After the Honeymoon Is Over: Living with a financial planning system over the longer term

So you are planning to purchase and implement a CPM product and bring your organization into the modern age. Firstly, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you for taking the first step in providing better transparency and foresight within your organization.

The buying process is often a mixture of equal measures of torture and ecstasy. Various vendors parade through your doors with flashy visuals, sexy reports, nifty algorithms, each one promising that you will be operational next week. After hours of deliberation and discussion, you award the contract to the winning supplier. The deal gets done, the check is cashed, the consultants (and headaches) disappear – you have achieved nirvana. Right?

Maybe so. Or at least until the next reorganization, revamped chart of accounts, new ERP, market shift, change of CFO, or the departure of the wizard on your team who selected the product.

How do you make it last?

The commercial relationship with a financial planning solutions provider is a deep and – dare we say – intimate one. A commodity purchase of plant or equipment, outside of service and support, is more of a transactional relationship. The connection with a finance software provider is less fleeting and more familiar, more confidential. You could even compare it to a marriage.

What are the characteristics of a product and vendor that will make you happy you tied the knot 1 year, 5 years, or more down the road?

We’ve had the good fortune of having many clients who have used our product successfully for decades. One of the reasons clients stay with us for the long term is that we pay careful attention to the nitty gritty details of maintaining, administering and enhancing your applications day after day, year after year.

Here are some of what we believe to be the ingredients for happily ever after.

Architecture is the key

We built our product from the ground up with the big picture in mind – to minimize the amount of burden placed on administrators and end users when anything changes.

  • Dynamic Everything – When you make a change to a data value, a cost center name, or a rollup structure, you change it in one place. Every effected view is adjusted automatically – No extra steps.
  • Segregation of Logic and Data – You specify the rules in one place and CONTROL® will make sure that they are applied consistently to all your data. Whether it is a formula in a forecast, a filter for a set of accounts in a report, or a rollup.
  • Control at a manageable level – You set up security rules for groups of users and categories of models. When you add or move, there is nothing more to do. Create reports for all users, and let individuals customize their preferences without administrator intervention.

Extensible in every direction

Rules and processes built today can’t be set in stone forever. It’s often the case that no sooner do you build a financial application to meet today’s needs, and new requirements come along. For example, more detail would be useful in understanding expense profiles, or product profitability.

You need to adapt to changing circumstances – both external and internal. In the best case, you should anticipate those changes and have resources in place to deal with them.

These CONTROL® features allow you to do just that:

  • Modular and Reusable Components – The critical building blocks of CONTROL® applications can be used over and over in as many contexts as you need. Do you have to analyze inventory? Re-use a product hierarchy from your sales model? Need transaction level data for marketing spend? There is already a data source from your payables system.

    No need to license new software, re-define user security, or invest in another technology.
    And your new applications can be integrated with what you’ve already built.

  • Scalable regardless of what the future may hold – The relational technology and the database design selected as the CONTROL® foundation is virtually without practical limits. Terabytes of data, thousands of models, tens of thousands of views – no problem.

  • Complexity is simple – Well, not really. But when your business needs it, we support it. Simultaneous equations, sophisticated time series forecasting, integration of hundreds of data sources, alternate computational and rollup structures – the list goes on.

Transparent and Discoverable

Over time, financial applications can sag under their own weight. As staff changes and processes evolve, the applications can become opaque. If the application is not understood, it won’t be trusted. Credibility suffers and value evaporates.

We have made a major investment in making sure that every CONTROL® application is fundamental understandable – regardless of whether or not is has been well documented.

Just pick somewhere to start – say a report – and launch the Universe, and infinite canvas that will let you diagram and explore.

  • What are the dimensions? How are they structured?
  • Where does the data come from? The meta-data?
  • How do the various models interconnect? What are the data flows?
  • How is information collected? Distributed? To who?
  • What are the operational processes? What do they effect?

We have moved beyond formal written documentation to incorporate in our product the capability for anyone to visualize applications as they expand and evolve, and to dive into the details. We’ve built a view to the underlying power and flexibility that provides an innate understanding of the processes and datasets involved – even for novice users. In today’s software development parlance that’s called UX – or User Experience. We call it common sense.

A Vendor who will be there for the long haul

The foundation of a successful long-term relationship with any product is having a deep and mutually-beneficial relationship with the vendor concerned.

We believe we are only successful when we continue to deliver ongoing value to our clients. Beyond delivering a great product on day one, our strategy is built on these principles:

  • Constant investment in product functionality, technology, performance and usability
  • A licensing model which doesn’t charge our clients for major new releases, additional models, or expanding functions
  • An attitude that values client autonomy over vendor dependence and big consulting fees
  • A culture that encourages the sharing of best practices and innovation
  • A team of the best application consultants and product developers who are always there for you.

Whether it was love at first site or it took a little longer, every couple initially goes through a courtship phase. It’s the same when appointing a financial solutions provider. Once the deal is done and the solution deployed, the organizations build a better understanding of how each operates. It’s less of a supplier/client relationship and more of a partnership.

This leads to the most important stage. The honeymoon phase has passed, so the quality of day-to-day interactions become paramount. Each organization knows what to expect from the other. They anticipate each other’s moves and work together to reach new goals.

Hopefully to live happily ever after.

Looking for that special partner to enrich your (business) life?
Get it touch with us. Wherever things lead, we won’t play hard to get 🙂