Whether you’re head down working on budgets or up against a proof of concept deadline, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality when developing a business intelligence or financial planning and analysis tool. Rather, your time is better spent focusing your efforts where you’ll get the most return on your investment. Here’s how to turn a tight turnaround time into a blessing in disguise.
Consider the cloud
“The FP&A market has shifted from mature on-premises offerings to cloud solutions,” according to Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions” report. Industry leaders are seeking software-as-a-service solutions to reduce application support costs, increase flexibility, and shorten time to value. The shift toward cloud-based solutions are typically easier to use and maintain than on-premise offerings, as well as have more sophisticated computing services that scalable, elastic, and timely.
When vetting which solution is right for you, there are some criteria to take into consideration in relation to your customer size and process complexity. As cloud-based capabilities continue to stabilize and improve over time, you can expect broader market awareness and a reduced average deployment time for a solution with more options available. It’s also important to cross those vendors off your list that can’t handle large datasets from a performance and data management standpoint, including “application governance ability necessary to manage more-diverse users and data, for both financial and operational planning,” according to Gartner.
You can’t expect your vendors to work magic, so don’t go with one whose typical deployment time is nine months but is promising you results in six. When it comes to large datasets, go with a vendor that understands the need for deeper integration and analytics in terms of functionality and responsiveness. These expanded platform needs generally go beyond the capabilities of traditional online analytical processing engines. Working with a vendor in your time zone, while not necessary, will cut down on valuable turnaround time and support capabilities.
As with most life choices, you’ll want to work with a vendor that makes you feel like your needs are being met – not only in terms of deadline and budget, but also from a customer support standpoint. Above all, your vendor should have the sales experience and level of expertise to get the job done on time and budget. With upgrades always on the horizon, you’ll want to feel confident that you’re getting your money’s worth with ongoing support and maintenance.
As product cycles and market needs shift, so too should the technology. “The vendor’s ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change,” Gartner states. In other words, the “set it and forget it” method doesn’t work with BI and FP&A solutions, especially when evaluation criteria and focus can change so frequently.