When It’s OK to Use an Out-of-Box FP&A Solution
A standardized financial planning and analysis solution may have cut it when you upgraded from Microsoft Excel, but if you’ve outgrown your current system, it might be time to consider an out-of-the-box solution. But picking a data system isn’t just a matter of deciding on a program but rather depends on the company you want to work with. Sure, Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions” report breaks down off-the-shelf solutions, but here are the factors to screen a new FP&A vendor that will customize a solution based on your needs and budget.
An FP&A system should integrate business intelligence, performance management, and predictive analytics into a single framework that makes sense for your organization. Each business domain will have “a degree of control over its own model while not sacrificing the application governance of all connected models,” Gartner notes in its report.
An FP&A solution should be easily modifiable by both the vendor and the user via the source code as an extensive of the platform as a service. The initial configuration should be set up to support a more diverse set of business needs based on the need to model more dynamically and plan between business domains.
Large organizations with complex, enterprisewide requirements need a solution that is customizable to satisfy unique needs. A robust discovery process with the vendor should unearth the level of task complexity necessary for the software to perform in its current state while also growing the organization.
Alternatively, a customized FP&A solution shouldn’t be so complex that it can only be run by the contact who put the system into place. While proper documentation is a must, both finance and nonfinance users should be able to use the final product effectively, from maintenance to administration.
In-house expertise should all be taken into consideration when considering a new FP&A vendor. A good vendor will help you consider all options, from selecting an out-of-the-box solution or customizing a program to making sure all your systems talk to each other to get you the results you want on the level you want. In other words, no one system should be siloed.
Any good FP&A vendor doesn’t drop off once the system has been put into place. Your representative should stay on board to make sure your system is up to date with the proper documentation in place, in addition to being proactive with ongoing support for upgrades related to maintenance or updates.