Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) is a critical process in every organization to drive results and performance. In this blog, I describe how using a template-based implementation approach with iPlan will accelerate any SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) for planning implementation.
Throughout my 25+ year career, I have implemented various EPM solutions across several platforms (e.g. Excel, Oracle, SAS, SAP, Solver, Microsoft, Anaplan, etc.) and most industry verticals (consumer packaged goods, retail, insurance, banking, healthcare). Each technical solution has their unique strengths and weaknesses, with each industry vertical having its own complexities. Regardless of what system is used, one key influencer of success is having a solution that is content specific, with pre-packaged content and built-in best practices.
One method to implementing an EPM solution is to take a blank slate approach, whereby requirements are gathered, design created and a process implemented. This often involves looking at existing planning logic (usually in Excel) and recreating it in the system. However, this is very time consuming to build and requires additional time to test and maintain. With this method, the logic is usually created in some sort of scripting engine (such as SAC planning data action, BPC scripting, Hyperion calc script), which like any other programming language, must be developed, tested and retested for any changes to system parameters.
A second approach is to utilize a templated system, in which a core set of logic, reports and processes are used to customize to a specific environment. The solution is already partially built, thus reducing time and cost to complete. In addition, the components have already been tested, reducing one of the largest and often underestimated phases of a project, testing and remediation. In addition, with a templated system, the templates, reports, calculations, models, etc. are built with best practices specific to the industry vertical and incorporate refinements from other clients with similar problems and solutions. Eventually, these are collated to a common group of best practice functionalities. This is exactly what is offered with Protiviti’s iPlan solution.
As an example of the difference between blank slate and template systems, I share two personal examples. One is blank slate approach with superior technology; the second is a template system approach with a less sophisticated technology. The first is from one of my first planning implementations in 2003. I worked at a large property casualty insurance company where we implemented Hyperion Planning. We used the blank slate approach and recreated the planning system from scratch. We implemented insurance logic, based on an actuarial model to calculate planned revenue and losses for their commercial and personal insurance lines. Each step of the way required extensive testing, validation and remediation. The project took approximately one year for three to four consultants to build and the cost was somewhere in the $1 million range to complete.
Fast forward a few years to 2008. I was implementing a BusinessObjects Planning (formerly SRC) package. SRC, not the most sophisticated technology platform, was basically a SQL server database on top of Excel. What it lacked in technical sophistication was made up with pre-built solutions for banking. It had extensive business logic to calculate banking logic such as net interest income and expense with key drivers including interest rates for loans and deposits. We also utilized the templated system for payroll and operational expense planning. We were able to deliver the solution to the client in a three-month timeframe, fully tested and deployed to production. The overall cost was approximately $150,000 (nearly a tenth the cost of my first example above) and we delivered a more complicated model and more functionalities including a full P&L and balance sheet planning system with detailed payroll, Opex and capex). This example illustrates the benefit of a templated system: better solution, faster delivery, with less risk and less cost. And in this case, with a less sophisticated technology.
Since then, SAP has developed a new planning solution SAC for planning is the flagship solution for all SAP planning and analytics. It is cloud based and has incredible features and functionality including advanced and predictive analytics. From a technical perspective, SAP is now one of the market leaders in cloud–based EPM solutions. But just like when I had implemented Business Objects planning many years ago, a vertical pre-built solution is critical to project success and to unlocking the value to an organization.
This is where Protiviti iPlan comes in to play. iPlan is Protiviti’s planning solution accelerator for industry verticals (consumer packaged goods, retail, banking, insurance and healthcare) and line of business functionality (payroll, capex, opex). The solution is to streamline projects, similar to what we had done with banking\SRC as mentioned above and create pre-packaged solutions that can be deployed to clients with a reduced implementation timeline, reduced risk and embedded best practices. In addition, with SAC we have industry leading technology, giving us the best of both worlds.
To learn more about how Protiviti’s iPlan platform with SAC planning works, read this story about our work with client National Vision, where we delivered a successful retail planning solution to support operational planning.
iPlan easily adapts to industry-specific needs and offers functionality for headcount and compensation planning, capex planning and opex planning, along with built–in best practices for other design considerations such as allocation logic (data actions), security, model and dimension design. Basically, we have worked out all key design considerations to facilitate an efficient, cost effective and robust design. This, paired with a superior technology platform in SAC for planning will enable a significant return on investment.