This article first appeared on the OneStream blog by John O’Rourke
The global pandemic of 2020 has reignited the need for agile enterprise performance management (EPM) applications and analytic tools that enable Finance teams to lead at speed. Why? Because these tools are essential to enabling organizations to have clear visibility and insight into key business drivers and trends for more agile reporting, analysis and planning.
This topic was the focus of a recent webinar sponsored by OneStream titled, “Navigating the New Normal with Agile Performance Management and Analytics.” The featured speaker was Chandana Gopal, Research Director focused on Analytics and Information Management at International Data Corporation (IDC). During the webinar, Chandana shared IDC’s market research on key market drivers, the challenges and benefits of implementing EPM and analytic software and lessons learned from successful implementations.
The webinar also included an interview with Alex Lee, Sr. Director of FP&A at Fibrogen where she shared how the company has deployed OneStream to support more agile planning and reporting. Read on to hear the highlights of the event, or watch the full webinar replay to hear the details.
Navigating the New Normal
Ms. Gopal led off the event with a view into what happened to us all in 2020. “In essence, 2 years of change happened in a very short time, where digital transformation was accelerated in many organizations due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Remote work was supported quickly at scale and organizations adapted quickly to new business models.”
Ms. Gopal also highlighted that while many organizations demonstrated “business resiliency” in responding quickly to the disruption, the focus now should be on creating “digital resiliency” which will enable organizations to quickly adapt to future disruptions, and to capitalize on the new conditions. She then highlighted several examples of industries that had to adapt quickly – including healthcare (telehealth visits), and the entertainment industry (new distribution models).
According to IDC’s research, top areas of investment in the past 12 months have included process automation, security, digital/cloud infrastructure, collaboration and connectivity tools. As part of this, investments in enterprise performance management (EPM) technology also accelerated during the pandemic and are proving critical in helping organizations move from crisis to recovery (see figure 1 below).
This includes ensuring business continuity in the early stages of the pandemic, helping to control costs, performing scenario modeling and contingency planning, then evaluating targeted investments as the recovery begins, and finally strategic planning as the global economy returns to normal.
According to IDC’s research, organizations who are “data leaders” were more prepared to navigate the disruption caused by the pandemic. Key benefits cited by users of EPM solutions include better management reporting, improved visibility into financial processes, more accurate forecasts, better efficiencies in EPM processes and others (see figure 2 below).
At the same time, buyers and users of EPM solutions highlighted some of the challenges they have faced in deploying these systems. These include reliance on IT for supporting some EPM software, inflexibility with legacy applications and high costs of ownership, lack of adequate training and low user adoption as a result. In IDC’s research found that since the finance function funds 80% of EPM investments, they want to have administrative powers of the EPM software and not be dependent on IT to manage these systems.
So what lessons have buyers learned from implementing EPM solutions? Respondents to IDC’s survey recommended the following:
- Spend time really understanding the data and the granularity that you need in the EPM application.
- Select the implementation partner that has experience with companies your size and preferably your industry.
- Select a vendor that is appropriately sized for you today and can meet your needs for the next 3-5 years and has references in your peer group.
Ms. Gopal’s final recommendations included that enterprises considering EPM solutions should think big but start small. “Don’t try to boil the ocean, focus on a project that can deliver rapid ROI and value. Commit the right internal and external resources to the project. And plan for the future – ensure the solution you are selecting can meet your needs now as well as 3 – 5 years into the future.”
Improving Agility in Reporting and Planning at Fibrogen
After a brief overview of OneStream’s Intelligent Finance platform and how we help organizations conquer complexity and lead at speed, I welcomed Alex Lee into the conversation to talk about how Fibrogen has leveraged the platform. Fibrogen is a leading science-based biopharmaceutical company discovering and developing a pipeline of first-in-class therapeutics.
As a result of the transition from a drug development company to a global multi-channel commercial business, the Fibrogen team required better visibility into data and better tools for scientists and line of business users. This includes the following:
- Need for agility in a rapidly changing business.
- The ability to plan revenue by channel at different levels of detail.
- End-users need better access to data.
- Platform needed to enable scientists to input data and see results quickly.
- Integrated people planning.
- Support for activity-based planning.
Fibrogen selected and implemented OneStream to replace Excel and their legacy budgeting tools and align key finance processes including: Financial Close and Consolidation, Planning and Forecasting, Financial Reporting and Tax Provisioning.
In an initial 4-month project, Fibrogen implemented OneStream for revenue planning by channel, operating expenses at the activity level, CapEx planning, people planning, FTE project allocation, and travel planning. According to Ms. Lee,” The OneStream project exceeded every expectation. It’s a dream come true!” As a result, Fibrogen has gained agility with an integrated plan that aligns drug development to finance performance and cash requirements while enabling leadership with a unified view of the company on a real time basis.
While a return to normalcy now appears to be on the horizon, as vaccines roll out and the pandemic winds down, there will surely be other economic disruptions in the future. To survive and thrive through economic volatility organizations need to have agile processes and systems that enable them to quickly adapt, while minimizing the impact.
Today’s modern performance management and analytic technologies are proving invaluable to navigating the new normal with the required agility. To learn more, watch the replay of the webinar and contact OneStream if your organization needs help conquering complexity so you can lead at speed!
Photo from Fibrogen Annual Reports