Toronto based corporate performance management [CPM] software vendor Vena Solutions has announced new functionality with the addition of integrated financial planning capabilities. It will integrate operational departments into CPM to a much greater degree than has been the case in the past.
“At the end of the day, CPM enables you to make better business decisions, but traditional CPM still captures only summary-level data from operational departments and their systems outside of finance,” said Rishi Grover, Vena co-founder and chief solutions architect. “CPM has been traditionally sold to the Office of Finance, not to operational departments. What we have done here with these new capabilities is focus on the features that have been the hurdles to integrating these departments, and make it easier and more intuitive for them to be involved in the process.”
While integrated planning has multiple desirable outcomes, Grover said that it has been difficult to achieve.
“Integrated planning is the utopia state for planning,” he said. “Typically, different departments do planning in separate silos. The issue there is the integrity of the data, if one department changes a number. It’s preferable for all departments to be doing their planning in a single solution.”
So why don’t they?
“It comes down to process, people and product,” Grover indicated. “Everyone is used to doing their own processes. Departments have their own ERPs and data warehousing, and bringing them together is complicated. You need technology to help companies to integrate planning.”
Grover said that while the people hurdle is really a change management issue, and tech is more limited in its impact there, it helps to have a solution like Vena, which leverages familiar Excel.
“It means that you don’t introduce a big new technology hurdle as well,” he said. “With some departments, there will always be some resistance to a new technology. It’s important that they get very quick time to value and can see the value of using it, to prevent this. That is a best practice when we implement.”
The new enhancement focuses on three themes, which Grover said are all integrated and work well together: collaboration across business units; improved data discovery and analysis; and easy modelling for finance and business users.
“Collaboration across business units gets them to use the application and collaborate together,” Grover stated. “To do that, we provide functionality to manage large numbers of users and give more visibility. We also enhanced the end user interface, especially for non-finance people.”
A key addition here is improved report books and automated report distribution through PowerPoint and Excel.
“The report distribution enables these automated report books, which packages things together refreshes data and emails them out, so the users don’t have to log in and fetch the data themselves,” Grover said. “That has been another hurdle, because people don’t like to do that.”
The enhanced data discovery and analysis allows Vena users to make better decisions.
“We have enhanced drill-down search capability, using the wealth of detailed data we collect on top of the financial information,” Grover said. “You can now do more data analysis features, and drill down to investigate, breaking down a number and seeing the values that made that number up. We also provide detailed audit trail data, and we have improved the search functionality there.”
The improved modeling for finance and business users allows them to view and edit processes without having to open separate templates for each process.
“Because all the units may have their own data models, we need to make it as easy as possible for their siloed models to talk to each other,” Grover stated.
Making things as easy as possible is key to making sure that the users actually use these capabilities.
“It is a multi-tenanted cloud application, so all features are always available to all clients, but it’s still up to them to use it,” Grover said. “It’s always on, but it’s up to them to implement it. All these features will help them regardless, if they don’t do integrated planning. It will still make them more efficient. But it will make the whole process much easier if they do.”
The new Vena functionality is available now. Pricing is built into the company’s annual subscription plans.