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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. …

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 …

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 …

Yes, Performance Management means more than Planning and Budgeting

Yes, Performance Management means more than Planning and Budgeting

Analysts, consultants, and software vendors alike are espousing the virtues of end-to-end, integrated software solutions to enable financial planning and analysis processes. Despite this, the majority of organizations today still make do with a mix of spreadsheets and other tools that are frequently cobbled together by the departmental techie to give some rudimentary automation driven by complicated macros that only the techie really understands. For many, it’s a long journey that doesn’t go beyond making the planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes slightly less laborious and time consuming. But if you really want to tackle the problem head on, how can …

Predict, Execute and Control: the mantra for better Financial Planning and Analysis


Managing financial planning and analysis is an end-to-end process that starts with strategy definition and documentation. It then goes through the detailed planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes that define the activities and resource allocations necessary to achieve the strategic objectives. This is followed by profitability and cost analysis, and other modelling and simulation scenarios. Underpinning this whole process is the need for constant reporting and monitoring.

So, unlike external reporting, which is mandatory based on various regulatory requirements and needs to happen only at certain points in the financial year, internal reporting is on-going. Similarly, we can think of the …

Seven Common Scorecarding Mistakes to Avoid

Seven Common Scorecarding Mistakes to Avoid

Any new endeavor takes time to master. Realistically, it takes at least three attempts to acquire the requisite experience needed to get it right. This is certainly true of IT projects (at least in my humble opinion). Not surprisingly, wise practitioners seek other experience and best practices to accelerate the learning curve and cut down on mistakes. A lot has been written about scorecarding projects, which on the surface, may seem fairly simple—after all, you‘re just reporting on performance indicators. Unfortunately, they aren’t that straightforward. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid.

Ending …