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The Decision Factor offers insightful comments and observations on analytics—from views on new technology approaches and market dynamics to the latest industry trends driving demand for faster, smarter information analysis. This blog contains personal views, thoughts, and opinions from SAP employees, mentors, and friends working in the area of analytics. It’s not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute an official communication of SAP.


Real-Time Closing and Disclosing

tain station clock representing close disclose concept

As we continue to examine how technology is helping CFOs successfully deliver greater value, I wanted to extend last week’s discussion of real-time consolidation to also include real-time closing and disclosing of financial information. (See The Drive for Real-Time Consolidations.) These can provide real benefits to all organizations from small to gigantic and everyone in between.

Technology has expanded the work day. Many business are 24/7/365 (hours per days/ days per week/ working every day of the year). The business is like a ship on the ocean, constantly serving. …

Are You Seeing the Signals? How Finance Analytics and KPIs Can Help CFOs Guide the Way

dashboard displaying MPG as KPI

Have you ever taken a close look at your dashboard when the car computer displays key performance indicators (KPIs)? No? Yes, but not really? I am confident in saying that 99.9% of you will answer with a “not really” type of response, as there are many misleading, so-called KPIs that don’t provide guidance to make the right decision. I can’t understand why customers/drivers of cars have not yet complained about being misled. And I’m surprised they haven’t sued manufacturers for astronomical amounts of money in countries like the U.S. where this is a practice that can get downright bizarre …

The Drive for Real-Time Consolidations

roman numeral clock represents real time

Our exploration of how technology has expanded the roles of CFOs has covered a lot of territory. Whenever I am facing tremendous change, I remember Stephen Covey’s advice “The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.”[i] So it is also with the roles of CFOs.

When CFOs focus on key objectives, they can leverage process innovation to achieve amazing results. While technology enables us to reach out, it also improves the day-to-day work at the core of financial operations. A prime example is the …

How Fast Is Your Financial Close Process?


An organization produces financial statements for various stakeholders. And that organization’s financial statements are its face to the world. The quality and speed with which these are produced are a reflection of the organization as a whole.

Quality can sometimes be measured by the number of restatements or the audit costs, but it’s not that simple. However, speed isn’t subjective and is easy to measure.

An ever-so-true quote from Peter Drucker is, “What gets measured gets managed.” Likewise, organizations try their best to manage the number of days it takes to produce financial statements, which is something that’s easily …

Use Big Data, Mobile, and Cloud Together To Optimize Planning and Performance – Part Two

How to Get from Data to Decision -- Deliver the Right Information to the Right People

Let’s recap some of what we have learned in the previous blogs. First, planning departments face huge challenges driven by an increasing complex and unpredictable world. Uncertainty reigns supreme, yet the need for effective planning has never been higher.This is one of many paradoxes being faced.

Another is the need for planning efficiency while at the same time a need to embed planning in the lines of business to be as close to front line action as possible. Fortunately, new technologies are supplying some solutions to these challenges—cloud computing, Big Data, in-memory, and mobility.

The Explosion of Cloud Computing

Use Big Data, Mobile, and Cloud Together To Optimize Planning and Performance

2 More Big Data V's -- Value and Veracity

Innovative technologies like cloud computing, in-memory processing, and mobility continue to evolve. They are joined by other technology trends such as social media, the consumerization of IT, virtualization, and an overwhelming push to greater use of analytics. While individually powerful, these technologies can provide exponential improvements when used in combination. As finance teams understand how to harness these developments, they will be able to transform planning. In doing so, they will transform their entire organization.

Leading a team or an organization is a lot like being a parent. You try to lead in the best way possible but you …

Why the New Breed of Chief Financial Officer Will Own IT

Why the New Breed of Chief Financial Officer Will Own IT

The increasing number of chief financial officers (CFOs) and their peers from Generation X and Generation Y that are now heading up finance functions are irked by poorly performing business systems that fall way short of the likes of Google and iTunes that deliver exactly what you want in seconds. So it’s not surprising that many have accelerated automation projects already underway to enhance core financial processes with technology solutions that lead to increased productivity and lower costs.

It’s the only way they can free up headcount from traditional finance functions like reporting, and treasury and transaction processing in order …

The New Breed of CFO and How to Become One Yourself

The New Breed of CFO and How to Become One Yourself

‘Stick close to your desks and never go to sea, And you all may be rulers of the Queen’s Navy’

The chorus of “Sir Joseph Porter’s Song” above, taken from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta H. M. S. Pinafore, is a satire said to be based on William Henry Smith (1825-91), the Victorian businessman who made a fortune through expanding his father’s bookselling business into a national chain which still thrives today as WH Smith. Like many successful businessmen William entered Parliament in 1868 and was appointed First Lord of Admiralty in 1877, – equivalent to the American “Secretary of …

The New Breed of CFO and the Challenges of the Multi-Generational Finance Team

The New Breed of CFO and the Challenges of the Multi-Generational Finance Team

Things are going to change once the cream of Generation Y, (the ‘Millennials’), who were born between 1981–2005, have risen through the ranks of Finance and step into the CFO role. Generation X, the group born between 1961–1980 that are currently filling many CFO positions before ascending to become CEOs are said to be sceptical, pragmatic and continually looking to develop an ever widening skill set that will have seen many make significant contributions to their businesses well outside their finance role. But Generation Y can be expected to raise the bar further, demanding the utmost automation of routine finance …

Filling the gaps in Performance Management

Filling the gaps in Performance Management

Last time out, I discussed the gaps that are frequently found in many organizations’ immature financial performance management cycles; this time, I’ll talk about filling them.

Why Focus on Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is about setting a course for where stakeholders want the organization to head and describing in detail what needs to happen to get there. This involves some well-defined processes that happen every year in order to set and translate strategy.

Effective execution of strategy requires a strong degree of organizational alignment to ensure everyone is focused on the same goals. It also requires some agility to allow …