Embarking on an Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) project? Looking for tips on managing scope and cost? Over the course of VantagePoint’s 15+ years and hundreds of EPM projects, there are a handful of key areas that make an enormous difference in the success of a project. Fortunately, clients control their own destiny when it comes to these key areas.
In this blog, we’ll address areas where clients can focus to maximize their project experience.
Internal consensus on the business processes:Avoid wasting project time and budget on internal process debates. This seems obvious but I can’t emphasize it enough. Spend the time prior to the project reviewing the current processes; call out pain points; document areas for improvement; work through the details; agree on desired process changes, and align on desired enhancements. Clients should be prepared to walk consultants through their current process and desired vision during the first few days of the project. Utilize consulting time for system design and learning how to use the tool within your defined process.
Business requirements:Well-documented business requirements are an essential part of a project. Business requirements need to be presented and understood by the consultants engaged in the project. The more thorough the documentation up front the less time and effort required to flush out proper business requirements. Examples (not all inclusive) of requirements to consider leading into an EPM project:
- What are the desired outputs? This is critical to define up front to ensure your environment captures the appropriate dimensions and produce the desired reporting. (Examples: GL Account, Entity, Cost center, profit center, product, customer, etc..)
- Where and how will actual data be sourced? Identify the source systems required to produce the transaction data and Master data to load to the EPM tool. Consider actual financial data and/or operational data needed for reporting. Consider ETL required to cleanse/prepare the data for the load to the EPM environment.
- What is the data load frequency? Daily, Monthly, Full loads, delta’s, etc.
- Is there a common chart of accounts? If not, do you have the mapping required to get to a common COA?
- What are the FX requirements? How many reporting currencies are required? Where will the rates be sourced? Are custom CTA rules required?
- What calculations will be required? Are allocations required? If so, define.
- Define user security – What actions can users do, what data can they see, and what data can they update?
Business requirements are critical to get the value out of the tool. There will certainly be ample time and effort associated to this phase of the project. Clients can expedite this process documenting as much as possible prior to the start of the project, including process flows and report mockups.
Knowledgeable business lead:Assign a business lead to the project: Who can clearly articulate the entire process and make decisions on behalf of the organization. I am not discounting the importance of Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) involvement in the project. SME’s are critical to surface details, provide report specifications, and perform user acceptance testing. Business lead’s role is to make sure the details and reporting pertain to the greater good of the company. Ideally, the business lead will reinforce processes that facilitates a company-wide solution, and make decisions during the project to support that approach. The 80/20 rule at work! Avoid spending excess time and/or over developing for issues/enhancements that offer minimal companywide benefits.
Clean master data (MD) and MD hierarchies:EPM reporting is highly dependent on Master data (dimensions) and Master Data Hierarchies (Dimension Hierarchies). The cleaner the hierarchies the easier reporting becomes. Best practice is to centralize master data management at the source and import MD and MD hierarchies into the EPM tool. This limits duplication of work and promote one source of the truth. Centralized MDM assumes the structures have been socialized internally within the organization and the MD parent/child hierarchies facilitate reporting for the majority of the organization. Handle exceptions on a case by case basis, avoid complicating MD hierarchies to satisfy unique scenarios which can usually be solved at the report level.
Clean transaction data:Data acquisition is by far the most time-consuming activity on EPM projects. Do not underestimate this activity especially when loading historical data. A few points to consider:
- Historical data requirements can be challenging to load and reconcile.
- Enhancing actual data with additional attributes to facilitate planning can also be challenging unless there are consistent rules to apply.
- Where data is being sourced from can also have a significant impact. Typically, data sourced from an ERP with good data governance is straight forward than less structured sources like Excel.
- Best not to perform any FX translation on historical data. Load all reporting currencies as is to avoid possible FX rate differences. Start FX translation with current data.
I will reiterate, do not underestimate the importance of accurate data acquisition. Providing clean data files that are fully qualified with the desired dimensionality reduces manipulation by the consultant, which will have an extremely positive impact on time and cost.
Identify an administrator:Identify an internal resource prior to the start of the project, who will own the tool from an administrative perspective post implementation. This resource should be involved as a core team member throughout the implementation to acquire as much knowledge as possible. Typical skills include: detailed orientated, solid company knowledge, good Excel skills, and an aptitude for technology. The Admin should be the main point of contact for end users providing ongoing support for EPM questions and/or EPM processes. VantagePoint offers Actively Managed Support (AMS) services to support organizations for questions and/or issues that can’t be answered internally.
SUMMARYAn EPM environment is an enormously powerful tool to add to an organization’s architecture. Realizing the value and the expected return of an EPM solution is dependent on the ability of an organization to bring together their people, processes and data with an experienced implementation partner. An organization’s due diligence prior to the start of the project is invaluable to the overall success and adoption of the tool. Time spent organizing and preparing will help streamline the implementation process and get the most value out of your investment.
HOW CAN WE HELPHow can we help to make your data talk business?
Reach out to VantagePoint with questions and/or product demonstrations. Leverage our years of EPM experience to assist you in whatever stage of the project you are in.