc modeling capabilities and a guided ML experience. This will give finance and LOB teams the power to leverage ML models throughout day-to-day planning processes and supercharge productivity for organizations with in-house data scientists. .
To learn more about the key market trends and how OneStream compares to other vendors in the market, download the Gartner Market Guide for Cloud eXtended Planning and Analysis Solutions.
The global pandemic that emerged in 2020, and the remote work model that ensued, exposed the weaknesses in the financial close process for organizations who were reliant on spreadsheets or fragmented, legacy financial close software solutions. And the crisis has triggered software evaluations and purchases in many organizations who saw the opportunity for digital transformation of the financial close process.
Documenting the key steps in the financial close process and the capabilities organizations should consider when evaluating financial close software solutions was the focus of the recently published Gartner Market Guide for Cloud Financial Close Solutions. Download the report here or read on to learn about the highlights of the report and how OneStream Software was positioned.
Gartner Magic Quadrant Morphs into Market Guide
Gartner had been publishing a Magic Quadrant report for Cloud Financial Close solutions for several years. The last one was published in October of 2019, at which point the analyst team at Gartner decided to retire the report in lieu of a market guide. Why is this? One of the key drivers for this decision was diversity of vendors in this particular Magic Quadrant report. (see figure 2)
Given the breadth of requirements in the financial close process, the Magic Quadrant for this market segment wasn’t really comparing apples to apples. Some vendors focused on financial consolidation and reporting, others focused on financial close and account reconciliations, while others focused mostly on disclosure management. This was confusing to buyers, so Gartner decided to retire the Magic Quadrant and transform this into a Market Guide – which by nature doesn’t rank the vendors but instead identifies key requirements and provides a listing of the various vendors in the market and their market coverage.
Financial Close Requirements and Market Trends
Gartner defines the financial close process as encompassing all the steps in the record to report process, as well as decision-making by users of the financial results. This includes recording transactions, closing the books, consolidating financial results, internal and external reporting, and finally planning and forecasting. (see figure 1)
Accordingly, vendors in the cloud financial software market need to provide support for one or more of the following requirements:
For the purposes of this Market Guide, Gartner identifies three distinct categories of vendors and solutions to support the financial close process. This includes the following:
Suite Vendors – for whom financial close (and financial planning) capabilities are tightly integrated with core financial management suites. (e.g. SAP, Oracle, Workday)
Financial Operations Management Vendors – focusing mainly on financial close management but lacking financial consolidation or planning capabilities. (e.g. Blackline and Trintech)
Best of Breed Platform Vendors – including most, but not all, financial close (and financial planning) capabilities and integrating with any source systems. (e.g. OneStream)
So what market trends did Gartner identify in the report? They mainly fell into three areas. The first is that COVID-19 forced many finance teams into remote operation and with recovery underway, many will continue to operate all or part of their finance teams remotely. Many organizations have been able to complete their financial close processes remotely, but they struggle due to less-than-optimal processes, and issues with collaboration and data availability.
The second trend is that vendors are increasingly offering significant financial close capabilities within a single solution, or adjacent solutions that share financial master data elements. This provides a comprehensive platform for financial closing and reporting of results.
And the third trend is that vendors are expanding their offerings to provide AI-infused automation capabilities not only within the financial close period, but also within the periodic accounting cycle. This will increase the efficiency of finance processes within the periodic accounting cycle.
How Was OneStream Positioned?
Gartner correctly identified that OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform supports financial consolidation, financial reporting, financial close, complex intercompany eliminations, account reconciliation and transaction matching. Customers also choose OneStream for FP&A, which is a core capability of the platform. OneStream also has capabilities to support tax provision reporting and lease accounting.
Gartner also highlighted that OneStream primarily targets midsize to large, complex global enterprises and historically, the majority of its customers have been based in North America. However, it has expanded internationally at a fast pace over the past several years, with EMEA now representing 30% of its customer base and a growing presence in APAC as well.
To learn more about the key market trends and how OneStream compares to other vendors in the market, download the Gartner Market Guide for Cloud Financial Close Solutions.
Industry analyst reports are often a key source of information buyers leverage when they are identifying and evaluating potential enterprise software vendors who can meet their needs. But not all industry analyst reports are created equally. Many of them are based mostly on analyst opinion, and a few customer references. But some are based more on customer surveys and reviews, providing a clear assessment of how actual customers view the software vendor and the value they are getting from their solutions. This is often referred to as the “wisdom of crowds.”
A good example of an industry analyst report that is driven mostly by customer reviews is the recently published Dresner Advisory Wisdom of Crowds® 2021 Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Market Study.
Leveraging the Collective Wisdom of Crowds
The Wisdom of Crowds® EPM Market Study builds on the previous six years of Enterprise Planning and EPM Market Studies published by Dresner Advisory and reflects the shift in the market towards a more holistic approach to performance management vs. relying in individual point solutions.
According to Dresner Advisory, an enterprise performance management system is a key element of performance management. It allows an organization to plan for the impact of various internal and external factors on its future performance and business outcomes. This includes strategic, operational, and financial planning and forecasting. EPM systems also include reporting and analytics capabilities that allow organizations to set goals and objectives and monitor performance against those objectives.
EPM systems can vary significantly in complexity and automation capabilities, from relatively straightforward spreadsheet replacements to sophisticated multi-user systems that support collaborative planning, provide a wide range of analytics, and use advanced technologies such as in-memory computing and machine learning.
What’s New in Enterprise Performance Management?
This year’s report highlighted several key market trends, including the following:
OneStream Leads the Pack Again
What’s unique about this study is that the results are based 100% on surveys of customers using EPM software. Vendors are evaluated based on 33 criteria covering:
This was OneStream’s fourth year of inclusion in the Dresner Advisory Wisdom of Crowds Study and, once again, the results were outstanding. Each vendor was evaluated on 33 criteria, and as you can see in the spider chart below, OneStream Software is substantially above the overall sample for all measures, best in class for 9 measures and we received a perfect “5” recommend score.
Dresner Advisory provides two models to help clients understand the EPM market. Their Customer Experience Model positions vendors based on their combined scores on Product/Technology vs. Sales and Service metrics on two axes, positioning vendors into one of four quadrants.
Their Vendor Credibility Model considers how customers “feel” about their vendor, plotting value for the price paid against the integrity and recommend measures, creating a “confidence” dimension. The upper-right quadrant in both models contains the highest-scoring vendors, and those considered leaders in customer experience and vendor credibility.
Based on our scores, OneStream was positioned as an Overall Leader in both the Customer Experience and Vendor Credibility models. Here’s a view of how the various vendors are positioned in the Customer Experience model.
Commenting on OneStream’s results in the study, Howard Dresner, Founder and Chief Research Officer at Dresner Advisory Services said, “In 2021, OneStream remains consistently above the overall sample for all measures and is an Overall Leader in the Customer Experience and Vendor Credibility models. It is best in class for product robustness/sophistication of technology, reliability, scalability, ease of upgrade/migration to new versions, support professionalism, support product knowledge, support responsiveness, and time to resolve problems. It maintains a perfect recommend score.”
Achieving 100% customer success is key mission of OneStream Software and is our top priority companywide. Being named a leader in Customer Experience and Vendor Credibility by Dresner Advisory Services validates our approach and recognizes the ability of OneStream to address the advanced planning and performance management requirements of global enterprises.
To learn more, download a copy of the 2021 Dresner Advisory Enterprise Performance Management Market Study.
The year 2020 was one of the most challenging ever for CFOs and Finance executives. To truly understand the impact of the pandemic on financial decision-making, in July of 2020 OneStream sponsored a Hanover Research survey of Finance decision-makers. The survey results highlighted the impacts of the global pandemic on hiring, upskilling of IT and Accounting staff, as well as investments in cloud-based planning, reporting and analysis tools. The survey also highlighted how most organizations (61%) were deferring certain investments until after the US presidential election.
Now that the 2020 elections are behind us and the global pandemic is winding down, we thought this would be a good time to again take the pulse of Finance decision-makers. So in March of 2021 we launched another survey of Finance decision-makers in North America and gathered responses from 340 Finance executives across industries.
Here’s a summary of what we learned from the 2021 Hanover Research Finance Decision-Makers survey.
Key Findings: COVID-19 Response & Recovery
The good news is that almost three quarters (73%) of companies expect that they will return to normal growth by the end of 2021, while 18% expect a return to normal growth in 2022.
During COVID-19, approximately 11% of employees switched from entirely in office work to fully remote work during COVID 19 but expect to return to the office post pandemic. The number of hybrid employees stayed approximately the same throughout the pandemic and is not expected to change when the pandemic ends. Regarding the return to the office, nearly all companies (98%) have made budgetary plans for returning to the office, one third (36%) of which plan on dedicating over 15% of their budget to reopening the office. Data privacy tools is the most common (18%) priority for the earmarked return to office budgets, with hybrid cloud technologies (18%) and office reconfiguration following closely (18%).
Pandemic-Related Investment Changes
Since the COVID 19 pandemic, over half of companies increased their data analysis tool investments and usage. Specifically, companies most commonly invested in artificial intelligence (59%), predictive analytics (58%), cloud-based planning and reporting tools (57%) and machine learning (54%).
And the survey also found that organizations are using data analysis tools more than before the pandemic. In August 2020, half (46%) of companies reported using cloud-based solutions constantly, while a quarter used predictive analytics (28%), machine learning (21%), and artificial intelligence (20%). Now, over half of companies have increased their usage of each tool, with cloud-based planning and reporting topping the list at 65% claiming increased usage.
Given that more than half of companies have increased their investments in machine learning, it’s unsurprising that most are planning to optimize new departments and use cases with the technology. Specifically, companies are planning to optimize IT/cybersecurity (30%) and are prioritizing customer service (15%) and accounting & finance (12%).
Administration-Related Investment Changes
Despite many companies deferring investments until after the election, over half of companies report that it positively impacted their investment decisions for 2021. Launching new products and services have been the most positively impacted investment areas, followed by physical expansions, including new employees, software, acquisitions, and facilities.
Most companies (86%) said they will need to change their financial forecasts in the event of a tax change by the new presidential administration Similarly, most companies (89%) have already made plans to change hiring and staffing plans to accommodate wage increases.
In addition, most companies are increasing, or are planning to increase, investments in environmental, social and governance (ESG) management and reporting systems (85%) as well as DEI training (86%).
Running a survey like this one is always interesting because it provides a chance to validate our assumptions about key market trends. We were pleased to see the positive outlook by most Finance executives about economic recovery in 2021. It was also encouraging to see 98% of companies in North America preparing for the return to the office.
The survey also validated what we are seeing in the market, with increased demand for cloud-based planning and reporting solutions, as well as advanced analytics tools, typically replacing spreadsheets or legacy corporate performance management (CPM) applications. And we have also seen increased usage of cloud-based planning and reporting tools – with many organizations increasing the frequency of their planning and reporting cycles during the pandemic.
One area that did surprise us was that 85% of companies indicated they plan to increase their investments in ESG management and reporting systems. The media buzz on this topic clearly increased in the 2nd half of 2020, as has OneStream customer interest in this topic. Several of our customers are already leveraging our platform to collect, manage and report on ESG and sustainability initiatives.
To learn more, download the 2021 Hanover Research Finance Decision-Makers survey and contact OneStream if your organization needs to improve its ability to “lead at speed” and more easily navigate ongoing market volatility.
If you’re in Corporate Finance, you likely found your planning and analysis processes being stressed and challenged this past year. Perhaps you were driven into increased rounds of forecasting due to COVID-19. Or maybe the Suez Canal being blocked by a large container ship left your team scrambling to adjust forecasts. As a result, like many Finance teams, you’ve probably been finding out the hard way that you may not have the right tools for the job.
If you’re among those who don’t, there’s still good news: the corporate planning software solutions on the market today come in all shapes and sizes. So, you’re sure to find a solution designed to meet the unique needs of your organization.
Some solutions are built for small companies. Some offer more visualization capabilities. Others are only point-solutions for planning or specific areas of planning. What does all of that mean for you? It means your Finance team has many choices – if you can cut through all the noise and get to the facts.
What’s the best way to understand the options? By turning to your trusted peers in Corporate Finance, of course. And that’s precisely what the BARC Planning Survey 21 allows you to do.
The Business Application Research Center (BARC)
The Business Application Research Center (BARC) is an industry analyst and consulting firm for business software. BARC analysts have supported companies through strategy, organization, architecture and software evaluations for more than 20 years. For more information, visit www.barc-research.com.
To support Corporate Finance teams, BARC covers the following critical areas:
BARC Planning Survey 21
The Planning Survey 21 examines user feedback on planning processes and product selection. That feedback is based on findings from the world’s largest and most comprehensive survey of planning software users. Conducted from November 2020 to February 2021, The Planning Survey 21 compiles responses from 1,422 individuals analyzing 21 products or groups of products.
Specifically, the survey examines user feedback on planning product selection and usage across 29 key performance indicators (KPIs), including business benefits, project success, business value, recommendation, customer satisfaction, customer experience, planning functionality and competitiveness.
For more information on the survey, visit the BI Survey website.
OneStream Software: Dedicated to 100% Customer Success
With a corporate mission dedicated to delivering 100% customer success, we’re proud to share that OneStream earned 58 top rankings (see Figure 1) across its four peer groups. The company was measured by several different KPIs, including business benefits, project success, business value, price to value, vendor support, implementer support, product satisfaction, data integration and customer experience.
Additionally, OneStream received a 100% recommendation score from all surveyed users – up from 97% in 2020.
Among our 58 top rankings, OneStream earned SEVEN ‘Perfect 10 Scores’ in the following KPIs:
OneStream also earned 34 leading positions across four different peer groups, including leading positions in project success, price to value, business benefits, business value, planning functionality and vendor support.
“OneStream’s performance in this year’s Planning Survey reflects the vendor’s dedication and mission to providing 100% customer success. OneStream’s unified, extensible platform and data model support a wide range of financial and operational planning use cases – and do so at scale and across the enterprise. This combination of financial control and operational relevance provides organizations with the opportunity to unify planning processes within a single platform and user experience, which is increasingly critical as Finance leaders adapt to rapid market-changes,” said Dr. Christian Fuchs, Senior Vice-President and Head of Data & Analytics Research at BARC.
OneStream is honored to receive such high marks within BARC’s Planning Survey 21. The report recognizes the continued strength of OneStream’s budgeting, planning and forecasting capabilities, as well as our broader capabilities in financial consolidation, reporting and analytics. And the honor is especially positive given that the high marks on the survey come directly from our dedicated customers and users around the globe.
To learn more about OneStream results, click here to download the full BARC Planning Survey 21.